Monday, March 31, 2008

SEO For Local Markets

Many brick and mortar companies that are catering to their local clientele find it hard to SEO for local markets despite targeting the best keywords. Quite naturally this is not a surprising matter as many of them, although efficient in running their off line businesses, typically stumble over two critical blocks.

Stumbling Blocks and SEO for Local Markets

When local businesses set to do SEO for local markets, many of them invariably ignore the need to think rationally because they are advised by SEO experts to target the big three search engine users and sometimes get confused and tackle this feat on a global level resulting in global traffic. The direct fall out of this step is exposing your business offers, products or services to the world at large only to dilute all other local online SEO efforts. If your product is not global you are in trouble.

So here is the stumbling block number one.

1. Not using localized target keywords, however good they are, will leave your new websites way down the SERP's locally. Actual localized keywords you should be targeting in which will bring you a steady stream of natural traffic.

The second block where you might probably stumble, especially if you are new to web and optimization is wrongfully assuming internet marketing techniques as something radically different and for removed from the earthly- worldly affairs that we all do by trial and errors over and again. The crux of the matter here is SEO for local markets is only a small part of larger marketing exercises, with certain twists, to get exposure with local locations.

Here is the second stumbling point in SEO for local markets.

2. SEO for local markets is not a marketing technique but a sophisticated local technique of optimizing websites on a local basis. Obviously, the one who knows the pulse of the market is not the SEO expert but can contribute his knowledge to SEO expert.

So, What Is Actually SEO For Local Markets?

Let me dash you through steps involved in SEO for local markets in short.

1. Localize your target keywords. This includes prefixing or suffixing local terms, names, and names of areas, cities or zip codes with target keywords. Example: "remodeling contractors Orange County", not "remodeling contractors".

2. Submit to local search engines (find one, if you don't know already), directories and web based yellow pages.

3. Display your mailing address with street address, zip code and complete. Once your site is indexed, these words gain prominence as a part of content.

4. Submit to local listing sections of Yahoo and DMOZ which is in addition to generalized listing.

5. Don't leave out general SEO techniques because you want to SEO for local markets which the power of link building which can be done globally as there might not be enough local sites to beat you competition.

6. Get on the local maps of Google, Yahoo, as this generally puts you on front of the local search engines.

7. Exchange links and banners with local businesses as the local traffic exchange will bring you new business. Avoid changing banners or links with competitors but exchange them with businesses that will complement you. Verify their traffic so it's an almost even exchange.

Dominating local SEO can be done fairly easily, you just have to either hire a professional with a proven track record or take time to learn local SEO. The main concern is to be patient as it takes at least 3 months to start seeing results.

About the Author: Michael S. Francis the author is a seasoned local SEO expert. Michael S. Francis is the owner of a Local Business SEO company.

The ABCs of Domain Names

Everything on the Internet starts with a domain name!

I know that may come off as a bit over reaching - but its true. From email to news, search, video or anything else on the Internet - you have to know where you're going which is only achieved by a domain name.

The ABC's of domain names, which as a title may come off as a little corny to you, is an exercise that makes you think about your industry or business, what you're doing in it, and how you go about doing what you do as it relates to domain names. The use of the ABC's format is to provide a simple, back to basics approach to deliver fundamental concepts that provoke thoughts, ideas and questions on domain names and how they are a part of your world.

So, whatever all of that means - lets dive into the ABC's of domain names and find their relevance in your line or work, personal life, hobbies, educational background, experience or special areas of interest to see what jumps out and comes naturally to you:

A: Advertising - domain names offer the perfect venue to advertise your product or services or to provide potential revenue by domain parking and/or affiliate programs.

B: Branding - the brand is in the name. Having a great targeted domain name can really build a brand, or can actually be the brand (eg:

C: Community - the Internet is all about an interconnected community. Through domain names, you create a real destination and an identity for what can become a community.

D: Direct Search - having a generic word based domain name is your best path to direct search traffic. Direct Search is here to stay and will likely take an increasing share of the overall search marketplace. Direct search bypasses the likes of and as the user types in the destination site directly into their browser (ie:

E: Ecommerce - want to conduct business online - you need to start with one primary thing - a domain name. Ecommerce is one of the leading uses of the Internet.

F: Friends & Family - connect with your friends and family with domain names - either by email, your favorite websites, or photo sharing sites and videos, etc.

G: Global - synonymous with the Internet - domain names (particularly .com) have mass broad appeal on a global basis, with global potential.

H: High Returns - where else can you buy a piece of virtual real-estate for $8.00 and sell it within a matter of weeks or months for over $1000? just sold for $9.99 Million in March of 2008.

I: Investment - domain names are appreciating more than any investment for the price. Similar to investing in stocks, bonds, real estate or insurance - domain names offer what I believe to be stable long lasting appreciation with the potential to create astonishing returns. Want to learn more about domain investing - you can always check out

J: Justify - Justify your web presence and online business with a great domain name that demonstrates who you are and what you do.

K: Keywords - domain names can be based upon major key words for your industry or target market. Just the same, the key words you use in your Internet marketing can be generated from the domain name you choose and how it relates to your target industry/product/service/noun/verb.

L: Localization & Location - targeting niche audiences by location and a specific geography has proved to be a very strong, identifiable marketing opportunity for anybody online. Embracing localization for your domain investment objectives is a great path to consider.

M: Monetization - making money and creating multiple sources and streams of income are the cornerstones to the potential and reason why people buy savvy domain names.

N: New Markets to seize - new products and services are always being launched, just as new companies and markets are being formed. Finding with a good strong domain name to capture the essence of your business or target market for your online presence is always a great starting point.

O: Organization - a domain name is the perfect way to identify with your organization. Whether it's a product, service, or brand - your domain name is your face on the Internet.

P: Profits - Domain are a great way to make money and profits. Invest wisely and you can find yourself with a great windfall.

Q: Quest - Like any business venture, you are on a quest to explore, learn and make money.

R: Revenue - domain names offer a myriad of ways to generate revenues. There are numerous ways and avenues to generate revenues with domain names, however, in some cases are closely held ideas and resources. Becoming educated about domain names and being focused on creating a long lasting business is a great path towards generating revenue.

S: Search Engines - Search engines are the gateway to choices on the Internet and essentially, a directory of domains classified by the type of information, product or service they offer. Search engines are a powerful marketing tool and a source of traffic for the domain name owner.

T: Technology - simply, without technology, there are no domains, websites, search engines, email or the like. The beauty of domain names is that you really don't have to understand or learn too much technology to get started, or to make money.

U: Unique Users - people coming to your website/domains generate traffic. The more unique users that visit your website - the more traffic they create. The more traffic - the greater the value. The best way to create long lasting value with domain names is creating a venue where a consistent and growing base of unique users visit your domain name/website.

V: Virtual - Domain names are virtual real estate. Some represent ocean-front property while others can represent sky scrapers, apartments or vacant land in the middle of a barren desert. Build your portfolio of virtual real estate for the longer term or flip your domain name for a quick sale and profits.

W: World Wide Web - The world wide web and its beginning started with domain names and/or their underlying numerical identities. With the advent of the world wide web, email, search engines and the increasing convergence of communications and media - business and industry has created high demand and appreciating values for good domain names.

X: The X Factor - there is a mystique and certain unknowns regarding the true value of domain names, how to create revenue and profits, and what strategies are best to create traffic to your domain name or website. The more knowledgeable and prepared you are to dive into the domain name world - the better off you are in managing the X Factor when it rears its head.

Y: You - buying, selling, and owning domain names is a reflection upon you, what your goals are, where your interests lie, and how you want to make money with this virtual real estate. You need to decide what your objectives are and how you are most comfortable in approaching your investment and dedication towards making money with domain names.

Z: Zeal - approach your domain activities with passion and enthusiasm. The more positive your thinking and focus is with domain names - the better you will be able to manage it, be prepared, and have an open mind to seize new opportunities and make money with your domains.

We hope you enjoyed this article and find that each time you read it you take away something new and different that can add value to your world of domain names.

About the Author: This article is written by Chris Kern. Chris has been a serial entrepreneur, corporate finance specialist and domainer for the past 13 years and is the author of the authoritative resource book on domain name investing "How To Make Money With Domain Names" which can be found online at: "Everything On The Internet Starts With A Domain Name" is a Service Mark of Chris Kern.

Best 3 SEO Tips of 2008

Each year I spend the first three months looking for the best and most innovative SEO tips of the previous year's end. This year I have what I believe to be the best 3 SEO tips in a decade!

SEO Tip #1: Make Google Alerts Your Personal Online Spy

Google Alerts is a great way to let the world's biggest search engine be your personal online investigator. This takes search engine optimization insider info to a whole new level. Here's an excerpt straight from Google....

"Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic."

Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:

  • monitoring a developing news story

  • keeping current on a competitor or industry

  • getting the latest on a celebrity or event

  • keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams"

As you probably guessed, it's the second one we care about most, "keeping current on a competitor or industry."

Here's how it works... Each time Google finds a reference to the query or topic you request you will be sent an email with the details. This is like having an online agent to make sure competitors are not using your protected keywords (trademarked names, company names, etc.) It's also an instant identifier to know when your site or product is mentioned in a news story or even when a topic is hot so you can take advantage of the situation. It's the easiest way in the world to stop competitors' dirty tricks and identify trends that you can take instant advantage of.

It's fast, free and works every minute of every day. Let Google Alerts do your most time consuming legwork while you reap the rewards!

SEO Tip #2: Optimize Your 404 Page and Always Be Found

"Error 404: Page Not Found" is a blessing that most Webmasters curse. Why? Getting a visitor on any page of your site is fantastic! Don't blow the opportuníty. Not only can you make your "404" page a valuable sales tool, you can use the following search engine optimization techniques to attract customers in droves.

A.) Use your main keyword in your title, add a "pipe" (usually above the Enter key) and then use your secondary keyword. Here's an example for an SEO site "SEO | Search Engine Optimization Tips"

B.) Add some keyword rich content using one to two keywords for the page. If you have less than 250 words on the page, just use one keyword and use it no more than three times total. Bold the first use and italicize the second or third use. Keep in mind this is an "inactive" page so simply tell the visitor what your site is about and whet their appetite with a good description. Something like this works well... "Thank you for visiting SEO (bold) Group, Inc. We're sorry you seem to have found a missing page but rest assured, if you are looking for the world's best search engine optimization tips (bold or italic), you are at the right place..." This will go on for a couple paragraphs or as long as you'd like then end it with something to the effect of "Please Clíck Here (link) to visit our site map or click any link to the left."

C.) Add your site's standard navigation system (bar, column, etc.) as mentioned above.

D.) Make the look and feel of the customized 404 page match your main site as closely as possible with a template, matched palette, cascading style sheets, etc.

E.) Create a link to the site map page if available, and make the link easy to find. You want your visitor off the 404 page and into your main content as quickly as possible.

Setting up a custom 404 page link usually takes less than five minutes on most major Web hosting companies like But whatever it takes, it's worth the effort.

SEO Tip #3: Get (Even More) Serious About Linking

I saved the most important for last. If you want to do well on any search engine, especially Google, linking is THE single MOST important thing you can do. It's that simple.

Here are the five things you MUST do to make your site #1 on Google:

A.) Find the highest page rank sites linking to your site AND your competitors' sites.

B.) Run monthly link campaigns and snatch up the best of the above identified Web sites.

C.) Run regular checks on what pages are still linking back to your site. Also make sure they did not move you from a high page rank page to a lower one (don't get cheated!)

D.) Eliminate any penalized sites you link to; ASAP!

E.) Check your search engine ranking AND your competitor's for each of your keywords every week. Do this for Google, Yahoo, MSN and Alta Vista at the minimum.

Inside Tip: Keeping up can be a lot of work, and is extremely important, so a lot of SEO Consultants (myself included) use SEO Elite to do all the most difficult and time consuming work.

One last thing to know is that Google was originally a college student's project created for the sole purpose of defining a Web site's value by the sites that link to it. Twelve years later this is still its main job. Linking is EVERYTHING to Google.

These three SEO tips are the best of the best so use them wisely. Best of luck!

About The Author

Scott Jason is a 10 year veteran search engine optimization and copywriting specialist. He has been a guest "expert advice" author for three SEO books including The SEO Answer Book and is the co-founder of .

SEO Copywriting Tips for Google, Yahoo and your Prospects

It might not seem logical, but a web site that's well-written for human consumption with a little SEO help usually is also well-received by the robots of search engines like Google and Yahoo.

So, what does "well-written" mean? Here are some tips to good SEO copywriting for Google, Yahoo and site visitors.

SEO Copywriting Tips – How to Write Great Web Site Content

  • Keyword research: This topic deserves a whole article on its own, but suffice to say that you'll want to base your site content on the keyword terms that you know are most popular among the audience you're trying to reach. There are online tools available that can help you determine the right keywords for your company. Among them are WordTracker and Keyword Discovery.

  • One topic per page: If your company makes 5 different products, you'll need to devote at least one page per topic.

  • Details, details: Each topic should be covered in enough detail that the site visitor can determine whether to contact you for more information. From an SEO standpoint, the more detail you provide on each topic, the more easily the search engines will be able to determine the relevance of your site to that keyword.

  • Kill the sales brochure: Internet users don't appreciate going to your web to find only a sales brochure. Avoid flowery language; it usually signifies a page that's light on content and heavy on sales pitch, which the search engines won't rank well. Good SEO copywriting will focus on objective facts about your company's products and services, with a call-to-action for more information.

  • Create a content hierarchy: The more detail, the better, but be considerate of your site visitors' time. Good SEO copywriting separates content into multiple pages and creates a hierarchy for your pages with most important information first, least important last. The most important pages you'll want on your navigation bar, with lesser pages linking off those. Make sure you include a site map, though, that lists all your web site's pages.

  • Keyword density: In order for search engines to be able to rank your pages for a particular keyword, that keyword has to be used on your page. At the same time, the more often you use it, the more relevant the page will seem. ONE CAVEAT: Don't go overboard. Writing should sound natural to the human visitors you're trying to reach. Search engines can penalize you for "overoptimizing" by using the keyword too often (known as keyword stuffing or spamming).

Types of Content to Consider for Your Company Web Site

Part of the SEO copywriting process is project planning. It's important to take the time to consider what information people would want to know about your company. Here are some types of content well received by Internet visitors and search engines:

  • Product details, including features/benefits, specifications, data sheets, diagrams, flow-charts, video demonstrations and photos (with alt tags, see below)

  • Technical tips, product troubleshooting guides, user manuals

  • Customer testimonials, case studies

  • Industry definitions

  • Product selection guides, comparative information

Advice on Adding PDFs to your Site

Search engines have become more sophisticated in being able to index varying file types. PDFs work fine for information that site visitors might want to print out and keep. But, if you use PDFs, make sure they open in a separate browser. Also, add a link to your home page somewhere on each PDF; otherwise, site visitors that enter your site from a search engine via the PDF won't have navigation to take them to the rest of your site.

Where to Get Ideas for Good SEO Content

Type your top keywords into Google and Yahoo and see what sites and pages come up on the first or second page of results. This will give you a good idea of some of the content that search engines like. More specifically, take a look at:

  • Competitor sites

  • Industry portal sites

  • Industry magazine sites

  • Resource sites

Other On-Page SEO Copywriting Tips

Once your content is written, it's time to place it on the page. Here are some additional details you'll need to be concerned with to complete the SEO copywriting process:

  • Title tags: Make sure each page title tag is unique and complements the content of that page. For instance, if your page is about "blue suede shoes", then your title tag might be "Blue Suede Shoes | ABC Company"

  • Description tags: Likewise, you'll want each page description tag to be unique and complementary to the page it describes. This is the information that many of the search engines use to display a description of your page.

  • Keyword tags: Most search engines have de-emphasized use of the keyword tag, but we feel it's a useful tool to help you organize your site content. If you followed the advice above regarding one topic per page, then your keyword tag would be pretty short and limited to that topic. It'll probably have more than one term in it as there might be multiple ways to describe the topic, but this is a good check that you're in the process of writing a well-optimized page.

  • Alt tags: You can use the meta alt tag to help search engines interpret what your nav buttons and images are about. Search engines can't "see" images, so unless you specifically tell them, that information will be ignored. If you have a picture of blue suede shoes, use the Alt tag to label it as "blue suede shoes."

  • Internal linking: Build your keyword phrases into the links on your pages that are used to navigate from page to page. For instance, a call to action might be "Contact ABC Company for more information about our blue suede shoes," with the phrase "more information about our blue suede shoes" as the link. Avoid using "clíck here" as the link.

I've created quite a to-do líst of SEO Copywriting Tips, but when done properly, your SEO copywriting efforts will help yield long-term results in the way of top placement on Google and Yahoo and, most importantly, increased opportuníty to reach new potential customers.

About The Author

Angela Charles is president of Pilot Fish, an Akron, Ohio, search engine optimization and web design firm specializing in industrial clients.

Website Content - It's All About The Why?

Every week I get asked to look at business websites and tell the owners why they're not getting the results they want. Some of these sites are straightforward brochures, others are e-commerce catalogs, and some are those direct-mail-style pitches reminiscent of old mail-order magazine subscription schemes ported-over to the Web. Some have incorporated do-it-yourself audio and video and some even had this media professionally produced; still the results stink. Why?

'The Close' Is Always Found In 'The Why'

Certainly part of the problem stems from a very narrow definition of what a website is: by casting your site in terms of a brochure, catalog, e-commerce-site, blog, or portal, you are falling into the trap of concentrating on 'The What' rather than on 'The Why'.

This focus on 'The What' is exacerbated by some search engine optimization techniques intended to drive traffic, not to brand product, sell services, or convert traffic into customers. Don't get me wrong, traffic is important, but converting that traffic into paying customers is more important. Even the best and brightness search engine optimizers will tell you that their job is to deliver traffic not orders - closing the deal is your job, and anybody who tells you that closing can be done by means of some automatic never-touched-by-human-hands method is just plain nuts.

What you want to be careful of is search engine tactics and second rate media that actually gets in the way of effectively delivering your marketing message, of telling your business story, of creating a memorable brand image, and above all of generating profitable business clients.

Web-video Is A Presentation Marketing Strategy

If you pay any attention to what's going on, you must be aware of the shift in Web-thinking and the acceptance of Web-video as a fundamental Web-marketing tool. But like most things, there is a right way and a whole bunch of wrong ways to do it.

Web-video is a presentation marketing strategy that's strength and power comes from its ability to overcome the Web's natural sterile, isolationist environment, by incorporating verbal and non-verbal human elements that effectively deliver bold, well-crafted memorable messages. Can a Web-video campaign cure everything that's wrong with your company, or even your sales departments deficiencies, of course not, but the right message based on 'The Why' using appropriate cost effective presentation techniques can position your business, brand your product, and generate sales leads.

Don't fool yourself: you and your sales staff have to close the sale. Do not expect to sit back and count your profits while your website runs your business by default. Automatic pilot may work for sites that sell commodity items and nationally branded merchandise backed by millions of dollars of advertising, but unless you fall into that category, it's time to get real.

A New Web Paradigm

Here's a new way of looking at your website and if you 'get it' you will be able to refashion your site and reinvent your business in a way that gets you remembered and initiates action by your target market:

Start thinking of your website as a stage and all the content on it as players you direct in order to deliver your message and tell your story in a memorable manner to a relevant audience.

So let's breakdown this Web-presentation model and analyze how it meets your marketing needs.

Your Website Is a Stage

Businesses who want to use their websites as a marketing vehicle have to get past thinking of them in terms of merely digital print media.

Just as damaging is the over-reliance on search optimization or IT technical solutions that have little or no relationship to marketing's primary goal of delivering a memorable message that initiates action on the part of the audience.

Knowing the age, sex and hat size of the last ten thousand visitors to your site may impress some but reams of statistical information on your visitors doesn't necessarily mean you know what that data means or how to use it effectively. In the same vain, tons of traffic generated by the latest SEO manipulation doesn't necessarily translate into business.

Start thinking of your website as a stage, a presentation and performance platform that allows your company to present your message to your audience in an entertaining, informative, and memorable manner.

Tell Your Story In A Memorable Manner

There are many ways to present what you do and why your audience should care but the most effective way is to deliver that information in a story format. When people come to your website they are putting you on trial, judging everything thing you present to see if it is relevant, convincing, and if it resonates with to their needs.

The article, "Evidence Evaluation in complex decision making," in the 'Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,' by Pennington and Hastie explains when prosecutors tell their version of events to a jury in story-format they are able to achieve a 78% conviction rate, whereas lawyers who do not use a story-format to communicate to juries only get a 31% guilty rate. When visitors come to your website they are putting you on trial for your Web-business life.

Memorable Communication Is All About The Performance

Effective communication begins with the campaign concept. If you don't have a well-defined, focused concept that deals with 'the why anybody should care factor' your communication will be muddy and irrelevant. Far too many marketing campaigns try to do too much, and in an effort to get your money's worth say everything and anything that comes to mind. Unfortunately, all you're really doing is confusing people and your core message never gets heard, let alone understood or remembered.

You need professional presenters who know how to use both verbal and non-verbal performance to get your message across, and of course you've got to give the presenters a script that is well written, entertaining, and informative.

Professional actors and voice-over talent bring infinite subtlety, nuance, and meaning to cleverly written scripts. Add sound effects, custom signature music and a few post-production enhancements and you have a memorable presentation.

What you don't need is complicated sets, props, and locations that increase the cost of production. The Web is not television, and there is no need to absorb inflated expenses based on ad agency cost-plus-pricing fees that bare little relation to effectiveness.

Expensive movie-style productions are just not necessary and lose their impact when delivered in relatively small Web-friendly formats that need to be easily integrated with additional collateral material used to present more details and to answer frequently asked questions.

Last But Not Least

We can learn a lot from children, not the least of which is their relentless quest for the answer to 'The Why' of things. We often forget that this is the central issue in our lives, and it is only after we've been told by parents, teachers, bosses and numerous other authority figures to shut-up and do what we're told, that we sublimate this need and replace it with the far less meaningful and convincing 'What.'

But if we as marketers can put our faith in delivering 'The Why' using the most people-friendly techniques of verbal and non-verbal digital communication, then we will have learned how to present a convincing memorable Web-marketing presentation.

About the Author: Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia. Visit,, and Email or phone (905) 764-1246. MRPwebmedia delivers clients' marketing messages in memorable ways using video, audio, webmedia campaigns and websites; all created in-house from concept to implementation.

Search Engine Optimization is Only the Beginning to Marketing Online

Search Engine Optimization is Not Always the Answer

Search engine optimization has a purpose. Keyword targeting lets search engines link their users to your website when they look for your keywords. They will not do this satisfactorily without optimizing your site with proper web design techniques. Unfortunately, however, it is more complicated than that. Have you ever wondered why Google will almost always place Ebay on the first few pages when anything is entered into the search field accompanied with the word buy? The word buy has been targeted from more sites than you could count so what makes Ebay special.

For example, take the word bike. If a person uses Google by searching for the string 'buy bike', a page from Ebay will usually be listed before any of the major bicycle makers. It goes without saying that any of the major bicycle dealers have spent a great deal more time targeting keywords related to bikes than a site that manages hundreds of thousands of different products. The answer to this problem is the nature of this article.

Can My Website Compete?

The answer is to increase the importance of your site in the eyes of the major search engines. Ebay gets searched before many other sites because it has been decided by the search engines to be more popular with internet users. So what I am offering the little guy is a way to do what Ebay and the other 'big dogs' have done to become popular.

The world of search engines boil down to the stereotypical high school hierarchy. Search engines pay more attention to those that are popular. In high school, teens usually become popular by having popular people associate with them. The online world is no different. But how do search engines know that popular sites are associating with you? That is an easy one - they link to your website. The three biggest search engine players all crawl the web indexing links to and from all the websites that they have found. They create a ranking system based on many factors, but the most substantial one is how many sites link to you. It could be argued that an optimized site is key, and my opinion expressed here is based on the assumption that your site has been built with proper design techniques. It is also assumed that you have well written content based on your main products or ideas. If you feel that your website does not currently qualify as well written or properly designed, I recommend that you rectify these issues before attempting to build your popularity as it may turn out to be a waste of time.

Do Not Jump Right into Getting Links

There are many tempting ways to get other sites to link to you that are very unsavory. I choose to address these first. These include:

  • sites that promote linking as a primary activity.

  • sites that have illegal or inappropriate content.

  • sites that are entirely unrelated to your target market

Sites that do nothing more than link to other sites may look like a great option but a site without content is not very popular with the search engines. They need to provide something to internet surfers in order to be important. If they are not important to the search engines then a link from them should not be important to you. Link marketing is based on quality links not the amount of links. I advise staying away from these sites all together. Next, it goes without saying, sites with illegal and inappropriate content are never a safe bet.

Getting a Good Start with Link Marketing

Most of us do not have a lot of expendable income starting out so I do not spend much time explaining the options that involve paying large sums of money. In my experience, webmasters with that kind of money contact a company to handle this for them (I have had enough of them as clients to know). I intend on putting out another article to cover this option more in depth, however this article only covers the less costly options.

There are 3 cheap ways to get get some link popularity:

  • Ezine articles

  • Field related forums

  • Banner/Link exchanges

Ezine Articles

Ezines are online magazines. Ezine articles provide two great benefits. First and foremost, they allow you to link to your site from your article or resource area. Also, they provide a chance to show off the knowledge you have in your field. Although this is essentially a free way to get a quality link, it does come with some work. You must be able to write a content rich article on a topic related to your site. Most Ezine sites do not mind giving you the opportuníty to get your name out there but you need to provide them with a well written article that offers something to their users. Searching for ezine databases on any major search engine should provide you with a líst of great sources for this linking method. Be sure to consult the guidelines of an ezine site in which you decide to submit articles.

Related forums

Forums are another great opportuníty to get your site out there without paying up. Again, it does take some time. Find forums that cater to questions about your field. For instance, if you sell natural supplements for joint pain, search for forums related to arthritis. Find strings that are talking about different options for arthritis or ask about what works. This opens a perfect opportuníty to link to your site. It is important to know that most forums are not keen on letting sales pitches post for long. The trick here is to provide quality information on these posts. You could compare your arthritis product to others, you could even provide a plug for a competitor (attempting to prove yourself superior, of course). This makes your post look less like a sales or link pitch and helps make the internet more content driven like it was intended to be.

Banner/Link Exchanges

There are usually two main ways you can get a banner or link on another site without offering any content. You can pay them a fee, or you can propose a trade. Like the other two options, only target sites that are related to you in some way. Exchanges require a little research on your part. You want to search for your potential link partner to see that they are worth the trade. A easy rule of thumb is to check their pagerank compared to yours. You can use this free tool to compare at Put your web address in and look at your pagerank as well as theirs. If you are paying for a link and they have a pagerank of zero it would be wise to save your money. If you are trading links, use your better judgment. If they have a quality site it may be worth the exchange in hopes that their site takes off and they can share a little of their success with you.

Take note that a link from no single site will boost your website's importance significantly. Every quality link helps a little bit so you need to practice all methods for some time before you see the results you want. Stick with it and be patient.

About The Author

Mason Curry is Lead Designer for Vexart Studio Web Design.

Business Networking

Business Networking On The Internet

Networking has long been one of the most valuable and viable tools a marketer or salesman can have. Way before the Internet became such a business powerhouse, marketers built up lists of potential leads and business relationship partners through networking. Even though a lot of businesses have taken their sales efforts online, there are still lessons to be learned from offline business networking.

Industry And Trade Events

Industry and trade events, business meetings, and seminars are just a few of the most likely venues to meet people interested in your service or product. Offline network marketers have been attending these types of function almost religiously for years. Groups of like minded people naturally flock to these events providing ample opportunity to network and begin to develop relationships.

Social networking websites are a major part of Web 2.0 and offer opportunities for the active networker to meet and make new leads. Much has been made of Web 2.0 as being a more social Internet further enhancing the opportunity for positive business networking. Blogs, forums, and content sharing websites are just some of the types of website that you can get involved in. By leaving memorable and relevant comments with a signature link to your own site or portfolio you can effectively build a profile of new leads and interested customers.

A Pocket Full Of Business Cards

Every networker knows that they need a plentiful supply of business cards. They're always ready to hand two to anybody that asks (one for the receiver and one for somebody they know that may also be interested). An equally important part of networking, though, is the receipt of business cards. Any business relationship needs to be a two way encounter and that's why networkers always have a healthy selection of other people's business cards. This also gives them the chance to follow up on leads and keep in regular contact with any potential clients or referrals.

The link to your website acts largely like a business card. It directs leads to a central location that includes contact information and a raft of other informative facts about you, your service, and the products you offer. Always be ready to link to your website but only do so when it's called for. Don't spam and don't post links where they aren't welcome. It is true that links help to improve search rankings but illegitimate posting of your link offers only a very short term gain, if it offers a gain at all.

Be Memorable

The most effective offline networkers are friendly, amicable, and helpful. They don't engage in one sided conversations and listen to the whole discussion as well as offer intuitive and insightful information. First impressions really do last and it's important that you be memorable for all the right reasons.

Networking online requires the same lasting impression. You should come across as being helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. In every aspect of your networking it is imperative that you act appropriately - it may be a virtual world, but the people involved are no less real. When using blogs and forums that are relevant to your area, links will only really prove effective if they are accompanied by a genuine comment offering information or help. Simple posts like "I agree" or "great post" won't cut it with most people.

Build Relationships Rather Than Go For The Sell

Networking is a means of generating new leads. In some circumstances it may prove beneficial to go straight for the sell, but these circumstances are few and far between. Offline marketers know that by building a positive relationship with a lead they will be more inclined to use their service or buy their product over and over again but only when they need it.

Much is made of the power of your leads and for good reason. Building a list of online leads, with email addresses and other data, enables you to keep in constant communication. New product releases, special offers, and joint ventures can all be promoted to the same list with the possibility of selling numerous products to the same people. Building a list of leads is often done by using form of lead capture form on your website - offer a newsletter or a free offer that can only be accessed by providing an email address.

You Get Out What You Put In

Networking, whether it be online or offline, is not a simple task. It is considered a form of guerilla marketing because it can be done for very little money but an expenditure of your own time and effort is required instead. The more effort you put into building a powerful list of leads, the better the results you will acquire. Visit more sites, talk to more people, and grow your list quicker so that it contains more qualified leads.

Visiting sites that are highly relevant to your industry and to your product or service will ensure that you gain targeted and qualified leads. These leads are likely to be the most responsive when you later attempt to sell them anything. Be careful never to use underhand or black hat methods when networking online because it can get your link removed, your post banned, and can even cause untold damage to the popularity of your website that is incredibly difficult to recover from; in short, it just isn't worth it.

Look After Your Leads

Once you've built your list of qualified leads you need to take care of them. Don't just leave them without any contact for weeks or months on end - you need to keep in contact regularly enough that they don't forget who you are but not contact them too often that they unsubscibe from your mailing list. If anybody does want to unsubscribe then you have to remove them from your list as soon as possible and ensure that no more communication is sent them to them.

Networking is a good business practice. Offline, it has been used for many years to help entrepreneurs, salesmen, and marketers promote their service, product or business. The advance of social networking online means that it is an even more viable method to improve your online business results, generate sales, and offer a superb ROI on a minor investment.

About the Author: WebWiseWords creates compelling web site content that helps to improve search engine rankings and also improves sales figures. To find further information visit the WebWiseWords site.

Website Branding – Establishing Your Web Brand

Any form of branding essentially means being recognized. A positive website brand image means that your potential customers will recognize your brand and begin to associate that brand with a particular product or range of products. In achieving this, those same customers will begin to turn to your brand when they need the product you sell or require information that you provide.

Branding Is More Than A Pretty Logo

A lot of websites and website owners mistakenly believe that creating a brand means a compelling and relevant name, and well designed logos and web pages. While these are a part of website branding, they are far from being the whole story. In fact, every aspect of your website and online business needs to convey your brand image. This includes design, narrative voice, advertising, and marketing. Customer communication is equally as important, and provides the opportuníty to strengthen your brand even further.

Your Target Market

Branding needs to concentrate on the target market you are aiming to attract. Market research and some competitor analysis will usually garner you with relevant information regarding the people you are aiming to attract. What products and services are they looking for? What information do they want access to? Do they expect to be able to interact with you or other members of your online community? These are all important questions that you not only need to ask but answer as well.

The most effective branding will also consider the demographics of a target market. Age, sex, nationality, religion, and disposable income bracket are important factors. Again, the savvy online business owner should have at least a reasonable understanding of their target market demographics. Knowing this information ensures that you not only create a brand, but that you create a relevant and powerful brand that is attractive to the right people.

What's In A Name? Everything

The first aspect of your brand is your company or website name. It doesn't necessarily have to portray the products you sell, but it does need to be memorable. Brands like Google and Ebay relay little about the service they provide but they are short, catchy, and easy to remember. You can consider other aspects of branding when choosing a name – PayPal clearly conveys the fact that the service is related to paying and payments, while the addition of the word Pal implies that the service is user friendly and intuitive. It still sticks to the format of being short and memorable; the use of alliteration making the name roll off the tongue even easier.

Domain Names

Once you've determined a brand name and ensured that domain names and company names are available, it's time to register domaíns. .com domaíns are the most effective because they are the ones that we, as surfers, generally remember. We may remember a company name and forget the domain extension. Nine times out of ten we would add .com as the extension and hope to find the right site. It will pay, in the long run, to purchase a number of domains including regional domains (.eu,, etc...) and others. Some potential customers like to deal with local firms and these customers will use local extensions.

Headers And Logos

Many websites now utilize a header rather than a true logo. Whichever option you plump for, it is usually a good idea to have your graphic designed by a professional. This design can cost $100 upwards but the results should be more than worth it. A logo will appear on all communication you send to customers, every page of your website, every newsletter, brochure, and virtually any other form of communication or promotional material. It needs to be strong and instantly memorable to prove effective.

Providing The Brand Your Market Wants

The design of your website and other online media needs to be attractive, but it needs to provide the level of usability and functionality that your target market expect. Website design, in particular, needs to be easy on the eye, give simple guidance to the most important parts of the page, and appear professional. It should also cater to your target market. A younger audience will gladly appreciate a more modern design, while the older generations may prefer a classic and more simple design.

Bringing all aspects of design together in all of your media is important. If you intend to use video marketing as a tool to drive traffic and promote your brand, then you need to try and include your logo and a link to your website within that video. Emails, newsletters, faxes, and invoices should largely match the design of your site and should certainly include any logo you have.

Website Content And Narrative Voice

Narrative voice is another important facet of website branding. The main reason that we go online and search for certain terms is to find out more about that term, and not usually to directly purchase a product. As such, website content should provide the information that your visitors are looking for and throughout your website and other media you need to convey the same type of voice.

Websites that are geared towards individual consumers can adopt a more friendly and personable style. This conveys an image that you and your brand are equally friendly and personable – an attractive perception to most consumers. B2B websites can approach content in a more formal and businesslike manner. CEOs and other business executives prefer to know that their budget is being spent on a professional service that will deliver, rather than push an amicable brand.

Giveaways To Promote Brand Awareness

Offering free newsletters or promotional giveaways is an excellent way to kick start your website's popularity. It provides visitors with the information they crave and it provides you with an opportuníty to further enhance your new brand. Blogs, forums, and web applications provide similar advantages and they convince visitors to bookmark your pages and visit more frequently. This, in turn, helps to improve brand awareness and makes your brand much more memorable to your visitors.

Start creating content for use outside of your site. Articles, videos, blog posts, and news stories are all good material that can be branded effectively and distributed in various areas of the Internet. This extra push will help to improve your brand image because it will begin to convey you as being an expert within your field. It will give you and your brand greater exposure and will also help drive traffic to your website.

About The Author

Matt Jackson is a web content writer with WebWiseWords. He understands the importance of web content to the success of your business and the promotíon of your brand.

What is Link Bait and How Can It Help Me?

Specifically, linkbait is used to attract visitors to your website whether through interest, anger or knowledge seeking. Linkbait is content that is specially written to either educate, entertain or inflame your readership and prospective readers. These articles create buzz, and the buzz spreads virally from site to site in the form of links and comments that others make about what is written on your site. These inbound or back links are used by search engine algorithms to rank a website. The higher the rank, the higher the listing, the more traffíc that arrives at your website. More visitors create more buzz which in turn creates more visitors. Linkbait creation is a marketing campaign on steroids and falls under the task of link building. Its sole aim is to increase the quantity of high-quality, relevant links to a website.

Search engine optimized on a specific keyword phrase, linkbait comes in two flavors: specific, helpful, useful content written by an authority in a niche market or content that will incite discussion and sometimes argument on a niche subject. Either way, linkbait articles attract visitors to your website.

Here's the difference. Your content is supposed to generate links from other websites, right?. That is the goal. You want people to like or hate your article/post/rant enough to write about it on their website and post with that follow-up a link back to your site and page of where the content is sitting. This is basic viral marketing in that visitors don't just read your material, but webmasters who find you are either riled up enough to rant about your post/article on their website or love it enough so that they quote it and refer to it. This becomes a never-ending source of links back to your site.

What happens with backlinks or one-way links from other sites? The search engines keep a count of how many sites link back to your website giving you love and higher listings in their search engines which translates to more traffíc for your website. This form of viral marketing is used successfully by many; however, a lot of webmasters are overlooking this very easy method to boost their natural search engine listings. Natural search engine listings are the ones you don't pay for, that help your website naturally improve and hang around in search engines for long periods of time.

Looking at linkbait, there are essentially a few different types. Let's go through those, and then look at the best, always guaranteed to attract forms that have been used since the term was invented.

Informational: If you provide information that educates and informs your readership, they will always return and use it as reference. Copyblogger and Problogger often provide these types of articles.

News: Keeping up with the breaking news on the web and around the world is followed by readers who want to know, in capsule form, what's happening.

Humor: Funny stories, bizarre pictures or videos, cartoons and jokes are always a wínner. People love a chuckle and references or collections of these are always a traffic attractor.

Controversy: Rant and rave on something or someone in a negative fashion and people will love to stop by and dispute your view. It will always yield a ton of attention. Writing something unpopular gets and keeps readers who want to air their views on your views. They will also rant about your unpopular views on their sites and link back to yours so that others can follow suit.

Resource: One of the best forms of linkbait is building a resource líst. A good líst will not only be indexed and listed, but will be passed by word of mouth and links on other sites. It creates a great deal of credibility for you and your website in a particular niche, and will become a reference work. Creating a niche specific líst is an invaluable resource for people in that particular realm, and will make your readership loyal. If you have a great resource page, it is literally gold. You can have hundreds of other pages of content, but what will steadily attract people and cause them to return and refer others is a good resource in their niche.

One of the best examples of the resource type of linkbait is Smashing Magazine, a blog devoted to nothing but lists of resources that draws a continual stream of visitors and is referred to by all who visit. It has everything and is not only an extremely interesting read, but one of the best resource link sites around. As a result, folks quote it, refer to it, use and love it. The resource lists are quality content, and that's the big difference between success and failure in this form of marketing. If you create a lousy linkbait article, it will fail. Further, your credibility will suffer. First impressions count on the web and with only nine seconds to convince the arriving traffic that you are worthy of them sticking around, you need to deliver quality content, astounding resource lists and consistent high levels of content that is valuable and entertaining.

All in all, you really need only remember one thing when starting this type of marketing campaign: provide quality content that is useful, interesting and entertaining. Deliver it in a professional style and make it as user-friendly as possible. Optimize for search engines, and folks will find you. Allow for comments on your material and traffic will come.

About The Author

Real Estate Hyper Links is a New York search engine marketing firm specializing in various techniques to achieve higher search engine rankings faster than normal search engine optimization campaigns for real estate companies.

All Optimized and Going Nowhere?

It happens sometimes. Here are some of the common reasons you may not be indexed:

Index Time: It hasn't been indexed yet. The amount of time before the engine indexes your site should be listed on the search engine's submission page, but these aren't always accurate or may be out of date. On the average, index times range from one to eight weeks depending on the engine. Some engines like AltaVista and Inktomi provide paid options if you wish to be indexed more quickly.

TIP! Time frame and expectations: Allow up to 4 months, if you are number 10 and want to be number 1, then it may just be time that is needed - but if you aren't showing up at all, then you need to look at keywords, content, title, description and keyword tags.

Already Indexed: The major engines won't tell you if you're listed; it's up to you to find out. The method to discover if a page or domain has been indexed varies from one engine to another. Don't assume you're not indexed just because you searched through keywords and you didn't come up in the first few pages of results. You could still be indexed and end up at the bottom of the heap.

Roadmap from Home Page: Some engines have been known to drop pages that cannot be traveled to from the home page. HotBot has been rumored to do this. Think of your site links as a series of roads from one page to another. If there's no road from your home page to the page you want indexed, a search engine may decide the page is unnecessary.

External Links: Some search engines like Google and HotBot have been known to refuse to index Web sites that don't link to any other sites. Or, they may index your home page but refuse to index any other pages unless there are links from another domain. Or, they may index you for a while but then "prune" their database later because you didn't achieve any external links after a certain period of time.

Frames: Content inside of HTML frames can cause problems with submissions because the search engine may index the main content of the page, but not the surrounding menu frame. Visitors to your site find some information but miss the associated menu. It's generally better to create non-framed versions of your pages.

Spider Blocks: Search engine spiders cannot index sites that require a registration or password, and they can't fill out forms. This also applies to indexing of content from a searchable database. The solution is to create static pages that the engines can find and index without performing a special action on your site. Depending on your database system, there are both utility programs and companies that can assist you with this.

Free Sites: Because of all the "junk" submissions from free web sites like Geocities, many engines choose not to index sites from such domains or limit the number of pages they accept.

Guilt Through Association: If your Web site shares the same IP address as other Web sites on your host's Web server, you may find your IP quietly banned because of something someone else did. Ask your hosting service if your domain name has its own unique IP assigned to it. If not, ask them to move it to its own IP to avoid being penalized because of someone else.

Dynamic Pages: Dynamic pages with URLs containing special symbols like a question mark (?) or an ampersand (&) are ignored by many engines. Pages generated on the fly from a database often contain these symbols. In this situation, it's important to generate "static" versions of each page you want indexed. Fancy scripts and code on a page can hurt your rankings. When it comes to search engines, simple is better.

Large Pages: If your site has a slow connection or the pages are very complex and take a long time to load, it might time out before the spider finishes indexing. To avoid this, limit your page size to 50K or less. A good rule of thumb is that: page size + cumulative image sizes on the page = 50K-70K. If it is greater than that amount, visitors with dial-up connections will leave before the page fully loads.

Unreliable Hosts: It pays to have a reliable hosting service. If your web site doesn't respond when the search engine spider visits, you won't be indexed. Even worse, if you are indexed and they pay a visit when your site is down, you could be removed from the database. Spam: If you use questionable techniques that might be considered an overt attempt at spamming (i.e., excessive repetition of keywords, same color text as background) an engine may ignore or reject your submissions.

Redirects: Redirects or meta refresh tags sometimes cause the engines to have trouble indexing your site. If the engines think you are trying to "trick" them by using "cloaking" or IP redirection technology, they may not index the site at all.

Proper Directory Submissions: When submitting to a directory site like Yahoo, Open Directory, LookSmart, and others, a live person reviews your site. They decide if the site is of sufficient "quality" before they líst it. These directories can help you get listed with other engines, so make sure you give your directory submissions the attention they need.

Page Limits: Search engines will only spider so many pages of your Web site. This could be a few dozen or three or four hundred depending on the engine. Google is one engine that tends to crawl deeper into your site. How deep they go may depend on factors like your link popularity. Sites with higher link popularity are deemed "worthier" of more thorough indexing.

Random Errors: Sometimes the engines simply lose submissions at random because of bugs and technical errors. Mistakes happen - remember, they're managing a database containing hundreds of millions of pages.

About The Author

Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of . Since 1998, her expertise in onlíne marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications.

Ecommerce Marketing - Improve Landing Page Performance

Undertaking any new advertising campaign should also entail the optimization of your landing pages. These pages need to be set up primarily to convert the visitors that your advertising generates. No matter the method of marketing or advertising you use, even offline advertising, you should have a clear understanding of the visitors that it will produce.

- What keywords, if any, led a visitor to your page?

- Are your visitors looking for information or products?

- Where are your visitors likely to be from?

The first step to landing page optimization is getting to know the resulting visitors. With paid search and even organic search you should have a good level of knowledge of the keywords that those visitors have used to visit your site. Consider whether the keywords and your campaign in general is geographically targeted, whether it will lead to visitors that want more information or are ready to start the buying process, and their general demographics. The more information you can determine about your new visitors, the more effective your landing page can be.

- Have you included the most relevant keywords in your page?

- Are the images relevant to the topic your visitors want?

- Are ALL of your page elements relevant?

The landing page should be optimized so that it is relevant to these visitors. Page relevancy is always a popular topic. The more relevant a page is to its visitors, the more targeted those visitors will be, and the more targeted a visit is, the more likely they will convert and perform your desired action. Including keywords is a part of page relevancy but generally matching all of the page content to the needs of your visitors is vital.

- Why did a visitor choose to visit your site?

- What did you promise or infer in your advertisement?

- Do your visitors want information or do they want to buy straight away?

If you promise information in the advertising link then you should provide that information. In contrast, if an advertisement implies that your visitor will be taken to a purchase page, then that is where they should be taken. Most searches are done by surfers looking for information on a topic - this may or may not lead to an immediate purchase. By providing the information that a visitor is looking for it provides you with the opportunity to increase brand awareness, and even make an immediate sale.

- What makes your product better than your competitors' products?

- Why should visitors use your website rather than the next one?

- What do you have to offer that no other service, or very few services, also offer?

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is what makes you stand out from your competition. It's the reason that your visitors should choose you over any other site. It's also one of the most powerful conversion tools you have available to you. Many websites do not include their USP because they have yet to identify it - virtually every website and every company has a USP and promoting it early or prominently in the content of your site will help to increase conversion rates.

- Does the first paragraph of content include a summary?

- Have you got all of the important information on the page before the fold?

- Have you used an appropriate web content writing format?

Reading from a computer screen is very different to reading from paper based media. We can't read as quickly, we digest less information, and we comprehend fewer facts and less information. As such, it is good practice to write differently for the Internet than we would for a magazine or other publication. The very first paragraph needs to be a concise and informative summary of the rest of the page. Sentences and paragraphs should be shorter in length and, therefore, simpler in their reading. Headlines and titles, as well as other formatting, should be well employed in the relevant areas.

- Have you removed any unnecessary links?

- Is advertising kept to less visible sections of the page?

- Have you moved distracting page elements below the fold?

The more external links that appear at or near the top of the page, the more likely that your visitors will leave your site. Similarly, distracting advertisements that aren't a part of your CTA (Call To Action) need to be placed somewhere less distracting, along with other potential diversions. While these page elements all have a place on websites, they shouldn't detract from a well optimized landing page.

- What do you want your visitors to do next?

- What will your visitors want to do next?

- Have you clearly defined and implemented your CTA?

The Call To Action, or CTA, is the online vehicle that will drive your visitors to take the next step in the process. What this step is will differ according to various factors. If you sell your own products then the next step for your visitors could be to make the purchase. Alternatively, the desired action could be to sign up for a free newsletter, click an affiliate link, or download a free ebook. Identify what it is that you want your visitors to do next as well as what you believe they will want to do next. Once you've identified your CTA you need to implement it on your page so that visitors recognize what they are expected to do.

- Do you have any special offers, reductions, or discounts?

- Do you have any promotional giveaways or other incentives to offer?

- Have you pushed these incentives above the fold?

Incentives are a great way to persuade undecided visitors to take the plunge and move on to the next step. Either have a creative ad made that is relevant to the incentive, or at the very least ensure that it is mentioned in or around the first paragraph of your page. It should also be considered one of your USPs so it is a critical part of optimizing your landing pages.

- Is there any way you can make improvements?

- Are you tracking results?

- Are you prepared to make changes according to those results?

Your landing page is all about getting results. This means you need a powerful analytic package so that you can track the performance of these pages. You should have this software installed on your site anyway, in order that you can track the results of the advertising campaign itself, determine your most successful and least successful pages, and gather important data. Make small changes in a bid to improve page performance, and ascertain the success of those changes before making any others. Keep monitoring and optimizing until you get the best possible results.

About the Author: The landing page is as important as the advertising itself. Poor landing page performance essentially means wasted advertising revenue while optimized pages can mean excellent sales levels and highly profitable marketing campaigns. Matt Jackson, of WebWiseWords, creates compelling web site content, and also specializes in a range of other web site content writing services.

Top 5 Ways To Benefit From Universal Search

What is Universal Search and Why Should You Care?

Universal Search combines all the information within its Vertical engines/databases into one index to serve a single set of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

An example of Vertical engines/databases are Google News, Google Video, Google Images etc.

What this means is when you go to, (their most highly trafficked domain) and do a search, rather than just getting websites from their main index, you will also get results from the News, Images, Video, etc databases as well. It is a more comprehensive results page.

Google Vice President of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer said the company's goal for universal search is to create "a seamless, integrated experience to get users the best answers."

Sometimes the information you are looking for is best delivered by video, or images or a news story. Currently, you would have to search each of the Vertical engines/databases to get all the information. Google is planning to integrate it into one search engine.

As a searcher this means easier access to various forms of information with only one search. It seems like a good thing, as long as the results are easily organized on the page. It could mean more scrolling to get to the different areas of results, depending how they lay it out.

What To Do and Why

Changes with the search engines can sometimes be confusing. There is a lot of information to evaluate and some decisions to be made. Before you decide anything, you need to understand what your options are.

If your site isn't already properly optimized for organic rankings, that would be the place to start. You want to make sure you have clean, search engine friendly code and a solid foundation, as well as on-page optimization. This would be the starting point, without this in place you have no hope of competing in the engines - with or without Universal Search.

If your site is already properly and aggressively optimized, then you are in good shape to build on that and benefit from Universal Search.

Since Universal Search will take information from the Verticals (like images, press releases, videos, audios, Blog postings, etc) you want to make sure that you have some exposure in each of those areas.

Imagine someone does a search for what you have to offer, and in the Universal Search results your webpage comes up. In the same search your competitor's site comes up PLUS your competitor has video, images and Blog posts as well. A searcher is more likely to click on your competitor's site since more of the total number of results that come up will belong to your competitor.

The other factor is the layout of the results page. We don't know yet how it will play out. If Google mixes all the results together (ex: videos, web pages, Blog posts, images, etc all come up intermingled) that creates one scenario. It means you aren't competing apples to apples for the top spot. It could be video in the 1st position and you are hoping to get your web pages ranked in the 1st position.

Another way of delivering the results would be to group them by category. They could líst all the Blog results, then all the video results under that, and then all the image results under that, etc.

If that is the case, you want to have something listed in each category section because if you happen to have a ranking in the last category section but nothing higher on the page, you are not likely to get a click.

What you really need to do in addition to adding content and optimizing your site, is also focus on getting something in the other Verticals.

Top 5 Ways To Participate in Universal Search

1. Google Image Search: It has always been a good idea to use images on your site for illustrating your products and services. Now customers can find your site via Google Image Search. Optimize your images with descriptive, keyword-rich file names and ALT tags. Use accurate descriptions of your image files for the benefit of those who might need to view the site in text only format.

2. Google Video (beta): Use descriptive, keyword-rich file names for your video files. Also create a keyword-rich title tag, description tag, and video site map.

3. Google News: Submit your press releases for display as news, and also as a new content page on your site.

4. Google Maps: AKA Google Local - this has been included in Google search results for a while. Give your site a local presence through the Google Maps Local Business Center where local businesses can get a free basic listing to extend their reach in the SERPs.

5. Google Blog Search (beta): Use social media and Blog engines to drive traffic to the site. Submit to the Google Blog search and have your Blog help boost you in the new world of Universal Search.

With a better understanding of the options, it becomes clear that in order to boost your exposure in the search engines and get new traffic you need to be proactive in anticipation of these Universal Search changes. Don't wait until it is too late and you are scrambling to catch up.

About The Author

Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of . Since 1998, her expertise in online marketíng and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients improve revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications.

8 Useful SEO Techniques Every Webmaster Should Know

Every webmaster should have some basic understanding of these simple SEO techniques if they want to achieve Top Rankings for their site. The more you know about these Search Engine Optimization techniques; the better your web pages will fare in the different search engines, especially Google.

Optimizing your pages for the search engines should be your main priority because conquering and dominating your chosen keywords is often cited as one of the major determining factors in the success of your online site or business. You must have a rudimentary grasp of how SEO can work for you and your site.

These simple SEO Tips will help you understand the basics and help you reach your online goals.

1. Title Tag

The Title Tag is located at the top of your html page and it tells the search engines what your page is about. When you open your page in a browser these are the words at the very top of the screen. Despite its simplicity, the title tag is crucial to 'on-page optimization'; it should include your main keywords and it should be 63 characters or less if you want your title to appear in full on Google.

Many SEO experts create web pages in a three-prong approach. They place the title in:

- the title tag - on the webpage itself - and in the URL for that page

Sometimes they will just pick the main keywords from the title and place them in the anchor url instead. For example:

2. Meta Description Tag

The Meta Tag contains the description for your web page. Your description will show up in all the search engines so you have to be careful to write precisely and objectively. It should be about 140 characters or around 20 words. Make sure to include your keywords but don't spam - don't repeat your keywords more than twice - using variations is helpful.

Keep in mind, successful webmasters make their descriptions stand out from the crowd and entice the surfer to click their link. It is also the first contact with your potential visitor or prospect so make a good first impression.

3. Anchor Tag or URL

The anchor tag is used to form links within websites or from site to site. This tag should have your title or the main keywords from your page title to be the most effective.

Anchor text is also important to know - these are the underlined, clickable text or words in a link.

<A HREF="url"> anchor text </A>

If you want to check Google for all web pages containing your keywords in the anchor tags.

Just type into Google Search: allinanchor:yourkeywords

4. Finding Backlinks

One of the keys to higher rankings is building quality links from relevant, related quality sites. The search engines, especially Google, count each link as a "vote" for your site or content. Many experts suggest you include your main keywords in the anchor text of these inbound links in order to rank high.

If you want to find the number of backlinks your site has.

Just type into Google Search: link:yourURL

and it will give you the number of backlinks you have.

Google doesn't give you all your existing backlinks, so you can try Yahoo! to find a more exact number.

Just open Yahoo! and type in: linkdomain:yourURL

5. Checking Indexed Pages

If is very important for you to know what content the search engines have indexed from your site. You can also check to see how your links are displayed and to see if any titles or descriptions are missing from your pages.

You can see how many of your pages are indexed in Google by using the site command.

Just type into Google Search: site:yourURL

Another way to look at your pages in Google is to type in "http://yoursite" and "www.yoursite" with the quotation marks to see the exact number of listings for each.

6. Checking Google Cache

You can also check to see the Google Cache of your site by using the cache command. You will also discover when it was last retrieved.

Just type into Google Search: cache:yourURL

7. Finding Associated Keywords

Keywords are the heart of the Internet, you must dominate the search engines for your chosen keywords if you are to succeed online. So make sure you have your main keywords in the Meta Keyword Tag on your page. Many experts suggest you place your page's main keywords in the first and last 25 words on that page.

You must also be able to find and use variations of your keywords to completely conquer your targeted niche. To find what other keywords Google has associated with your main keywords, just use the tilde ~ command to find associated phrases in Google.

Just type into Google search: ~keywords

Variations will be highlighted in bold print.

8. Finding Titled Keywords

If you want to find competing sites that have your keywords in the title just use the allintitle command.

Just type into Google search: allintitle:yourkeywords

In summary, if used consistently, these basic SEO techniques should help improve your rankings and keep you in the picture with regards to your standings in the search engines. Your site's stats or raw traffic logs will also confirm the rise or fall of your keyword rankings. You must have complete knowledge of both your site and your keywords in the search engines, especially Google. Since Google will deliver most of your quality traffic, you must optimize for it and be aware of what is happening to your site and keywords within Google. This is yet another example where knowledge equals success.

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

2008 Titus Hoskins.

The 10 Step Plan To Successful Email Marketing

When website owners and marketers talk about online marketing, they often refer to SEO and PPC. Email marketing can sometimes be overlooked despite being one of the most powerful methods to reach potential customers and to keep existing customers coming back for more. Perhaps a factor in this is that direct email campaigns are commonly associated with spam emails, but careful list management ensures that this need not be a problem.

There are a number of stages to a successful email marketing campaign and by nailing as many as possible you can improve your results. The key to success, though, most commonly lies in the planning stage – if this is your first foray into email marketing then be prepared to treat it as a test run. The more direct email marketing campaigns you run, the more opportunity you have to optimize the process and improve your results. Here are ten of the most important steps to an effective email campaign.

1 – Determine Your Ultimate Goal

This might sound obvious, but having a clear goal in mind will help to concentrate your efforts. There are many effective uses of an email marketing campaign from increasing brand awareness to pushing a new product or seasonal promotion. Each of these uses typically demands a different campaign with its own style and its own components.

Increasing traffic to your website is not usually a bottom line target. The reason for increasing traffic to a website is normally to improve sales and increase profits. In the majority of cases, it is more desirable to attain greater sales through fewer visitors, than having a site awash with visitors but with a poor conversion rate.

A prolonged and careful email marketing campaign will naturally help to improve brand awareness. Your readers will naturally remember your name and the products or services that you sell as they gain more and more exposure to your marketing emails. Similarly, as long as you produce relevant and useful emails, your potential customers will grow to trust you making it more likely that they will purchase from you now or in the future.

2 - Your Opt-In Email List

There are a couple of key aspects to this section. YOUR opt-in list will generate better results than the use of somebody else's list. If you have taken the time and put in the effort to grow your own list, then the members of that list will already have some degree of awareness for you, your products, and your website.

Developing your own list can take time and money. To get a head start it is possible to buy or rent email lists from others. In these cases it is particularly important to pay attention to the second important factor – the list MUST be an opt-in list. Every member of that list must have opted in to receive marketing communication from you and they MUST be given adequate opportunity to opt out of future communication.

Particular care needs to be taken with your list management techniques to ensure that you are not deemed as being spam. If you purchase lists or partial lists then members that opt out need to be recorded separately. If you purchase another list that includes the same name and you subsequently email that person without their express request to be re-included in your list then you face the very real possibility of being flagged as sending spam email.

3 - Establish Performance Tracking Techniques

Tracking the performance of any advertising campaign should be foremost in your mind. This is the only true method of determining its worth and is the only way you can optimize your advertising to generate the best possible results. Web analytics are an absolute must-have, and with the wealth of affordable and even free choices available today there is no reason not to have a good analytic package in place.

Tracking code can also be placed into an HTML email. You need to operate a degree of caution when implementing code into HTML emails, because it could lead to your email being blocked by over zealous spam filters. If you can use hyperlinks that include tracking code, and your analytics package includes referral data, then this can generate the majority of the information you require.

The more information you can gleam from an advertising campaign, the better. You will be using these results to fine tune future advertising campaigns, so too much information is better than too little. If in any doubt then consider using an email marketing management service to conduct the tracking on your behalf.

4 – Ready Your Website

Directing visitors to your website is only a portion of the battle ahead. Once a reader clicks through the links in your email, you then need to be confident that your web pages are optimized to complete the sale. Conversion rates need to be high on the pages you direct traffic to, but you also need to target the traffic to the most appropriate pages and vice versa.

Consider the anchor text, or link text, that you will be using in your email. If you are encouraging readers to learn more about a product then don't direct them straight to the purchase page unless that page includes the inferred information. Similarly, if you have pre-sold your readers so that they are poised and ready to buy, and your CTA (Call To Action) indicates that this is the next step then you can navigate readers through to a more direct sales page.

Introducing a new product or a new concept will usually take more information than you can provide in a single marketing email. If necessary, add a page or multiple complementary pages, to your website. Direct readers to these pages so that you can combine the use of your email marketing and your optimized and informative content to really persuade and hammer the message home hard.

5 – An Effective Subject Line

The subject line of your email is the first thing your readers will read, and you need to ensure that it won't be the last. Human spam filters can be just as difficult to avoid as software spam filters, even for genuine email. You should certainly avoid the use of typically spammy subject lines and opt for a more effective approach.

There are many ways to write an appealing subject line. A newsworthy subject line will often grab the attention but only works effectively in limited cases. Otherwise, try to evoke an emotive response from the reader. The strongest emotions include greed, love, and even hatred or controversy. With these latter two it is again important that you exercise appropriate caution otherwise you may alienate your readers against this and future marketing emails.

Intrigue and appeal work very well. An intriguing headline will draw your readers into the main body of the content and the subject line will have then done its job effectively. Never mislead in the subject of your email but do try to peak your reader's curiosity to the extent that they can't help but open the email and read it fully.

6 - Email Body Content

Finally we reach the main body content of the email. That it's taken to point six to do so is an indication of how important the planning and preparation stages are. The subject line has hopefully driven a good portion of your list to open the email, and those readers should be intrigued enough to want to read more.

Research shows that the more personalized the message, the more likely it will be to succeed. Start with a personalized greeting and use a friendly, even conversational tone, throughout the message. Inform readers of what they need to know but do so informally and in as friendly a manner as is possible by email.

The email absolutely has to be grammatically and factually correct, and must not contain typos. These types of errors can be an instant turn off for readers. Run a spell check. Twice. And then check it manually and have somebody else check it again for you. At the same time check the links and ensure that they do indeed direct to the proper pages.

Include a Call To Action, or CTA, rather than just a link. A CTA is a direction that points your visitors to perform your desired action. This could be to click a link, make a purchase, or even forward the email to friends. The CTA needs to be clearly defined an, obviously, as effective and accurate as possible.

7 - Hyperlinks To Your Site

The entire point (although probably not your ultimate goal) of your email is to get readers to click on links and visit your website. Include two or three links in the body of your email and make sure they are relevant without being too obvious. Lead readers to click the links rather than directly point it out and find something more effective than “click here” to use as your anchor text.

Two to three links is the ideal number. Too few links and your email won't prove effective at driving traffic, while too many links will detract from the actual content of the email. If your email is very short then offer two links, or offer three links within longer messages. Contextual links (that is, those that appear within the body of the email rather than at the end) are usually significantly more effective.

Check and double check that links work and direct to the correct page. Once you've done this, have somebody else check them too. The number of marketing emails that have failed because of broken or incorrect links is alarmingly high and this is not a trap that you want to fall into.

8 - Choose The Best Time To Send Your Email

The time you send your email can have a significant impact on its effectiveness. During the night, most people's emails fill up. In a lot of cases, this can mean that your reader will be faced with tens of emails in the morning, many of them rubbish. This leaves a very real chance that they will simply ignore or delete your email without noticing who sent it, what it is about, or whether they have any interest in reading it.

Consider your target market and when they are most likely to be sat in front of their email. Those with a global market may find this more difficult because of the time difference, but otherwise bear this in mind too. Not every website or marketing email is geared towards residents from the same country.

9 - Test Email

Initially, send a test email to yourself, friends, family, or colleagues. This is more to determine that it arrives looking as expected. Once you have done this and are happy with how your email looks, you should then move on to send a second test email to a small selection of your list. This gives you ample opportunity to make any last minutes changes or tweaks according to how this small test run performs.

You might even consider sending several tests out to different groups, if you have a large enough list. This enables you to test the subject line, content, and product price, by making alterations before each test run. Be sure to test the different components separately, though, so that you can determine what needs changing and what works well.

A test email also gives you chance to check that you are set up and able to track the results and any other information you want to track. A good email marketing service will do this by default, because the test email can prove to be one of the single most effective ways to improve the performance of a one-off email shot.

10 - Monitor, Optimize, And Start Again

Being careful not to send emails too frequently, you should send regular communication to your list. An unloved list will be more likely to unsubscribe and readers become most responsive after approximately seven items of communication from you. Monitor results, check bounce rates, and look for ways that your campaign could be improved.

Once you've found the best ways to improve a campaign make the improvements and begin the procedure again from the beginning. This process of monitoring, optimizing, and starting again will help to increase exposure, improve brand awareness, and generally improve results and profit levels.

Why Your List Is So Important

A list can last you a lifetime and it is possible to continue selling to the same list members over and over again. In fact, once a list member purchases from you, and presuming that everything goes smoothly during and after the sale, they will be more inclined to purchase from you in the future. You will have won their trust, gained their favor, and they can be relied upon to help you with extra sales in the future.

Look after your list and your list will look after your profits.

About the Author: Matt Jackson, founder of WebWiseWords, offers SEO copywriting and a range of other web content writing services to increase traffic and improve conversions for your website.