Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Bother With "LinkedIn" or "Facebook" ?

That's what I used to ask myself as numerous acquaintances kept tagging me to be part of their realm of contacts in or It seemed a nuisance until I sat down with an old contact, Don Tinney from EOS Worldside (EOS=Entrepreneurial Operating Systems). Don is an EOS Implementer whose job is quite simple. He says simply, "We make millionaires out of owners of small to medium size companies". So maybe he has something to say I should know.

I was in both LinkedIn and FaceBook and didn't see the significance. My business was humming along just fine and didn't need the distraction. Don forced my mind open a bit and so I took it upon myself to find out if there was some gold to mine there that I had missed. Like hunting for Morel mushrooms, it went from "none to be found" to being surrounded with all kinds of uses. Here is my quick rundown of uses in the hopes all our business partners can begin to take advantage of these tools.

To begin with, I'm going to concentrate on because I find it the most dialed in of the two for "business networking". While I'm in Facebook also my contacts there are almost all personal life related. Sure, we all can use a few friends but the majority of my day is more about business and LinkedIn appears to me to have a larger corner on it.

So if you...

  • Are new to LinkedIn and don't know how to use it to help your business and career.

  • Have been using LinkedIn yet felt like you haven't really accomplished anything with it.

  • Are trying to persuade your friends to join LinkedIn and want / need to communicate the value of it.

  • Wondering if LinkedIn type sites can help improve your web site's visibility.

  • Think there's no real value in LinkedIn.

... this is for you!

Here is a small amount I've learned about using LinkedIn, understanding there are millions of users who know a whole lot more about it than I do. This still should give you a starter kit on the value. It will also be a great link section to teach you as much as you can possibly know about this.

Off-Site Factors Enhance Your Web Site's Ranking More than On-Site Optimization

The original criteria the creators of Google used to rank web sites is still the same as it is today. It ranked sites according to the value of the web sites that linked to the evaluated web site. If you have dozens of important sites with links to your site and those sites are related in subject matter to what your site is all about, it will out-weigh many of the things you put (or fail to put) in your site for rankings.

When you have links to your web site in your LinkedIn or Facebook listings, those are off-site links. If you make recommendations for other people in your circle of contacts and include your web site address as part of your signature then you have even more. Make dozens of good recommendations and receive them in return. It's truly a "giver's gain" world there.

Add to this some effective Public Relations campaigns and you can really begin to boost your rankings. Write articles like this to online magazines and make links to your web site part of your signature. It takes some real honest to goodness work but the results can be magic in your rankings. There is more on how all this works in one of our blog articles: The Most Important Key to Web Site Traffic!

Business Development - Marketing - Sales

We all know that strength of a warm lead. All the initial hurdles have been jumped. Linked in contacts can help you get to the right people. Interested in doing business with Acme Widgets? Do a search in LinkedIn for current and former employees of the company. Find out if any of them are connected to someone you know in your circle. If so, ask that contact to give you a formal introduction.

Before you meet that contact look over their interests if posted. Going to meet someone who is President of the company you want to work with? Look them up in advance and discover their interests and background. See who they know that you may also know. Create common interests and connections from that information and start the conversation warmly.

Did you know that ALL 500 of the Fortune 500 companies are represented on LinkedIn? Either the CEOs or the upper level management are to be found there. There must be something to it. Those who are active on it may just be looking for you and who you are on LinkedIn. If you're not there, they may wonder why. This is dang near as good as the Mason secret handshake without all the silly rituals or red beanie cap.

For a good article on warm calling using LinkedIn see A Guide To Business Development 2.0 .

When searching for companies, uncheck "current companies only" and find out what former employees have to say about the company. What kind of talent has left the company and how fast? Contact them and find out things the company may not want you to know. Learn their weaknesses and how to market to it. The líst is endless.

Increase Your Credibility

Imagine that before agreeing to see you on a sales call the business owner checks to see if you are on LinkedIn. Not being there could be a strike against you because he feels he's flying a little blind in your regard. If you are there, he or she may want to see your background, your connections, or your recommendations. Finding numerous positive reviews from others who have worked with you can create a positive frame of mind. If they know some of the same people you do, it can get even better.

Here it can get even better - receiving calls from buyers who found you on LinkedIn and want to buy something from you. Shocking? See how all this can work in the real world in Using LinkedIn to Make the Sale .

Career Enhancement and Job Search

Enhance your efforts in searching for a job or finding qualified applicants for positions you need to fill. It should be no stretch to your imagination at this point on how you can take advantage of this when looking for career advancement. Use your LinkedIn link as part of your email signature or refer to it in your resume. A large number of HR people and managers will recognize it. If you've done your homework and have numerous recommendations, it can really work in your behalf. Make friends and get recommendations before you need them. The best way is to start by recommending others first.

For more on this check out "Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn" .

Improve Your Website's Visibility

This will be the subject of my next article because this one's getting a bit long. In short, there are two main things that can positively affect your website ranking and visibility with search engines. The first, and least important are your on-site factors. The most important is your off-site factors. This aspect is mostly ignored by business owners and web developers. It is all part of true professional web development. In this regard you will truly get what you paid for.

If you are a member of LinkedIn - log out and then search for yourself. When you find yourself, copy the address from your browser's address bar. Use it for a link in your signature for emails.

Other Sites for More Education:

Top Ten Reasons to Use LinkedIn

How do I use LinkedIn to find a job

How to use LinkedIn to Create Authoritative Content

Wall Street Journal - The Right Way to use LinkedIn

About The Author

John Clark is the President of Wow Web Works in Kalamazoo, MI.

Optimizing Tactics For Generating Website Traffic

Internet marketing has been around for as long as there has been the internet. It really took off, though, once the World Wide Web caught fire in the late 1990's.

What many people new to internet marketing lose site of, or perhaps didn't know to begin with, is that internet marketing is based on the fundamental principles of marketing. It just so happens that internet marketers use those principles with a new medium, the web, to reach buyers.

The fundamental principle of marketing is - if you want to sell anything, you need prospective customers.

For many people, knowing how to generate massive amounts of traffic is the "missing link" to internet marketing.

Everyday there are lots of people who struggle to create websites and products, make them look pretty good and then... nothing. Everything was built and nobody showed up!

This is one of the biggest reasons people quit before they are successful.

It doesn't have to be that way. There is no exact strategy that is guaranteed to bring you millions of visitors everyday. However, there are proven techniques for generating huge amounts of traffic, some very quickly and some for free.

Higher traffíc increases the potential for sales and referral commissions. The goal is to boost search engine traffic because this means a wider audience and long-term profit from various sources like ads. That is why there is such a lot of innovation in the field of search engine optimization (SEO).

Long Tails and How They Help

One of the most recent techniques, and a very effective one at that, is the use of LONG TAIL keywords to direct search engine traffic to your website.

The term may sound intimidating, but all it refers to is a new marketing trend. In the past, a few major keywords were identified to pull traffic through search engines. In the new model, websites will be drawing their business from a large variety of low-volume search queries or phrases. So, it's goodbye to all those oft-used, clichéd keywords.

This brings about a paradigm shift in your strategy to identify keywords and phrases. Instead of opting for the most obvious keywords like 'Makíng money online', web marketers now have to identify several keyword phrases that attract streams of low volume traffic. The combined action of several streams of low-volume traffic will eventually add up to high revenue.

To identify Long Tails or multi-word search queries (for that is what they are), you have to pick out the actual phrases that visitors use to arrive at your website. These key phrases are more specific than general. They embody the specific information users are looking for. So, a phrase like "Top 5 SEO techniques to earn money online" will pull in more targeted traffíc than 'makíng money online'. Ultimately, such a strategy leads to an overall jump in web traffíc.

For example, 'Self-hypnosis' is a general keyword. The keyword phrases within this niche would be 'Self-hypnosis to lose weíght' or 'using self-hypnosis techniques to improve memory' or 'benefits of self-hypnosis for controlling anger'.

Methods to Identify Keyword Phrases

Use tracking programs: Certain automated programs generate a number of subject-specific keyword phrases. But you will still have to filter and select specific phrases from a long catalog of results. Further to this, you may have to run your selected phrases through a search volume analyzer, to zero in on the top phrases.

Keyword research tools: Tools like Google's Keywords Tool can help determine the popularity of keywords, thus enabling you to develop a wide variety of secondary keywords to improve web traffíc to your site. Stringing together these words should enable you to identify keyword phrases.

Search boxes: Using on-site search boxes will enable you to monitor specific keyword phrases your visitors are looking for. This way, you get direct feedback from your visitors. This is an amazing method you can use to learn more about the general public's search habits.

Check out your competition: Find out what phrases they are using. Search their meta tags, titles and headers. Here, all the work has been done for you. You only need to fine-tune the words and string them together to make phrases that will pull lots of search engine traffic. Keyword parsing tools help you analyze other websites.


By using keyword phrases, you reap a number of benefits:

  • High search-engine rankings: Competition will be weaker for the phrases you have identified so you can easily climb to the top of search engine rankings for your particular choice of phrase.

  • Higher conversion rates: Since you are using the actual phrase your visitors are looking for, the website traffic you get is highly targeted. People who come to you in this manner are more likely to click the 'Buy Now' button than people who come in out of curiosity.

  • Increased inflow: Since you will be using many keyword phrases, you will build up several streams of low-volume customers. These streams will improve your search engine traffic.

  • Make more money: Your monetizing potential is high when you pull in search engine traffic because people who come to you are serious about your product, service or information. They are more likely to subscribe to your newsletter or RSS feeds.

Using Long Tails on your websites or Blogs will undoubtedly improve web traffíc to your site.

And of course, more traffíc is always good news!

About The Author

JD Reilly is committed in helping others succeed at marketing online products and implementing strategies for success. The success is built upon-- A focused target market, A product people are hungry for, A marketing strategy, Automation.

Top 11 Information Marketing Business Mistakes to Avoid

If you've tried your hand at building an Internet-based business but haven't yet reached the success you want, find out about these 11 deadly mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 - Not Treating What You Do as a Business.

The difference between a hobby and a business is that a hobby doesn't make you money - it costs you money.

If you're earnest about starting a profitable online business, approach seriously and focus on generating revenue.

Treat your online business as you would any regular business.

Mistake #2 - Being Distracted by Too Many Good Ideas.

You can light up a room with a light bulb, but you can cut through steel with a laser beam. The same is true with your effort and ideas.

Too many Internet-Entrepreneur-Wanna-Be's lack the will power to stay focused. Chasing too many ideas at the same time often leaves them exhausted, frustrated, and with little result to show for their hard work.

The key to success is to select one business idea and to develop it completely before moving on to another project.

Mistake #3 - Not Selecting a Specific Niche.

Perhaps the biggest mistake of all is trying to be everything to everyone. You can't - so stop!

It's very counter-intuitive to focus on a smaller slice of the market and most people are afraid to do it. But when you do, your business will grow faster, and you'll be more financially successful in less time.

Mistake #4 - Falling in Love With the Wrong Product Idea.

Even the most experienced entrepreneurs fall into this trap from time-to-time and develop products without doing any research. Before you devote any serious amount of time and effort to developing your new ideas make sure there is a demand for the type of product, information, or service you want to launch.

If you need help with selecting an ideal niche market for your business and finding out which products you should develop first, take a look at this fast track training program.

Mistake #5 - Falling for the "Get Rích Quick" Scheme!

Remember the old adage "if something is too good to be true..."? It's alive and well on the Internet.

Countless people buy into the idea of making millions online overnight. Sadly, they buy into programs hyped up with empty promises only to find themselves "out of cash and out of luck" a short while later.

Be aware of spammers, illegal money-winníng scams, and buying "ready to go businesses" that are "hot but will sell for cheap"!

Before you fork over your money investigate if those hot businesses have ever made a dime for their current owner.

Doing your homework will save you valuable time, money and many sleepless nights!

Mistake #6 - Going Into It, Instead of Growing Into It.

While the Internet makes it easier to reach your potential clients, you're still building a business - and that takes time. Don't tell your boss you're quitting today because you started this hot new online business last night and you'll be "rolling in dough in no time flat!"

First make sure your business idea works and is profitable.

That's one of the advantages of Internet Business - you can start small and step-it-up as your business starts getting sales and generating profíts.

Just be sure you can consistently replace your current income before jumping ship and telling your boss to "beat it"!

Mistake #7 - Being a Copy-Cat!

Quickly - what is the most popular business on the Internet? You guessed it - it's how to make money on the online!

It seems that everyone who has bought a course on making monëy online is credible enough to teach this subject a week or two later!

Don't fall for the allure of easy money - because it's only a perception. In reality your chances of having a successful online business are much greater when you are different from the pack.

Mistake #8 - Wasting Time and Money on Developing Pretty but Useless Websites.

A bad idea is a bad idea - no matter how pretty you dress it up. Many people waste precious startup dollars on expensive but needless graphic design work, pretty logos, and complex web design.

In reality, many businesses can be simple and inexpensive to get off the ground. In fact, a simple site with little or no graphics will often make more money than one with all the latest bells and whistles flashing all over the page.

Think - what is the core concept of your business. Outline it on a single sheet of paper, then implement it fast in it's simplest form. You can always give it a makeover and make it prettier if it's successful and profitable.

Mistake #9 - Not Building Relationship with Clients.

"Even though you don't know me from Adam, I want you to take out your wallet and give me $20 - in exchange I'll make you the King of the Universe!" What!? You don't want to give me your $20? What a surprise!

Most people think about starting a business onlíne in terms of getting a quick sale - with no prior relationship with their potential clients at all.

In reality, you'll be more successful when you make your first goal to collect contact information from potential clients and follow up with them on regular basis.

It's much easier to "sell something for Free" than trying to convince people to give you money at first.

Make it your goal to prove your credibility online and make your business all about relationships with prospects and clients, and you'll build a thriving online empire.

Mistake #10 - Calling It "QUITS" Too Soon!

If your new online venture isn't makíng money at first, don't walk away from it too soon. Many entrepreneurs have multiple "failures" in their background - which in reality are lessons in what didn't work.

Evaluate your ideas and get help with gaining a new perspective on what you're doing. With some new ideas you might find a new way to position your business differently and make it profitable.

Or maybe you simply need to give it more time to gain the traction and momentum you want.

Mistake #11 - Being too cheap!

While it's a good habit to be thrifty with your dollars, don't confuse saving money with being cheap. Remember the price you're paying for things isn't always expressed in money. It's also the time, effort, and lost opportunities you can't take advantage of because you lack the know-how or are busy doing low-level tasks.

Smart online entrepreneurs continually invest in their Education. They buy marketing training programs, time-saving software tools, and systems that allow them to grow businesses faster with less effort.

The best news is that getting good basic training in how to start your information marketing business doesn't have to be expensive.

About The Author

The author, Adam Urbanski, Founder and President of Marketing Mentors, teaches professionals and business owners proven strategies to leverage their know-how into low-cost, high-profit information products and programs.

A Perfect Link

Webmasters are given the advice that they must attract links, but the key is not just to attract links... they need to attract good links. But what is the perfect link? The search for the perfect link need not be a quest in vain. Consider the following when attempting to attract links...

1. Related

The best links should come from related websites which contain similar and related content but not the same type of material or content. For example: A link for baby clothing would benefit from a link that discusses baby care.

2. Anchor

The anchor text (the "text" that is used in the link) should include keywords that relate to the topic covered on the web page that is being linked to. Anchor text should be varied; links that all have the same anchor text will appear manipulated and contrived to the search engines. Therefore, the text links should contain a variety of related words.

3. Deep Link

The links should direct visitors to a related page within the website. Do not make the mistake of directing all of the web links to a website's home page. Deep linking, and directing visitors to material that corresponds to content that is closely related to the text link is key. Deep linking appears more natural to search engines, whereas links directing all visitors to a single page or the home page seem unnatural, and could be interpreted as an effort to manipulate search engine ranking.

4. Domain And Page Authority

Search engines trust some websites more than others. Links from "authority" websites have more weight than links from lesser-known websites. Google is said to use PageRank as an indicator of authority. Keep in mind that PageRank is not the only factor used to determine a website's authority. Authority websites should still relate to the website it is pointing to.

5. Nix NoFollow

Links should not contain the NoFollow command. The NoFollow command directs search engines to not "follow" the link. If a link contains "NoFollow" there is no search engine benefit from the link; the only benefit to having the link is any organic traffic that results if the link is clicked. As a result, NoFollow links are nearly worthless.

6. Mix It Up

Links should come from a variety of sources. Fewer links from a larger number of websites will generally "weigh" more than a large number of links from a small number of websites.

7. Surrounding Text

Some search experts claim that the text surrounding a link can influence ranking. Whether this is true or not is difficult to determine. It is more likely that links containing surrounding text are more likely to be relevant, and as a result those links tend to be worth more.

8. Link Position

The location of the link on the page can also influence the value of the link. Some search experts claim that footer links carry less value than links which are integrated into the actual web page content.

9. Type of Link

There does not appear to be a difference between a "text" link's value and an "image" link's value, if the image link contains ALT text. The search engines use the image ALT text in the same way they use the anchor text of a text link.

10. Number Of Outbound Links

A page with fewer links is better than a page with a large number of links. This is because a webpage passes along what is referred to as "link juice". The more "link juice" passed along, the more valuable the link is. The link juice is divided up over all the links on a webpage, so popular websites with few outgoing links are more valuable than those with a large number of links.

11. Link Age

Search engine critics cannot seem to agree as to whether older links or newer links carry more value. When information is vague, it is best to garner both aged links and new links to websites.

12. Vintage Domain

The age of the domain is said to influence link power. More than likely the age of the domain simply contributes to the trustworthiness of the website, and links from trusted websites tend to have more value.

13. One Way Links

Links that are not reciprocal carry more weight than those which are simply link-for-link exchanges.

14. Page Content

A web page that is mostly just a líst of links has less value than a web page that contains a mixture of links and content.

15. Updated Pages

Web pages that are updated frequently will typically be spidered by search engines on a more frequent basis. The update will not influence the power of the link, but it will mean that the link will be picked up more quickly by the search engines.

16. Link Surges

Webmasters should be encouraged to gradually build links over time, rather than all at once. The gradual improvement is more natural and will have a stronger impact on organic search rankings.

The quest for the perfect link can be frustrating and elusive, but the fact is: the perfect link is logical, appears natural, and grows over time. Best of luck in your attempt to find the perfect link.

About The Author

Sharon Housley manages marketing for software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts.

Linking With Integrity Getting One Way Links The Right Way

It's just as important to know what not to do when executing a website linking strategy as it is to know what to do. With inexpensive linking software and services so readily available, there's a strong temptation to take shortcuts when it comes to getting quality links.

Avoiding these traps will help your search engine placements rise naturally and stay that way for a long time. In this article, I describe two ways that you can help yourself avoid being labeled a link sp@mmer.

Link Farms

What is a link farm? A link farm is any website designed and set up for the sole purpose of getting search engine spiders to crawl and index web pages. These websites provide absolutely no end user utility or benefit.

So how do you recognize a link farm? First, you need to ask yourself, is this site heavy laden with links? Most link farms will have a "farm" of links with little to no content. As for an explanation of the site's existence, it's usually missing too.

The next question you need to ask is, what does the URL of the site itself look like? Most of the time, link farms will have long, hyphenated URLs (i.e. our-great-linking- directory dot com). This is a generalization so not all link farms will have these types of URLs. Many of these link farms are generated using software. The software will go out and find a domain name that contains specific keywords even if it settles on something with several hyphens and numbers. You may still consider a long, hyphenated site for linking purposes but make certain you conduct more research before you submit a link.

Next, look at the domain name extension and note if it's .ínfo or .bíz. In order to sell these extensions, many domain name registrars provide a one-time, deep discount. I know of several registrars that sell .ínfo domains for 89 cents per year. These cheap domain names allow sp@mmers to generate thousands of sites at a huge discount.

The next criteria I use to help identify a link farm is what I call the "cheese factor". Although some link farms will look professionally designed, most are either 1) generated with software or 2) are designed with the same cookie-cutter, non-altered templates that fill search engine results. This is especially true with blogs. Sp@mmers and Internet newbies will not take the time to brand their websites or blogs. These are commonly referred to as "pump and dump" websites.

Another question you should ask is, does it look human? That is, does it look like someone hangs around and takes care of things? You should also be able to contact the webmaster either via web form or e-mail. If there's no contact information available anywhere on the website, be very afraid.

If it's a directory site, check out the links in a few of the main directory headings. Are the URLs hyphenated just like the main URL? If you visit one of these sites, does it look the same as the site you just came from? Are there more URLs crammed onto one page than anyone could possibly visit in a lifetime?

Last but not least, if you have your suspicions that a site might be a link farm, for any reason, stay away. It's better to miss a great linking opportuníty than to post your link and get downgraded in your search engine placements.

Non-relevant Links

When you're placing your links, you want to make sure that the site you're linking to has something to do with your site and, vice versa.

A non-relevant link is defined as a hypertext link placed on a website, or in a directory, that has little to no relevance to the linking site or directory. These links are placed for the sole purpose of 1) increasing page rank or 2) getting a website crawled and indexed or a combination of the two.

The most obvious way to combat not-relevant links, over which you have complete control, is the placement of links on your site. Avoid placing links on your site to another that has no relevance to your content; even if it's legitimate. Why? The link doesn't do anything for you or the person whose link you placed. On the other hand, don't ask someone to place a link on their site which doesn't relate to yours.

Google, Yahoo, and MSN all look closely at whom you're linking to and who's linking to you. In fact, Google's PageRank definition specifically states that link relevance (quality) is looked at more than just the link itself.

So what's the solution? As in researching a potential link farm, you need to check out the sites that you're linking to. If you're submitting your site to directoríes or article directories, make sure that you're submitting your content and links to the most relevant topics and sections.

Don't worry about getting an exact match in terms of relevance between your site and the linking site; just make sure that each site complements the other.

Know the Linking Pitfalls

In summary, you can be accused of being a link sp@mmer even if you think you haven't done anything wrong. To keep your linking strategy clean, I've outlined two specific techniques that will keep your site safe with the search engines.

First, watch out for unscrupulous link directories and sites (i.e. link farms). Use the techniques and ask yourself the questions I've outlined to recognize and avoid these harmful sites.

Second, make sure you're posting to relevant sites/directories/ articles/ blogs or wherever you choose to submit your content and links.

Most importantly, if you think you might get accused of being a sp@mmer, by attempting to use a linking technique you just read about or software you just bought, trust your gut and don't do it. Linking software creators claim that you can get thousands of back links with the press of a button or for only "$49". The only way to get good quality back links is to do the research yourself and hand-submit every single link.

If you avoid these two traps, you'll be well on your way to getting the links you need to get your website placed higher in search results and, as a result, generate more sales.

About The Author is a full service article marketing and link building firm.

Email Marketing Success - Optimization Techniques

It's a common trend that internet marketers do whatever they can do to get the e-mail address of the people visiting their site. Online, you have a really small window of opportunity to convert a visitor into a client and if they're not ready to buy whatever they're browsing on your site, it's a good idea to at least find out who they are so that you can try a different sales approach on them on another day. Just because they're not interested in what you're selling today doesn't mean you can't find something else to tickle their fancy.

There are many ways to do this such as:

- Offer a free report with information they'll find valuable

- Ask them to opt in to your newsletter or subscribe to your website for update

- Intrigue them with entry into a free draw for a prize.

Once someone has signed up for something you've got a valuable e-mail address that you can use to build your list of potential customers. Once you have that e-mail address, you want to be very careful with it because otherwise it won't do much for you.

How do you stay out of the spam filter?

It's a good idea to have someone confirm before you give away anything. Many will put in a fake e-mail address just to get something for free. You can require them to confirm by receiving an e-mail from you and clicking a confirmation link. Remind them to check their junk folder and if they mark your message as not being Spam, their email software could then automatically whitelist you so that you don't land in the spam folder in future. By requesting a confirmation, you also ensure that you are getting a real e-mail address.

Autoresponder software is a good investment for anyone marketing online. Buying into a package AutoResponsePlus or something similar will help you easily manage your mailing lists. The thing is, once you have a mailing list in place and a plan that includes autoresponders, you need to work on your email content and deliverability.

Each communication you make in future with prospective client should do two things:

1) The e-mail needs to offer them something valuable otherwise they'll unsubscribe. Give information or tips or helpful information that will have that person anxious to open future emails from you.

2) You need a call to action line at the end which will entice them to do something you want after they close the email. This could be to visit your website with a handy link, sign up for another service, refer their friends to you or even offer a purchase link so they can buy what you're selling.

Deliverability is definitely a key factor. You want to know that your e-mails reach their recipient's email box so here are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of your target audience actually opening your e-mail. People are fed up with Spam and using all sorts of programs and techniques to ensure they're not having to sift through spam to get to the important e-mails.

People make use of domain keys and SPF records so that they aren't getting phishing e-mails by those posing as their bank or PayPal.

People use spam filters and this helps them build the trust in their incoming messages. Once you make it past that filter, you're set.

By getting yourself whitelisted, you can increase the likelihood of being delivered to an e-mail inbox instead of a Spam folder and by buying an autoresponder product that's hosted on your own server, you can more easily get past Spam filters because if you've done your bit to get whitelisted, you'll be trusted by your recipient's e-mail server which will increase the chances of your brilliant and persuasive copy being taken seriously.

My Web Site is Built -So Where's the Traffic and Business?

Your website is built and sitting pretty. So where are all the people you hoped would come over to play? You need traffic for your site to be effective and to start generating leads. Now that you know that just having a website won't necessarily drive business to you, you should consider the most important thing most people miss in this effort.

Here are the 3 factors that need to be in place for a successful website and successful business. I'll líst them from least important to most important:

1. Sound 'on-site' Search Engine Optimization strategies. This refers to the things many consider the most important. There are the basic A-B-C's of getting things set up with keywords and phrases so that you will rank well against your competition in Google, Yahoo and the like. This involves a lot of elements that you, as the end user, may not realize or see. Having the proper titles for each page, putting in the right key words and header tags. There are solid things that should be done and most web designers that I talk to rarely take it beyond this point. Being ranked well by search engines starts here but the best realize this is only the start.

2. Content That Is Effective. Visitors are useless unless they buy something or make contact with you. We call this "Conversion Ratio". What percentage of your website visitors convert into buyers and users of your services? This can and should be measured. The important things here are the attractiveness and professional appearance of the site with content that is compelling. Having the right mix of words, graphics and informational content can take conversion rates from being non-existent to well over 10%.

Web designers get so many calls from business owners that can only think to ask, "how much do you charge to make me a website?" What they miss is what it will cost them in business profíts if it is not done right. Web designers may know how to make a good looking site but not necessarily how to input the words and content for the best results. Writing compelling content is a very specialized talent. This takes more work and more time to do. It costs more, but the difference can be huge on your return on investment.

When you have this part right, the most important part of driving traffic can be taken advantage of. This aspect is where many web developers simply drop off the map in helping clients. If you are shopping price only, you won't find this part of the mix. What is it that they miss?

3. Off Site Factors Are Most The Important Factors in Driving Traffic! What are 'off site factors'? The most important key for ranking well with Google are the links that come to you from other sites that Google considers to be important sites. MSN and Yahoo are important sites. So are, and OK, so the last one is more important to me than Google.

Here is the rub. How can you control whether or not other sites talk about you and link to you? I don't mean calling other site owners and saying something like, "Hey, I'll link to you if you link to me" stuff. Mutual links are not important anymore. One way links are. So how can you get those rolling? Well, this takes work. The nice part is that it is work that will have a direct effect on your bottom line. You have enough "busy work" as a business owner. This isn't busy work; it's vital.

Social-Business Networking Sites - Use Them

This is where sites like, and even come into play. I recommend using for business development. From there you can refer to your website and create interest in your site in others. I have a full article of ideas for this elsewhere so I won't elaborate here. For more on this see "Why Bother with 'LinkedIn' or 'Facebook'?" . Posting your information and inviting contacts to link in with you can be huge. It's like having a second or third website with positive recommendations about you and your business.

Effective PR Campaigns

This can be the most important foundation for your business success. As our business partners Ray Lohner and Jerry Ogg from E3 Public Relations have drilled into me, most businesses have it all backwards. Here is what they preach for priorities:

1. Advertising => 2. Marketing => 3. Public Relation (If at all)


1. Public Relations => 2. Marketing => Advertising (If still needed)


Many businesses we build websites for already do some advertising with varying degrees of success. They do advertising yet often don't know how that differs from marketing and ignore PR altogether.

It is PR that really sets the table for all the rest to work. The Internet is transforming even PR. Every time you have a bit of company news from hiring a new employee to lending support to a local charity it deserves a PR piece. Open a new office? PR. Have a unique solution to a problem? Let the press know - they may just do a story on it.

The idea is that if you get enough good PR working for you it opens doors for marketing and advertising because your company and name are more recognizable and respected. Just knowing who you are can be huge.

What has changed in the PR realm in recent years is the rise of online PR companies that will take your electronic releases and send them as feeds to news services nationwide. An example is It is chock full of information about good PR and advice on how to write it for best effect. Your submissions are sent out and picked up as a feed by other services. If your PR piece has a reference to your website, you now have 1 if not dozens of incoming links to your website. Do dozens of releases and you have dozens of one-way links and start to get noticed by other people interested in your field. Google notices this also.

Why Is PR All But Ignored?

So why don't more businesses use this? Why do business owners nod in agreement but rarely follow through doing this? Because it takes time and effort to put together a good PR piece in a form that will be picked up by other sites or publications. It takes some knowledge to know where to even send it after you write it. Frankly, you probably don't have time to sit down and pen out a 700-word piece. Few have the writing talent to do it right. It's a skill, a specialized skill. Even if you do have the ability, you may well not know where to send it or who at a publication might be interested in it. This is exactly why PR firms exist. They do it well, know where to send it for greatest effect and they know what is newsworthy to send. They usually know people at the publications on a first name basis and what they are looking for.

I'm betting that if you cut your advertising budget in half and put that half into paying for a PR firm to take over that job that your remaining advertising will be even more effective than before.

This is one of the added values for quality web development companies. Next time you call a web design firm and ask, "How much does it cost to build us a website?" find out if "fries" come with that. Do you get just a website or do you get the added value of expertise in Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising. Trust this, you will get no more than you pay for.

If your web developer doesn't do this, find a good PR firm and make sure they work together to do the job right.

Find out if they know enough about LinkedIn to even be there. If not, maybe they can't help you there. How about their press releases? Do they even do them for themselves? How do they pro-actively do marketing for themselves? There are probably reasons why the cheapest bidder is the cheapest bidder. I hired the cheapest bidder to pave my driveway. Huge mistake now that it's cracking after only 3 years.

A larger vision can make you a lot more money. You have to decide if "who's the lowest bidder" is more important than how much money and exposure the site adds to your bottom line. After all, isn't making money the point?

About The Author

John Clark is the President of Wow Web Works in Kalamazoo, MI.

Enhancing Web Effectiveness With Audio Sound Design

The average person is exposed to an assault of stimuli each and every moment of our waking day. Some of this stimulus catches our attention, but much is filtered out as extraneous, useless, or unimportant. This filtering is our way of handling the constant barrage of information we endure. As marketers it is our job to cut through all the meaningless, random white noise of life and penetrate the consciousness of our targeted audience with our marketing messages.

Mere Subliminal Exposure

One of the weapons, tools if you prefer, professional media producers use to create an impression and influence behavior is something called mere subliminal exposure, the process of communication without explicit notice. It is a process and effect that everyone uses every day without ever thinking about it, and it is a necessity in order to deal with, and make sense of, our over-stimulated lives.

The look your spouse gives you at a dinner party, the tone of a simple comment, or the change in body language communicates a message that says, 'stop what you're doing before I get angry,' or 'let's get the heck out of here before I die of boredom.' But whatever the coded meaning, the communication is clear. We all have the ability to decode these kinds of minimal subliminal messages. In fact the inability of some to properly interpret these kinds of signals has lead to unfortunate consequences.

This process is not to be confused with the discredited work of James Vicary, who in 1957 faked the results of subliminal advertising in movie theaters. He claimed and later recanted that by flashing barely noticeable images of popcorn and soft drinks on the screen that it increased sales of the items by a significant amount. However, this abuse of the phenomenon does not negate the fact that people are sensitive to, learn from, and respond to a variety of subtle visual and auditory experiences that influence their behavior. The same can be said of other senses like smell and touch, but since our main concern is how to use this process on website presentations we will leave the more physical encounters to our offline marketing colleagues.

Audio Sound Design - The Art of Hidden Persuasion

The Signature Voice-over

One of the least used but most effective and economical marketing tools a website business has at its disposal is signature voice-over, or Sonic Personality. It establishes your identity and embeds your brand by giving your site a human voice.

It is the sound of the human voice that conveys all the subtlety and nuance of the message you have to deliver. Major advertisers use familiar sounding actors and actresses to deliver personality and impact. Even when an audience doesn't recognize the voice being used, the positive attributes associated with that voice are transferred to the product or service being offered. It is not by random choice that Ford Motor Company chose Keifer Sutherland's Jack Bauer sonic personae for the voice of their television spots or that Chili's restaurants now employs John Corbett's comfortable, friendly, 'Sex and The City' voice instead of the previously grating and irritable sound of comic Wanda Sikes.

Most website businesses cannot afford to hire Hollywood talent to pitch their products. What is important is that the voice you choose is a signature voice, a distinctive sound that delivers the script with character and style employing timber, cadence, and phrasing like only a professional voice actor can do. Of course, you must also give your voice talent the right words to say, which means you provide them with a professionally written script if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your signature voice-over.

When we think of voice-overs we usually think of commercial presentations, but here again most website businesses truly miss the boat when it comes to utilizing Sonic Personality. We all know that text on your website is important in order to attract search engine indexing, unfortunately from a marketing effectiveness point-of-view, text alone lacks impact.

People are impatient and generally do not want to read volumes of text information, and besides, most people find it difficult to read on a computer screen. Even if they do read your material, how much of it is retained, is it associated with your company, or does it just get confused with all the other stuff people see during their busy, business day?

As a solution why not turn all your website copy, including articles, into audio delivered by a professional signature voice, providing people the option of reading the text or sitting back and listening to your words of wisdom?

Of all the multimedia, marketing techniques available to you, a signature voice is the most economical option whether used as a stand-alone element or as part of a visual or video presentation.

Sound Cue Punctuation & Effects

Voice-over is not the only audio method available to the savvy website marketer. You wouldn't write something without using punctuation: it's what makes the words meaningful by providing the cadence necessary for maximizing the impact, but punctuation does not have to be limited to periods, exclamation marks and semicolons. Punctuation can be added in the form of sound cues and audio effects.

Professional audio engineers know what kind of sound to add to a presentation in order to draw people's attention to certain key phrases, words, or points. In the same way a composer arranges the music score for a movie to enhance mood and build excitement, so too does the commercial audio producer turn a dry read into an authentic, memorable experience.

Sound punctuation and audio effects should not be taken lightly; audio sound design, when done properly, is one of the most complex and technical areas of multimedia, far more sophisticated than video and just as important if not more so. Where and how to use trumpet swells, rim shots, and volume variance is not just art, it's science, and it has a profound psychological and emotional effect on the listener.

Custom Composed Music

If voice-over is the most under-utilized Web-marketing tool we have, then music is probably the most abused. No doubt music like sound design is an enormously powerful method of enhancing mood, and drawing attention to specific points and images. Unfortunately slapping on an over-used royalty-free sound loop that's been used on everything from breakfast cereals to incontinence products is not the answer.

For music to be effective it should be unique enough to be associated with your company and arranged in such a way that it increases the presentation's memorability and enhances its experience. In the silent movie era music was the only method of creating this kind of emotional impact, and despite today's full range of visual presentation techniques and special effects, music scoring is still one of the most crucial elements of memorable movie-making.

When it comes to music, you are dealing with the full arsenal of psychological presentation techniques and failure to use it properly may be counter-productive.

Signature Sound Logos

One of the first things people do when they start a business is to have a logo designed. Even novice entrepreneurs recognize that a company needs some kind of visual identity, a short-form tag that conveys the brand image that can be recognized in an instant.

The advent of visual media like television and commercial TV spots did not obscure the importance of the radio-style jingle and what has become known as the sound logo or audio signature. The Maxwell House coffee percolator beat, Kellogs Rice Krispies' 'Snap, Crackle, Pop,' and Tony The Tiger's 'Grrrrrrrrreat!' are all classic examples of audio signature. Today we have the familiar sound of Intel's sound logo, the powerful swell of the THX movie sound tag, and Vonage's original goofy signature audio branding.

In today's multimedia Web environment, your sound logo is every bit as important as your visual identity.

It's Theater of the Mind

Radio has often been referred to as 'theater of the mind' because the combination of voice, sound cues, effects, music, and audio logos helped paint powerful and memorable mental images for the listener. For those old enough to remember radio dramas, the ringing of 'Johnny Dollar's' telephone or the sound of 'Inner Sanctum's' creaking door are forever permanently etched in the minds to anyone whoever heard them.

In a Web environment populated by millions of websites all competing for audience attention, failure to use every marketing tool at your disposal is simply foolish. If you want to be heard, it's time to say what you have to say out-loud.

About The Author

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video.

Top 10 Reasons A Website Fails To Perform

You've taken the time to finally build a website, and now it is online. Months go by. Maybe you get a few visitors now and again. Maybe you land on the search engines. Mostly though, it just sits there. Is the website you paid for pulling its weight?

A website is a tool and can be of significant help to your business. It can cut a lot of time you put into giving information to customers. It can answer questions and perform tasks for you. Find out where websites fail to perform and how you can figure out where to make it better.

1. Undefined Website Objectives

Some sites try to do way too much at once, or worse, they have no definable purpose. Many provide no clear objective. A site can do more than look good and flashy and have your contact information.

Websites can be informational, storing content and articles based on a topic. Sites can run eCommerce solutions that help you with your sales process. It can also generate leads, asking customers to fill out forms with their information and interests. It can also be a hybrid site, with mixed purposes, like offering a free ebook or free access to information (informational) in return for contact information (lead generation).

Defining the purpose of your website gives a clear direction to your customers. Where should customers arrive when they find your website? Where do you want them to end up? Using a clear path and clear objectives, you can lead them through your site, your products, and your information, depending on how you need to sell your products. Not all products or services can be sold directly in an eCommerce situation. Maybe you prefer just getting to know your customer a bit more, and being able to forward marketing materials, so a lead generation type of site might be more suitable.

Assign a secondary objective. Maybe after visitors sign up for free access, or an ebook, they are encourage to ask more by contacting your sales reps, or perhaps they can make a direct purchase online. Use a clearly definable call to action. "Email for more information." "Clíck here to sign up." Tell visitors where to go.

2. Unidentified Target Audience

Demographics have been used in marketing for generations. Marketers use the information because it works. Knowing who your audience is defines the purpose to your website and calls out those who qualify and would be interested in your products. Marketing is the one area where discrimination is actually a good thing! You don't want to waste the marketing dollars that draw people to your site who won't need your products in the first place.

Get to know who your clients are. Are they male or female? How old? Where are they located? What do they do for a living? Habits, income levels, preferences, they can all be discovered with a quick email, phone call or have your current customers take surveys and help you figure out what your clients want.

3. Building for the Wrong Audience

Your site can have a purpose and a select audience, but if it doesn't appeal to audiences, they tend to go elsewhere. Finding preferences is only the first step. Once you figure out what your demographic is, it is time to find out what appeals to them, and use that to your advantage. It could be something as simple as site colors and images, to where and how they prefer to use navigation systems and the type of content presented.

Maybe you need simple content, easy to read and understand for younger audiences. Perhaps you need something a bit more technical for professionals. You can even see if you need to add features for those who are visually impaired. Paying attention to your demographic and their preferences can mean building your website around their likes and getting more responses.

4. Oblivious to Web Traffic Sources

A link on a Harry Potter fan club forum to your website can bring in traffic, but does it really bring in the right customers? If you're not directing traffic from sites relevant to yours or where a matching market exists, you might end up with empty hits to your website. It looks pretty on stat pages but it doesn't really do anything.

Refocus your efforts on search engine optimization and focus on keywords that do fit, not just what might be popular. You can plan the sort of traffic you want and focus your outreach efforts on that. Planning your search engine campaigns can make them more effective, bringing the right customers to you. You don't need 1,000 random visitors a day, when 100 qualified visitors will do.

5. Underestimating the Competition

Who says you can't grab ideas from your competition? Find out what they are lacking and draw customers to your site by adding more features and information. Your target audience is searching the web for your product. Don't let your competition become more appealing.

Understand your competition by observing their sites. Where are your competitors linking? Where aren't they? What designs do they use on their site? Does your target audience like that type of design or do they want something better? Figure out how to improve your site and make it better than your competition.

6. Poor Site Communication and Inconsistency

If you're building a website, is one page orange and another blue? Does one page have your logo and another doesn't? People love consistency.

Does your content and images display the right message? Your website might have pretty pictures of your children, or a fun story about what happened to you last Christmas, but is it really what your customers want to know?

Skip the personal info, unless it's relevant and your audience wants to hear about it. You also need to make sure you present your brand in its best light, and consistently give visitors the same presentation every time and on every page. Let your brand stand out.

7. Outdated and Antiquated Site Features

Out with the old. Check your site for old content and images and delete them. Remove old links that go nowhere too. Forget pop ups and old methods of keeping visitors around. Content is great, but if it's so old that it's irrelevant, you'll lose respectability and your expert status.

Stick to new information. Don't be afraid to get rid of old articles and delete old images. Do an update on your site features, like navigation systems and contact forms.

8. Poor Overall Site Performance

You've plastered all there is to know about you on a few pages. Is this the right way to do it? Maybe not. Yes, you've given them something to look at, but you have to remember, your time to impress people on the Internet is limited to just a few seconds. Long passages of text, lengthy forms, even poorly constructed or confusing navigation can slow people down, which leads to people leaving.

Making your website flow is all about making your site easy to read, easy to browse and easy to find what you're looking for. Include a search function, highlight popular pages, and make it simple for people to give you their information. Start with short forms, only the essentials, and a few simple questions. You can get more info later.

9. Lack of Commitment

When was the last time you updated additional information to your website?

Remember those "Website Under Construction" images from the early years of the Internet? Over time, people have learned those images are pointless. Your website is ever evolving, ever needing updating. Your website is isn't ever finished.

You must make a commitment to update information and to improve interest in your site from visitors. It could be as simple as updating a blog once or twice a week, or updating about sales and special events. Give visitors something to come back to, and let them turn into regular guests.

10. Not using an Experienced Web Firm

You do a good job with what you do, and a good business and website owner knows when to call for help. Maybe you're okay with writing content, but you need help with creating navigation and setting up forms. It's okay to ask someone else for help, either with a few pages, or for the entire site design, and leave it to a professional.

It also saves money and time getting someone else to do the complicated things for you. Are you spending weeks on figuring out a web page design set up when it takes a professional a few hours to produce? When you're in business, you consult with professionals who will help you build a better website, develop methods of search engine marketing strategies, and find out how to appeal to your target audience. You save tíme, money, and plenty of headaches.

About The Author

Gary Klingsheim is the Vice President of Moonrise Design.

The Ten Commandments of Search Engine Optimization

Most of the time when we pitch to a new client we are asked for SEO guarantees. "Your competition has guaranteed top results and submission to 100,000 Search Engines and Directories". We go all out educating clients that Search Engine Optimization is all about smart work and not just adding random keywords and submittíng to every directory possible. I'm writing this article to reach out to the SEO buyers and help them distinguish the crooks from the genuine SEO cos. I've compiled my Search marketing experience over the years in this article. I hope this helps you in selecting your Search Marketing initiative.

Commandment 1: There are No Rank Guarantees. (Period)

Search Engines alone control their indexing and ranking algorithm. Do not try to trick Search Engines. The only way to improve your search engine rank is by playing by the rules. And the rule is very simple: make it logical. Web content is primarily for the site visitor and not crawlers.

If your Search Engine Optimizer sold you magic "Top rank on Google in 10 days flat". Forget it. There are no short cuts. Top ranking in Search Engine Natural Results will take time. Hard work is imperative especially in developing the content on your website and the links to your site.

Commandment 2: Ranking is Not the End, It's the Means.

Ask yourself what will a top search engine rank get you? Most businesses are interested in increasing sales on a website or at the least driving qualified traffic. Ranking for the right keywords (keywords used by your target audience) is important. There are SEOs who will try to show case results for keywords that occur only on your website. Beware such gimmicks.

Commandment 3: Know Your Competition.

"Rank" is relative position and more so in the Search Engines' natural results. How well you do in the search engine results is a function of how much hard work you have done in relation to your competition. Analyze your competition's keywords, links, keyword density and spread, but be sure not to copy your competition.

Commandment 4: Use Search Engine Friendly Design.

A search and visitor friendly design is a must for any successful website. Your website should be compelling enough for repeat visits by search engines and potential customers. Make sure you have search engine friendly URLs and avoid those long URLs with query strings.

Commandment 5: Select Keywords that are Worthy.

You must research your keywords before targeting. There are tools that give you a good idea of a keyword's search potential for example. It is important to know the number of searches for a keyword in the last month, last 6 months and last year. You should also find out the number of web pages that are targeting the keyword. It is advisable to start a campaign with keywords with moderate competition and a high number of searches.

Commandment 6: Write Great Content.

Even if your website site is technically perfect for search engine robots, it won't do you any good unless you also fill it with great content. Great means it has contextual and editorial value. Great content brings repeat visits and increases the chance of conversion. Great content is factual and appeals to your target audience. Your web page should have your desired action embedded in the content and you must ensure that the content is fresh. Keep adding and editing content regularly.

Commandment 7: Use Good Hyper Linking Strategy.

Hyperlinks make your content accessible and contextual. You must hyperlink in the right context within the website and to other websites. Good links are appreciated by the Search Engines and by visitors. No one likes to be taken to a mall selling "Macintosh" when shopping for "apples".

Commandment 8: Write Relevant and Original Meta Content.

Meta content is like a business card. Just as your business card tells who you are and what you do, Meta content tells the search engines the relevance and context of a web page. Resist the temptation to include everything in the Meta content, but make it detailed. Confused? The idea is to include only what is relevant to the page in the Meta Content but to include everything that is relevant.

Commandment 9: Acquire Relevant Links.

The links you acquire are the roads to your web page for search engine bots and visitors. Good links improve your webpage's equity on the World Wide Web and bad links make a dent in your equity and credibility. Be selective in reciprocal linking. Both reciprocal and one way links work, if you are prudent in selecting the links. Submit your website to the relevant sections in relevant directories.

Commandment 10: Consult Experts, If You Need To.

If you have the competence, there are two ways to learn - learning from your mistakes and learning from others' experience. You can choose either. If you have the time and can wait for the online dollars, do it yourself. If you want to get started now, it may be useful to consult the experts.

About The Author

The author is an expert in Search Marketing with over 10 years Onlëne Marketing experience. He heads, the specialist in online marketíng and Search Engine Optimization. RankUno empowers its clients around the world with high ROI onlíne marketing programs.