7 reasons to love the Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7Another round in the battle of the tablets, Nexus 7 and iPad Mini go head to head to take over the tablet market. Nexus 7 is a keen contender for the prize, despite the domination of iPad in the past. We’ve compiled a list of reasons why, we think, everyone should give Nexus 7 a try.

Open Source App store
Apple are notoriously fussy with what does and doesn’t make it onto the App Store, however, Android have created a software developer’s playground with the Google Play Store. Designers can bring to the market pretty much whatever they want, and can update, tweak and develop until their heart’s content. Meaning, as a user, you get the very best of the good, the bad and the downright weird Apps available.

It’s smaller, slimmer and lighter than other tablets, meaning it’s the perfect size for using whenever and wherever you please. It’s been likened to an all-powerful e-reader, a handy size which you can use comfortably in one hand, whilst simultaneously being a market leading tablet.

Quad core processor
The Nexus 7 boasts a Tegra 3 Quad core processor and Jelly Bean software; it’s sleek, smooth, fast and powerful –which completely floors the iPad.

Google integration
Whether you’re a Google lover or not, there’s a lot to be said for Nexus 7’s seamless integration of Google products, of course, it’s no less than you’d expect, but it is dreamy. All the Apps an average user would want are there straight out of the box, and Google developments and updates continue to make it effortless to sync all your technology and devices. The Nexus 7 is set to feature Google Now, a clever App which utilises all your current information, such as location and browsing history to compile a collection of things which might be of interest to you in the local area. Google has you covered, wherever you are.

Widgets, widgets, widgets
Most people who are proud of not owning an iPhone can contribute their attachment to their Smartphone to the widgets. Widgets are something which until you discover, you’ll never miss, or appreciate, however, once you’ve discovered the simplicity, personalisation and functionality of a widget, you’ll never go back. Widgets give you more of the App on the homescreen, you can use the App and levels of its functions without even going into the App itself. This is great on phones, and even better on tablets.

The price
Most of all, the price of a Nexus 7 blows the iPad out of the water. An Apple iPad Mini 32GB will cost you around £349, a 32GB Nexus 7 will cost you £199 – so, very little competition in terms of cost.

What do you think about the Nexus 7? Are our reasons enough to make you fall in love with it, or do you have a different preference? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

This is a guest post by Les Yates, on behalf of The Snugg. The Snugg offers a range of cases and covers for all leading Smartphones and tablets, including cases for the Nexus 7. Check out their entire range at thesnugg.com. 

5 Best Features of Samsung’s Galaxy S4

This is a guest post by Will Judd

Samsung Galaxy S4The Samsung Unpacked event has come and gone, and we’re left with the announcement of a new phone: the Samsung Galaxy S4. The phone has gotten a mixed response from critics – some have complained about the phone’s design, which is very similar to last year’s S3, but others have praised its boosted specifications and comprehensive software additions. In this article, I’ll share what I reckon are the new phone’s five best features.

5. Smart TV remote
The Galaxy S4 comes with an IR blaster and WatchOn software, allowing you to use your phone as a visual TV guide and universal remote. While the HTC One includes similar technology, Samsung’s app looks more fully featured and easy to use.

4. Gesture control
One of the coolest software add-ons included with the Galaxy S3 was ‘smart stay’. Basically, the front-facing camera watches for your face. Whenever you’re looking at the screen, the screen won’t dim or lock.

With the Galaxy S4, Samsung have upped the ante and included a wide range of gesture controls. There’s ‘smart scroll’, which allows you to tilt your phone in order to scroll up or down. ‘Air gestures’ let you swipe left and right in the air in front of your phone to skip songs or look through photo galleries. ‘Smart pause’ automatically pauses playing videos when you look away from the screen. There’s even an improvement on the Note 2’s ‘Air view’ feature – now instead of hovering a stylus over the screen to preview content, you can just use your finger.

I worked on gesture controls as my final year project in university, and I’m fairly convinced at this point that they’ll continue to become more mainstream as more use-cases are discovered.

3. Improved Hardware
I couldn’t really mention the Galaxy S4 without making some mention of its utter power – while it may be overkill, it looks like Samsung have crafted an industry-leading beast once more. The phone includes an octa-core processor (yup, eight cores) and a five-inch Super AMOLED 1080p display. That should translate into flawless performance, whether you’re whizzing around your home screens or in the most demanding game on the platform.

2. Comprehensive Cameras
One fairly significant hardware and software upgrade is the 13 megapixel rear camera, which is backed with a host of software upgrades. Samsung’s Android-based camera, the Galaxy Camera, has made its influence felt here, with an on-screen mode dial and new scene modes. For example, there’s an ‘Eraser’ mode that takes a quick series of photographs, then allows you to remove any motion it detects in the background (for example, people walking past or photo bombers).

There are a whole bunch of other ways to take a picture too – from ‘DualShot’, which allows you to shoot pictures or video from both cameras simultaneously, ‘Drama Shot’ which makes a composite photo of someone in motion and ‘Cinema Photo’ which is basically Cinemagraph for Android.

According to The Verge, the camera experience remained fast and fluid throughout, which is hopefully a reflection of both well-tuned software and the powerful hardware at the core of the device.

1. S Health
The big surprise of the show – at least for me – was S Health. I’d been looking into getting a fitness tracking accessory and app for a while now, but Android seems to have been getting the short end of the stick in terms of support from the major manufacturers.

S Health seems to be a fitness app much more powerful than anything we’ve seen on the platform before, and doesn’t require a separate accessory. The Galaxy S4 has a built-in pedometer (which is just a simplified accelerometer, after all) as well as humidity and temperature sensors, allowing the Galaxy S4 to automatically track your environment and ‘exercise levels’. Of course, there are also options for inputting other information that the app can’t glean by itself – stuff like food you’ve been eating and how much sleep you’ve been getting. There are a host of health-oriented Galaxy S4 accessories too, from a wrist-band to a scale.

Ultimately, S Health could be a great app for Galaxy S4 owners, and may pave the way for other Android manufacturers to look at including similar features.

In writing this article, it was hard to pick just five features to distinguish the Galaxy S4 – for example, I wanted to include the S Translator app, which looks jolly useful for anyone that’s multilingual or travels.

Samsung’s presentation was certainly gimmicky in places, but I feel that there’s a lot of lasting value in the additions they’ve made to the Galaxy S4. While the IR blaster and gesture controls may be niche use-cases, the new camera software and the S Health seem like strong apps that I’d use many times a day, and just aren’t matched by the Galaxy S4’s competitors.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

11 of the Best Money Management and Budgeting Apps Available

Before banking as we know it today came into full effect with debit and credit cards, cash was all that we used. Now with the switch towards plastic, many people are using their card for everyday transactions such as buying lunch, purchases on Amazon and other expenses. This growing trend has meant keeping track of funds has become much harder. Some of us even get our monthly statements electronically, which means knowing your exact balance at any given time can be even more difficult, and those of us who check online often wonder “how did I spent that much?!”. Here’s a rundown of some of the best apps to help you take care of your money.

Account Tracker
Account TrackerAccount tracker has had a great reputation ever since launch in 2010, and was voted the staff favourite by Apple in July/August 2010. Available for iOS and Windows phone, this app allows you to set up different accounts, track budgets in different categories, view spending and much more. It’s even available with Cloud backup so you won’t ever lose any of that valuable data. This popular app even has alerts for when you are nearly overdrawn!

Calculator 12 in 1
Calculator 12 in 1This handy app has every calculator you’ll ever need. This little tool contains a scientific calculator, with most functions you will need, a unit converter, stats calculator, graph modes, equation solvers, base converter, world clock and much more. A handy calculator, which will help solve problems in every situation.

IOU ProThis Android app is very simple, and often much of money management is looking after the pennies, so the pounds take care of themselves which IOU Pro helps out with. Excuse the pun, but with simple IOU reminders, you can take care of small payments for friends and colleagues which may go under the rug, adding up in the long term.

12C Financial Calculator
12C Financial CalculatorThis is the official emulator of the HP 12C Financial Calculator. With apparently better performance and functions than the real calculator and about a tenth of the price how can you go wrong? This app shows you the time value of money, cash flow analysis, bonds, depreciation, loan payments calculation and much more. One for all the accountants on the go!

PayPalFor all of you who have a PayPal account this app can be handy, as it allows you quick access and a mobile/tablet view in comparison to the sometimes tricky desktop interface. Essential for having a quick overview and making payments when on the go! A quick tip from us is to make sure you don’t automatically get registered into a yearly subscription if you only require a one off payment.

MyMoneyMyMoney allows you to manage your money and keep track of it on the go. This app sets itself apart from the others on the market by being simple and effective. With all the core features on the home screen, this is one for all those who want to keep track, without having to delve into complex features.

PocketMoneyPocket Money is great in that you can sync it across all platforms. iPhone/iPad, Android and desktop. After plugging in your income and expenditures, you can look at your budgeting and set up automatic payments and export to Microsoft Excel. This app give you lots of visuals, with these graphs helping you identify areas in which you can potentially tighten your belt.

BloombergMore for those of you who have stocks and shares, the Bloomberg app is great for the latest trading news and analysis. Great for those users of every level, whether you are a trader or have a few shares knocking about. With the sheer amount of data and analysis on this app, it is recommended for the larger tablets than the small handheld devices.

Easy Books
EasyBooksEasy Books is a bookkeeping app which makes sending out repeat invoices for sole traders and small limited companies simple. For those of you who want to record your transactions, but without the hassle or price tag which comes with the renowned Sage software. This app has all the basics you need; receipts, payments, invoicing, VAT calculator as well as Profit and Loss accounts and Balance Sheets.

Google Docs – My Budget and more
Google DocsGoogle docs has the advantage that you can connect to it from any internet source and isn’t platform specific. Here you can find some free templates to use, which you can fill in with monthly income and outgoings in order to budget and save yourself some hard earned cash.

Home BudgetThis app is available for both the Android and iPlatforms with synchronisation to Mac and Windows operating systems too. This app is clean, with visual segments for your budgeting. It tracks your expenses, income and payments. Some of the best features include bill reminders, budget rollover and the ability to choose a different base currency for each account which can be useful for the international business man out there.

That just about completes the post. There are loads of money management apps out there, all of which will have you saving in some areas. All you have to do is get thinking about spending wisely and cutting costs where available.

Author Bio
This article was written by David Lewzey behalf of income protection company helpucover. helpucover are an insurance company who offer a range of cover from household insurance, car GAP insurance and gadget cover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc. Visit online at http://www.helpucover.co.uk/

Is Apple working on an iOS watch?

This is a guest post by Will Judd.

While most of the internet has light up over additional details over Apple’s purported smart watch, there was also some fairly compelling news this week about one of the future’s best-selling phones: the successor to the iPhone 5.

According to rumours published by PocketNow and 9to5Mac, the iPhone 5S will indeed follow the iPhone 5. Like the iPhone 4S to the 4, the 5S will be an iterative upgrade that keeps the same external design and appearance as the iPhone 5, but will include upgraded internal components to keep the phone feeling up to date. Hopefully Apple will avoid the situation with the iPhone 4S and 4, where some models have minutely different button layouts that necessitated whole new iPhone 4S cases to be made.

The iPhone 5S will include a number of hardware improvements, but one of the most important will be the processor. The iPhone 5S will include the same A6X processor as in the iPad 4, offering a much stronger performing smartphone that should destroy most benchmarks.

The iPhone 5S is also expected to come with an improved camera. After many years at 8 megapixels, might it finally be time for Apple to make the leap to 13 megapixels? We are seeing 13 megapixel models from pretty much all Android manufacturers (except for HTC, who have daringly gone with a four megapixel sensor utilising massive pixels on the HTC One), but then again Apple has never been one to follow trends. Apple has also been rumoured to shift from an f/2.4 camera to an f/2.0 one, but that’s also unconfirmed.

One rather left-field observation that’s making a comeback is the idea that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint scanner under the home button. This will reportedly improve security and usability, although specific use-cases (beyond the obvious touch to unlock) aren’t specified in the rumours (published, fittingly, by MacRumors).

I guess we won’t know anything for sure about the iPhone 5S until it is announced (or not) at Apple’s next big event. With a release date of August seeming likely, we’ve definitely got many more months of rumours and leaks ahead of us.

Samsung Galaxy S4 on the way?

This is a guest post by William Judd.

Samsung Galaxy S4 announcementWe last heard about it last week, and now we know it’s the truth: Samsung have confirmed that they will be unveiling the next version of their highly vaunted flagship smartphone series in just over two weeks, on March 14th.

Samsung mobile chief JK Shin spoke about the event to reporters at the Mobile World Congress, where Samsung is launching the Galaxy Note 8.0 phablet and other small products and charging Galaxy S3 covers. The timing is no accident either – Samsung will be wanting to take up as much of the coverage as possible during MWC, taking time away from competing products and companies.

Samsung also released a teaser on their official @SamsungMobile Twitter feed, posting an image that read “READY 4 THE SHOW” as well as the relevant details. That suggests that we will be seeing the Galaxy S IV, rather than a more different name.

The event will be taking place in New York, making for the first American launch of a Galaxy S smartphone since the original Galaxy S in 2010. The event is slated to begin at 19:00 Eastern Standard Time. As well as the numerous live blogs from our favourite tech blogs, you’ll be able to watch a live video feed of the event on Samsung’s own YouTube channel – a big improvement over Apple events, which tend to not be broadcasted conveniently (or at all).

So what do we know about the Samsung Galaxy S IV? Well, not much seems certain but we can make a good guess that we’ll see a 5-inch 1080p smartphone powered by one of Samsung’s Exynos mobile chipsets. The CPU will probably be quad-core, and could even conceivably be an eight-core design using ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture that pairs a quad-core A15 for heavy tasks with a quad-core A7 for lighter tasks. We’ll probably see a Samsung Galaxy S IV case with a built-in wireless charger, or we’ll see similar functionality inside the phone itself.

Beyond that, not much is certain – I guess we’ll just have to find out!

Are you excited for the launch? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have a good one!

Mum, take your tablet

iPad on grassSince everyone seems to constantly get older, and no one is getting younger, it’s no surprise that I now find myself looking after my elderly mother in areas where she and my now departed father would have coped easily in the past.

I don’t mind this after all she is my MUM….but it did get surreal when, a few years ago, she said she wanted a laptop and the Internet. She was about 80 at this point and had never worked a computer in her life; she even has trouble using digital TV. I went ahead and we sourced her a laptop. We then got BT, who she had her telephone with to give us Internet as well, it is easier when it comes to mum to have everything in the one place – believe me.

This seemed to be OK;  I placed shortcuts on her desktop and she merrily went along playing Solitaire and a word search game on the laptop. I showed her the email and Internet, but she never touched these areas as she thought she might get in a mess with it and break the laptop. I did explain that this would not happen but she did not take it any farther. Every now and again, when visiting, I asked to use her laptop and carried out all the Updates for Windows and anti-virus etc.

I later purchased a tablet for myself for ease of carrying and using.  I would get it out and connect to mum’s Internet and do some work while chatting and, while visiting her last year, she declared that she would love one of those; she was 84 at this point and remember the history of the laptop usage. Of course Apple had been filling the TV screen with images of iPads that you must have to complete your life but I was still surprised and put her off for a good few months. Each time I visited, though, and got my tablet out, she would say “I would like one of those and it would be easier than handling the laptop as I have to put it on the coffee table and bend over it.”

I tried to ignore it but in November she stated that I was to source one, buy it, and she would give me the money for it – she was treating herself for Christmas early. I went about the task and bought an Android based tablet that would be easily carried and large enough screen to be seen by her when using it. Of course I downloaded solitaire and a word search app for her and placed shortcuts on the desktop, which she uses. I showed her email again and Internet, I even signed her up for a G+ account and we had a hangout with my phone and her tablet in her living room. I thought this might help if she wants to chat and see someone’s face in the evening when she gets lonely.

When I now pop in I look for the tablet and it is in the box as she is frightened any children visiting will knock it off her table and break it. She tells me she does use it and plays word search or solitaire, but nothing else and I have sneakily sent her hangout requests to see if she is on it and try to get her to talk and use the hangout facility to no avail.

All good fun and makes me smile when I think about it.

Have you tried to introduce a non-technical family member or friend to a new gadget? How did you get on? Why not share your experiences and thoughts in the comments?

Ian Thomson is the founder of IT Turning Point, an IT Training and Consultancy company based in Fife, Scotland. Check out the IT Turning point website at www.itturningpoint.com for more information.

5 Amazing Android Apps for Coffee Addicts

Roasted coffee beansThis is a guest post by William Judd.

Good morning everybody and welcome to this article! Today we’re going to be looking at five brilliant Android apps for coffee lovers. If coffee is the secret to your ebullient nature, then this is the app for you. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

5. Hidden Menu Coffee Drinks
There’s something about ordering a drink that’s not on the menu that’s quite exciting – particularly when you actually get it! This app taps into that excitement, offering a range of secret menu items you can ask for at Starbucks. These are all modifications of existing drinks, ensuring that your barista doesn’t need to be in on it to be able to fulfill the order. You’ll get both a plain English version and a Starbucks-specific code for each drink, allowing you to easily show or tell the barista what you’d like. With twenty-five recipes on tap and a further 50 available by purchasing the Pro version, you’ll definitely have some experimenting to do.

4. Coffee Recipes
This app is similar in idea, but offers a much broader execution. While the Hidden Menu app offered only Starbucks drinks, this app shows you 90 different coffee recipes that you can make yourself or ask your friendly neighbordhood barista for. With a range of apps including both well-known options and rather esoteric ones, even the most jaded coffee orderer will find plenty new to try. This is a good app for trainee baristas, as it’ll widely expand the range of drinks at your disposal.

3. Coffee Finder
This app is again for the lovers of the big American and Canadian chains – Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Dunkin’ Donuts and the like. These and five other chains are shown on a map, allowing you to easily find the nearest coffee outlet wherever you are. This is, however, limited to the United States and Canada – when I used the app in the United Kingdom, I found that only Starbucks offered up any results. If you are in North America, this is definitely a great app, but those in other nations are probably best off using the standard Google Maps app.

2. Coffeemania
This app is similar to our number 4 entry, but offers an even greater number of coffee recipes. There’s more than 250 in total, with a wide range of options including hot and cold drinks and even coffee-based food. There are also some informational sections, which contain educational material on brewing methods and vessels (although some options, like senseo pods, aren’t shown). The app is not brilliantly laid out, but it gets the job done and is more than worth the free install.

1. Baristame
This is the best app on the list by far, as it offers both solid educational content on espresso based drinks and a beautiful design. With excellent diagrams of each drink in its database, you’ll find Baristame is a pleasure to use. Each drink also contains information on its origin and any variants that exist. If you want to test your coffee knowledge, you can do so in the quiz mode that the app offers. The Pro variant is probably the most worthwhile of any of the apps on this list – for $1, you get a lot of additional educational content, including information on brewing methods and even coffee-producing nations. A well designed app that’s perfect for coffee lovers!

So there we have it – five coffee app selections for Android. Thanks for reading the article and be sure to let me know in the comments below what you thought of it. If you find any great coffee apps that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments or message me on Twitter @wsjudd – I’m always interested in finding out that next great app! Have a good day and I’ll see you next time.

Valve unveils their Steam Box

Valve Steam BoxThis is a guest post by William Judd.

This Consumer Electronics Show has been an unusually good one for PC gamers. Not only has Nvidia announced Project Shield, a hand-held Android games console that uses their new Tegra 4 processor to stream videogames from your PC, but Valve has finally officially announced their Steam Box.

The idea of the Steam Box is that it is a Valve-endorsed gaming computer designed to be hooked up to an HDTV in the living room. The Box hooks up to Valve’s Steam online store and gaming community, allowing you to play PC games with the ease of a console. Steam recently released their “Big Picture Mode” update, which added a console-style UI suitable for using with a controller on an HDTV. The Steam Box should have a small physical footprint and should offer a fairly good price to performance ratio, allowing it to play the majority of games at HD settings.

Speaking to The Verge in an extensive interview, Valve Software CEO Gabe Newell described three levels of hardware: “Good”, which would cost around $100 and would come down in price from there, “Better” which would cost approximately $300 and “Best” which could cost as much as any top-of-the-line gaming PC.

Valve would look to build its own Steam Box running Linux, but would also work with other hardware partners to create an entire new class of computers running along similar goals. While the Valve-built Steam Box would have tightly controlled hardware standards like a traditional games console, other Steam Boxes could have a range of specifications and features decided on by their manufacturer.

The Steam Box created by Valve won’t just be useful in the living room, however. The Box would also work as a server, with next-generation versions of the box running post-Kepler Nvidia architecture being capable of running as many as 8 disparate displays and controllers.

Valve are also investigating innovative new game controller. Newell stated that Wii Sports, the launch title for the Wii, remains the pinnacle of motion-based input, so Valve have moved onto other options. Biometrics look like they’ll provide a potentially new avenue for exploration, as instead of replacing mouse and keyboard or controller based input, they would instead add new inputs that would allow the game to respond to your heart rate and other subconscious clues. Gaze tracking was also mentioned by Newell as an area of interest.

Overall, the Steam Box definitely seems to be an interesting new development for PC gaming. For too long, the attention has been on fairly inconsequential mobile gaming developments like tablets and iPhone accessories – with the Steam Box, we may see something much more exciting. Valve revolutionised the industry with their Steam gaming service and marketplace, and it looks like they could have a similar evolutionary leap on their hands with the Steam Box.

Do you rely on your sat nav?

With society becoming more and more reliant on technology, GPS satellite navigation devices have become a part of every day life. You can download them on your smartphone in minutes and, theoretically, be directed to wherever you’re going via the fastest route. Sounds great, yes, but is this all too easy? Are we becoming too reliant on the sat nav to get us from A to B? Here, Izzy from PassSmart, looks at how the sat nav has become a part of our lives, and how our reliance on them could be putting us, and others, at risk.

Distracted driving

The dangers of distracted driving are all too well documented. Texting or speaking on a hand-held mobile behind the wheel are both offences which, in the UK, could land you with a £60 fine and three points on your licence.

So, what’s different about sat navs? They’re legal, yes, but they can still cause a driver to lose concentration. Whether you’re trying to type in an address whilst on the move, or looking at the screen instead of the road, there’s no doubt that – if used incorrectly – a sat nav can be distracting.

In becoming too trusting of sat navs, drivers are at risk of blindly following the directions and missing vital road signs, obstructions or changes in road layouts. Sat navs are, after all, technology, and technology can fail. At best, you’ll find yourself circling the same road, but you only have to do a quick internet search to find stories of accidents in which a sat nav has played a part.

Loss of common sense

Just a couple of weeks ago, a young driver found herself driving onto a Croydon tramline during rush hour, after following the directions of her sat nav. Although the driver escaped unhurt, the results could have been catastrophic.

We’d all like to think that this mistake wouldn’t happen to us, but how often do you trust your sat navs instructions over your own initiative? Have you ever missed a no entry or one way sign because you were simply following your sat nav?

It’s important to remember that a sat nav is just a guide. It’s not in control of the car. It can’t predict the broken down car around the corner, or the child playing at the side of the road. You, as the driver, are responsible for expecting the unexpected, regardless of what your sat nav is telling you.

‘Inattentional blindness’

A study, conducted by researchers at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, addressed the phenomenon of ‘inattentional blindness’, applying it to sat nav use.

They found that drivers who were following a sat nav could be ‘blind’ to visual information that might clutter their already focused brain. In concentrating on the information that the sat nav is feeding their brain, drivers can be ‘blind’ to what they see going on around them.

“Our research”, Professor Nillie Lavie from UCL explained, “would suggest that focusing on remembering the directions we’ve just seen on the screen means that we’re more likely to fail to observe other hazards around us on the road, for example an approaching motorbike or pedestrian on a crossing, even though we may be ‘looking’ at where we’re going.”

Sat navs are, undoubtedly, useful devices when used correctly. Remember that they are simply a guide, can provide incorrect information, and can’t predict hazards. Most importantly, trust your own initiative. You didn’t, after all, pass your driving test by letting a machine do all the hard work for you!

Have you found yourself in a tricky situation after following your sat nav’s instructions? Do you prefer to stick to reading the map and foregoing the technological approach? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

This guest post was written by Izzy Guarella on behalf of PassSmart.com; the UK-based company who match learner drivers with driving instructors in their area.

If content is King, long live the King

This is a guest post by Matt Rawlings

The recent Google updates have changed the face of SEO forever. No longer is it all about stuffing a website full of keywords with the hope that Google ranks it higher than all the competitors. Today, since the bizarrely named Penguin and Panda updates have come in, it’s all about high quality, unique, regular and informative content that site visitors – and Google’s crawlers – actually want to read, not what’s being forced upon them.

Websites pre-Penguin used to be filled with anchor text, links and key terms with the hope that the search engines would index them all and reward them for their efforts by placing them at the top of the rankings, allowing visitors to find them more easily. Today, the focus is actually on the freshness and quality of the content itself. If an article is placed online, filled with “spammy” keywords and links to here, there and everywhere, it will be penalised accordingly, rewarding the site with a drop in the rankings and subsequently costing them traffic as well as potential sales, depending on the nature of the site of course.

This is where those working in the industry, providing their online expertise – like Vroom, an SEO company based in Dublin – have had to adjust their tactics and really earn their money. They’ve had to adopt new techniques and strategies to meet the goals set by their clients and to stay on top of their own game in the process.

Regular content doesn’t necessarily mean several pieces each day – this can get into the “spammy” bracket – but keeping the site updated with material that is truly unique, never seen before, never copied, however you want to phrase it, and that – most importantly – is relevant to your audience.

For instance, if you’re a technology website, with the aim of providing really informative articles about the latest laptops, smartphones, SEO developments, social media rumours and the ongoing battle for manufacturer supremacy between the likes of Apple and Microsoft, you should steer clear from writing about fashion because it doesn’t fit the look and feel of the site. The search engine crawlers, clever as they are becoming, will see this and penalise you if you start to go too far off topic, too regularly.

The most important thing you should remember is that it’s all about high quality content. If you haven’t got something important, interesting and relevant to say, don’t post it. You can compromise the overall quality of the site as well as your rankings, and you should take pride in the appearance of your website, especially if you’re trying to make sales. If people don’t like the look of your business, they’re less likely to do business with you.

Content is the future of SEO strategies, whether it’s in the form of blog posts on your site or guest posting campaigns to enhance your brand visibility, get it right and you’re on the road to success.

How do you handle SEO on your website? Have you noticed any radical changes in traffic levels recently that could be a result of changes at any of the big search engines? As ever, let us know your thoughts in the comments.