Archive for July, 2008

Internet Marketing For Beginners
July 31, 2008

Internet marketing for beginners is somewhat of an oxymoron. Executing effective strategies can be extremely difficult within Internet marketing. This is because while in theory the concepts behind Internet marketing might be quite simple, sometimes it is a very difficult process to gain the upper hand. Even for those who are quite experienced in the world of Internet marketing, this can be quite tough.

By taking this in consideration , this article will undertake to explain the concept of Internet marketing for the newbie (beginners) and will outline some basic concepts and strategies which can aid a business owner to launch his own Internet marketing campaign. We will investigate concepts such as creating a website, sending out e-newsletters, placing banner ads, generating an email marketing campaign and optimizing your website for search engines sometimes called SEO friendly..

Probably creating a website is one of the most basic steps for starting an Internet marketing campaign. If you have a poorly designed website or do not have a website at all you should consider creating or re-designing a website to adequately market your products. If you have little or no experience in web design, there are a number of software packages which make it a snap to create a functional website. An alternative is to hire a web designer. This the best route because he/she can work to create a website which is attractive, functional and suitable to your products and series. He/she can also help you include more advanced features on your website.

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Could Cuil be a useful tool to check on-site SEO effectiveness?
July 29, 2008

Earlier today the new search engine Cuil was officially launched. While it’s obviously got a long way to get anywhere near competing with Google what I find interesting is that it’s been developed by former Google engineers and that it “ranks pages by content, rather than popularity”.

This means that rather than ranking a page based upon the quality of it’s backlinks, Cuil will list the webpage’s which it’s algorithm feel are well-optimised towards a specific query. This probably isn’t great news for Cuil itself (as many well-optimised but untrusted websites will rank highly in it’s search results) but I would imagine a lot of the same on-site optimisation factors which are relevant in Google have also been applied to Cuil.

This could make Cuil a very useful indicator of how effective your on-site SEO will be in Google. For example, a search for SEO will display websites containing relevant content as opposed to the trusted authority domains ranking in Google:

Cuil - SEO Rankings

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New Social Bookmarking Website UAN.ME Opens
July 28, 2008

Uan.Me is the first social bookmarking website built on the new and extremely popular DOT ME TLD. Social Networking has exploded, becoming more popular than ever. Social Bookmarking has become part of any successful Internet Marketing Campaign. UAN.ME embraces both social bookmarking and bookmarks by internet marketers and SEO Professionals.

Many Social Bookmarking Websites shun Internet Marketers and SEO Professionals. UAN.ME has a much more liberal approach to social bookmarking. The owner, Charles Crawford Jr. calls it “Social Bookmarketing.”

“I wanted to create a social networking website that welcomes all types of users. I have been a member of several social bookmarking websites and noticed that some sites and their users seemed to ostracize certain types of bookmarks that have anything to do with Internet Marketing or SEO. UAN.ME welcomes everyone, including Marketers because there is nothing evil about promoting your website.”

UAN.ME recognizes the need for reputation management, link building, and marketing by creating a place where SEO firms and internet marketers can bookmark their clients’ websites and blogs while still welcoming those who want to bookmark and share their favorite news stories, websites, and blogs. Whether they own the site or not. UanMe spells community.

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Video As A Search Marketing Tool For SMBs
July 25, 2008

Video is becoming an important part of local search marketing campaigns, and this week’s SMX Local Mobile conference features speaking talking about how small and medium businesses can use video to be more effective with their online marketing. Video solutions providers to these panels are Jared Simon, VP of Business Development of TurnHere, and Anupam Gupta, President and CEO of Mixpo are speaking. I caught up with Gupta earlier this week and asked for a preview of what he’ll be presenting at the conference.

To summarize, Mixpo is a turnkey video marketing solution geared specifically for SMBs (small-to-medium businesses), which combines a self-service platform including hosting, a interactive video player, and online editing that allows clients to simply and quickly repurpose their video.

One of the notable SEO benefits: Multiple videos can be developed from a single original client video, allowing for an easier assembly of video content applied for both search optimization and video advertising.

“This is an exciting time for online video advertising. More advertising dollars and marketing budgets are moving towards video. Big brands and big advertisers jumped into video first. Now there are millions of small brands and advertisers that are just starting to get exposed to online video,” says Anupam.

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Pay-per-click Advertising: The Top 100 Keyword Phrases
July 23, 2008

Last time I checked, Spyfu.com is reporting that someone is bidding $51.66 per click for phrase “conference calling companies.” Are you bidding on words like this, which is one of the most expensive keyword phrases? Let’s take a look at the most expensive pay-per-click keywords and what you can do to reduce your overall PPC costs.

If you are in a niche that includes “conference calling,” lawyers, insurance, loans, or mortgages, there is a good chance that the keyword prices (what companies are willing to pay per click, what they’re bidding per click and what they’re paying per click) gets pretty expensive. At last check, the “cheapest” of the top 100 most expensive phrases is $43.75 per click. And at those costs, it pays to make sure that you are providing your users the optimal web experience when they come to your web site via those expensive keywords.

Let’s take a look at some of the top 100 most expensive keyword phrases:

Expensive keyword phrases; cost per click

  1. conference calling companies $51.66
  2. purchase structured settlements $51.48
  3. home owner secured loan $50.36
  4. mesothelioma patient $50.23
  5. austin texas dwi lawyer $50.03
  6. phoenix dui lawyers $50.01
  7. insurance auto $50.00
  8. secured loans $50.00
  9. phoenix dui attorney $50.00
  10. car free insurance online quote $49.96

Even if you are not paying $50 a click for a visitor to your website, you need to realize that you are charged for every click. So it pays to make sure that you provide the optimal experience but also convert as many of those visitors as possible. There are several things you can do right now to make every click count.

First, take a look at your web analytics. Make sure that you have the proper conversion tracking in place so that you know exactly which phrases are converting into a lead, a sale, or however else you track a conversion. For example, when someone clicks on your pay-per-click ad, what do you expect the visitor to do? Do you want them to look at your website, add something their shopping cart and purchase something? If that is the case, then perhaps you would set up your web analytics goals so you can track which keywords are driving the most sales. If you have this list, then you can compare that list with the keywords you are bidding on and consider dropping the bids on keyword phrases that bring visitors but do not bring in sales. If your goal is to have a visitor fill out a lead form then that also could be a goal, then put a price on each lead (how much is each lead worth to you?) and start tracking the keywords that are bringing in leads.

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Beware of social networking overload
July 21, 2008

There’s a great scene from “The Brady Bunch” when Marcia — just turned high school freshman — is nervous about fitting in and making friends so she signs up for every club listed on the school bulletin board.

This is sort of what I see happening with many of you and all the social networking sites out there.

I’ve been getting questions from readers, colleagues and friends about the social networking explosion in cyberspace . It seems like there’s a new site popping up every day, and no one wants to be left out of the latest and greatest group. The choices are endless, everything from Black Planet, a site for African Americans, to Xing.com, a site for professionals with an international flair.

But with all the choices comes a digital daze.

Here’s what people have been asking me lately: “Is it enough just to be on LinkedIn and Facebook?” “I just got an invite from a friend who’s on Plaxo. What is it and should I join?” “Will I dilute my networking effectiveness if I’m on MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter?”

Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!

You can’t be in every club. It’s just not humanly possible.

I know, there’s a hint of desperation in the air because of the tough economy, and everyone wants to have lots of connections just in case layoffs are looming.

But beware. You might end up with social networking overload.

Enhancing your brand
Trust me. In researching this column, I signed up for as many of the networks out there as I could and what did I get? A headache.

Suddenly my e-mail inbox was flooded with friends accepting my invites for Plaxo, Twitter, etc., and I realized there was no way I was going to have time to do any of these sites justice. Especially since I’m already a member of LinkedIn and Facebook, and I barely have time to keep those up-to-date.

So what’s the best strategy?

“There are two purposes to social networks,” says Jason Alba, author of “I’m On Facebook, Now What?” and “I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?” “One is for networking, and the other is to enhance your brand.”

Neither will happen overnight, he says, so you should take time to figure out your best networking options.

First, you need to be part of at least one of these networks.

Let’s face it, these sites have helped many workers with their careers. I hear great stories all the time about people being recommended by their connections and ending up with dream jobs.

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Top 10 search-and-sale tools and how to get on top of them
July 17, 2008

The web is constantly changing, and business owners with a web presence need to keep on top of every new improvement in how your customers can keep finding your website.

SmartCompany runs through the top 10 new search tools to help you get found and sell more.

1. Trademarks: The new black

As the battle for sales on the web grows, so too are competitors who try to use your brand to snare your potential customers.

Something that comes up again and again is the issue of trademark protection and Google AdWords. If someone is bidding on your brand or trademarked product name, it’s a real nuisance because competitors are leveraging search traffic intended for you.

Google’s quality score can make life expensive for people who bid on your trademark, but it doesn’t always stop competitors who have deep pockets.

Luckily, Google has a system where you can apply to have AdWords removed from the search results when they’re triggered by trademarked keywords.

So what are the steps to remove competitor’s ads when someone does a search on your trademark?

Obviously the very first thing to do is make sure you have a registered trademark. If you don’t, you can engage a trademark lawyer to act on your behalf (recommended) or if you’re feeling adventurous, go down the DIY path and head over to IP Australia.

If your trademark application is “accepted”, you’ll pay a fee and be assigned a trademark number.

The next step is to lodge the trademark. You’ll find more information from Google’s help section here. There’s also some good local (Australian) information from Google here. And don’t be confused. Even though it says “complaint” you can use it to lodge and protect your trademark as well (even if no-one is actually infringing at present). Visit this link to get the process under way.

Don’t be confused by Google’s trademark infringement process; they make out that you have to print and fill out a form before sending it off in the mail. There’s actually an online form which makes the process a lot quicker and a lot less painful!

Luckily, here in Australia Google is quite strict about trademark infringement in relation to keywords and Google ads. If you’re in the UK, Ireland, Canada or the US, Google is no longer offering protection against advertisers who use trademarks in keyword lists to trigger a Google AdWord. However, they will disapprove an ad with a trademark in the Google ad itself. I’m not sure how long Google will maintain the status quo locally.

When you fill out the form, make sure you don’t kill off your business partner’s Google ads (if you have them). Let’s say you are a large retailer and you have retail agreements with other e-commerce websites who are currently allowed to use your trademark in their Google ads and keyword lists. You will need to exempt them during the Google trademark complaint process so their Google ads still appear. Remember, the idea is to remove competitors, not your authorised partners.

Once you’ve lodged the form, the final step is patience. You just have to do a search on your trademark and wait for the magic to happen. It will take time, but you’ll suddenly find your Google ad is the only one on the page! It’s a long wait, but it is a “hallelujah moment” and it will certainly help your online sales!

2. Using analytics to make more revenue this year

Google’s Analytics is a brilliant way that you can maximise the revenue your website makes for your business. We know that Google Analytics is a great tool; it’s big on features, and really, really low on cost. That’s because it’s free. The only cost is the time it takes to set up an account and copy and paste the special Java script code into each page of your website.

Actually, when you think about what Google’s achieved with Google Analytics, it’s quite simply a stunning feat, especially when you consider the mind boggling amounts of data Google is collecting every second, and you put it together with an engine that processes it all for each customer.

What is the purpose of your website and how/where does it fit in with the rest of your business objectives?

Decide what it is you want to measure; set these as KPIs and keep them to a manageable number (say five to eight). Create realistic targets around your KPIs.

  • Regularly compare results against your targets.
  • Use the results to test and improve your website.
  • Don’t let absolute numbers influence everything you do. Focus and respond to trends.

Also set up a goal conversion funnel, so you can visualise where customers are dropping out of your shopping cart and where they go. You can use that information to help keep folks in your cart and on their way to the final checkout.

For instance, you might find that at the “add your delivery details” stage of the shopping cart process, people are dropping out to visit your “shipping options and costs page”. By knowing this, you might include important shipping information on the, “delivery details” page itself to prevent the click away.

Some e-commerce hints that may help:

  • Sending an email to customers who have saved carts but not checked out.
  • Adding security logos to increase trust and confidence.
  • Bundling products to encourage higher spend.
  • Daily competitor analysis.
  • Add to cart and product description buttons or links being more prominent.
  • Increase your Google AdWords spend!

You can wring the most from your website when you really take the time to analyse how visitors interact with it.

3. Can I outsmart Google?

So you worked hard to get on the top ranking of Google only to mysteriously return to the bottom of the page. What has happened? There are three parts to a search engine; the robots, the index and the algorithm. I’ll do a very simple re-cap to put it into context.

Remember, the “bots” go out over the internet and find and collect web pages. When they find a page, they scurry back and plonk it into Google’s massive storage system, the index.

The third part of the “engine” is the algorithm, which effectively analyses each page for relevance. When someone performs a search, it tries its best to sort all pages in the index, ranking the most relevant result highest, then the second most relevant page… well, second, and the third and so on.

The problem for you and I is that Google doesn’t tell us exactly how the algorithm works. It can’t really, because for starters, if Google did “give it all away” competitors would no-doubt copy it, and there’d be an optimisation free-for-all by every website owner out there.

It’s Google’s own “11 secret herbs and spices” recipe.

I read recently that in 2007 Google changed or tweaked the algorithm around 450 times. That’s more than once a day! Talk about a moving target! That’s the main reason no-one can ever guarantee a number one position at Google.

I think the most important thing to remember about the algorithm is that while it’s been written and updated by humans, there is no human involvement in a website’s ranking position.

It’s best summed up by Ubi Manber, Google vice president who oversees search quality. “If we find, for a particular query, that result No. 4 should be result No. 1, we do not have the capability to manually change it. We have to find what weakness in the algorithm caused that result and find a general solution to that, evaluate whether a general solution really works and if it’s better, and then launch a general solution.”

While Google might be constantly fiddling around the edges, there are things about the algorithm that tend to remain fairly constant. Over at SeoMoz (effectively the SEO industry’s version of SmartCompany), the world’s top SEO industry experts were invited to vote on what they believed were most important factors to influence Google’s algorithm.

The title tag came in first, followed by body text and headings etc. Certainly, links are also a play a huge factor, and the anchor text of in-bound-links to a site was of “exceptional importance” to all respondents.

Even so, the algorithm doesn’t always get it spot on. So, there’s still some work left for Google to do!

4. Local search

If you haven’t noticed already, Google has made some major changes to its rankings. If you run a local business with a website, this could present you with an opportunity to get to the top of Google without having to do any serious SEO at all!

Google has thrust local search to the forefront of its new universal search results platform by squeezing 10 local results into (what’s been coined) a “local box”.

Local search results used to look like this:

google search results 1

So as you can see, there were three results next to the map. The three local box results were part of the top 10 at Google.

After Google’s algorithm change, here’s what we’re seeing now…

google search results 2

Essentially there are now 20 results on a Google page – 10 local results run alongside the local box and 10 run beneath (as standard results). If you used to rank first, you now rank 11th.

This change has propelled some businesses from “nowhere” into the top 10, and relegated others (who may have invested in SEO) to the bottom 10 results.

Life’s not fair is it?

So how do you give your website a chance at the top 10 with local results?

First off, you’ll need to create a Google account. That will allow you to create a free “local business listing” which allows you to enter all the information about your business. You can also move the map marker!

It certainly doesn’t hurt to think about keyword optimisation while you’re entering your information.

For example, if your business is a local florist in Leichhardt, you should enter “Joes Flowers – Leichhardt Florist”. Try and get important keywords alongside your business name – you won’t get in trouble if you keep it reasonable!

The next tip is to register your business with TrueLocal. Google and NewsCorp have a commercial relationship (hard to believe I know), where TrueLocal results help to power Google’s own local business results. It really helps if you’re included in both Google and TrueLocal.

I have it on good authority from an expert in local search, that at present there is no relationship between a premium listing at TrueLocal and Google rank. I guess that makes sense. If it were true, it would set a worrying precedent. You might at last be able to buy your way to the top of Google! At $900, that’d be pretty cheap in my book.

Finally, optimise your site as best you can. Spend a few dollars and obtain some strong authority links; get included in the Yahoo directory. I’ve seen websites gain dramatic ranking improvements at Google once their Yahoo directory listing was approved (with no other changes).

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Now and Then, 7 Elemental steps to a Web Site Promotion
July 15, 2008

Most web sites are considered as dead. They are buried among the millions of other unvisited web sites. Most web sites are considered as dead. They are buried among the millions of other unvisited web sites. Website promotion is a specialist service that many companies are failing to address, with the end result that no matter how good their websites are, visitors are still slow and that makes them fail to generate a worthwhile income. With a good website promotion, It is certain to boost your sales and achieve excellent return on investment by getting multiple top rankings in the major search engines and directories for your website. You should start your website promotion efforts by listing the site at the most popular internet directories. Because they can send your substantial amounts of traffic and can affect the ranking in various search engines. It is better to make sure that your site is present in all of the major directories before doing anything else. Web site promotion should be the most important part of your web site marketing plan. It’s not sufficient just to design a beautiful web site and put in on the Net. Promoting your web site has to be done frequently if you want to get a nonstop stream of traffic to it. If you don’t make traffic go to your web site, your online business scheme will soon be unsuccessful. Here are 7 Fundamental Steps to a Better Web Site Promotion:

1. CREATING A WEB SITE MARKETING PLAN. When making your web sites create a plan on how to promote it as well. Try to pretend you’re a consumer when you’re developing it. It’s too effortless just to view your web site from your own point of view. You need to have a clear visualization for your business, goals (short and long term) you wish to attain and the strategies of how you will carry them out.

2. DEFINING YOUR GOAL. A lot of online marketers promote their web site without purpose in a field which is too large, for instance they may use bulk mailing as one of their endorsement strategies. You may get some consumers but the chances are you will not make any sales because of the wrong consumers you acquire. Getting targeted consumers to your web site, will increase sales, because they will have more interest in your merchandise or service than advertising to a general audience.

3. USING SEVERAL ADVERTISING SRATEGIES. Sticking to one form of promotion is not advisable because you may never know which one will work for you the best. Using more channels like search engines, email, marketing, forums, writing articles etc, you will have a greater chance of having traffic on your web site.

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Why Some Get Shafted by Google Pricing
July 14, 2008

First-Timers Pay More, Making Search Costly for Movie Marketers

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How much does Angelina Jolie cost? It depends on your history with her.

And that’s why for some movie marketers, who traditionally have promoted film releases by sending out the lead actors and actresses to appear on the late-night talk circuit, tabloid TV shows and the covers of fashion magazines, using search marketing doesn’t always make economic sense.

Consider the cost of bidding on the most popular actress of this summer’s film season. If you’re a first-time bidder on the term “Angelina Jolie,” it can run up to $5 per click — a little steep to justify for a marketer hawking a $10 movie ticket.

Why the high cost? A Google search ad is a factor of both the price a marketer is willing to pay for a keyword and the quality of the ad, which is determined in large part by how often users click on the ad over time and how relevant the copy is to the website to which it links. The higher the quality score, according to Google, the lower the minimum bid required for a particular ad placement.

Quality is a sort of currency, said Eric Druckenmiller, VP-media at Deep Focus, who put it this way: “Marketers that buy keywords and build that currency over time have theoretically ‘earned’ a discount on [cost per click] because of the relevancy they are bringing to the table.” (Cynics say the philosophy locks in long-term commitments, which guarantee spending over time and helps Google better project revenue.)

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Importance Of Punctuations In Keywords In Google Results!
July 8, 2008

At the Webmaster World, an informative issue about the importance of ‘Punctuations’ in Keywords for the Google results has been posted. Here it is in all its entirety for all our readers:

Post:

“Various punctuation characters have a noticeable impact on search results – mostly from a searcher perspective. As a webmaster, you may find that your users include punctuation in some keywords, and so it can be of use to know what the effect on the results they see is. And besides, knowing how to search Google is one step towards understanding how Google works. This is a spot check of the current handling of punctuation by Google.

Indexed punctuation

Key_word

Underscores are treated as a letter of the alphabet, which is why you can -url=http://www.google.com/search?q=_-search for an underscore directly-/url-. Use underscores in content if your visitors include an underscore when searching (e.g. if you had a programming site).

Key&word

Ampersands or ‘and symbols’ have fairly unique handling. They’re both -url=http://www.google.com/search?q=%26-indexed-/url– and also treated as the equivalent of word “and”. If there are no spaces separating the symbol and the adjacent letters, the search results are an approximate equivalent of combining results for -“key and word”- and -“key & word”- (note the phrase matching). Use ampersands in copy as is natural for your target audience.

Explicit search operators

Many punctuation characters are explicit search operators, with a documented effect on results. Search operators are not indexed (or at least, they can’t be searched for) and so are usually treated as word separators when found within website copy:

Keyword

An (unbroken) pipe character is the equivalent of boolean OR: a search for -key OR word-. It can be a handy shortcut when conducting complex queries.

Key”word

A double quote triggers an exact or phrase search for the proceeding words (whether you include a closing double quote or not). So in this instance, it’s the equivalent of a search for -key word- since a single word can’t be a phrase. -“key word- is the same as searching for -“key word”-.

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