14 free MegaUpload alternatives

By Andrew Couts
Digital Trends

Last year, file-sharing giant MegaUpload was dead, following an international criminal sting spearheaded by the US Department of Justice. Prior to its closure, the site boasted 50 million users a day, and accounted for four percent of all Internet traffic, according to the DoJ. That means a lot of you out there are looking for a new way to  store and share your files. Here, a quick list of 15 sites that will fill the gaping hole in your life left by MegaUpload’s abrupt departure. Just don’t blame us if the feds seize one of these next.

RapidShare: The most like MegaUpload of the bunch, RapidShare lets users upload files of unlimited size, and share them via an emailable, tweetable, Facebookable link. There is also no storage limit, but files are automatically deleted after a certain period of time. Users who want to utilize RapidShare as a cloud storage service can upgrade to RapidPro for about $39 (29.9 Euro — RapidShare is based in Switzerland) for 150 days, or about $130 for two years.

MediaFire: A stripped-down version of RapidShare, MediaFire also lets users upload any type of file, with a max upload size of 2GB for free users. There is no storage limit, but also like RapidShare, your files will be deleted after certain period of time. Users can upgrade to a Pro account for $9 a month, which also ups max file size to 4GB. Files are shared via a link.

Dropbox: A popular, robust cloud storage service, Dropbox gives users 2GB of storage for free, and lets users share files with anyone via their public folder, or other Dropbox users through email invitation. Users can upgrade to 50GB for $10 a month, or 100GB for $20 a month.

Box: Like Dropbox, Box is primarily a cloud storage service, as opposed to a straight file-sharing service. Users get 5GB for free, and can share via a direct link to a file, or can invite users to view the contents of an entire folder by email. Free users can only upload files 25MB or smaller. Paid users can up their upload limit to 1GB-per-file for $10 a month, which also expands storage to 25GB, or $20 for 50GB.

YouSendIt: One of the original file-sharing services, YouSendIt offers 2GB of free storage, with a per-file upload limit of 50MB. (Free users also have to deal with ads.) Files can then be shared via email, but only five per month for free users. Up your storage to 5GB for $10 a month (or $50 per year), and you also get a maximum file size of 2GB, and 10 shares. Unlimited storage and unlimited shares (but the same max file size) is also available for $15 a month, or $150 a year.

Minus: One of the easiest options available, Minus lets users who sign up for an account simply drag and drop any file (up to 2GB) to upload, and gives users up to 50GB of free storage. Uploaded files can be shared via an automatically-generated link. It’s that simple.

Amazon Cloud Drive: Like a no-frills version of Dropbox or Box, Amazon’s Cloud Drive gives 5GB of storage space for free, and can be upgraded to 20GB, up to 1,000GB, for about $1 a gigabyte, per year. (Making it by far one of the least expensive options.) Max file size is 2GB. The biggest downside: No files sharing allowed (unless you give someone your Amazon password, of course).

Microsoft SkyDrive: Completely free, SkyDrive gives users 25GB of free storage, and the ability to share files with others via email. Unfortunately, users can only upload files up to 50GB. Also, you have to have a Hotmail (or other MSN) address. Lame!

SugarSync: Nearly identical to Dropbox and Box (for most intents and purposes), SugarSync gives away 5GB of storage for free, and offers paid plans that range from $5 per month (30GB) to $25 per month (250GB). Free accounts are limited to 25GB file uploads, or 1GB, if you are a paid user. Files can be shared via link, or by inviting users to join a folder.

Oron: Super stripped-down, Oron lets free users upload files up to 400MB, up to five files at a time. Uploaded files, which can be shared via link, are only kept for a short period of time, and upload speed is slow, for free users who don’t create an account. Registered users can get upload files up to 1GB in size, and have 250GB of storage. Premium accounts (which cost 10 Euros to 75 Euros, depending on how long you want the account) allow file uploads up to 2GB, with unlimited storage and much faster upload speeds.

Deposit Files: Similar to Oron, but max upload size jumps to 2GB for all users. Files are also not deleted, like they are with other services. Gold members get a number of perks, including faster download speeds. Prices for Gold accounts range from $12 for one month, to $75 for a year. No sign-up necessary for free users. Files are shared through a link.

FilePost: Remember all the stuff we just said about Deposit Files? File Post is that, but with a max upload size of 5GB for paid users. Everything else is basically the same.

FileSonic: A bit more polished and robust than either Oron or Deposit Files, FileSonic offers free users 30 days of storage time, and maximum uploads of up to 1GB. For $9 a month, users receive unlimited storage, unlimited storage time, maximum download speeds and max file uploads of up to 5GB. And yes, files are shared via link.

WUpload: WUpload sells itself as a “100 percent safe and anonymous” file-sharing site, that gives free users a maximum upload size of 2GB. But free comes at a price: no simultaneous downloads, and a mandatory delay before download can begin. Free users storage space is also limited to 750GB. Premium users can erase all the negatives, and up their max file upload to 10GB.

Auto Traffic Trends

BY Dave Guindon
Check out this awesome method for getting free traffic by harnessing the power of trending products ...

How to Build a Successful Brand.

Learn the common characteristics of all successful brands, the difference between your personal brand and your business brand, and how to build each one.

You'll learn how your employees affect your brand image, and how to leverage gamification to spice up your brand as well as audience engagement.

How Are Your Employees Marketing You?
Your employees are a direct reflection of your business. So, do you know what they’re doing when they’re representing it? This article discusses the common pitfalls of employee actions that cause negative brand perception, and how to avoid them.

How to Become a Great Brand Journalist to Augment Your Content Marketing Strategy
Brand journalism is rising in popularity as a way to augment existing content strategies. This article covers the who, what, when, where, and why of brand journalism so you can implement it within your strategy.

How to Create and Implement a Branding Strategy
Brands are loved, recognized, and appreciated. Businesses without brands have no personality, no distinction, no recognition. That’s why it’s vital to devise and implement a branding strategy. This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to do just that.

Download information files after agreeing to sign up for their newsletter at audiencebloom.com

How to Use Google's New Top Charts Feature to Improve Your Web Content

BY Eric Siu

As a webmaster, the more you know about your website visitors, the better able you'll be to target future promotions, stock changes, content and more to their needs. Google has a new tool that can help with this.

Conventional keyword research can make it difficult to identify overarching trends within your industry. As an example, suppose you run a website that recommends different credit cards and bank accounts to personal finance readers. You want to know which banking brands are trending among your followers, but when you use your keyword research tool, you get a jumble of results that are hard to interpret.

A keyword list was generated using the search term "bank" within Google Adwords.
SunTrust Banks was represented twice on this list using different spellings. In order to get a complete idea of how many of your readers are interested in SunTrust Banks, you'd need to add all the different SunTrust related keywords together and compare your total against other aggregate options.

This is where Google's new Top Charts feature comes in handy. 
Top Charts provides cumulative trend data in more than 40 categories. Essentially, these charts reveal the subjects that people in a given industry are most interested in based on overall search habits -- not on individual keyword volumes.

SEO Basics: Keyword Research Made Easy

BY Eric Siu

When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, knowing the best keywords for your brand is critical. But sometimes the process of researching your keywords can get out of hand.

A keyword, or keyword phrase, is an easy way of referring to the queries people type into the search bars of their favorite engines. As a website owner, you want to know which keywords your customers are searching for so that you can use SEO best practices to optimize your site for them and improve your chances of appearing in the natural search results for these queries.

Say, for instance, that you run a pet-grooming business in Bloomington, Ill. You want your website to appear at the top of Google's list for the keyword phrase "pet grooming Bloomington, Ill."

You might have already read about the importance of things like keyword competition or keyword search volume when conducting your keyword research. But forget all of that for a moment. The only keywords you need to worry about when you're starting out are the keywords your customers are actually typing in to their search engines.

There are a few different ways you can find these keywords:

Use your customer research knowledge.
Nobody knows your market better than you do. Instead of relying on a third-party keyword generating tool, start writing out a list of all the different keyword variations your customers might be searching for. Following our previous example, a pet grooming keyword list might include "pet haircut Bloomington, Ill," "dog grooming Bloomington, Ill" and "pet grooming Ill."

Look in Google Analytics.
If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, log in and head over to the "Traffic Sources" menu. There, you'll be able to separate your organic search visitors and see a list of the keywords they used to get to your website. Unfortunately, a large number of your results will come up as "Not Provided" (thanks to anonymous browsers and Google's proprietary reasons), but add the phrases that you do see to your growing keyword list. You can also find similar information in your Google Webmaster Tools account.

Leverage Google's "Related Searches".
You can also head over to Google and conduct searches for each of the individual keywords you've come up with to this point. Then scroll down to the bottom of the results. There, you should see a separate section where Google lists other keywords that are related to your original phrase. If any of these keywords are relevant to your business, they deserve a place on your keyword list.

Once you have an initial keyword list compiled, you can start thinking about keyword search volume and keyword competition. Head over to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which recently replaced the External Keyword Tool. You'll need a Google Adwords account to access the tool, but you should be able create an account without funding it right away. Alternatively, if you prefer to use another keyword tool, such as Wordtracker (plans start at $69 per month) to research search volume, use that one instead.

Once in the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, select the option labeled "Enter or upload keywords to see how they perform" and paste your list into the text box that appears. Modify the targeting options if necessary and then click the "Get search volume" button.

The screen that appears will give you a rough estimate of the average number of monthly searches each keyword receives and how competitive Google thinks the phrase is. There's no hard and fast rule about the minimum number of monthly searches you should aim for, as your threshold will be determined by the size of your audience and the profit margins of your products.

For example, if your market is small and your website only receives an average of 1,000 visitors per month, a keyword with a monthly search volume of 100 visitors could be quite lucrative. But if you're serving a larger market and operate on miniscule profit margins, it might not be worth your time to optimize your site for keywords with less than 3,000 to 5,000 average monthly searches.

Search competition is similarly subjective. If you're in a competitive market, you might not have a choice but to target tough keywords. At the same time, just because a keyword has low competition doesn't mean you should optimize your site for it -- especially if it isn't well-targeted to your customers.

If you're struggling to get started with keyword research, I recommend not worrying too much about either one of these metrics. Start by tailoring your sites to the keyword phrases your visitors are mostly likely to use to find your site, assuming that their Keyword Planner results show at least a few monthly searches.

Only after you've cut your teeth on these introductory phrases should you start to worry about metrics-driven keyword research.

How to Create a 'Perfectly Optimized' Webpage for Search

BY Kevin Allen

Just what is search engine optimization, anyway?

It's the practice of creating a digital piece of content or web page that is Google-friendly. If a page is SEO friendly, it's findable when you search for it. It's easier said than done, though. But a new infographic from Moz makes it a bit easier.

"The perfectly optimized page" gives an example of a bakery that has a splendidly findable chocolate donut recipe.

It's keyword-targeted, bot-accessible and incorporates relevant metadata that helps the bots browsers use to crawl websites place pages in searches.
For more on how to create your own perfectly SEO friendly page, check out the infographic:

Why Short Videos Are Wildly Popular Over Social Media

BY Michael Miller

When it comes to marketing your brand or business online, can you tell your story in 15 seconds? How about six?

That's all the time you have when you use one of the new short-video sharing apps available for iOS and Android devices. Vine was the first of these video apps, enabling you to shoot and upload videos no more than six seconds long and loop over and over. Not to be left behind, Instagram recently added video sharing to its digital photo app, and upped the time limit to a whopping 15 seconds per video. Instagram videos don't loop.

Then there's MixBit, which lets you shoot short videos but also enables editing of multiple clips into longer one- and two-minute videos.

All of these services are mobile-only, with videos shot and shared from iPhones and other mobile devices. Vine and Instagram video, especially, are proving to be immensely popular. Vine, which is owned by Twitter, amassed 13 million users in its first four months on the market. Instagram Video was immediately available to the service's 130 million users, who uploaded more than five million videos in the service's first 24 hours.

But, let's be serious: What is up with the short videos? Are six seconds and 15 seconds arbitrary amounts of time? Or is there some method to this madness?

The short-video approach is designed to offer viewers a much different viewing experience than with traditional longer-form videos. Case in point are Vine's six-second videos, which are immediate and without pretense. They're also short enough to upload and view quickly, even on slower mobile connections. Instagram went for slightly longer videos that enable companies to upload new or existing 15-second commercials.

In practical use, Vine's shorter videos tend to inspire more creativity. 
Since you can start and stop recording for multiple shots, many companies are creating interesting stop-motion animations that showcase their products. The looping nature of Vine videos can also result in interesting effects as videos circle back into and through themselves. The "summer up" roller coaster video from Target is a perfect example of Vine's stop-motion and looping in action.

Instagram, on the other hand, is attracting more traditional promotional videos.
You don't have to be as inventive to fit your message into a 15-second container and many companies appreciate the extra time to tell their stories and showcase their products. For example, a Starbucks video gives a short tour of the company's original Pike Place store.

Since both Vine and Instagram encourage social sharing, the most interesting videos can quickly go viral. It's not unusual to see popular Vine and Instagram videos popping up in Twitter and Facebook feeds. The sharing nature of both services offer the potential for significant customer engagement.
If you want to see how the different services require different approaches, search for Gap's stop-motion videos on Vine and Gap's more traditional customer testimonials on Instagram.

Key Ingredients to a Winning Mobile Content-Marketing Strategy

BY Jayson DeMers

When you think about the different ways customers land on your company's website, mobile is most likely a growing driver of traffic. According to the latest statistics from Pew Research, 56 percent of Americans own a smartphone and 34 percent own a tablet. Then consider that 63 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to go online.

Does your content-marketing strategy take these trends into account?
Plugging new channels or technologies into your existing content strategy isn't enough. As a business owner, you need to consider how your site and your marketing are being delivered over the devices people are using. If you're not delivering your marketing messages in a way that's tailored specifically to the experience of a smartphone or tablet user, chances are you're turning customers away.

Here's a closer look at some critical points to consider about your company's mobile content-marketing strategy:

Mobile isn't just about the device.
Don't just look at the mobile channel as a series of devices. It's true that your content needs to be optimized and look great across different brands of tablets and smartphones. But mobile is also about the context and behaviors of your customers while they're on those devices.

What are they doing on that smartphone?
Are they accessing content relaxing at home, or glancing quickly during their commute? Your content strategy needs to represent a deeper understanding of your users' mobile context and what that means for both your content and experience creation.

For example, I recently bought a new home theater system. As I was setting it up in the living room, I realized that I lacked a particular part to enable the wireless rear speakers. I needed to figure out how to buy that part while I was next to my speaker system so I could examine their part numbers and other information printed on the speakers. I pulled out my iPhone and began searching the web. Plenty of suppliers had the part available, but I made my purchase based on what I needed at that moment: Assurance that it was the right part, trustworthiness of the supplier and a reasonable price. I purchased from the supplier that was able to convey each of those things in the easiest, most efficient manner on my smartphone.

Base your strategy on how your audience really uses mobile.
An effective mobile content strategy demands an understanding of your audience's mobile usage. Marketers like to imagine they know their customers. But the reality of mobile usage may differ from your perception.

Part of your audience profile should focus on how mobile fits into your customers' lives.
What devices are they on? What kind of an experience are they looking for from you?
Data from your existing website analytics program can give you mobile insights, as can targeted surveys, to form the foundation of your mobile content strategy.

Think before you shrink.
The old model of content creation was to adapt content from other formats, usually the web, to a small screen. Text was chunked differently, visuals updated and overall layouts simplified and made more "tappable" for touchscreens.

Instead, look at all of your content through a mobile lens at the point of creation. Copywriting and visuals should be as short and minimalistic as possible, while effectively conveying your message. Then adapt your ideas from there to the bigger screen. Scale content creation up, rather than down.

Rethink your user experience through design.
Every business needs a website that looks great and functions well on mobile devices. If information is hard to find or your site is impossible to navigate, you'll lose customers. But mobile design goes beyond basic functionality. Ask yourself if you're providing the right experience in terms of content, look, feel, functionality and tools to help your customers achieve their end goal.

Going back to my example about buying the part for the home theater system, during my search for suppliers I found several that had awful mobile design. One in particular wouldn't even let me add my item to the cart. Needless to say, I didn't make my purchase from that supplier.

Focus first on the experience, and then optimize the visuals.

Expand your understanding of conversions.
In the mobile universe, conversions go way beyond the sale. Signing up for a newsletter, sharing your content or downloading a white paper may be valuable customer touch points. Think about the range of mobile conversions with value for your business and develop mobile content to support that funnel.

Take advantage of location.
Geolocation technologies are giving businesses creative ways to engage customers, from sending market research surveys to customers nearby to offering discount codes to drive sales. Examples of these technologies include Apple's Siri, Google Now and GPS-enabled apps for iOS and Android.

Mobile devices are the lever these campaigns hinge on. Consider how location-based technologies could increase immediate engagement with your customers.

Leverage the rise of micro-video.
As visual content such as videos and infographics become the preferred form of content, specific opportunities are appearing for mobile. Short videos on Vine and Instagram have provided marketers another way to reach their audience. What part of your story can you tell in a micro-video? For some interesting takes on Vine campaigns check out Oreo's campaign and Lowe's six-second home improvement tips.

Make social engagement easy.
Is your content easy to share and easy to engage with? Simple like and share buttons encourage social engagement. If you're requesting information, avoid long essay questions and forms that are awkward to navigate.

With more opportunities to reach customers and prospects by mobile, companies can stay relevant by creating mobile-focused content marketing strategies. This can help you to concentrate on high-return mobile activities that drive website traffic, engagement, leads and sales.