Here in San Francisco, the weather is beautiful and people are smiling after weeks of rain. Inside Moscone Center at the Web 2.0 Expo, a similar climate of hope and expectation prevails, bolstered by evidence that the economic climate now favors individuals, businesses, and non-profits that want to expand their reach with a slew of new technologies.
Before heading back this afternoon, I want to quickly highlight three of the most promising products and services I saw that can help improve your web presence right now with minimal investments of time and money.
- Blekko – This is a very exciting product that makes search more meaningful, by allowing you to curate high-quality content in specific topic areas. Blekko is a search engine that employs the use of slashtags (the backslash followed by a search word, such as /history) to filter out spam and only search the most useful sites.
Blekko has curated hundreds of slashtags themselves, and with a free account you can create your own content-rich search tags. This is an excellent tool for educators, but Blekko also makes curation easy for individuals, with search boxes for your web browser, and embeddable search boxes for websites and blogs. Put a RSS feed from your customized search into a sidebar, track your inbound links with their handy widget, and spread the word about your personally curated list of content sources—the process is easy, free, and once it is set up it just works. Excellent.
- PR Newswire – Getting your press release into the right hands can be daunting for small businesses, which is why PR Newswire, the online industry leader, has launched a value-priced range of services called iReach. With iReach, you can distribute your press release through PR Newswire’s website and RSS feed for a very reasonable one-time-only fee. The process is easy, automated, and you get a permanent URL for your press release, which you can then broadcast through your own social media channels.
If you post press releases on your website already, having a link back to your site from your PR Newswire URL will boost your site ranking and drive traffic to any page that you specify in your press release. This is a powerful tool that can be used in several ways, and the fact that it is now affordable for startups and small operations is great news.
- FusionCharts – Information is power, but not if that information is unreadable. The web is a visual medium, and one great graphic says more than a table full of data. FusionCharts is software that creates interactive, animated charts and maps from your data, using both HTML5 and Flash so that the results can be viewed on any mobile device.
FusionCharts also has a tiered pricing structure for Enterprise, Intranet, Web Developer, and Individual (non-commercial) use. This makes a very powerful set of tools completely affordable for small businesses and organizations. They offer a free, unlimited trial version of their software, so you can play around with it and make sure it’s right for you before purchasing. With an active user forum and engaged users, FusionCharts makes it easy to create visually stunning graphics on your website and make that information as powerful as it ought to be.