Friday, February 29, 2008

3 Fast and Simple Ways to Dominate Google Rankings!

I got into search engine optimization back in 1998. Of course back then SEO was a lot simpler than today. All the tricks like keyword spamming and invisible key phrases worked like a charm. Better still, little tricks like these were acceptable. Not anymore.

In fact, most old-school tricks don't work today and many can get your pages banned. This is great news for you. Over the next few minutes I'll show you how to make Google absolutely LOVE your web pages and help you jump to the top!

This is all you need to know... Search engines today place 90% or more of their ranking priorities on content and links. Keywords are still important, but more so in the text of your pages than in any sort of META tags.

Simple, right? It really is. The first step is to find the best keywords and place them just right in your web page text. Next you need to get great inbound links. And finally, you need to monitor your progress closely (and that of your competition.)

Part 1: How to Find the Best Keywords

Google gets more searches than any other search engine so let's peek into their database. Check out and type in any keyword or phrase you can think of that you believe your target audience is looking for. Not only will it give you tons of data on that and related keywords, it will also provide "Additional Keywords to Consider", which is a section at the bottom of the page.

BIG TIP: Try to use specific keyword phrases whenever possible. Let's say you have a web-page dealing with floral delivery. Instead of just the word "flowers", which has 233,000,000 competing pages on Google, try "send flowers", which has 1/10th the number of competing pages. Better still, think like people speak (I.E./ I'm sending flowers to my mom.) As it turns out, a lot more people are searching for "sending flowers" than are searching "send flowers" and - here's the best part - "sending flowers" has less than 1% of the competing web-pages as the search term we started with, "flowers". Now that's impressive! You have an advantage over about 99.5% of your competitors with just that single tip.

Now take the top three or four keywords (and keyword phrases) and list them in order from best to second best and so on.

Part 2: How to Develop the Best Possible Content

Content is king! If you take nothing else away from this article, make sure you take this. Producing search engine friendly, optimized real-person content is key to your success. Today's search engines can read a page just like a human would. And thanks to natural text algorithms, they can easily tell if you are writing your pages for real people or just trying to get better ranking. With this tip, you can do both!

First, call a good friend and describe exactly what you want to tell your web visitors. Now write it down, word for word, as close as you can remember it. If you can record it, that's even better.

Now go back through your text and fit your top keyword as close to the beginning of the first sentence as possible. Now place your number two keyword someplace else toward the beginning of your first paragraph. If possible, try to get your third keyword into the end of your first paragraph or the beginning of the second paragraph.

Repeat this concept using only one of your keywords for each of the next three paragraphs. Try to make it fit naturally toward the beginning sentence or two of each paragraph.

Now do the reverse for the very last paragraph. Put your least important keyword at the top of the paragraph and end with your most important. This shows consistency.

Finally, try not to repeat any keyword more than three or four times per page. Make it flow naturally.

Part 3: How to Get Great Links and Monitor Your Site

Having quality inbound links can account for more than 75% of your search engine optimization success. Getting these links is the crucial step that will get you over the top. Next you need to monitor your progress and your site's status (how search engines really see it). This will tell you not just where you are - but where you are likely to be. In the old days, we used to do all link work and monitoring by hand - and it took a long time (I averaged about 16 hours per week - per site!) My advice to you is to find a good SEO tool and let it do the work for you. If you get the right product, it's the best money you'll ever spend.

I used WebPosition Pro for a couple years but switched to SEO Elite because it has automated linking, which I find to be the most time-consuming aspect of SEO. Both are excellent products for tracking and reporting however.

Number 1 Pick: SEO Elite

Cost = $167 (lifetime free upgrades and no annual fees)

My Results: 121 top 5 rankings on Google in three weeks - Mostly 1's and 2's.

Top Features: Finds best link partners; Automates link process; Provides great Site Monitoring

Comments: I bought SEO Elite in 2005 and have used every upgrade - never spending another dime. I retired my other three programs after using this for just three months.

Number 2 Pick: WebPosition

Cost = $389 WebPosition Pro or $149 Standard (plus $99 per year subscription fees for either)

My Results: 44 top 5 rankings in Google in eight weeks - Mostly 3's and 4's.

Top Features: Site Monitoring; Great reporting; Site Critic

Comments: I stopped using WebPosition because there were no automated linking capabilities. I did however really like the reporting.

Now you're ready. Good luck!

About The Author

Michael Small is the founder of free SEO (search engine optimization) site and author of numerous search engine optimization books and whitepapers including the SEO Notebook.

How to Get Free Publicity For Your Website

If you want to promote your product or service, then consider using public relations. The best part of PR is that it costs nothing. In fact, public relations is one of the best kept secrets of small business owners who are successful. Use these powerful techniques to get picked up by local and national media.

1. Be an expert.

The media relies on experts for their information. The news that gets printed is only as credible as the source from which it comes. Begin by selecting a news related story to comment on. It should be a story that you are qualified to speak about, aligned with your area of expertise.

If your background is in engineering, and a building falls down, you are qualified to speak about the structure and answer possible engineering related questions. Being an expert simply means that you have a background in a specific area and can lend your expertise.

2. Research the reporter.

To get coverage, find the reporter who is covering the news you wish to comment on. For example, if the news is about a specific current event, then Google the current event name followed by the name of a popular newspaper like the Wall Street Journal or USA Today. You'll quickly find the reporters who have written on the subject. Call the newspaper (contact information available on their website) and ask for the reporter by name. If the operation asks what your call is in reference to, simply state that you have information related to a specific news item.

3. Compliment the reporter.

When you locate the reporter, and contact him, start with a compliment. Reporters take great pride in their work. Be sure to compliment their position on a given topic or their previous work. After complimenting them, you're ready for the pitch.

Talk to them about your position on the given news story and what you have to offer. Again, referring back to our earlier example of the building, mention that you have an engineering background and have a position on the story. For example, you might be able to comment on why buildings collapse and the structural aspects that could be the cause. Let the reporter ask questions but have a point of view. After the dialogue, the reporter will verify your information such as name and company.

4. Leave a compelling yet non-descript message.

If you're unable to get in touch with the reporter directly, leave a message - but be discreet. You don't want to show all of your cards before speaking to him directly. However, if you leave enough information to get them to return your call, they will call you. Reporters follow up with any leads they consider opportunistic.

When leaving a message, simple say, "I have something you need to hear about (fill in name of story here)." Be specific with regard to the story the reporter is covering. You want them to consider your possible information valuable.

5. State your expertise.

After complimenting the reporter about their coverage on a specific article or issue, let them know your position on a given topic and why you are qualified to comment on it. Give them your pitch and be confident that your opinion matters base on the experience you have to offer.

In today's environment, it's difficult to attract the media's attention. The best way to get PR for your product or service is by commenting on current stories being covered by the media. The process is simple. When you hear a news story that you can comment on, find the reporter using Google and the name of a major publication.

Research some of the reporter's previous articles for background and then contact him directly. Let him know that you have some information that he may find valuable or a comment relevant to the story. Be sure to provide him with your credentials. Lastly, be persistent. Continue to reach out to the media and soon they'll be calling you for advice.

About the Author: Michael Fleischner is an Internet marketng expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Bloomberg Radio.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Google Applies Science to Search (Part 1)

Dr. Craig Nevill-Manning is a New Zealander who joined Google in 2000 as a Senior Research Scientist to develop more precise search techniques. Previously, Craig was an assistant professor at the Computer Science Department of Rutgers University, where he conducted research in data compression, information retrieval and computational biology. Before that, he was a post-doctoral fellow in the Biochemistry Department of Stanford University, where he developed a software suite used by pharmaceutical research laboratories to identify the role of particular proteins within cells.

A scientist at heart, Craig is probably best known as the developer of Froogle (recently re-named Google Product Search) and the founder of Google's software engineering center in New York City.

This article is a summary of his presentation at Webstock 2008.

Google's Spelling Bee

Craig started his presentation by talking about one of his first challenges in his job at Google: the spelling correction tool. As the popularity of the search engine grew, Google needed to be able to spell-correct lots of obscure words. So his solution was to take a sampling of content from the entire web. Craig's team came up with a algorithmic model and ran it over the web. He discovered that there were several correct answers to the same question. For example, words like "kofee" could mean either the searcher is seeking a cup of java or information about Kofee/Kofi Anan.

To combat this, Craig came up with an interesting solution: the "Did you mean?" alternative spelling option, based on predictive examples of searcher spelling patterns. You can see this in action if you type in "kofee anan" in Google. Above the search results is a line that reads: "Did you mean: kofi annan" and links to the search results for this spelling variation too.

But the research went even further. Craig's team worked out how to take into account the context of the search query by studying the two or three other keywords surrounding the query, for example "kofee cup" or "kofee anan". The research used the science of bigrams and trigrams to better understand how people search. Bigrams are groups of two written letters, two syllables, or two words, very commonly used as the basis for simple statistical analysis of text. So Craig and his team applied this knowledge to Google's spelling correction system and now, Google's algorithm can determine the searcher's intent with much more accuracy, based on the context of the search query.

As an example of the spelling challenges that Google faces, Craig showed the audience the huge number of ways "Britney Spears" is misspelled on the web. He said it's encouraging to see that the most popular spelling is also the most correct one. Scale is important!

Google Maps Lead to Apps

The Google team wrote the code for Google Maps many years ago but the code was actually built into your browser. When Google maps first launched, people took the dense data-script and worked out how to reverse engineer it for their own use. Google engineers decided to release an API key to make these mash-ups easier after seeing so many people reverse engineer Google Maps without Google's help. Now people can mash-up Google maps within minutes to create their own applications.

To show how easy this is to do, Craig took the audience through the steps to create an interactive application with Google Maps. In the space of about two minutes, he signed up for an API key, grabbed the HTML code and pasted it into his page. He then hacked the map to show Wellington Town Hall (our location) and made the point how easy it is to create really useful tools out of technology that is already available.

As an example, Craig showed the audience Seattle Bus Monster. This site uses an API key for Google Maps to make Seattle bus data and tracking available 24/7. Anyone who needs to catch a bus can look online and instantly find their nearest bus location and run to the bus stop in time to catch it. It's these types of interactive applications that add value to both corporate and government sites.

Craig referenced Rodney Brooks from MIT whose provocative paper "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" offered new logic and a completely different view of machines. The idea is that there is no center of control among robots so you should make lots of them; don't treat them so precious. Craig said developers should use this logic to create lots of small apps that you can replicate and tweak, rather than one big expensive app that can go horribly wrong. Scale trumps smarts every time!

Experiments in Scale That Have Impacted Google's Operations

Precision vs. Recall

Back in the early 90's, information retrieval on the web was limited to things like Lexus/Nexus. So at that stage, Google would take queries and apply it to the broadest possible search. This was great recall at the cost of precision. But Larry and Sergey wanted something better so they decided to use Boolean search. At the time it was heresy because everything was focused on recall. But the Google founders knew that things had to be super relevant so they developed an algorithm - the core algorithm. It was very simple and relied on Boolean search to determine relevancy.

Genomic Sequencing

In the mid 90's a large project - the Human Genome Project - was underway. The race was on to sequence the genome. Scientists decided to feed this out to a bunch of different people. They chopped up the genome for researchers everywhere and allowed it to replicate. The researchers mapped each chunk with genetic markers and computed a tiling path of tiny fragments.

Sequencing was very expensive, so the data was computed based on a minute number of chunks - very labor intensive. The sequencing took forever and reassembling was a long way off. But then a company came along that said they could do it faster. Sequencing becomes cheaper by automating the job using machines rather than individual people so this company used a clever computer algorithm to conduct the sequencing. This reduced the cost and the researchers were therefore able to reassemble more fragments and achieve a rough draft of the genome in 2000. This sequencing approach was the shotgun approach, where accuracy is lower, but the larger scale allowed the impossible to become possible.

Web Definitions

Google used to do a terrible job of defining terms. Craig noticed people were searching for "definition of...", or "what is a...." etc so he wanted the search engine to provide better results for these searches. He found lots of web pages that contained glossaries and definitions, so he hacked up a Perl script to get the glossary formats.

The first recall results were only 50 percent accurate. He wanted to improve this rate, so he did some experiments with the data. But he could never reach an accuracy level he was happy with. It was later he realized that most of the questions people actually needed answers to could be answered with his crappy little Perl script. He concluded that 100 percent accuracy is not important, that scale is much more important.

Now Google allows you to use the "definition:" query and the question format to get definitions from around the web. Type in "what is a blog?" and you'll get lots of results from Craig's original script.

Protein Sequencing

In biology, Craig says, you're constantly producing proteins. The proteins fold up with particular sequencing. Within computing, you can use this knowledge to do amazing things. You can conduct computations with this type of data but it's time consuming. Somebody at Stanford University noticed that proteins spend a lot of time moving about before folding into an alpha helix. So it was suggested they start the computations with lots of configurations. In this way you can parallelize the data by scale and one will be magically close to a folded protein. So they worked out a way to reduce the problem to a simple process based on mass scale. This is why Google uses maximum scale to conduct algorithmic computations.

Chess vs. Go

You can now compute the value of any potential move in chess. Based on that information, you can compute your projected probability of winning the game from any move. Chess grand masters put a lot of time into this knowledge. But the opposite is true for the game Go, because there is more randomness to the game play.

(Stay tuned for Part 2)

About The Author

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Article Marketing Secrets and SEO Techniques

You won't find many article marketing secrets being given away online, because very few people properly understand the power of this internet marketing tool. It is more than simply a way of getting links back to your website, but a very powerful tool that if used properly can increase your sales to another level.

If you are provided with 'secrets' then they are well known by almost everybody. I will admit that even the 'secrets' I am about to divulge are not secrets at all, but well known article marketing techniques. However, what I will also say is that the three provided here are neither appreciated nor used by all of even those that profess to be marketing 'gurus'.

I know that because I have purchased many of their books and they don't suggest what I suggest: I know my systems work and can prove it through my website listings. However I must stop because I am becoming dangerously close to advertising, but I have done so as to indicate about the maximum you can do on article directories to advertise yourself: and that is your free tip. Do not advertise in your articles if they are intended for submission. Leave that for your 'author's resource box'.

The most common purpose for people writing articles and offering them to directories for publication is to get those all-important back links from the directories. However, just stand back a bit and think why the directories are in existence. It is not for your benefit. It is not to provide you with a free means of improving your Google PageRank, but they exist to make money. And why not? Otherwise there would be no point in anybody offering an article directory to all of these online writers.

You don't pay to have your articles published on the directories, so what is their purpose? How do these people make money? Two ways in fact: the first is by means of Adsense. If you do a search for an article on a specific topic, you will certainly find one because articles have been written on every topic on the planet. On the same page you will find Adsense ads. The reason for this is obvious and also psychological.

It is because most articles are not worth reading, and visitors generally have a quick look at them before leaving the directory site to seek proper information on their topic or niche. That is when they are liable to click on the Adsense ads and make money for the directory owner. That is added to the second way they make money which is from payment for speeding up the listing of the articles. You've seen the thing: get listed in several weeks or pay a few dollars for an instant listing. Like most other serious marketers, I pay.

Whichever means they use, article directories realize that it is to their advantage to get high search engine listings for as many articles as possible. They then have their sites visited by as many people as possible, and also have writers use them. That provides them with more visitors to click the Adsense ads and also as an inducement to other budding authors who might pay for listings. I don't pay for a listing in a site that never has my articles in Google.

Here are three secrets or tips, that you can use in your own article marketing campaigns:

Secret #1 is that if you write the article on a topic related to the content of a page on your website, then the directory (and by that I mean the owner, but let's call it 'the directory' for simplicity) will do all the SEO work and get your article listed so as to get as many visitors as possible. That earns them money. What that means to you is that you get free SEO done on your article.

Why do you think that your articles have to be of a minimum length and of a certain standard? To be listed by search engines, especially Google, that's why. You can use this information to your advantage, but your articles must be at least 500 words. Your resource URL must be one related to the article, and if you make it your blog, that is even better. Place links on your blog to all your other relevant online ventures.

Secret #2 is not really a secret as a submission technique. When you have finished writing your article save it and submit it as a text file. Most people write using Microsoft word, or some other word processing software that uses their own formating code embedded in the article. You don't see it, but the search engines do and it could harm the listing of the directory web page containing your article.

Secret #3 is that many sites offer two or three links in the author's resource. That allows you not only to present links to two or three pages on your website, but also that these links need not all be from the same site. You could provide a link to a page relating to the article (as you always should), one to one of your other websites or Squidoo lens, and a third to your blog URL. Never ignore these possibilities. Open up your mind.

There are several more article marketing secrets that I could give you but that would render this article far too long. You might also require some elementary HTML instruction to provide you with a working knowledge: HTML, or hyptertext mark-up language, is not really a computer language but a means of linking text to files, and it can also be used to format text, graphics and tables on websites and any other medium that can read HTML and transfer it to the intended visual formating.

However, the above secrets are sufficient allow you to use them as SEO techniques that will improve your chances of a high search engine listing. Learn them and use them, and even if you think that they seem fairly elementary I bet my bottom dollar that nobody is using all of them in their article marketing campaigns, because most people are still thinking in mono as far as article marketing is concerned and have to reach the analogue stereo age let alone digital.

Get modern and look farther than you can see, or the internet kids will soon gobble you up for breakfast! Yesterday's techniques are today's tomorrow.

About the Author: If you are interested in more of Pete's article marketing secrets, and some of the best are to come, then visit his Squidoo lens at SEOcious where you will find more about his personal SEO philosophy. Pete suggests them in the above order for some reason. Me? I don't care! I just want more ice cream.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Article Marketing 101 – Class is in Session

The internet stores a massive amount of information and much of that is in text. To find quality content to return for search queries the search engines look for sites with text content and the more the better.

If you have ever wondered why your website is not receiving any traffic, you are probably looking for a way to increase it. Most webmasters on the internet are because they realize that traffic is what will make their site a success.

You should consider taking a two pronged approach to building links. The first method for building links is through submissions of your site to quality webs directories. Every link you get to your site is not only a vote in popularity, but also a doorway for traffic. Every quality link you can get through directory submissions will bring more relevance to your site.

How you can use article marketing.

The first way you can use article marketing is by going to article directories. If you can't write your own unique content (which is preferred) for your site, you can use the content from article directories to place on your site for content as long as you retain the authors resource box. You need the content there for the search engines to spider when they visit through all the linking pathways you created when submitting your site to quality web directories.

As we covered the internet contains a massive amount of information and people search for it every day. The more links you have pointing to your site and the more content you have on it relevant to your sites niche, the better you will rank for search engine queries.

Another way to use article marketing is by writing your own unique articles on topics related to your websites niche and submit them for publication to the best article directories. These articles will create some links to your website to increase its popularity and with each link comes another doorway for traffic to find you.

When you write and publish these articles, you are also letting the public know you have expertise and knowledge on the subject. To get the reader's attention, give them a quality, well written article filled with information.

Build links through quality directory submissions to increase your site's popularity and create doorways to traffic and search engines. Then use article marketing to provide quality on-site content for the search engines to spider when they arrive.

The more quality web directories you submit your site to, the more article content you provide on your site and the more articles you submit for publication on article directories, the more search engines will love your site.

These are some of the key elements to creating traffic and building a successful website. You can have the best website on the internet, but without proper promotion your visitors will never find you. If they do not find you, they cannot use the services that you provide.

Now it is time to get started.

About the Author: Bruce Swedal - Gain an online presence for your Website by getting listed on The Authority Website Directory.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How To Start A Social Marketing Campaign

Social marketing is a relatively new, often misunderstood form of online marketing that is reaping huge rewards for website owners who incorporate it into their marketing plans. I work with clients and customers who, while being very new to social marketing, are seeing results in the following areas:

1. Higher search engine rankings for their top keywords.

2. More rankings of additional keywords or "long tail" keyword phrases.

3. More link popularity from sites linking on their own accord.

4. More link popularity from social media sites.

5. More activity on their blogs, such as more commenting and interaction.

6. Direct traffic from incoming links on social media sites (One good submission can net thousands of visitors alone.)

7. Fast traffic increases and steady growth in unique visitors month after month.

8. An increase in subscribers and sales. Social traffic, properly acquired, is very warm to your message and products.

The problem for most people when thinking about social marketing, after getting a taste of all the hundreds of sites there are to interact with, is becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed into inaction.

They assume established social marketers gained their "social authority" in a short period of time. This is simply not true. Although the opportunities for driving serious traffic and rankings from hundreds of social sites exists, it is an embarrassment of riches.

And it cannot be conquered over night. It is a gradual process you manage with all your other responsibilities and grow as time allows.

What I encourage my clients to do is set aside enough time each day to get one more link, participate in one more conversation, or sign up for one more account on a social site. A little goes a long way and social marketing is not an "all or nothing" situation. Eventually you will have established yourself on the major social media sites you need to be on. And you will have a schedule that allows you to keep up with your other work while adding this extremely powerful marketing method to the mix.

10 Steps For Starting a Social Marketing Campaign

1. Schedule a bit of time each day to do some new things. Don't just say you are going to do them. Write the time into your day and follow through.

2. Sign up for the major social news sites:,, Don't submit anything to these sites until you have filled out your profile completely and submitted news from elsewhere on the web to generate a real presence and avoid being labeled as a spammer.

In fact, BE a real presence and don't try to push your own content onto the networks you belong to. It should feel and be natural and you will know what "natural is on each network by participating, commenting, voting and getting a general sense of what members think is good and bad content. Watch their comments and votes and you will know how to proceed with your own site's content from there.

3. If you don't have a blog, you must install one immediately. This is not an option. It is an absolute necessity on today's web. I recommend Wordpress which can be downloaded and installed by you or your webmaster. Wordpress download

Option #2: Check with your web host to see if they have Fantastico available to you and, if so, that it installs the latest version of Wordpress. If so you are very lucky because the software can be installed by you very easily in just a few steps with Fantastico.

4. Once you have your blog set up, join the following networks. (These are blog communities that will help you generate visitors, authority, and links and most bloggers belong to them.) (install the widget on your Wordpress blog), and (they also have a widget to install)

5. Join groups, make friends, and interact with other bloggers on these networks. Especially the people who would be most likely to link to your blog and send you traffic who write about similar things or have an audience similar to yours who'd benefit by knowing you. You can even start your own group, promote it in the network, and send "shouts" to the group when you have announcements or need attention to a new post.

6. Once you have established yourself on all the sites above, meaning you have a decent profile in each that shows you've been active and involved, move on and search for networks that are geared toward your particular market niche. There are a lot of new "vertical" social sites popping up that focus on much more narrow markets and their membership is far warmer to your kind of information than on the bigger, more general networks above.

Add a new site to the mix as often as you can and repeat the steps for becoming established there as mentioned in Step 2 above.

7. Join a group dedicated to social marketing to pick up tips from other social marketers and find new places you can sign up with to continue building your social authority. New sites pop up every single day. Follow places like to find new opportunities to connect with your market.

8. Remote blog. Join and put content there that is good, just not good enough to go on your main blog. This serves two purposes: 1) you get to use more of the great content you find as you travel through all the social news sites and 2) it gives you another place to link back to your main site and pass on traffic and link popularity over time.

9. Track your progress diligently. If something you are trying on a social network isn't working, you need to know that in order to save time and move on to something more fruitful. (above) has a tracking system which will show you where your traffic is coming from so you can avoid time wasting efforts and focus more on the sites that are really pulling in good traffic for you.

10. Don't freak out! This is only overwhelming if you act like someone at an all-you-can-eat buffet with no self control. You have other things to do and this needs to fit into, not dominate, your current business and marketing.

Social marketing, once you've established some authority, will replace some things you are currently doing to promote your site. Many people completely drop their paid advertising or PPC campaigns once they see the organic, natural traffic and search engine rankings pile up from social marketing.

Until then, just take it one step at a time and do some social marketing. A little goes a long way and before you know it, you will reach a point where a lot of traffic and lots of search engine rankings are piling up because you simply started doing something each day.

There's a lot you can learn about social marketing. And not all of it can be found on free blogs.

About The Author

Jack Humphrey is the author of The Authority Black Book and the creator of a powerful social marketing community at .

SEO Basics in 45 Minutes

As most people who read this newsletter will know, Jill Whalen is a pioneer in search engine optimization. Nicknamed the First Lady of Search, Jill founded the site in 1995. Today High Rankings has grown to be one of the pre-eminent SEO companies in the US. Jill's company is dedicated to educating its clients and sharing its knowledge with the industry at large through the High Rankings Advisor newsletter, the High Rankings Forum and her in-house seminars.

In her presentation for Webstock 2008, Jill gave the audience a 45 minute tutorial in SEO Basics. First up, Jill discussed what SEO isn't. Some of the most common SEO myths she exposed included:

PPC Myths:

  • PPC ads will help organic rankings

  • PPC ads will hurt organic rankings

Tag Myths:

  • you must have a keyword-rich domain

  • you must have keyword-rich page URLs

  • heading tags are necessary (H1, H2 etc.)

  • you need to use keywords in meta keyword tags, in particular you need to use keywords that are included in your page content.

    Jill says that it's actually better to use the keyword tag to include misspellings and other keyword varieties that you don't have in your pages.

  • using keywords in comment tags will hurt your rankings.

Content Myths:

  • page copy must be a certain # of words. Jill actually made up the 250 word limit a few years ago and it's stuck, but there is really no set limit to please search engines.

  • that you need to bold/italicize your target keywords.

  • that you must use a specific keyword density. Jill says that keyword density tools are ridiculous.

  • that you must optimize a page for a single keyword or phrase per page. Instead, try to optimize each page for 3-5 phrases that are related, so that your copy reads better than repeating one phrase over and over.

  • that you need to optimize for the long-tail searches. You don't generally need to optimize for these - engines will find them on their own.

  • duplicate content will get your site penalized. There is not a penalty as such, but engines will filter out duplicates in lieu of the original copy (or what they think is the original).

Design Myths:

  • your HTML code must validate to W3C. Not even validates!

  • your navigation must be text links not images. Surprisingly, graphical navigation is fine as long as you use ALT tags.

  • you can't use Flash. It's fine to use Flash, as long as it is one element of your page, not a complete Flash site. Use a text-based site too if using a Flash site.

  • certain design techniques are black hat. Javascript code is legitimate, not just used by black hats.

Link Building Myths:

  • that Google's link: command is accurate. It's not a useful tool. Use Google Webmaster Tools or the Yahoo link command instead.

  • that reciprocal links won't count. From the right site, reciprocal links are fine, even very helpful.

  • that pages are ranked in PageRank order in the search results. They're not. Google Toolbar PageRank is not accurate anyway so ignore it.

  • you must be in DMOZ or Yahoo Directory to get good Google rankings. In Jill’s opinion, the Yahoo Directory is not worth the money these days.

Submitting, Crawling and Indexing Myths:

  • that you need to submit URLs to engines. Provided you have a link to your site, you will be found and indexed.

  • that you need a Google Sitemap. Not needed for the average site. It won't change your site rank.

  • that you need to update your site frequently.

  • frequent spidering helps rankings. Not true.

  • that you need multiple sites. This won't help in the engines and creates more maintenance work.

  • that you need doorway pages. Jill says this is so 1995!

SEO Company Myths:

  • that a #1 ranking will always lead to more traffic or sales. The good rankings need to be for keywords and phrases that people are actually searching for.

  • that the company can place pages in certain positions. Not possible, unless they’re using Pay Per Click or sponsored spots.

  • that your rankings will tank if you stop paying the company. Rubbish!

  • that they have a "proprietary method" of SEO. They’re lying!

  • that they have a "special relationship" with Google. Again, they're lying. Google has no relationships with organic SEO companies that Jill is aware of.

  • that they can increase your rankings without doing any on-page work. Run away!

Next, Jill defined what SEO is. Her definition of SEO is "making your site the best it can be for your site visitors AND the search engines". She made the point that search engines need to:

- Find

- Crawl

- Index

- Determine relevancy

- show results

So you should keep these top of mind when designing and SEOing your site.

Jill also made the point that search engines don't know you. So you should disclose what you sell and who you are in plain language that naturally incorporates the keyword phrases. Dumb down your pages for users. What search engines want is good content. If you're not getting good traffic from your pages, they're broken, she says. In a nutshell, make sure your pages speak to your target audience and solve their problems.

Jill then discussed how to choose keywords to target on your site. She recommended brainstorming with friends, family and business colleagues and creating a seed list of keywords. Then take that list and run it through keyword research tools such as WordTracker or Keyword Discovery and even Google AdWords to determine the best keywords and phrases to target.

Jill says there are three types of keyword phrases:

1) General and highly competitive terms - not good choices.

2) Long tail - uncompetitive terms - generally no need to SEO for.

3) Relevant and specific terms, which are the best to choose because they highly searched, yet are targeted enough to bring qualified traffic.

Next, Jill explained where to put your keywords. She recommended putting them in:

- anchor text

- clickable image alt attributes (alt tags)

- headlines

- body text copy

- title tags (Don't make your titles less than 10 words, she says.)

- meta description tags

Jill finished up by teaching the group how to measure SEO success. She said that high rankings are not the best measure of success because you might be ranking for phrases nobody is searching on. Instead you should be looking for increased targeted traffíc to your site and more conversions. Use your web stats to give you the clues as to whether your site and your SEO is working.

As for the future of SEO, well despite the rumors that SEO is dead, Jill doesn't think that the big engines will switch to exclusively paid listings any time soon. In her opinion, there will always be some free ways to get listed so there will always be a need for SEO. In the same vein, a crawler-friendly site will always get good results and off page criteria (e.g. links) will always be important.

About The Author

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.

Monday, February 18, 2008

7 Basic Rules for Internet Marketing

Internet marketing strategies involve driving targeted (people who are interested in what you have to offer) traffic to your website, blog, or sales page.

That traffic then has to be converted into sales. This simple formula illustrates this process:

Traffic + Conversions = Sales

Keeping this formula in your mind will help you in your internet marketing efforts because you will realize that you not only have to generate traffic, but also turn those visitors into buyers.

Furthermore, here are 7 basic rules to follow when applying this formula. These rules are relevant to all forms of marketing but are especially important for online marketing where inexperienced people can "burn" a lot of money quickly and become very discouraged.

1. All marketing involves RISK.

Whether you are trying something new or "copying" a strategy that has brought good results for others, there is still an element of risk.

When speaking of risk, you tend to think of gambling which makes for an appropriate analogy here.

For internet marketing, we try to reduce the risk and swing the odds in our favour by doing keyword research, learning skills like ad writing, article marketing, and pay per click, and other general marketing activities such as knowing what your target market is interested in.

2. Test small first.

Reduce your risk by testing a marketing approach on a small scale first. If it works, then increase the scale and create momentum.

This is how to make money!

3. Be consistent.

Successful marketers do something to propel themselves forward everyday. That is their secret.

A good practice is to create a to-do list every night featuring 5 actions that you must complete the following day.

By doing this at night before you go to sleep, you engage your subconscious mind and the next day you will know what you have to do and be on target to complete these tasks.

This is a very powerful process. Try to do this, one day at a time, until it becomes a daily habit.

4. Set a budget.

Determine what you can afford to spend on advertising on a monthly basis. In this way you can set and manage your expectations.

This should also prevent you from trying things you cannot afford.

5. Diversify.

Spread your efforts as much as you can over many different sources. This will also reduce your risk and help you to discover what works.

Remember that if one internet marketing method that you try does not produce results, you have not failed. This just means that you are one step closer to finding something that DOES work.

6. Learn how to write effective copy.

The skill that will make or break you in internet marketing is copywriting.

It is especially important to learn how to write headlines. There is a ton of good information online that is free regarding headlines and copywriting. Just do a Google search.

7. Take action, test, and track.

Tracking is essential because you absolutely need to know the results of your marketing efforts.

Once you start getting results, you can employ simple tests to see if you can improve. Often this testing involves strategies that are free.

One such strategy that comes to mind is split testing. You can do this for free, and it can provide incredible returns. Generally speaking, split testing involves making slight changes to a landing page or adwords ad, often just the wording of the headline, and testing it against a current version.

I have seen very simple changes DOUBLE the productivity of an ad. It's not only amazing, but also a lot of fun! Marketing takes work. You simply cannot get something for nothing. Massive action creates massive results.

So take action and do not be afraid to fail. Remember to minimize your risk.

About the Author: Mark McCullagh is the author of the internet marketing strategies that work, especially for network marketing.

Six Proven Secrets to Writing a Trash-Proof Press Release

In baseball, it's said that you know an umpire is top-notch when you never notice his presence. If he's doing his job, he won't call attention to himself in any way. It's much the same for the writer of a press release. When the recipient of a press release focuses only on its content -- and not on its creation -- the writer has succeeded. With that in mind, here's how to develop a style that can help give you a big edge in placing your press releases.

1) Master News Style By Reading News Stories

The folks who write wire copy for the Associated Press are masters at presenting information without calling attention to themselves. Read all the AP wire copy you can and get a sense of the rhythm and flow of their writing. Examine their choice of words and sentence structure (typically, they choose the simplest way of saying things) and their overall tone of solid objectivity. This is the style to which you should aspire.

2) Write a Great Lead

The lead paragraph in a press release should, theoretically, be able to stand alone as a news item. A standard news lead answers the Five W's -- Who? What? Where? When? Why? Successfully answer those five questions in one paragraph and you've summarized everything beautifully.

Bad lead:

The new Acme X100 is drawing raves from customers, who call it the best thing to happen to the flanging industry since the X99.

Good lead:

Philadelphia, August 15, 2007-- Calling it a "milestone day for our industry", the Acme Company unveiled the first flanger capable of creating widgets using only solar power. According to Acme President Joe Blow, the X100 is expected to find wide use in the developing world, where access to traditional electric power is unreliable.

The Five W's are answered! Who: the Acme Company. What: theintroduction of the solar-powered X100. Where: in Philadelphia (the headquarters for our fictional company). When: August 15. And, most important, Why: for use in the developing world.

Remember this: in almost every release that's successful, what put it over the top was the answer to "Why?". You must make plain the significance of your news by answering that question succinctly and without hype!

3) Write in Third Person

Perhaps it's a silly convention, but press releases really should be written as if they're coming from an objective outsider to your company, not from within your business. Of course, the journalist knows better, but nonetheless, they expect releases to be written in the third person. In short, here's the difference between first person and third person:

=> First person: We've developed the Acme X100.It's our most advanced model ever.

=> Third person: Acme Industries has developed the X100, which a company spokesperson called its "most advanced ever"

4) Attribute All Opinions

Never flatly state an opinion. If you want to state an opinion or, as in the above example, make a claim, always attribute it to a representative of the company (which very well may end up to be you!). Anything apart from entirely factual info (dates, store availability, product features, biographical information, etc.) should be attributed. Again, the best way to get a feel for this is to read wire copy. Start sorting out the things a reporter feels comfortable with, including without attribution and things for which he uses a named source.

5) Use the Inverted Pyramid

On the first day of Journalism 101, aspiring scribes learn about the Inverted Pyramid. Basically, it's way of organizing information so that the most important information is at the top -- the widest part of the Inverted Pyramid -- and, as you funnel down to the narrowest point, the information becomes less and less vital. There's a good reason for this: if a reporter's 10 paragraph story gets cut to 6 paragraphs because of space considerations, the reader will still be informed of the most important news. What's cut will be background, quotes and other nonessential material. When writing a press release, the Inverted Pyramid is equally important. First, it's the style the journalist is comfortable with and second, it assures that even if a rushed reporter can only read the first couple of paragraphs, she'll get enough info to decide whether to use the release or not. If you bury the best part of your release in the fourth paragraph, the recipient may never make it that far.

6) Remove all "Stoppers"

A "stopper" is something that will stop a journalist in her tracks and distract her attention. Once that happens, your release is toast. The point of your press release: to present information in the least obtrusive way possible. Consider it this way: the journalist isn't dumb -- she knows full well that you've sent her the press release for purely commercial reasons, hoping to get publicity that will make you more money. She can live with that as long as [a] there's something in it for her (a good story) and [b] she's not reminded of your commercial desires too often. A "stopper" breaks the suspension of disbelief needed for this little dance to be successful. It's the boom mike showing up in the frame of a movie -- once you've seen it, it's hard to convince yourself that you're really experiencing something that happened during, say, the Middle Ages. Here are some "stoppers" to avoid:

=> Clunky language. Journalists keep their language pretty simple. Long words, compound sentences and lofty, pretentious phrases are no-no's. Keep your sentences short. Don't try to present more than one idea in a paragraph. Avoid words you wouldn't use in everyday circumstances.

=> Hype and puffery. The ultimate "stopper". Confusing press release copy with advertising copy is a pervasive problem with businesspeople. Don't call yourself the greatest, the hottest, the coolest, the most unique or anything of the sort. If you must make a claim of superiority for your product, service or company, attribute it. Acme President Joe Blow said the X100 "has the opportunity to revolutionize the industry" is much better than The revolutionary Acme X100 is the greatest industrial advance since the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.

=> Trademark Symbols. Including TM or copyright symbols that scream, "hey, check me out! I'm a press release! I come from a business! The legal department made me include this stuff!"

The bottom line: write like a journalist, avoid the stoppers and answer the Five W's and you'll succeed!

About The Author

Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades as one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets of scoring big publicity.

How to Use Offline Advertising in Internet Marketing

Knowing how to use offline advertising in internet marketing can give you a significant advantage over your competitors, since many do not use offline methods to advertise their products.

Offline advertising is particularly relevant if you are selling a product, or offering a service, that attract customers locally. For example, you could offer a fitness aid at your local leisure center. Many leisure or fitness centers will allow you to put a free poster offering your product, but even if they charge you for it the price is usually small. Perhaps you have a golf training aid that you can advertise at your local golf club.

Local classified ads are also a good means of getting your product some local publicity. The classified ads pages or even adverts placed on selected pages of your local press, frequently provide you with local orders. The beauty of these is that they are very easy to follow up, either with back-end products or new ones. You need not even restrict yourself to the local press. How often have you seen an internet marketing advert on the national press? They are not uncommon, and although expensive, they must produce a good return.

If you have a niche website, it could be worth your while browsing round your local newsagent and checking out the magazines on display. You know the kind - all these racks upon racks of magazines on every topic you can think of. Have a word with the newsvendor and find out some of the more popular magazines that cover your niche. These could be good publications for placing your adverts, especially if they are not too expensive and they have a good circulation.

Poster campaigns can also work well. You can advertise with posters in many shopping malls, and some stores also offer you the opportunity place an A5 poster for only pennies a week. Have your own business cards printed with your internet business contact details, such as website address and email address in addition to your phone number. Put your website address on everything, and have a signature that use on all correspondence. Not just emails and forum postings, but also offline correspondence such as letters, invoices, receipts and anything else you send to other people.

Another form of offline marketing that most people have never heard of, let alone use, is buzz advertising. This type of advertising has been growing in popularity recently, especially by offline businesses. It is used extensively by some auto companies and by cosmetics companies. Buzz advertising involves getting a verbal buzz going about your website or product. Some companies pay people specifically to verbally promote their products by approaching strangers, striking up conversations and bringing up the product in the conversation.

"Say, have you heard about the latest perfume from ----!" While not yet common it is getting more popular. Of course, the buzz need not be started off by someone you have employed to do it, but you can do it yourself. You can get your family and relatives involved as well. Before you know it, everybody might be talking about your product or your great new website. That's how YouTube and MySpace got so popular.

If you have a van or pick-up get your business name and website address painted on the site. It's easier to get a buzz going if people see your website in their face all the time, on vehicles, on posters, in newspapers and magazines, and even chalked on walls! Well, perhaps not the last one, but that would sure get people noticing your website! Do you get the idea? Get your website name known in every way that you can.

How about a local radio slot, with you explaining the virtues and benefits of your product, service or website? Stress the benefits, and you need not restrict it to local radio. Try for a national radio slot or even TV if your business is sizeable enough. There are no restrictions to the advertising methods you can use. Hire a loudspeaker and shout it from the rooftops!

Online advertising methods are very effective in internet marketing, since they can be visible to people all round the world, but if you know how to use offline advertising it can also work very nicely for you, and bring you a lot of business you would not otherwise have.

About the Author: Andre Sanchez

Search Engine Optimization, Google, and The Reptilian Code

Search engine optimization dominates the thinking and to a large degree the marketing efforts of many small and medium-sized companies, but have you ever noticed that many of the largest and most profitable companies in the world ignore many SEO techniques.

Of course these companies have large advertising and marketing budgets that drive traffic to their websites and generate leads, sales, and most importantly customers; and they achieve these results without having to twist their Web-marketing message out of shape in order to satisfy search engine criteria.

Their prime interest is in delivering their finely crafted, focused marketing message to their audience, not to search robots. Last I heard search engines are in the business of selling you their stuff not buying yours. But these companies also know something that you don't; they have a secret that makes their marketing work without the need for search engine appeasement. This secret is not much of a secret, in fact it is out there for all see; unfortunately most search engine crazed entrepreneurs choose to ignore it and instead look for an easy fix, a magic bullet, search engine nirvana.

Google's Mission

Google's success is based on two very simple facts: one, it is the best way to find what people are looking for on the Web; and two, it has parlayed this ability into a series of paid-for services. Pretty obvious stuff until you delve deeper into why and how this works. Google understands the same thing most extraordinarily successful companies understand and that is they know what you really want. The keyword here is 'really:' they understand the unconscious primal need to survive, to be the alpha-ape, to be first on page one of a search for whatever it is you do, because in the SEO game, if you ain't on the leader board you ain't in the money.

The Google Paradox

Here's the problem: Google can only be successful as long as they deliver relevant search results to a vast Internet audience. If they fail to deliver appropriate search results people will stop using them and their paid-for services will decline. On the other hand, you as a business executive want access to Google's vast audience, and the only way you think you can effectively gain this access is to appear on that first search page as close to the top as possible; and you really don't give a damn how you get there. Enter the search engine optimization gurus, boffins, and Svengalis who provide the promise of survival of the most index-able.

So now we have Google whose success is based on delivering relevant searches and SEO companies intent on manipulating this ability to place their clients on page one near the top. Google of course being a smart bunch of guys foils the SEOs by constantly changing their methods and algorithms and trumps them by placing paid-for results in the most prominent places. And the game continues, bringing in huge profits to Google and wonderfully large fees to the search engine optimization experts, leaving you paying the shot with little to show for it.

Just as an aside, I can tell you that most of our website traffic and subsequent inquiries and worldwide clients come from Google searches, and our website is mostly Flash, concentrates on Web-video and audio, and basically ignores most search optimization tricks. We rely on providing our audience and Google with relevant material.

Back to Basics

The lesson here is clear: sound marketing practices based on the way people think and act should be your number one priority, not blind faith in the manipulation of some constantly changing mathematical formula that is increasingly playing second fiddle to paid-for placement.

Persuasion Techniques

The ability to make money on the Web is not based on traffic but rather on your ability to communicate. High volume expensive traffic that leaves your site within seconds serves no financial purpose. You should be spending your marketing dollars on methods that grab visitors' attention and deliver a focused, informative, entertaining and memorable marketing message that resonates with your audience's unconscious desires formed in the primitive reptilian portion of the brain.

The Lustication-Justification Process

Sales are generated by creating what Clotaire Rapaille, the reigning superstar of market research, refers to as the process of lustication and justification. Lustication is the psychological trigger of desire that makes your audience want to buy your product or service, while justification is merely the rational excuse used to expend resources.

Decoding the Motivating Triggers

Rapaille's work is all about decoding the motivating triggers that prompt a purchase. Once found, the job of the marketing effort is to stay on code. The major research effort is to get past the excuses, the justifications, the rational left brain thinking that appeases the accountants, engineers and programmers, and to get down to the nitty-gritty, the elements and primal coding that make us tick.

Rapaille believes words carry more than their literal meaning and are ripe with unconscious associations, not a surprising revelation since all communication whether verbal or nonverbal is based on the associations we make over a lifetime of experience. These shared associations form the basis of the code we are looking to play upon in our marketing.

Where most corporations and advertising agencies use focus groups as an exercise designed to cover their collective asses, Rapaille takes a different approach. As a trained psychiatrist, he organizes his version of focus groups in stages. During the first stage he allows his subjects to gain a sense of accomplishment by justifying their reasoning through logical and rational thinking that he completely ignores. In the second stage, he pursues the more relevant hidden aspects of desire, and that's the ultimate sales trigger he's looking for.

An Affordable Solution

Most businesses certainly can't afford the fees of someone like Clotaire Rapaille, but if you free yourself from conventional thinking and the need to justify and rationalize everything you do then maybe you to can find the hidden triggers of desire that form the code you need to base your marketing on.

Humans have two fundamental needs, survival and improvement; these essential requirements are subdivided into our need for food, shelter, reproduction, acceptance, community, status, and knowledge; these are motivational triggers for everything your audience does and for every cent they spend. While you're knocking your brains out competing for top spot on a Google search, the big boys are delivering what people really want, and laughing all the way to the bank.

If you want your share of the Internet pie, you best discover what really satisfies your audience's hunger, because that's the basis for a marketing message and website presentation that works.

About The Author

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Contact at or telephone (905) 764-1246.

The Sociology of Social Media

While being hired on at StepForth Web Marketing our CEO, Ross Dunn, was interested in how someone with a background in sociology could benefit his company, specifically in understanding social media and how to market to it. Sociologists look at communities and try to dissect them as to what its participants have in common in addition to trends or commonalities within the communities.

Sociologists study society and social action by examining the groups and social institutions people form, as well as various social, religious, political, and business organizations. In essence it is the study of social interactions of people and groups.

They like to watch groups of people and see how they interact and function. Understanding the group's values and ideas is the key because once you understand a group one can participate within it. Participation means that you have the ability to communicate to those within the groups and spread or gain information. The concept of a social media marketer is to gain understanding of a community and leverage it to increase awareness of their own or their client's expertise. Social media based communities are seen as the new web properties for marketing campaigns. Driving traffic and developing information users trust and use is the monetization of the social media world.

This article is a general understanding as to what social media is and its potential for reaching the public. In the future I will be covering more specific areas within social media and helping clients build campaigns that work for their specific situation in this emerging marketplace. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Why People Use Social Media

Social Media is a web based venue that shares ideas, values, and information. Social media sites are formed when groups of people want to share information. They are used to keep up with friends and colleagues, to exchange ideas, and get information from those who might have an answer. Social media sites create a community (a group of individuals) based around this shared information. Many of these sites have gained huge followings and therefore are seen as authorities in their particular area of expertise (news, technology, sports, etc.).

Social media creates a community where like minded people can interact, mingle, and explore. They provide information that's judged by those within the community to be deemed noteworthy. It is interesting to note that social media sites have the same basic format in how they propagate the content provided by their users. Individuals are able to vote on the content or respond to the content. In this way, social media sites seek to gain and direct viewers. Social media is about giving control over information back to the masses.

Information provided on these sites is judged on a combination of criteria; its relevance, its quality, and the uniqueness of its content. The information is seen as trustworthy and unbiased because it is peer filtered. The information within these communities will have influence on the people who view it and can determine what actions they take regarding this new found information. As social media sites prosper with large user bases of interconnected individuals they provide a new platform for finding web based information.

Social media is inherently personal. The users provide personal information and ideas, respond to them, share them, and create a social media personality. This is where social media marketing comes in. Marketers want to know who you are and what you like. With booming global communication and technologies social media sites are seen as important venues for exchange. They embrace ideas surrounding information like connectivity, word of mouth, promotion of quality, and trust of those deemed trustworthy. Social media sites are important because they contain information users find interesting, timely and informative.

Marketing is the sharing of information to influence a consumer to purchase a product or service. Social media marketers want to get their messages out across the many mediums (video, interactive, audio, etc.) on social media sites to the individuals spending time on them. Social media sites also provide a space for advertisers to promote and gain insight on their products. These sites are seen as a great venue for advertising because of their ability to reach individuals based on their demographics, like age, location, and search profiles.

In both social media and marketing a niche is a smaller more focused section of a broader market. Niche communities are able to congregate within social media sites and share ideas and fraternize on very specific topics. This idea is very important to marketers and social media because they want to be able to reach the appropriate market for their information. Niche marketing is the process of finding and serving these specific market segments and designing custom-made strategies to profit from them.

Currently social media sites hold huge amounts of information. Social media is a great tool for spreading information and adding to it. Do people want more personalized, up to date and high quality information? What kind of information do users actually get in a current search inquiry? Is there a better way of accessing all the information on the web? These are questions social media is trying to answer. Social media sites are giving the power back to the people for exchanging information; it is a tool that helps society communicate and connect. Society values unbiased, accurate information and access to it. Social media provides personalized information and the chance for your voice to be heard. Social media's ability to influence one's personal decisions will give it huge potential to shape the society we live in.

About The Author

Andrew Clough is StepForth's Social Media Specialist at StepForth Web Marketing Inc.; based in Victoria, BC, Canada and founded in 1997. contact us at, Tel - 250-385-1190, Toll Free - 877-385-5526, Fax - 250-385-1198

Internet And Business Online And Stage Fright

If you're a person who hates to even think about getting up on stage and performing for an audience then you may have some understanding of what it is like for some to consider starting their own online business.

For many people who experience stage fright there are two dynamics at work. The first is a feeling that they would love to be able to perform. In fact some might even believe they have everything it takes to be a great performer. The second is that they are fully convinced they would freeze on stage and not be able to perform. The potential embarrassment keeps them sidelined.

The idea of business ownership is very similar. If you visit enough brick and mortar stores you can begin to identify individuals who are gifted in multiple areas. They would be prime candidates for business ownership, but in may cases they would never seriously consider the idea although they may be equally certain they could make a business successful.

In most cases this dynamic may be attributed to the fact that the individual has never owned a business previously and may be uncertain that their present skills are enough to develop a business.

It may also have to do with a constantly shifting future timeline. For instance an individual may have a date of five years fixed in their mind to begin their own business, but that date is constantly on fast forward and the business idea never seems to be developed.

This process can be a bit like agreeing to play a part in a locally produced musical. You attend all the rehearsals and memorize your lines. You learn the music and are outfitted with a costume. However, after the dress rehearsal you go home and never return for the actual performance.

In the case of developing an online business a prospective owner can look at the potential of site development, hosting packages, product availability and a myriad of other issues and then just when family and friends think the business will launch the entire thought process stops and the business idea is simply referred to as "the business I could have started."

It really is a bold step to develop a business. You are assuming a variety of risks and rewards and you are placing a dream on a pedestal for all to see. What happens if no one likes your business idea? What will you think if the idea is ridiculed at some point? Wouldn't it be easier to just forget about it?

There are countless potential business owners who have shelved great ideas because they have developed a case of 'stage fright'. They would like to own a business of their own, but they find more comfort in the idea that playing it safe (and out of the spotlight) may be the only option they could handle.

Stage fright comes when anyone has to perform in a setting they are not comfortable with, but the great performers always find a way to ensure that the show will 'go on'.

You can be one of the great performers you just need to find the right stage and then confidently work through your performance.

About the Author: Scott Lindsay

Social Networking with Training Wheels

Look, I don't really think that the mySpaces and Facebooks of the world are that important for the typical small business as they stand today. There may be very practical business reasons for some to actually use these and other, what are called social networks, for business gain, but most people that have jumped on the social network bandwagon have found themselves left with a "is this all there is" kind of feeling.

To those, I say this, the value of the current public social networks for business folks is not what you can get out of them for gain today, but what you can learn by using them for practical gain tomorrow. That's why SpacebookedIn makes sense for you now.

The Facebooks of the world are busy teaching millions and millions of business folks how social networks work, how social networking works, how shared applications can be viral and ever-present. The real payoff in my opinion is that the wave to come after the Facebook bubble bursts is the "personalized business network." Once everyone of your customers and prospects knows how to use what are easily replicatable social networking tools, like building profiles, sharing video and connecting based on mutual interests, your job of building your own social business network around your own very specific community of niche will get a whole lot easier.

2008 will be the year of the personalized social business network. So, if you've decided to take a pass on the whole social networking trend, I would suggest that you use this handy list to start learning to ride this bike with the training wheels on.

Ten ways to get started with Social Networking

1) Read 10 blogs - sign-up for a Bloglines account and search for and subscribe to 10 blogs about social networking - you can return daily to your page on Bloglines to find and read all the new content on your 10. Of course you can add blogs about your industry and interests here too.

2) Comment on 10 blogs - posting relevant comments to blogs you read is a very simple form of social networking. It's also a good way to get some extra visitors your site or blog.

3) Join Facebook - Join and create a profile. Find and friend some of your existing contacts using tools on Facebook. You'll be surprised how many people you already know have Facebook accounts. Facebook has some real value for you because of the rich set of tools and large amount of active users. This is a great place to experiment with how people interact in social networks. Once you get your feet wet you may also find that Facebook is a great way to connect with business contacts you may never bump into otherwise.

4) Create a mySpace page - this service is really embraced primarily by musicians and the younger set. It also happens to have a large underbelly contingent so be warned, but it is a great tool for learning how to build a presence outside of your web site.

5) Join LinkedIn - this is a service that's been called Facebook for business. It is really about meeting and connecting with like-minded business folks. It is a great service for people looking for a job or to make connections with people who may be out of reach without an introduction.

6) Visit Ning - this is the largest custom social networking service that allows you to create your own community using a variety of tools that can be branded to match your current site.

7) Create a Workbench profile - this one's a little self-serving as this is my new social business networking site but it's a good example of the personalized business community that's the next wave for small business.

8) Create a Twitter account - this tool is pretty silly on the surface, it allows you to type in 160 characters or less what you are doing right now. It feels like a giant waste of time but a very large and active community has grown around this kind of micro-blogging and you should understand how people are using it.

9) Create a StumbleUpon profile - This is a social network built around discovering and recommending sites that you like. Active stumblers can send a lot of traffic your way.

10) Create a Digg account - this site allows you to keep up to the minute with what's happening in the world of business. Users submit and vote on what is believed to be the most important content.

You might also consider Mixx, Squidoo and Flickr as places to find and develop niche related communities when you're ready to really get out there.

Think of mySpace, LinkedIn and Facebook as your labs - get in there and experiment for the future. then start planning your own personalized social business network.

About The Author

John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide.

How to Fire up Your Link Building Mojo

You know you need inbound links to your site to succeed in SEO. What you may not know is, you don't need to spend a dime to get them. In fact, I would advise you not to purchase links.

The recent Google shakeup is all about paid links. Stop paying for links now! Google is now "punishing" websites for having paid links, because they feel it's cheating the algorithm. You might be upset by this, but they are doing it to improve the quality of their results. Here is how you can take advantage of it.

Google is moving towards algorithms that favor sites that are "naturally" linked to. What is "natural" linking? These are links that a webmaster puts up because he or she wanted to, not because they were paid to. They saw something they liked, and put a link to it. This means all those shady SEOs who were buying links up by the hundreds can't cheat good sites out of the rankings anymore. So how you do get natural links?

Focus on Your Subject

There is a saying in marketing, if you market to everyone, you are marketing to no one. Maintain your focus, and keep your content within your niche. Don't try to spread yourself too thin.

I personally have been guilty of this sin in the past. At one time had SEO articles, PHP scripts, Ford Mustang News and photoshop tutorials, and pictures of my family and locations back home. Needless to say I didn't really dominate any of those niches. Focus your efforts, and try to stay on topic.

Give Them Something to Link to

Once you find your focus, provide content that others in your niche want to link to. It's really that simple. Think to yourself, "are people going to want to link to this?". As much as I think my speculations and opinions on industry trends are great, the reality is most people link to articles I write that actually tell you how to do something. If you really want to build links, give them something helpful or really interesting to link to.

Even pages that you cannot easily monetize. The more links you get, the better.

Join the Community

In 2008, they have a community for almost anything. Get involved in those communities, sign up for forums and comment on posts. Become an authority. Just by being helpful to others and bringing information to a community, people will link to your site out of respect, knowing that their audience will appreciate the link. Be honest, helpful, and maintain your integrity on the boards. Instead of making fun of that newbie, help them out.

Look for Places with High Quality Links

Don't be afraid to ask to exchange links with others who might benefit from your service. Links from sites like your local library or community-centric pages go a long ways. Even your employer may put up a link (be careful not to mess that one up!).

Get Deep Links

Deep links are very important. Try to get links pointing towards inner pages of your site rather than the front page. With enough of these types of links, you can dominate some of the serps related to that topic, as well as build your overall quality.

Write Articles

Chances are, you're reading this article on somewhere other than or Webfoot Central. That's because I submit articles all over the internet. Not only do you help build backlinks, but you contribute to your community, and make a name for yourself. Don't write spammy articles, or try to advertise too hard. Make something useful that others will want as content on their own site.

Issue Press Releases

I can't really comment on this one too much, because I've never done it, but for some sites it's a very useful tool for getting inbound links, and good publicity. Make sure you have something going on that's worth talking about!

Blog, Blog, Blog

Every site needs a blog. Even if your site is primarily about selling widgets, have a widget news related blog. Individual articles will get people linking to them, and will keep your site fresh and add content, which google and other search engines love.

If You Must, Sponsor Some Links.

There are a few sponsored links worth getting. Yahoo Search Inclusion is one example. If you are in a highly competitive industry, such as adult, SEO, mortgage, finance, or gambling you will need to purchase links to get an edge. There are a lot of people competing for your terms.


Use common sense. The best way to get ahead is by being honest, and providing a decent service. Stop trying gimmicks or tricks to cheat your way into good rankings. The best long term SEO plan involves taking the high road and doing things honestly. Check out the SEO book to see what I learned about ethical SEO. Now I don't have any problems getting people to my website. You can too, all it takes is a little effort!

About The Author

Jeremy Morgan is a Portland SEO who frequently blogs about SEO.

Color: An Important Aspect of Business

The world was once black and white. The television had black and white programs and publications were mostly black. However, in the 60s, all that changed to what we see today. Therefore, we know color is now the best means of drawing attention to any media.

We each have our own tastes. Therefore, different people have different ideas in associating colors with products. There is no actual answer on what the best color would be for a product and at one time everything was done by chance. Now you can now find the best equipment and personnel in the design and printing industry that help produce beautiful labels. The same importance is now applied to producing the appropriate label as it is to producing a product. There are many family owned companies that guarantee in creating a label with 100% satisfaction and that gives a lasting impression.

Getting brand awareness that gives a lasting impression is a point of major concern for most companies today. By using a variety of logo or product colors you may decrease your marketing efforts.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of retail space is greatly reduced with the wrong colors. Sometimes, the variety of colors from different products may make a unique product blend with other products on the store shelf. Therefore, uniformity of a color is very important in creating brand awareness and a presence in the retail atmosphere.

The best way of making a product stand out from other products is with colors and materials that pop. Large manufacturers know that value and this is why they are always striving for color brilliance. You too, are sure to experience increased sales when your product has good shelf appeal.

Colors have a psychological influence in marketing The effect of colors in influencing the mind of the prospective customer is high. The moods and the sentiments are represented with colors. Symbolic representation is not blind, but an effective way of communicating the feelings spontaneously and strongly.

The changes we observe on earth with the advent of spring, the blossoming of the colorful plants and the joyful moods of the birds and other living beings. They all have been so synchronized that it stands testimony to the fact that color does have an effect on the human mind and the living beings. Therefore, as we verbally communicate to people in different dialects, so do the effects of colors in nonverbal communication.

The best example would be nature. As a creative artist, Mother Nature has made the best ever color combinations on earth. Whether it is color in flowers, in butterflies or in the other millions of living creatures. We as a civilized world had the basic lessons of the uses and impacts of the colors from Mother Nature.

While Mother Nature has used the same impact for its continuity, reproduction and sustenance, we today make use of the same for our selfish motives. Even more so in getting the target market attracted. To the ever expanding clientele, the language of the color has evolved as an effective marketing tool.

About the Author: Joann Snell is a freelance Graphic Designer. She specializes in print, corporate id, branding, and other marketing tools for small-medium sized businesses. For further information visit Jo's Graphic Designs at