SEO Software: Trying To Catch The Spiders…

SEO software does what exactly?SEO software frequently starts from the following assumption:- look at the page that ranks number 1 in Google,- do exactly the same + a bit better,- and you will be number 1SEO software will then examine “all” the SEO parameters that it finds out about the number 1 site in Google. Then this SE software will automate the process in mimicking this for your site.SEO is more than a software-approach!SEO is the art of ranking number 1 in any search engine for any keyword.Spiders rank a web site number one because spiders “think” that this site deserves to be number one. Of course the spider cannot think: there needs to be a programmer who programs the spider to find out which site is best.Now if you are smart enough to feed the spider exactly what the programmer thinks is important, you will have the knowledge to rank number 1.This is exactly what SEO software does: it claims to know and tackle “all” the parameters that make a web site ranking number 1.Pitfalls of a software-approach to SEOSuppose you find all the parameters needed to rank a web site number 1. You manage to get all this parameters onto your site and you even manage to be rank number 1.Now if your site is really deserving to be ranked number 1, all is fine. But if surfers start complaining that you are not, the search engine will be blamed!It won’t take long until Google finds out that “somebody broke the code” of the spiders. The spiders will be updated to give quality results to the visitors!This means you need to get an upgrade of your SEO software approach… : you are running after the facts in stead of above the facts.How to be ranked number 1?You rank number 1 because you deserve it.In spider logic this still means:- your page talks about the keyword you are optimizing for- you page has lots of incoming links about the keyword you are optimizing for.This is what ranking number 1 should be about.But my SEO software is really up to date, or is it not?Your software can only be up to date AFTER the spiders’ software is updated. Unless you write the spiders yourself, you will always be a bit later.You cannot know all the parameters the spider takes into account, unless again you are writing the spider software yourself.Some of the parameters you cannot influence: age of the web site is one of them. Suppose the spider needs to choose between 2 websites: the oldest one and the SEO mimic: which one to choose? The oldest one would be the easiest bet, and you cannot change the age of your web site can you?A close look at SEO softwareSEO software advertisements could say that you can get a top 5 Google Ranking in under 30 Days… If that is true, then check out to see:- is the web site of this SEO software ranking number 1 in Google for SEO or SEO software?- are the example web sites the SEO software mentions to be ranked number 1, really number 1: number 1 in Google that is?It’s very easy to type in the keyword phrase of the SEO software example web site and see if they are number 1 or not.And don’t be fooled by SEO software that gives numerous examples of number 1 rankings in MSN or Yahoo: if you want to have a long lasting number 1 ranking in any of the search engines, you better start having a number 1 ranking in Google.I didn’t say that it is a guarantee to rank number 1 in Yahoo and MSN once you rank number 1 in Google, but you will surely be high up there as well. On the other hand, a number 1 ranking in MSN can mean that you are no where to be found in Yahoo nor Google.So you say: well, then I just try to rank number 1 in MSN since it seems to be easier. Well, it is easier, but then it is easier for your competition as well, so it won’t take then too much effort to out-play you again. Therefor do the job good once and for all: thrive to be number 1 in Google and then fine-tune if needed for MSN or Yahoo.Why do you do SEO in the first place?SEO is 1 of the ways to get more traffic to your web site. But there is more in getting a lot of traffic to your site, than “blindly ranking 1 in Google”:— Always make sure you rank number 1 for a word a lot of people are looking for! —If you buy any SEO software or out-source your SEO to the SEO specialists: always check their SEO examples:- are they ranking number 1- are the keywords they rank for popular search keywords (bigger than 10.000 searches a month in the Keyword Selector Tool from Yahoo’s search-marketing is considered not too low)- how long did it take them to be number 1- how big is the competition for the keyword-phrase (smaller or bigger than 5 million? As a general rule : above 5 million keyword-phrase results in Google, things become though)- how big is the competition for the quoted “keyword-phrase” (smaller or bigger than 33.000? As a general rule : above 33.000 quoted “keyword-phrase” results in Google, things become though)If for all these items the SEO software or SEO specialist can answer YES, then you can start taking them very seriously!Try it out for each example web site any SEO software claims to have ranked number 1 for a certain keyword-phrase. And of course, always start with checking if they are ranking number 1 in the first place! If they are not, then you are going to buy SEO software that doesn’t do the job! Ranking number 2 is ALMOST number 1, and even worse, ranking number 9 is nowhere near to ranking number 1.SEO software web sitesWhenever you are interested in something to buy on the Internet, check out the overall web site of the product you want to buy!Some SEO software web sites are 1 page web sites: just 1 page with the product, no links, no extra pages…Again back to basics. What was the first idea to set up the Internet? To give people information, lots of information.And we are talking about a “NET” in Inter”NET”: “net” means links here, links there, links everywhere… (that’s why links are so important in SEO)If you don’t see lots of links nor lots of content on a web site about SEO, then the SEO web site is not serious about its own subject: SEO!Back to Basics: web-trafficYour purpose is getting as much people to your site as possible, isn’t it?SEO software has the purpose of ranking 1 in Google.Now it is very easy to rank 1 in Google for the keyword-phrase “jhdkghgkbdcds”,
but who is looking for “jhdkghgkbdcds”??? Nobody!So if nobody looks for “jhdkghgkbdcds”, then why bother to rank number 1 with it?What is a nice number when it comes to “popular keyword searches”? If you use the Overture Keyword tool, anything above 10.000 searches a month means quite popular, but: also know that above 10.000 “the big boys’ are competing
with you, below 1.000 you have the field for yourself. So a good SEO advice is work yourself from the bottom up: start with keywords that are not so popular, and once you are ranked high for those, then tackle the next more popular keyword on the list.SEO software ConclusionSEO is the art to feed the spiders what they like.
SEO software is running after the spiders trying to catch their attention.Always check the numbers and the facts about any SEO software and (this) SEO article!Then make a decision yourself. If you see that the SEO software- is ranking well for it’s own product- is ranking web sites for popular keyword well,only then you can consider buying it.

Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Background

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.

Conclusion

It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.

S&P 500 Rallies As U.S. Dollar Pulls Back Towards Weekly Lows

Key Insights
The strong pullback in the U.S. dollar provided significant support to stocks.
Treasury yields have pulled back after touching new highs, which served as an additional positive catalyst for S&P 500.
A move above 3730 will push S&P 500 towards the resistance level at 3760.
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Pfizer Rallies After Announcing A Huge Price Hike For Its COVID-19 Vaccines
S&P 500 is currently trying to settle above 3730 as traders’ appetite for risk is growing. The U.S. dollar has recently gained strong downside momentum as the BoJ intervened to stop the rally in USD/JPY. Weaker U.S. dollar is bullish for stocks as it increases profits of multinational companies and makes U.S. equities cheaper for foreign investors.

The leading oil services company Schlumberger is up by 9% after beating analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. Schlumberger’s peers Baker Hughes and Halliburton have also enjoyed strong support today.

Vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna gained strong upside momentum after Pfizer announced that it will raise the price of its coronavirus vaccine to $110 – $130 per shot.

Biggest losers today include Verizon and Twitter. Verizon is down by 5% despite beating analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. Subscriber numbers missed estimates, and traders pushed the stock to multi-year lows.

Twitter stock moved towards the $50 level as the U.S. may conduct a security review of Musk’s purchase of the company.

From a big picture point of view, today’s rebound is broad, and most market segments are moving higher. Treasury yields have started to move lower after testing new highs, providing additional support to S&P 500. It looks that some traders are ready to bet that Fed will be less hawkish than previously expected.

S&P 500 Tests Resistance At 3730

S&P 500 has recently managed to get above the 20 EMA and is trying to settle above the resistance at 3730. RSI is in the moderate territory, and there is plenty of room to gain additional upside momentum in case the right catalysts emerge.

If S&P 500 manages to settle above 3730, it will head towards the next resistance level at 3760. A successful test of this level will push S&P 500 towards the next resistance at October highs at 3805. The 50 EMA is located in the nearby, so S&P 500 will likely face strong resistance above the 3800 level.

On the support side, the previous resistance at 3700 will likely serve as the first support level for S&P 500. In case S&P 500 declines below this level, it will move towards the next support level at 3675. A move below 3675 will push S&P 500 towards the support at 3640.