Tuesday, January 29, 2008

20 Simple Ways To Get Massive Traffic To Your Web Site

Embarking on an Internet marketing campaign doesn't have to be difficult, tricky, or complicated. Here are a few simple ways (twenty in fact) that you can easily implement to get tons of traffic to your site right now!

1) Write articles: believe it or not this is an incredible tool for driving traffic. Well-written, relevant articles can net quite a bit of activity to your web site. Don't forget to add your URL in your byline. Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length. You can send articles to sites like: Article City, GoArticles, Submit Your Articles and Ezine Articles.

2) Social bookmark *everything* - and I do mean everything - you can bookmark each page of your site and each blog entry you post. While this might seem tedious, it's worth it. You'll see a strong increase in traffic if you social bookmark each page on your site and each of your blog entries.

3) List yourself in the best directories – you'll have to pay for this but since most people don't do this (since everyone's looking for a freebie) you could really enhance your traffic by getting a listing: dir dot yahoo dot com, business dot org, botw dot org.

4) Get yourself listed at: DMOZ dot org – it's not easy to get listed there, but worth the effort.

5) Review: if you can review hot new products or books within your market, head on over to Amazon and start positioning yourself as an expert. In order to do this effectively you'll want to create an Amazon profile and make sure and sign each review with a reference to your URL (your web site). You can also go to Epinions and Revoo to review products as well.

6) Offer a freebie on Craig's List: you'll be amazed at how much traffic you get from a single Craig's List ad. The key here is to send people to a page on your site and make sure they have to sign up for something (like your email newsletter) before they can grab their freebie. That way you're not just getting traffic, you're also building your list.

7) Create a "recommended by" list on your Delicious page – you can do this by logging on and creating an account and there and then tagging articles, blogs and other content you think is important to your readership. Then offer this page as a resource site. You can add a link to this page in your email signature line or on your web site.

8) And speaking of your email signature line... do you have one? If you don't, create one. Believe it or not, people do follow these links. You'll be amazed how many folks read email signature lines. I have one and change it several times a year, depending on what we're doing or promoting or what books I have coming out.

9) Lend a helping hand: you can be an answer person at Yahoo Answers – you don't have to spend hours on there, but maybe a few minutes a week. Make sure and include a link back to your site following your answers.

10) Set up a social networking site using Facebook, LinkedIn, or Squidoo. It's free and easy to do, just don't forget the all-important link back to your site!

11) Make sure your blog has an RSS feed so if you capture a reader you don't lose them if they forget to bookmark your site or blog.

12) Join relevant groups at Yahoo groups. You'll find everything from groups on growing your small business, writing books, finding your passion, even underwater basket weaving. I dare you to find one that isn't right for what you're promoting. When you do find the right group, join and participate as you can!

13) Podcasting is another great way to drive traffic. Start a podcast by going to Audio Acrobat. There are other programs you can use, but I love Audio Acrobat. You can record the podcast over the phone quickly and easily and then hit the "send" button on your computer once it's recorded and the system will syndicate it to 27 podcast directories including iTunes. It's a great way to let people know about you and your web site!

14) Start a blog and then once you do, start commenting on other people's blogs, linking to them from your site or adding them to your blogroll.

15) Inbound links: don't squander your time (or a perfectly good link) on smaller low-traffic sites. Instead spend your time going after high traffic, high quality sites. Good sites should have a PR (page ranking) of 4-6 depending on the market. You can find out what a site's page ranking is by downloading the Google toolbar which comes with a PR feature built in.

16) Start an email newsletter: while it may not seem like a newsletter that you email can drive traffic to your site you'd be surprised at the effectiveness of this type of promotion. If your newsletter (like your articles) is interesting and relevant to your audience, you'll find that it has a huge pass-through factor, meaning that it is passed from one email subscriber to another. Also, if you have an email newsletter you should never, ever go to a single event without your handy signup sheet. Yes, you can even use offline events to drive traffic to your web site.

17) And speaking of offline efforts: if you're ever quoted in a magazine or other publication, make sure and mention your URL as it's appropriate to the topic. Don't be too pushy about this, but do not forget to tell folks you have a web site that may be a great resource for the topic of your interview.

18) If you have products to sell, why not get a store on eBay? This site gets a tremendous amount of traffic and on your sales page you're allowed to list your URL. It's another great way to get an inbound link and a way for people to find you.

19) Load a video on YouTube and 57 other video sites (the rest listed on my Red Hot Internet Publicity blog).

20) While this isn't a tip per se, it's still important. If you're going to go through all the trouble of getting traffic to your site, make sure your site is converting this traffic into something. Get folks to sign up for something, your newsletter, the RSS feed on your blog. Whatever it is, getting their email address will help you remarket to them when the time is right. Studies show that visitors landing on a site often don't buy the first time. That's ok! You want to get them into your marketing funnel so you can market to them again and again – not in a way that's obtrusive, offensive or downright annoying, but in a way that is helping them with their own mission.

An example of this might be an email newsletter. A helpful, informative newsletter is a fantastic funnel. A blog is another great way to keep people in your marketing loop without bombarding them with "please buy my stuff" email messages. Also, make sure you know what your traffic numbers are before you launch into any Internet marketing campaign. By traffic numbers I mean how many people are visiting your site. You want to know this so you can gauge a before and after view of your marketing efforts.

About The Author

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a book marketing and media relations expert whose company has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Visit AMarketingExpert.com

Why RSS May Be The Email Killer

According to online statistics from eMarketer, less than 20% of internet users intentionally read content with the aid of an RSS reader.

Indeed, even frequent internet users have no idea what that little orange RSS square represents and certainly don't realize that there is a big shift brewing in the bowels of online publishing and marketing.

But, that may change more quickly than we all used to think for 3 very potent reasons.

There are advantages to RSS that will compel most, if not all, internet users and content consumers to "learn" to use an RSS reader and start managing RSS subscriptions.

In the same way email eclipsed snail mail for content delivery, RSS will eclipse email as the consumer's choice for opt-in messaging.

If you are an email marketer, the time for you to get engaged to RSS has come, because, whether you like it or not, the wedding bells will be ringing soon.

Here's why...

RSS = Embedded Video (and audio)

I recently was asked to help a small business embed video into emails they wanted to send to established clients.

Their vision was clear:

1. Create a quick video email with a webcam, stick it right into their corporate Outlook email with a Youtube style preview.

2. The customer gets the email, clicks the Youtube-looking video preview and the video starts playing.

3. No landing page, they wanted everthing to happen right there inside the email client, whether it was Outlook, AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or otherwise.

Simple right? Nope...

This is simply not possible with email.

Many brilliant companies have tried various tactics to embed video into email in a way that doesn't consistently get blocked or stripped by the various email providers.

With email, the best that can be done is mimic the embedded video look by putting a video preview image in the email which opens up the web browser and plays the video there when clicked.

Ironically, even this comes at a significant cost because of the technical knowledge needed to make it happen.

So why is this a less than perfect solution?

Primarily because none of us like to be bounced around, we want to view video instantly, seamlessly.

After all, we have been trained to expect this level of immediacy by seeing it everyday on Google's "universal search" and countless blogs.

The good news is, embedded video and audio are part and parcel (fundamental elements) of RSS.

Adding video (and audio) that can be instantly viewed by someone receiving an RSS feed is as simple as adding text.

Readers get what they have come to expect and corporations, as well as small businesses, can provide dynamic, highly personal content without paying a coder or webmaster thousands of bucks.

RSS = 100% Deliverability

I was shocked to see the stats on email deliverability rates for the typical business. The fact is, even if you have come by a person's email honestly (that is - you did not buy a bootleg list of emails from some guy in a dark virtual alley) the likelihood of them actually receiving that message from you is 60% or less.

So, let's say you have a list of 1000 customer emails - which you have worked hard and paid real money to acquire. When you send a message, 400 of them (on average) don't get it. It either automatically lands in their Sp@m Folder or gets deleted even before it reaches them.

Even companies like Aweber who make a living sending emails for other people and have intimate agreements with email providers like Gmail, AOL and Yahoo, only get a 90% deliverabilty rate - on a good day (they claim %99.4 but I use Aweber and when I factor in the whole opt-in and email management process, at least 10% of my emails are undelivered).

RSS is quite different. If someone has opted-in to your RSS "feed", they will get 100% of your messages. No doubt about it.

This is obviously good for the company but how is this also an advantage for the customer?

Well, have you ever had the frustration of opting-in to something that you were interested in only to find (after searching for a few minutes) that it was buried in your sp@m box.

Have you ever had to "whitelist" an email address so that each email that was sent wasn't immediately deleted?

Doing this takes TIME... the most expensive commodity any one of us owns.

Once consumers realize there is a simpler way to get 100% of what they want, 100% of the time, and 0% of what they don't want, RSS will start to look like a (pardon the old expression) "no brainer".

RSS = Sp@m-Free

This may be the "tipping point" that triggers the general masses toward RSS.

Yes, sp@m is annoying... it takes time to delete... it contains inappropriate messages which make parents steaming mad... and it is the constant burden of corporations and email providers.

Especially due to the last reason, email will not be free forever. You may not have to pay if you send just a few emails to your friends and family each month but if your sending out a significant number of messages... you will pay.

This will be the email manager's final attempt at curbing the clever spammer.

In fact, email providers are already debating and tweaking a platform similar to cell phone companies where you will have a sending quota.

This will only push spamming into a "higher" art form and challenge the suprisingly intelligent geeks behind this modern phenomenon to new technical heights.

All of this will only serve to highlight the value of RSS even more and compel the average folks into opening up a Google Reader account or using the one they goofed around with more often.

However, before RSS eliminates email as we know it, a few things have to happen...

In the first part of this article we discussed the three compelling features of RSS that will lure the mases of content seekers.

Namely, embedded video, 100% deliverability and sp@m-free information management.

But, before any of us permanently trades in our email account for an RSS Reader, a few things need to happen.

Until then, we will be doing double-duty... checking both our Inbox and our latest feeds.

What RSS Needs Before It Kills Email

1. RSS Content Clients (like Outlook for RSS).

As it stands, messages which are sent via RSS are usually composed inside some sort of blog or other similar content management system and published to the world. All the folks who have requested the RSS "feed" then receive that message into the RSS reader they check whenever it is convenient for them. Generally speaking, the entire group of subscribers gets every message.

Now, imagine a software application that works like an email client such as Outlook that allows you to create a message, format it, add video and audio and then send it to just one (or a selected group) of subscribers via RSS...All without having to publish that content to the world.

This would be the silver bullet solution to all the woes of email.

2. RSS to One or Selected Groups

One of the current appeals of RSS is the fact that one can subscribe to an RSS feed anonymously. You are assured of receiving only messages from that person or website (which is hopefully run by a person) and nothing else. Neither the website owner or the RSS service knows anything about the subscriber. This is a good thing and something that will continue to make RSS valuable.

However, at some point, a more personal RSS option should appear which allows the subscriber a choice. In the future, when someone chooses to subscribe to an RSS feed, h/she will have the option of sharing personal information with the publisher, perhaps just their name and a few selected interests.

They will be glad to do this for two reasons.

1. It will allow the publisher to send only content that matches their desired interests (this is actually already possible but very few take advantage of it).

2. It will allow for private RSS communication between individuals and groups with all 3 benefits listed above - embedded media, 100% deliverability, sp@m-free.

What Killer-RSS Will Look Like

In this new more advanced world, you will have a personal RSS address. Not connected to a business or blog content, just to you personally. Yes, you may be thinking... "just like my email address".

When someone wants to hear from you, they will go to some fancy Web 2.0 service and subscribe to your personal RSS feed. They will sign-up for their own personal RSS feed and then subscribe to yours, providing you with their name (if they are a friend) and perhaps their interests if they are a business contact.

When you want to send them, and only them a message, you'll open up the fancy wysiwyg editor provided by the cool Web 2.0 service mentioned above, create a message and publish it.

Sounds like email right? Exactly...

The difference is, you publish the message not to your public blog but to a private space on the net and to your friend's RSS reader.

So, your friend checks their RSS reader, sees your name on their list of subscriptions, notices that you have published a message to them (and maybe a few other friends) and either reads the message in their reader or in the private space online.

So, as this shift occurs, what we are calling Killer-RSS will be viewed as an upgrade to typical email services with the added benefits mentioned above.

What do you think - will RSS be the email killer? If not, how do you see the RSS - email relationship working out? Visit Web2Center.com to join the dialogue.

About The Author

Peter Lenkefi publishes social marketing and blog promotion tips at http://Web2Center.com .

Friday, January 25, 2008

Easy Cross-Promotion Tactics

Cross-promotion is an easy, inexpensive method for generating more traffic and more revenue for your business and for the business of your promotional partners.

What could be better than a real win-win situation? With cross-promotion not only can you generate more customers and profit, usually for free, but you can help another entrepreneur do the same!

One simple example of good cross-promotion is swapping business cards with another business in your area. The idea is to find a related, yet non-competing operation, give them a stack of your cards to hand out and take a stack of their cards in exchange.

For example when I ran a local Web design company I swapped stacks of business cards with a nearby computer repair service. It made sense because both of us targeted small businesses, and nearly all small businesses today have computers in their office and a Website to promote their products and services. So often my customers would have an interest in a good computer repair service, and the repair shop's clients might be interested in somebody to build or re-design their Website.

It's easy to see how both parties stand to benefit in this arrangement. And the customers of both businesses also benefit!

Putting together a win-win cross-promotion on the Web is even easier, and here are a few examples of how you might do this:

Exchange Thank You Page Ads

Thank you or confirmation pages that prospects see after they make a purchase or register for a free mailing list are great places to post promotions. The people who see these pages are action takers, making them the ultimate target for a good advertisement.

You could place an ad for your cross-promotion partner on one or more of your thank you pages and have them do the same for you.

Unannounced Member Bonus

If you and your promotional partner run membership programs, you could place unannounced bonuses within one another's secure member areas. For instance, when members login to your site they could find a "free gift" from your partner, and be required to register at your partner's Website to receive access to their free gift; of course you would place a similar promotion in your promotion partner's member area.

Swap Autoresponder Messages

You could include an email in your automated message series promoting your partner's product or service, and they could reciprocate with an email for you. You could even promote as affiliates for one another so you both earn commissions in the process.

Cover Page Promotions

If you and your partner both produce digital information products such as e-books and special reports, you could swap promotions on the first page of your PDF products. This would provide both of you with quality exposure as your ads would be seen by the people who purchase and actually open digital products; so prospects generated by this measure are both buyers and action takers.

These four examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Once you sit down and really brainstorm about innovative ways to cross promote you might be amazed with what you come up with.

Both you and your promotional partner(s) stand to benefit, and neither of you will need to pay any advertising expense to generate new traffic and sales.

About the Author: Tim Whiston is a professional Internet marketer who enjoys his work. He has owned numerous Websites and ezines and has created hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits for his clients.

How to Troubleshoot Dropped Search Engine Rankings

Are you baffled about a recent drop in your search engine rankings? Do you know where to start and get a handle on what the problem might be and how to remedy it? One option to consider is using search engine forums as a resource. They are full of questions from people who have experienced similar situations and are great resources for an answer or two. But let's say you really want to get to the bottom of the problem and you want to do it yourself. The following are some of the beginning steps StepForth takes when evaluating dropped rankings.

Retrace Your Steps

Write a list of everything that anyone has done to your site within the past 3 weeks. Now look for anything that could have negatively impacted your content, site structure, or the reliability of your URLs. Once you write down the course of events the answer might pop right out at you. Here are some common situational culprits:

  • You just moved your website to a different hosting provider: did your site experience much, if any, downtime during the switch over? Quality hosting companies will allow you to setup your site on their servers before the switch takes place so that downtime is minimized if not removed entirely. If a search engine happened to visit your site while it was down, there is a small chance your rankings would be negatively affected, but it will only happen for a short period. Once the search engine re-indexes your website everything should be back in order.

  • The structure of your site has permanently changed: did you redirect the traffic from the old URLs to the new URLs using a 301 redirect? If not, then you should. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which tells any visiting search engine to permanently change its index to reflect the new site structure.

  • Contact your hosting company to check if your server has had any downtime recently. In most cases search engines will not drop your rankings if they visit your site and it is offline once; however, if this happens consistently then your rankings can fail. If your hosting company states that downtime has occurred, then you have at least one possible answer for your ranking woes. As long as your site is now reliably online and has not been offline for an extended period (days or weeks) the rankings should reappear as your site is re-indexed. There may be a notable drop in rankings but, in most cases, they will return to pre-incident status.

Check Your Content

Is all of your textual content up to date? It is amazing just how quickly a website's rankings can drop when someone accidentally overwrites optimized pages with older, non-optimized pages. Check the content and if you find old content, just overwrite it with the newer content and wait for the search engines to come back and re-index your website; Google and Yahoo are likely to come back within a week or even a day.

Check Your Server Headers

When a search engine visits your website it must first respond to any commands provided by your server. These commands are often identifiable in the server header. As a result, we like to verify that no incorrect, unusual or unnecessary commands are stashed in the header of your site. We use the free SEO Consultants Check Server Headers Tool to review any headers and take action if required, but there are others freely available as well.

Search Engine Webmaster Tool Resources

If you have not already done so, I strongly recommend claiming your website on Yahoo Site Explorer, Google Webmaster Central and Live Search Webmaster Center . Each of these fine resources provides extremely useful feedback (from each respective search engine's perspective) for site owners such as:

  • Whether your site is currently banned. If you are, in some cases they will tell you why.

  • Notes on any impediments the search engine has experienced when trying to index your website.

  • Who is linking to your website.

  • Which pages are the most popular on your website.

  • Which keywords lead the most traffic to your website.

In addition, these free webmaster resources allow you to submit an XML sitemap of your website so that you can ensure no pages are missed when the search engines index your website.

Search Your Site for SPAM

It is possible that your site has been "lucky" enough not to have been penalized until now for certain content transgressions. You see, search engines don't always catch SPAM right away. In fact, I occasionally find myself shaking my head in disbelief when I see blatantly spammy sites appearing in the top 10 search results. Your site may not be entirely spammy but all it takes is for one transgression to come to light for a search engine to penalize your search engine rankings. What SPAM is and how to identify it is an article unto itself so here are some helpful resources for you to review:

Contact an SEO or Request a Forum Review

If you haven't found a reasonable answer after following the instructions above I would recommend either contacting a reputable SEO company for advice or posting your ranking problems publicly on a popular search marketing forum within a resource like Webmaster World. There are a lot of people on forums that can be incredibly helpful and may have an answer for you. But a word to the wise, make sure the person providing advice has a solid reputation. I strongly recommend reviewing a number of their previous posts and Googling them to ensure they have suitable experience to provide advice – unless of course you have a 'no duh' moment where their advice makes perfect sense.

Related Content for Suggested Reading

About The Author

Ross Dunn is the CEO and founder of StepForth Web Marketing Inc, a web marketing company founded in 1997 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. StepForth provides cutting-edge web marketing services that provide highly successful, targeted results for its clientele. Ross Dunn is a Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS) with a background in web design and online marketing. His broad Internet experience in combination with a talented staff has made StepForth a name synonymous with top results.

Internet Marketing in the Age of Google

Forget the Computer Age or the Internet Age, centuries from now our current time will probably be referred to as the Google Age. This assumption is not exactly a great leap of faith; Google has quickly permeated into mainstream culture to become an underlying factor of everyday life, a tightly woven backdrop to our lives.

But never make the mistake of trying to define Google as just a search engine or you will miss the true calling of this little "Backrub", which was the original name used by its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1996.

Google as we now know it debuted in 1998. The name Google is a twist on the word Googol, a number represented as 1 followed by 100 zeros. After everything is said and done, it will more than likely refer to Google's net worth - monetary or otherwise.

But forget search engine, for regardless of the founders' intentions or company's objectives, Google is and has always been the ultimate marketing machine. A massive marketing machine that is just now gearing up and aiming for more and more lofty heights. These heights seem to increase each day as Google quietly rolls out program after program.

All noble ambitions aside, Google is the perfect marketing machine. Google has no equals, and it is very close to getting a stranglehold on the real power behind all marketing, which is information.

Marketing is information. Information is marketing.

Great marketing is supplying the right information at the right time. Google more than any other entity on the web or in the world, for that matter, fulfills this criterion at its very core. Google is re-writing the book on how products are marketed.

Google now has over 60% of the search traffic in the U.S., with a staggering 7.3 billion monthly searches. In some countries Google's search share is 80% or more. (Source: comScore) Those webmasters who have number one keyword listings in all three of the major search engines will know Google is the only game worth playing because it delivers by far the most traffic.

While MSN and Yahoo! are still major players and are listed in the top 5 traffic sites on the web, what most people don't realize is that (unlike the other two) almost all of Google's traffic is search traffic. From a marketing perspective this is extremely important since search traffic can deliver the highest conversions (sales) mainly because it lets you capture the potential customer or client when they are in the right mindset to buy or to perform an action.

Obviously the key to successful marketing is finding the buyers and clients for your products and services. Google has forged itself as the ultimate "middleman" as more and more of the world's business is performed in cyberspace. And as everyone knows the "middleman" can reap huge profits and hold enormous power.

Google, within its Adsense program, now offers CPA or Cost Per Action where marketers can now receive larger returns for displaying Google's links on their webpages. As any professional marketer will tell you, you can get 10 times the revenue by promoting affiliate products rather than the Adsense code on your sites. But by adding CPA and other affiliate products within the Adsense program, Google has made it more attractive to serious online marketers.

Another step in that same direction is Google's acquisition of DoubleClick, which includes the massive online affiliate marketing network Performics. This means Google can now bring any customer full-circle from initial search to checkout.

This may have dire consequences for large, lucrative third-party affiliate networks like Commission Junction and LinkShare. Online marketing and ecommerce is growing at a blistering rate, and the company that controls the majority of these transactions will wield enormous power. Will make the Medici look like paupers.

Those marketers who have managed to acquire number one listings for their targeted keywords in Google's organic search are smiling all the way to the bank. Mainly because Google commands enormous trust with the surfing/buying public and this is demonstrated through higher conversion rates. Likewise, those who have mastered the Adsense and Adwords programs will know Google is an excellent source of online income.

Most of the complaints against Google stems from its PageRank system, which is supposed to be Google's version of online democracy in action, a link is a vote for your page or content. The higher the number of links, the higher your page will be ranked in Google's index or SERPs - Search Engine Results Pages.

So far Google has played fair, giving even the smallest webmaster the opportunity to capture top Google listings if they produce superior or popular content to the surfer. Some would even argue Google's recent crackdown on sites offering paid-links can be seen as evening the playing field for the small webmaster or marketer who obviously doesn't have the economic clout or resources to buy their way to the top of Google's listings.

Keyword rankings may be the ultimate equalizer and determiner of online wealth. Those who can reach the top positions for their chosen profitable niche keywords will have companies and service providers lining up to do business with them. The fallout can prove extremely lucrative for both parties.

However, few marketers or webmasters forget who is really holding the cards; Google controls all steps along this marketing tunnel with its search listings, Adwords and Adsense programs. The only dark spot on the horizon could be monopoly issues, but Google probably has enough reservoirs of public goodwill and deep enough corporate pockets to squash any claims.

As Google's dominance in the search market becomes greater, Google will have control of all segments of the online marketplace. Why should Google stop there, why not go into Radio, TV... as the Internet gradually mutates into a billion+ interactive TV channel universe (as many believe it will) who do you think will be at control central offering you a nice free remote?

Then there is also Google's planned broadband 700 MHz bid; one can only speculate on Google's intentions. But Google must find a way to transmit its information free to its users. Could it mean free wireless Internet for everyone on free Google boxes or gadgets of some form, usable and accessible anywhere in the world? Anything is possible because the stakes are so astronomical and the marketing revenue so vast, Google must get its information seamlessly and instantly to the end user at all costs.

One can only guess at the enormity of the marketing power Google will yield in coming years as the Internet slips out of its teen years. But it won't be just marketing, the influence of Google on all aspects of our lives will probably grow exponentially and that influence will be huge.

For the true power of Google is only just now beginning to be glimpsed; only as more and more of the Google pieces fall into place will we truly fathom what life will be like in the Google Age. Google's power, reverence and respect will no doubt be so enormous it may lead some to make comparisons to a higher power that has guided most of the life on this planet so far. Which could also lead one to muse, at least they got the first two letters correct.

About The Author

The author, a former artist and teacher, is now a full-time online marketer who has numerous websites, including two sites on Internet marketing. For the latest web marketing tools try: BizwareMagic or MarketingToolGuide

Knol - Wikipedia's Rival

There's a new kid on the online block named Knol and even this early in the development stage, some people are already predicting that it could bring about yet another significant change to the way we share information on the Internet.

Knol is a new Web service being developed by Google that is meant to serve as a virtual storehouse of knowledge on the Internet. With content being contributed by various experts on different topics, it will behave much in the same way that Wikipedia does currently. In fact many industry experts have made the suggestion that Knol is set to become a direct competitor to Wikipedia and other similar types of web sites.

Google is of course the go to web site as far as search engines go, being the most popular search engine web site today by far. If Knol is as successful in drawing a widespread following as the developers hope, it could bring about the Google's transition from a search engine into a company that creates and publishes Web content.

Some industry observers warn that one problem that could potentially arise is that Google's objectivity in presenting search results could be compromised.

Knol – the name of which is derived from the word "knowledge" – is being developed to allow people to create Web pages on virtually any topic. When completed, it will include several features that will allow its users the ability to perform a number of tasks, such as submitting comments, rating individual web pages and suggesting changes.

We mentioned earlier in this article that Knol has been compared to Wikipedia by many industry analysts. While there are in fact many similarities between the two web services, the main difference is that Wikipedia allows virtually anyone to edit an entry while Knol only allows the author of each particular "knol," – which is what the individual pages in the service will be called – to do so. This means that the same topics could have many different authors with sometimes contrasting – or even competing – points of view.

Google has stated that the main thrust of the Knol project was to focus attention on authors who have sufficient expertise on particular topics. As vice president for engineering at Google Udi Manber wrote in the Google corporate blog recently, the Internet has evolved largely without the benefit of a standardized means to highlight the author's name on each web article. He goes on to say that the company believes that knowing who wrote a particular web article will considerably aid users make better use of the Internet and its various content.

Manber also stated that another important goal of Knol was to cover a wide range of topics, from the various sciences to health concerns to history. Eventually they hope to have Knol become the first stop for research on any topic. Today it is Wikipedia that provides that function and its web pages show up at the top of the results page of Google and many other search engines more often than not.

Some in the industry have suggested that this latest move of Google is driven by the unprecedented growth of web sites that combine knowledge resources such as Wikipedia, and that Google feels the need to have a strong presence in that particular area.

Wikipedia is by no means the only web site that offers that type of service. Many other companies have taken slightly different approaches in functioning as knowledge repositories on various topics on the Internet. These services include Squidoo, Yahoo Answers, About.com and Mahalo.

In spite of the widespread popularity of these services – as well as the existence of many free tools that allow experts and regular people the means by which they can share their knowledge online – Manber said that Google feels that it is still not easy enough for the average user to do those things.

Interestingly, considering all the hype and excitement that is currently surrounding the news of Knol's existence, Google has refrained from discussing the project any further than these initial details, and have even said that it is still an experimental project at this time. This means that just like many other Google tests that never saw the light of day, Knol could end up never even being released publicly at all.

As for Wikipedia, site founder Jimmy Wales has downplayed his site's comparison with Knol, saying that while Wikipedia's goal is utmost objectivity in its content, with each individual article being the sum total of the collective knowledge of its various authors, Knol's model will likely result in highly opinionated and possible even contradictory articles on even the simplest of topics.

Another important distinction is that Wikipedia is a strictly non-profit web site that does not carry any type of advertising, while Knol is a decidedly more commercial venture, with its content authors earning revenue from any Google ads on their site.

Editor's Note: Currently, Knol is accessible by Google invitation only. Some additional information on Knol can be found at:




Google Blog

About The Author

Mikhail Tuknov offers search engine optimization marketing services

All Search Engines Love Spiders: How Meta Commands Can Help You Love Them Too

Nearly all search engines utilize spiders (which are also known by their original name, robots) to go out and scour the web looking for web pages. These search engine spiders then bring the data back to be indexed by the engine.

Since roughly 1996, individual meta commands have existed that can be used on individual web pages to modify how these search engine spiders behave. The most useful of these commands are fairly universal and respected by almost all search engines. What follows is a list of some of the more popular spider commands and instances in which you might want to use them.

<meta name="robots" content="index">

This meta command is one of the most common ones used – and it is also the least necessary. It tells search engine spiders to come on in and put the page in their index. However, all search engines do this by default anyway. Basically, if you want to put it in there for fun, be my guest, but this command is not giving you any special treatment. All search engines are going to index your page, unless you specifically tell them otherwise.

<meta name="robots" content="follow">

The follow command is different from the index command. It basically requests that the search engine spiders follow the links that are on a particular page. Again, however, this piece of code is completely unnecessary because all search engines are going to follow the links on a page, unless otherwise directed.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

The noindex command, the opposite of the index command, tells search engine spiders not to index the content of a page. It's important to note however that search engine spiders will still follow the links on a page that uses only this command.

When not used for legitimate purposes, this tag can be dangerous because it can put you at risk for penalization by most, if not all search engines. This is because you can use a noindex tag to hide pages with multiple links that you don't want visitors to see but that you do want all search engines to index.

There are however some legitimate uses for the noindex command. For example, if you have a dynamic site and you've created static pages to replace some of your dynamic pages, which can make them easier for search engine spiders to access, you could put a noindex tag on the dynamic version.

As Google mentions in its Webmaster Help Center:

"Consider creating static copies of dynamic pages. Although the Google index includes dynamic pages, they comprise a small portion of our index. If you suspect that your dynamically generated pages (such as URLs containing question marks) are causing problems for our crawler, you might create static copies of these pages."

In cases like these, it is acceptable to use the "no index" command on the dynamic version of the page, so that your content will not be treated as duplicate. You are not tricking all search engines, you're just redirecting them.

<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">

This tag tells search engine spiders that it's OK to go ahead and index a page and list it but that they shouldn't follow any of the links that are on the page. This can be useful if, for example, you had some partners that requested a link on your site that you felt obligated to give, but you wanted to hold onto as much Page Rank as possible. Now this is of course between you and your personal god, but you would be able to in effect have a partners page, add the nofollow attribute to the meta tags, and basically not pass on any of your Page Rank to any of the sites to which you are linking. The nofollow command in effect tells all search engines that this is the end of the line.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

Obviously, noindex and nofollow are powerful tags – and in combination, they can make a page and the subsequent pages to which it links invisible to nearly all search engines. This combination command tells search engine spiders, "Do not read this page; do not follow any of the links on this page; do not include this page in your index."

This command has its beneficial uses. For example, it can be placed on pages on a site that have duplicate content for legitimate reasons. A website might have both a page for the United States and a page for England that cover the same product with exactly the same content. However, nearly all search engines would see this as duplicate content and could devalue both pages. So placing this command on one of them means that search engine spiders will walk on by and you won't be penalized.

<meta name="robots" content="noarchive">

Finally, almost all search engines today, including Google and Yahoo, provide a cached version of a site alongside its listing that provides a snapshot of what the page used to look like. The noarchive tag, therefore, is available to be used in circumstances where there is content on your website that is of a timely nature and therefore that you might not necessarily want search engine spiders to cache for people to have access to moving forward.

For example, a business might run a one-time special that has a ridiculously low price to drum up some business while things are slow. The business will want to be able to shut that sale down as soon as sales are back up to a solid level. However, it is conceivable that someone could click on the cached version of the business's site, see the old deal that was out there, and insist on getting it for themselves. By using the noarchive tag, you are telling search engine spiders, in effect, "This page is subject to frequent changes, and I don't want my visitors to have access to some of this content at a later time."


The commands discussed above are just a few of the ones in existence, and new ones are being added frequently. While nearly all search engines support these commands, there are still some that don't. The ones in this article, however, are fairly universally understood by search engine spiders, no matter from where they originate. As more universal commands are introduced, I will write about them in future articles.

About The Author

Scott Buresh is the CEO of Medium Blue, which was recently named the number one search engine optimization company in the world by PromotionWorld. Scott has contributed content to many publications including Building Your Business with Google For Dummies (Wiley, 2004), MarketingProfs, ZDNet, WebProNews, DarwinMag, SiteProNews, ISEDB.com, and Search Engine Guide. Medium Blue serves local and national clients, including Boston Scientific, DS Waters, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Visit MediumBlue.com to request a custom SEO guarantee based on your goals and your data.

The Secret Sauce of Google Success

What do you need to get top rankings on Google? There are many ingredients in the mix, but here are three of the most important that you need to concentrate on.

1.) Keyword Relevant Copy and Content.

Whatever the keywords you want to get ranked in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), be sure that you have enough copy and content about those specific words which will give Google a reason to rank you in the first place.

If for example, one of your priority keywords is "virtual assistant software", create a separate page or section for this keyword (at least a few paragraphs) using the keyword in the headline, the first sentence, the last sentence as well as wherever it makes logical sense in order to achieve the keyword frequency and "density" that search engines are looking for. Ideally, each page will only have one or two keywords and will be very focused on that specific topic.

Additionally, by including on this specific keyword page either articles, pdf files or news items about your keyword, it will help you improve your chances of a better ranking. Give Google a reason to rank you at the top. He with the most relevant copy wins - so make it rich and deep.

2.) Can the Search Engines Read and "Crawl" All the Pages and Content on Your Site?

Probably the biggest surprise to most marketers is that the search engines are unable to either navigate or read most of the content on their website. If they can't read your copy, then it's not surprising that you're not getting the rankings or traffic to your website that you aspire to.

The only thing a search engine can read is words. Sites that are dynamic, or created in other formats such as Flash or Java often can't be read by the search engines. Even if they can read the content on your site, many times they can't navigate it properly or just bounce "off the walls" as there are no specific links or site map to tell the proper sequence or where to go next.

Want to see what Google is indexing on your website? Go to Google and type in: site:www.yourdomain.com . This will show you the title and description of the pages of your site they know about. If they are all the same or they don't have a title or description listed, chances are very good that your site is invisible to your target market.

3) Links... Why Are They So Important?

Link popularity is one of the most important factors search engines use in determining where you will rank in the search engine for your keywords and phrases, as it helps them to determine how important or popular your site is and what it's reputation is. In essence the search engines are saying "we're going to give top ranking to pages that have important and relevant sites linking to them".

Link Building is the process of finding related/relevant websites and receiving a link from them to you. Natural linking occurs when a site has good content that others will link to. But to get these links people have to know about you. It is a catch 22. Building links has gotten sophisticated in the last couple of years. Today you need a mixture of links from many sources including articles, press releases, social bookmarks, directories and social media sites.

How many links do you need to have? It depends on the individual keyword or phrase you want to be found under and how the links are structured. The search engines look at inbound links as a popularity contest but more importantly, they are looking at the quality of the pages that are linking to you and the "anchor text" - the "clickable link" and what it says about the page that it links to. The key to linking is to have the right anchor text on a link that points to a page that has content using the same keyword phrase.

You do not want to boost the overall number of links by more than 10-15% each month for an established site with history because this may trigger a filter from the search engines as an indicator of artificially inflated link popularity. New sites have an advantage since there has not been a history established and the link building can be done at a faster rate. Linking is critical not only with your search engine placement, but also because it helps stabilize you positions in the search engines and delivers traffic directly from the sites that link to you. But linking is not a once and you are done process. Generating new links is an ongoing process.

In summary, successfully implementing the above 3 strategies either through your efforts or through employing search engine promotion specialists will deliver the "triple punch" and the knockout punch you need to get top rankings on Google and the other search engines as well.

About The Author

Article by Terry Mickelson Founder of PageViews.com, one of the foremost search engine optimization companies specializing in B2B search engine optimization and link building programs. For further information as well as a free ranking report on your website, contact Terry Mickelson at 480-556-9752 or email tmickelson@pageviews.com.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Top 10 Internet Marketing Tips for 2008

Internet Marketing has grown phenomenally over the last few years but the shift has quite clearly moved to a market that is driven by the consumer and that is no longer dictated by journalists and corporates. Online consumers are responding more favourably to non-intrusive, relevant and socially attractive campaigns and have quite frankly had enough of intrusive, forced online advertising campaigns.

The top 10 internet marketing tips for 2008 are:

1. Optimize your website's content

2. Create a content development strategy for your website

3. Invest in a paid search (pay-per-click) campaign

4. Publicize your website through article marketing

5. Develop a social media marketing strategy

6. Create a Company Blog

7. Experiment with video marketing

8. Engage your audiences with web widget marketing

9. Discover the benefits of mobile marketing

10. Create an effective email marketíng strategy

Let's look at each of these in more detail:-

1. Optimize Your Website's Content:

First and foremost, get your website content right. Make sure it is easily read by both humans and search engines. An essential variable applied by Search Engines in the way in which they rank websites is based on the relevancy of the content that the search engine is indexing.

2. Create a Content Development Strategy for Your Website:

In addition to optimizing the existing content on your website, it is essential that you develop a strategy to continuously grow your website's content on an ongoing basis. All new content should be written specifically with the web reader in mind and should also be optimized for the search engines.

3. Invest in a Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click) Campaign:

When you pay for traffic (visitors) that click on your advertisements that are being advertised on search engines, this is called pay-per-click or search engine advertising. Paid search allows you to quickly leverage search engine traffic by bidding for keywords that are related to the products or services that you promote and sell on your website. Paid search advertising is particularly beneficial to companies who are not yet well ranked on search engines through natural search.

SEO By Owner in Three Easy Steps

You have two choices to consider when trying get your site ranked higher in search engines. You can hire a Search Engine Optimization Company that is an expert in the field or if you have some time, you can do it yourself

Research your Keywords

Ask yourself what keywords you think someone might type in when searching for products you sell or services you provide. Though a keyword may be only one word it is usually a phrase made up of keywords. Phrases are more specific and will more than likely be what potential customers use when searching for products or services online.

After a quick brainstorming session write down all that you were able to come up with. Make sure to consider geographical phrases if they are important to your customers and don't forget of alternative words that could be used (an example could be "new car Littleton"). Make sure to surf the websites of your competition to get more ideas until you can come up with a list in the neighborhood of 20 to 30.

Now you should take two keywords from your list that you feel potential customers will use most frequently. Take into consideration that popular keywords are also competitive keywords and harder to achieve higher ranking with. If your goal is to obtain a high ranking for the term “auto insurance”, the path to achieving it may be long. Try to make your keywords the ones that are most related to your business and not riddled with vagueness or extremely competitive. Make each phrase about two or three words in length like the previous example.

Now that we have your keywords we will move on to the next step.

Site Text

Your site text is made up of the wording that is on your web page. There is a phrase for search engines and it is content is king. Search engines love unique content and your keywords should be placed in key locations within the content so Google understands the relevance your site has to them. Also make sure that your copy reads well around them as it needs to make sense for your visitors who are most important.

Keywords can be placed in headings, at the top of pages, in bold or italics, used as link text for other pages of your site and in your title tag.

Add additional content after you are finished tuning up your webpage. Give more detailed descriptions of the products and services you offer. Provide a frequently asked questions page and pages of articles that pertain to your products or services.

With your design you should keep in mind that search engines cannot read images nearly as well as text. Sites that are made up with excessive flash or pictures really impede how well they can read the content of your site.

Link Building

A common way of thinking about links is that every link from another site that leads to yours is a vote for the popularity of your site. Every quality link you receive can improve your search rankings.

The quality of your inbound links is more vital than the quantity. The preferred and more valuable link is from sites that are relevant to your niche and with authority (highly regarded in the niche). A quality directory with relevant categories is another example. Just a few quality links with authority can have more value for your site than hundreds of lesser quality. Think of it like you do your personal business network. Both can have a strong effect on the success or failure of your business.

Take time to consider all the other relevant websites in your niche such as organizations, industry affiliates and non-competing companies. Send them a email introducing yourself, your products and services and explain how your website could benefit their visitors. Then politely suggest that they create a link to your website from theirs.

Record the Results

Over time you should watch and record your search engine rankings by doing a Google search for your chosen keywords to see where you rank. You can also monitor where your visitors are coming from by watching your hosting reports. Do this for each significant page of your website.

Continue to add to your websites content and increase the links to your website over time. This needs to be an ongoing effort for as long as you want visitors to your website.

As you continue to record the results of your efforts you should see the traffic increase and with that your sales. Know where your visitors are coming from so you can continually monitor your marketing efforts successes. Only by measuring it do you know where and how to improve it.

About the Author: Bruce Swedal .

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Optimizing Your Site for Both Google and Yahoo!

Search engine optimization techniques for Google and Yahoo are quite different. Many websites rank well in one search engine but not the other. This is the direct result of each search engine having its own unique ranking algorithm. For example, the Google algorithm predominantly values the anchor text of in-bound links. Yahoo places more emphasis on keyword density and meta tags.

The primary reason for the difference in ranking algorithms is that Google owns the patent on Page Rank (PR), named after Google's founder Larry Page. As a result of owning this patent, other search engines need to place more emphasis on different optimization factors including website URL, keyword density and so on.

What are the greatest differences in search engine algorithms?

Google places a significant amount of emphasis on inbound links to your website. The value of these inbound links are measured based on their Google PR. The more links you receive from high Google PR web pages, the better your search result placements will be for a given keyword or search term.

Yahoo places emphasis on website URLs, meta tags, and keyword density. These factors can be analyzed on any website with a limited amount of effort, allowing Yahoo to quickly and easily rank websites properly.

How you can optimize your website for both Google and Yahoo!

The challenge all website owners face is making the most of their optimization efforts. When thinking about search engine optimization, you need to cover all the bases. To do so, pay particular attention to the following guidelines.

Keyword Targeted URL. If your website URL doesn't contain your keywords, consider purchasing a new one or creating a new page off of your root directory (ex: marketingscoop.com/internetmarketing.htm). Having your keywords in the URL helps improve both your Yahoo and Google search results. Yahoo weighs the website address as an important ranking factor. Google values a keyword rich URL when third party websites place a link to your site using nothing but a web address.

Meta Tags. Although not as important as they once were, Yahoo still uses meta tags to help align search engine rankings and appropriate website pages. Make sure that your meta tags are complete and include your keyword phrases in the title, description, and keyword tags.

Keyword Density Between 6 - 8%. Although much has been written about the importance of keyword density remaining between 2 - 3%, Yahoo looks for sites with keyword densities as high as 8%. Don't be afraid to include your keywords throughout your webpage content. Make sure however, that your keyword density is not more than 8%.

Link Building. This is the most important factor for increasing Google search result placements. Develop a link building campaign and give other sites a reason to link to your site. This may include free downloads, tools, or other valuable resources.

Site Map. Publish a sitemap. This makes it easy for search engines to spider your website and access all of your most important web pages. Site maps should be accessible from your home page and kept up-to-date.

Optimizing for both Google and Yahoo can be challenging. Following basic seo principles and working to develop incoming links can help you reach the top of the largest search engines. Apply these techniques regularly to see the greatest results.

About the Author: Michael Fleischner is a marketing expert with more than 12 years of Internet marketing experience. Learn how to improve search engine rankings with his latest ebook, The Webmasters Book of Secrets at http://www.webmastersbookofsecrets.com.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What to Consider When Evaluating Direct Marketing for Your Business

Over the last two to three years, the use of direct marketing has increased by almost 20%. Much of this growth in use has been driven by the increasingly important role of the internet in direct marketing.

Almost three quarters of larger UK companies use direct marketing as a marketing communication tool. These larger businesses also spend a higher proportion of their marketing budget on direct marketing than most small businesses.

Probably around two thirds of direct marketing takes place in the business to business, or b2b market and one third of direct marketing is aimed at consumers.

What budget should I allow for direct marketing?

Research by the direct marketing industry shows that smaller businesses usually spend 0.5-1% of their turnover on direct marketing. So, if you business turnover is £500,000, you would typically expect to allocate between £2500 and £5000 for direct marketing activities.

The other way to decide what budget you should allocate to direct marketing, is as a proportion of your overall marketing spend. Most smaller businesses spend up to about 25% of their marketing budget on direct marketing, and larger businesses often spend a far higher proportion - up to half of their budget.

What direct marketing tools should I use?

The most common direct marketing tool is direct mail - sending promotional mailings to named individuals in the postal system. Direct mail accounts for about a quarter of the total amount UK businesses spend on direct marketing.

The next most popular direct marketing tool is online internet advertising primarily through the use of pay per click advertising and banner adverts.Other direct marketing tools which are used on a fairly frequent basis are magazine display adverts designed to generate a direct response, door drops to consumers' homes, loose inserts in magazines and newspapers, and field marketing.

Telemarketing has decreased in popularity due to the increasing number of registrations with the Telephone Preference Service and Corporate Telephone Preference Service.

Newer emerging direct marketing methods include email marketing, which is overcoming initial concerns about the legality of its use by launching newer sources of double opt in email marketing lists. Also growing as a niche tool is mobile marketing, using SMS messaging to interact with consumers on their mobile phones.

Which direct marketing tools are the most effective?

Recent surveys of the sales generated by direct marketing show that nearly half of sales are generated by online sales from websites on the internet, and around 10% sales are generated by mail order and home shopping type direct marketing activities. The remainder of sales are generated by other direct marketing tools such as telemarketing and field marketing.

What direct marketing response rates can I expect?

Direct mail is by far the most popular direct marketing tool, accounting for around a quarter of all DM activity. Looking at the response rates from direct mail campaigns, it is generally accepted that you can expect typical response rates of 1-5% from your mailing.

About the Author: Steve Sellwood is from www.selectabase.co.uk, a UK provider of b2b and b2c business and consumer lists and databases for use in direct marketing. Selectabase also provides a range of data cleansing services for your existing customer database, including free Easycheck data cleansing software.

Analysts Speculate on IT Tech Trends for 2008

What are the experts predicting for tech trends in 2008? At the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo held last October in Orlando, more than 6000 senior business and IT strategists from virtually all major industries gathered for the industry's largest conference to gain the latest advice on driving profíts and performance with IT. Attendees rely on the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo for their annual planning and to gain insight into how their organizations can best use IT to address business challenges and improve operational efficiency.

Reflecting Gartner's very latest research findings, the analysts projected the 10 technologies likely to play a 'strategic' role in 2008. Gartner defines a strategic technology as one "with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years." In addition Gartner also looks at "high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar ínvestment, or the risk of being late to adopt."

"Companies should factor these technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questíons and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," said David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Sometimes the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology. In other cases it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test/pilot or more aggressively adopt/deploy the technology. The important thing is to ask the question and proactively plan."

Here's a look at the top 10 tech trends, and what Gartner had to say about them:

Green IT: The focus of Green IT that came to the forefront in 2007 will íncrease in 2008. As the impact on power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under investigation, companies should be mindful of potential regulations that could limit the building of data centers, and should be prepared with backup plans for handling growing data demands.

Unified Communications: At present only 20 percent of the installed base with PBX has migrated to IP telephony, with more doing some sort of tríal testing. Gartner says that over the next three years the majority of corporations will migrate to Internet Protocol telephony, resulting in a major change in voice communications.

Business Process Modeling: Top-level process services must be defined jointly by a set of roles (which include enterprise architects, senior developers, process architects and/or process analysts). A key to success will be an organization's ability to bring these roles together, whether they be process or service designated. Gartner also expects business process management software suites to better complement SOA applications development.

Metadata Management: Over the next three years, companies working to integrate both customer data and product data will link these master data management efforts together in an overall enterprise information management (EIM) strategy. According to Gartner "This critical part of a company's information infrastructure will enable optimization, abstraction, and semantic reconciliation of metadata to support reuse, consistency, integrity and shareability." Metadata management, Gartner notes, also extends into SOA software development projects with service registries and application development repositories.

Virtualization 2.0: Virtualization technologies can improve IT resource utilization, but with the addition of automation technologies - with service-level, policy-based active management - even greater improvements are possible. "Resource efficiency can improve dramatically, flexibility can become automatic based on requirements, and services can be managed holistically, ensuring high levels of resiliency," Gartner says.

Mashup and Composite Apps: Over the next 3 years, Web mashups will be the way companies create composite enterprise applications, Gartner predicts. Mashup technologies will evolve significantly over the next five years, and application leaders must take this evolution into account when evaluating the impact of mashups and in formulating an enterprise mashup strategy.

Web Platform and Web-Oriented Architecture: Software-as-a-Service, in which applications are available on-demand over the Web, is becoming a sensible option for many companies. Emerging Web platforms, Gartner says, will provide service-based access to information, applications, and business processes through Web-based "cloud computing" environments. Companies must also look beyond SaaS to examine how Web platforms will impact their business in 3-5 years.

Computing Fabric: According to Gartner researchers, "A computing fabric is the evolution of server design beyond the interim stage, blade servers, that exists today. The next step in this progression is the introduction of technology to allow several blades to be merged operationally over the fabric, operating as a larger single system image that is the sum of the components from those blades. The fabric-based server of the future will treat memory, processors, and I/O cards as components in a pool, combining and recombining them into particular arrangements to suit the owner's needs." The researcher added, "For example a large server can be created by combining 32 processors and a number of memory modules from the pool, operating together over the fabric to appear to an operating system as a single fixed server."

Real World Web: The term "real world Web" is informal, referring to places where information from the Web is applied to the particular location, activity or context in the real world. Gartner states, "It is intended to augment the reality that a user faces, not to replace it as in virtual worlds. It is used in real-time based on the real world situation, not prepared in advance for consumption at specific times or researched after the events have occurred." It gives the example of a navigation unit that adjusts the information it delivers as a car or boat moves around. Gartner sees real world Web application improving many business processes and creating new revenue streams.

Social Software: The Web 2.0 market will go through a lot of changes between now and 2010, Gartner says, and will experience considerable flux with continued product innovation and new entrants, resulting in considerable vendor consolidation. However, the research firm does see social networking being adopted by many enterprises to augment traditional collaboration.

According to Gartner, "These 10 opportunities should be considered in conjunction with many proven, fully-matured technologies, as well as others that did not make this líst, but can provide value for many companies," said Carl Claunch, vice president at Gartner. "For example, real-time enterprises providing advanced devices for a mobile workforce will consider next-generation smartphones to be a key technology, in addition to the value that this líst might offer."

About The Author

Written by: Anne Sych, Marketing Manager for Novo Solutions, Inc. Novo Solutions, Inc. is an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) in Virginia Beach, Virginia specializing in Customer Support Software. Free tríal versions of the Novo Help Desk Software, Knowledge Base Software and suite of web-based Customer Support Solutions are available. Contact: sales@novosolutions.com for more information.

Turning Internet Browsers Into Customers

Many marketing experts struggle with the concept of on-site conversion. After executing on a well developed marketing plan, and generating traffic to a landing page or website, the next step is to turn your prospects into customers.

Improving your online conversion rate can be accomplished in a number of ways.

Generate targeted traffic.

An important strategy for enhancing on site conversions begins even before you make changes to your website or webpage. Attracting the right people to your website is paramount for increasing conversions at a lower cost. Begin by evaluating your lead sources and determine the alignment of your prospects with your product.

One way to accumulate this information is with a survey that pops-up or pops-under as browsers leave your site. Often times, reducing or retargeting spend to the segments that perform the best can have a very positive impact on ROI.

You can also determine what traffic is best aligned with your market by carefully analyzing your Google Adwords campaigns. With the proper conversion tracking in place, it's easy to determine which keywords are generating sales, versus clicks alone. Focus on expanding your top converting keywords and driving truly interested prospects to your landing page.

Improving landing page performance

Once you've begun to attract the right prospects, you need to focus on converting them. The fastest way to improve conversion is through testing various landing pages. If you have the technology to rotate landing pages, testing multiple pages within a fixed amount of time, then you can learn quickly what page has the highest conversion rate. If you are limited to testing one page at a time, run each landing page for a week and measure the results. Your data won't be as accurate but can certainly send you down the right path.

Another method for improving on-site conversions is with the help of an automated touch program. With this technique, you can use an auto-responder that gives individuals an opportunity to reconnect with your business.

One example would be an abandoned shopping cart campaign. If users begin the purchase process (and have given you their email) but fail to complete the process, an auto-responder can be used to send and email message within minutes or hours, inviting them back to complete the purchase. You can use email best practices to enhance conversion, and touch individuals numerous times to move them through the purchase decision process.

In addition to targeting those who have started a purchase, you can also use an auto-responder for those who sign up for valuable information from your website. Perhaps they sign up for your newsletter, free lessons, or whitepaper. Once an individual has registered, the auto responder goes to work, sending appropriate emails at set intervals. The result is communication with a prospect that was previously unavailable to you. Work on improving conversion of your automated touch program by testing creative and timing of messages.

Using the techniques of better targeting, improving landing page conversion rates, and auto-responders can significantly enhance the performance of your online marketing campaigns. Plan your programs carefully and measure performance along the way, making appropriate enhancements. Over time, your results become automatic.

About the Author: Michael Fleischner is an Internet marketing expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Bloomberg Radio. Discover how to improve search engine rankings at http://www.webmastersbookofsecrets.com.

Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents, Oh My! Understanding Intellectual Property

You are a business owner with a web presence. During a routine Google search for your page ranking, you discover something disturbing. There is another company out there with a name very similar to yours and almost identical content on their website. What do you do? Is your company name and website content automatically protected by copyright law? Should you have registered your company name as a trademark? Can you demand that they change their name and dismantle their website immediately?

Intellectual Property can be a confusing topic, and one that all business owners should know about. Sadly however, many entrepreneurs simply don't. Intellectual property is in very simple terms an idea that legally belongs to somebody, be they a company or an individual. Only the owner of that idea, or somebody the owner has a legal agreement with can use the idea. Generally, the owner of the idea is usually its creator unless someone paid them to create the idea, in which case the idea's owner is the person who paid for the idea. There are different kinds of intellectual property, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on copyright, patent and trademark.

Patent – A patent protects the creators of new inventions. An invention can include anything from a new product or business method to a recipe. If you decide to patent your invention, there a few things you should know. First, you will need to apply for a patent in every country where you would like your invention to be protected.

Secondly, getting a patent is going to cost you a pretty penny. You will have to pay thousands of dollars to patent your idea and it will take a minimum of 2 years (probably more) before you are granted a patent. Also, your precious invention will no longer remain a secret since your patent application will be made public once your application is submitted. If all of this wasn't enough bad news, patent protection generally only lasts for twenty years from the date of your application. Phew! On the up side, once your patent is accepted, you can sue anyone who tries to manufacture or sell your invention.

It's worth mentioning here that another method to keep your invention protected is to keep the method of manufacturing it a 'trade secret'. If you choose this process, of course, in order to manufacture your product, you will have to tell somebody. You would have to have anyone who would learn your secret sign a confidentiality agreement. Consult a lawyer if you plan to use this method.

Trademark – Trademarks are the marks used to distinguish one company's products or services from another's. They can include a product name, a slogan, and any other mark that is deemed to be unique to a company such as a logo or unique packaging. As a rule, you can't trademark descriptive words, geographical names or a person's name. You also cannot register a business' name. You can however, register part of a name used to identify a product or service. For example "Kellogg's Company" is the owner of the "Kellogg's" trademark and the "Rice Krispies" trademark. You cannot register a trademark similar to one that is already in use by another company.

Beware; a trademark does not have to be registered in order to prevent others from using it. If a company is using an unregistered trademark in your geographical area, they can still prevent you from using it. You could perform a search in a trademark database and find later that you are using another company's unregistered trademark. If you find another company in a completely different industry using your unregistered trademark, you probably won't be able to do anything about it if they are not your competitors or if they are not in your geographical vicinity. Protection of a registered trademark however, is much stronger than an unregistered one, and once you have a registered trademark, you can prevent competitors from using it, or confusingly similar ones anywhere in the country in which your trademark is registered.

Copyright – Any written text, artistic work, or computer program is automatically protected by copyright. Anything you or I write, be it published, online text or unpublished, handwritten text, is copyrighted. Also anything we draw, paint, photograph, film, or compose is also protected by copyright. Copyright can be registered, but it doesn't have to be in order for it to be illegal for individuals to copy someone else's work. Copyright also lasts for an extremely long time. Usually it lasts the duration of the author's life plus fifty years at which point it becomes a part of the public domain and can be used by anyone.

Factual information cannot be copyrighted. For example, this article is based on fact. Although you cannot copy my article and claim to have authored it yourself, you can take the facts included in the article and use them in your written material. If you would like to use a very small portion of someone else's written work, this is usually acceptable as long as you credít the author.

Finally, what do you do if someone uses your work without your permission? Your first step should be to contact the individual. You can usually either go to the contact page on the offender's web site or go to WhoIs.com and enter the offender's domain to find contact information. If your initial communication doesn't get results, you should then send a 'cease and desist order'. For sample orders, just perform a search on 'cease and desist orders'. Finally if still no action is taken by the offending party, contact their web host and advise them of the situation and finally, contact search engines and make them aware of the situation. These actions should render the offender's website useless or at the very least give them enough trouble to convince them to remove the copied material.

For more information on intellectual property in Canada, visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, for the U.S., visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office and for Europe please visit the European Patent Office.

About The Author

Kelly Sims is a Virtual Assistant and President of Virtually There VA Services. Please visit her website to sign up for her free monthly newsletter providing useful information that enhances and simplifies the lives of busy entrepreneurs. => http://www.virtuallythereva.com .

Key Marketing Methods For 2008

Isn't online marketíng by definition, expensive? Not necessarily. Online businesses are coming to the realization that in an organic environment like the Internet, organic marketing is required; paying for traditional or static marketing only gets you so far before it becomes ineffective. The consumer now controls your marketing.

What is Wrong With the Old Methods?

Old marketing methods are failing because users are beginning to wise up (Rise Up) against the old brute force advertising that tries to win users over through sheer volume, using abrasive web-page banners, unrelated Adwords displayed on the page, or repeated newsletters (most being restricted by anti-spam laws).

The old methods no longer work effectively for two key reasons. One is the fact that they are a "flash in the pan", directing users to websites only so long as you continue to pay for the campaign, the second reason is consumers are now at the stage where they either ignore them or go out of their way to block them (with plug-in based browser or email filtering).

Let's quickly run through some of the "traditional" ways to market on the web, and their failings.

  • Paid Campaigns - (These only work while active) Paid campaigns may lure people to your site, but they are regularly not your target market and after arriving they promptly leave (High "bounce" rate).

  • Banner Ads - People hate banner ads. Most of the ads on the Internet are loathed because they aren't relevant. Seeing a banner for a better ínsurance rate when on a gaming site is a massive disconnect for the audience and a significant portion of banner ads are plain abrasive to users. Filling one third of your page with banner ads will not íncrease the likelihood anyone will care.

  • Adwords - Adwords (PPC, Pay Per Click) have the same problem as banner ads, though to a lesser extent. Adwords work by displaying "sponsored results," in search engine results. Adword results are separated from normal search results so not many people select them and the unknown quality in the user's eye causes distrust (how do I know that a sponsored result is better than an organic result). Competition is fierce, with prices spiraling upwards, and returns staying constant. For more information see our article about Google marketing pitfalls.

  • Newsletters - One word: Spam. Because of the spam epidemic, users are becoming ever more wary signing up to receive mail from any online source. Legislation and the ever increasing ability of spam filters mean a continually shrinking audience (Restricting the ability to send newsletters, and filtering them before they reach your audience).

The "Old World" marketing relied on one or two large marketing sources to drive traffic with big budgets and marketing firms. You have to get people to create the "news" then you pay other people to distribute the "news", so you are pulling people into your "store" to show them what you have (whether they want it or not).

New Methods for Marketing

These days having others create and distribute your content for you is in vogue, this can mean syndicating your articles for other users to repost, paying users to review or rate your services, guiding users directly on forums or having users sign up to receive exclusive information. In every case, the handiwork of distribution is left to others.

Lets quickly run through some of the new "Web 2.0" ways to market on the web, and the reason you should try them:

  • Blogs - Blogs are a goldmine to both the reader and the writer. Blogging is less time consuming and considerably cheaper than traditional marketing. Blogs give you the ability to convey your personal thoughts on happenings in your industry and your personal and corporate life, letting you really connect with your audience. Another positive is the viral marketing component where you are referenced through various social media websites, search engines and other blogs, increasing both your credibility and searchability, making it easier for consumers to find and trust you.

  • Forums - Forums give you an insight into what people are talking about, letting you get directly into the heads of potential customers. An easy way to find an appropriate forum is by asking existing customers what forums they frequent. Join in conversations, threads, contribute to the community and become a trusted member, then you can give your professional advice and mention what you do for a living. You should approach this as a way to get insight into what people are talking about, with the side-effect of possibly generating leads. If you approach this as direct marketíng, the community will quickly tell and either ban you, or develop a healthy disdain of you.

  • Articles - Articles are a great way to show you are connected to the issues in your industry and the wider world around you. You can either submit your articles through a syndication service, or post it on your blog; even better is a combination of the two: Choose a topic you enjoy talking about and write an article (like this one!) with your personal opinion or some helpful advice. If it is well-written and educates readers, you will already have an edge on your competition.

The theme of the new marketing methods is tailoring your content to the audience. The intent is to create something readers want to read. Marketing is not about trickery or insincerity, it's about communicating your ideas with honesty and authenticity. If it is worthwhile to your users, then they will happily talk about the content and spread it around. You have to communicate authentically with your customers and it simply doesn't happen using "traditional" onlíne marketing.

A word of caution: if you try any of the above methods but approach them traditionally (as a direct marketíng channel) then not only will you annoy a great number of users, you will also damage your company image. Again I stress the above point, make the content something people want to read, not just marketing material.

Old Marketing Methods That are now Approached Differently

Benjamin Franklin said insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." This is increasingly true for some of the more traditional forms of onlíne marketing. It's not so much what people are doing, but more a case of how they are being done.

Let's take a look at how we should be approaching some of the old marketing methods today.

  • Press Releases - Before we start, I'm sorry to tell you, but unless you are in the 5% of the market that people pay attention to, no-one reads your press releases - at least no potential customers do. A high percentage of companies marketing on the web use traditional methods of delivery, either in print or on a section of their website. Consider changing your press release to positively present your company then send it through a syndication service for papers and online news sources to pick up and republish.

  • Search Engines - Previously you had to specifically tailor your site to search engine specifications to ensure you had a high pagerank and were located at the top of search results. To put it simply, the important factor was how your site was presented to the user. These days although page display has an impact, it is far more important to have the right content on the site. Search engines now care more about content. Structure your pages logically and efficiently with appropriate content for each page, and be sure to link to those pages wherever possible, especially if you are engaging in blog or forum marketing.

  • Mailing Lists and Newsletters - With new anti-spam laws coming into effect, coupled with users increasingly annoyed at anything email based, mailing lists and newsletters are becoming far less effective. Ensure all the users on your mailing lists and newsletters have agreed to receive them. You don't need to re-ask permission from your existing líst, but be sure to let users op-out, and put an optional op-in form link in your communications.

Old-world communication can still be effective, but you need to ensure it is not your only approach.

The Conclusion?

Reevaluation is the key to a healthy online presence. You need to be constantly measuring and reevaluating your marketing methods to ensure you are not wasting money, and can take advantage of effective new methods.

About The Author

Sam Law and Julian Stone - Project, Task & Time Management specialists for: ProWorkFlow, ProActiveSoftware & Julian101.com