Do your pop-ups annoy customers? Here is how to check

Note: This article was inspired by Mark Traphagen's discussion.

Dear WebMeUp user, what is your attitude to pop-ups?

On the one hand, they bear a lot of resemblance to interruptive ads, because they arrive unannounced and don't ask for your permission to manifest on the screen.

On the other hand, they are much easier to mute. And, as the marketing industry matures, pop-up messages are getting more discreet, and tend to whisper rather than shout.

So, while an average Web surfer largely dislikes pop-ups, can they still be effective to spur conversions?

How to create urgency

When you know as many people in copywriting and marketing as I do, you get a lot of really great email pitches.

Most of these pitches don't work on me anymore, and they probably wouldn't work on you. You can see right through the ploy – sure, sure, the price is going to go up tomorrow. Yes, it's a limited time offer. Well, of course there are only so many seats available.

Yawn. You've heard it before and so have I.

And yet – and I'm not making this up – I just bought a $1,300 product from a woman I've known for ten years.

Let me repeat that: I know this woman. We're friends. We've hung out together. We have history. In all likelihood, I could pick up the phone right now and ask her to comp me a copy of this product, and she'd probably say sure, no problem.

But I bought it, late at night on a Wednesday, because she sent me an email that just clicked so perfectly.

I wanted this product. I didn't want to miss out on it. I needed it.

I didn't even think calling my friend and asking for a free copy – and let me remind you: I've been in this business for a very long time. I'm over it. I'm cynical. I'm jaded. I've seen it all before.

And damned if I didn't hit that buy button despite all this.

What did my friend do to make me lose all my common sense?

She appealed to my senses of need and urgency.

5 ways to get influential bloggers to engage with and share your content

One could view the blogging world as defined by a pecking order, where popular bloggers with large reader bases stand above smaller, newer blog enthusiasts. Ultimately, two factors determine who perches at the top of the food chain: the loyalty of readers and number of readers.

Some bloggers might boast a small, enthusiastically loyal fan base. Others may trudge onward with a large base of readers who are interested but not passionate. The best bloggers combine both loyalty and numbers - they hold, in a word, influence.

One notable aspect of this system is that the more numerous and loyal your readers are, the more effective your efforts to secure even more visitors will be. Influence begets influence, but it can be difficult to establish yourself if you don't have much to start with.

One way to get past a dearth of influence is simply to go through those who do - by finding ways to get influential bloggers to engage with your posts and possibly even share them. In this post, I'll discuss five strategies to do just that.

Dealing with unnatural links in 2014: do you have a post-Penguin plan?

In not-so-distant past, Google changed the game of SEO forever. In January 2012, the company began sending webmasters messages about "unnatural links" pointing to their sites. All in all, some 25,000 messages like that had been dispatched before February 2012.

The Penguin update ensued, causing the great migration of backlinks on the Web. Pretty much anyone who had been consciously engaged in SEO got "penguinised" and either sank into oblivion, or adjusted their linking strategies. Many had been cleaning up and disavowing their links - the usual Penguin aftermath routine.

Right now, the dust raised by Penguin's glossy feet seems to have settled, but the issue of unnatural links remains. First, Google is likely to turn up the dial with upcoming updates, and there may be new losers. Second, the punitive nature of Google Penguin gave rise to negative SEO.

So, how does one go about spotting and removing unnatural links? Is it necessary to take action as soon as you spot suspicious links in your profile, or should you act only if there is a traffic drop or a warning in Google Webmaster Tools? Let's look at some possible scenarios.

7 hot design tips to give your “About us” page a second life

Building a powerful "About us" page (or "Meet our team," "About the company," etc.) is not a trivial task anymore. As users are getting more demanding on the Web, they don't want to read average corporate blah-blah-blah about how awesome your company is.

The truth is, you have to change your approach towards the "About us" pages and the 7 techniques below will help you get inspired.

1. Studiompls - minimalism of shapes and colors

One of the current trends (common not only for team pages, but for the whole Web) is simplicity of form and color. Clean lines and simples shapes helps get through the clutter and make a good impression on users.

Studiompls has designed their team page minimalistic – it includes big photos (of high-quality) and bio text. The page is well-structured and looks neat: