Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Does Your Marketing Stop When Your Content Starts?

Your website's content will get noticed, get read, and get customers if you use your headline and first paragraph to let readers know what is in it for them. Here, I'll introduce you to some techniques you can use to make that happen.

This article is an edited version of a chapter of Wordtracker's The Website Content Recipe Book - 21 irresistible content ideas to wow visitors and boost your search engine optimization.

Don't Stop Marketing - Every Page is a Marketing Page

Visitors may first enter your site through almost any page. And for various reasons no matter what you do, many will not read more than one page. Therefore, to maximize response you must treat every page as a marketing page. So add adverts to where they will be seen - a subject I plan to write about next week (look for 'How to make your articles sell').

But only a small percentage of readers will respond when first seeing even quality adverts. You'll have to work a bit harder for the rest of your readers. You'll have to use your pages' content to make them consider a marketing proposal (perhaps another day). You must prove that you (and your brand) are expert at delivering what's wanted, and can be trusted. To do that, your page must first be read.

Who is Your Site for... and What Do They Want?

When you're busy creating content, it's easy to forget that your website exists to sell your products and services to particular groups of people. And even if you wouldn't forget such a thing - can the same be said for everybody who writes for you?

As well researched and expert as you are in your field, it can be hard to put yourself in the position of your targeted visitors who, when they come, will spare just a few seconds to find a reason to read the content.

When constructing an argument or presenting a product, it seems logical to first present the building blocks of your case before giving the end result. The end results should be something that will make your readers' lives better. But...

People Purchase Benefits Not Features

If you want readers to read on, you must spell out the benefits before describing and explaining the features.

Features are the characteristics of what you're selling. Benefits are the things that those features will do for you.

For example, people don't purchase light bulbs for features like being long lasting, bright, and cheap. People purchase light bulbs for benefits like saving money or the planet and helping them do things in what would otherwise be darkness.

Your Headline is the Most Important Part of Your Content

If your headline does not promise something of interest, then your article won't get read and you'll struggle to sell. This is because most visitors arrive at a page, read a headline and then make a decision to stay or go.

Also, if a page is linked from elsewhere on your site or others then your headline is likely to be used for the link. When reading headlines, potential readers are looking for what a page might do for them. They are looking for benefits and if your headline does not deliver, they are gone.

Here are a few guidelines for headline writing:

• Promise benefits - tell readers what the content will do for them.

• Don't be clever or obscure and don't make the reader think too much.

• Don't be ironic because most readers won't know you are being ironic.

• Don't force readers to read the story in order to understand the headline.

• Try asking a question about a problem and entice with the solution.

For a masterclass in headline writing, try Wordtracker's recent eight-part headline writing course by Sean D'Souza, a master of the craft.

Your First Paragraph is the Second Most Important Part of Your Content

Make your first paragraph (aka the lead or the standfirst) as succinct, clear, and uncluttered as it can possibly be.

If a visitor has been interested enough in your headline to read on, the next thing they will read is your opening paragraph where you have to give the same benefits with a little more detail.

You can't explain everything with your first paragraph. So find the most important idea you want to put across, explain what it is and perhaps begin to elaborate on it.

For example, this article's lead is:

"Your content will get noticed, get read and get customers if you use your headlines and first paragraphs to let readers know what is in it for them. Here we'll introduce you to some techniques you can use to make that happen."

It starts with a benefit:

"...get noticed, get read and get customers..."

...and then comes a summary of how to achieve that:

"...if you use your headline and first paragraph to tell readers what is in it for them"

Then the second sentence repeats the benefit with some detail about how this will be achieved:

"...we'll introduce you to some techniques you can use to make that happen."

Hopefully we've achieved what this first paragraph set out to do and in the future no visitors to your site will leave without you having done everything you can to get them to read on and reach your marketing.

About The Author
You'll find more about how to use effective headlines in your marketing - as well as loads more website marketing tips and ideas in Wordtracker's Website Content Recipe Book - 21 irresistible content ideas to wow visitors and boost your search engine optimization.

Top 10 Google Search Tools That Will Help Your Supply Chain

1. Package Tracking - You can track packages by typing the tracking number for your UPS, Fedex or USPS package directly into the search box. Some of the LTL and motor carriers also allow for you to plug in their pro numbers as well. Google will return results that include quick links to easily track the status of your shipment.

Example of what to search for: "1Z9999W9999999999"

2. Time - This is huge when dealing with vendors or customers overseas or across the country. To see the time in many cities world wide, type in "time" and the name of the city.

Example of what to search for: "time London"

3. Currency Conversion - This is cool! To use Google's built-in currency converter, simply enter the conversion you'd like done into the Google search box and they'll provide your answer directly on the results page.

Example of what to search for: "150 GBP in USD"

4. Unit Conversion - Countries use different metrics for measuring. This tool is extremely useful. You can use Google to convert between many different units of measurement of height, weight, and volume among many others. Just enter your desired conversion into the search box and Google will do the rest.

Example of what to search for: "10.5 cm in inches"

5. Calculator - Since Google is right on your desk top you don't have to go searching for your calculator. Plus it uses Excel style equations so it's really easy for business people who think in Excel. To use Google's built-in calculator function; simply enter the calculation you'd like done into the search box.

Example of what to search for: "5*9+(sqrt 10)^3="

6. Weather - Weather plays a big role in transportation so this is great for getting a snapshot of the world's weather. To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type "weather" followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country.

Example of what to search for: "weather San Francisco, CA"

7. Maps - Want to see the mileage between a shipper and a consignee or try to figure out where your vendor is located? This is great! Type in the name or U.S. zip code of a location and the word "map" and Google will return a map of that location. Clicking on the map will take you to a larger version on Google Maps.

Example of what to search for: "Seattle map"

8. Area Code - This can be helpful in situations ranging from trying to find where a phone call is coming from to finding out what part of the country you are calling. To see the geographical location for any U.S. telephone area code, just type the three-digit area code into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button.

Example of what to search for: "212"

9. Stock Quotes - Wanna see how a freight carrier or a vendor is doing in the market? Just type the ticker symbol into the search box. On the results page, you can click the link to see more data from Google Finance as well.

Example of what to search for: "MSFT"

10. Earthquakes - I have heard carriers make up some crack pot reasons why they missed the delivery. In case you are given the old earthquake excuse, you can use Google to see if the story checks out. To see information about recent earthquakes in a specific area type "earthquake" followed by the city and state or U.S. zip code.

Example of what to search for: "earthquake 90210"

*When entering keyword or phrase into Google's search engine with these tools, do not use quotation marks.

About The Author
George specializes in consulting companies to run their supply chain as efficiently as possible. He also hosts a blog called where he offers shippers cost savíngs tips and best practice ideas. Feel free to email George with any freight related questions at

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The next 10 online trends

It's never been harder to keep up with the latest web trends - with the expansion onto mobile platforms, the growth of social media and the need for start ups to be aware of new SEO techniques.

As a result, we've assembled a team of web experts to help you and your business keep on top of the most important trends on the web. Constructing a mobile website, creating social media campaigns and selling online are just some of the challenges businesses will face during 2010.

Here are top online trends for the next 12 months.

Mobile web

Every web-savvy business knows smartphone use is on the rise. But few are actively developing for mobiles by creating websites specifically used for handheld devices.

As more and more mobile users flock to gadgets with larger touchscreens and internet browsers, such as the iPhone or Google Nexus One, the mobile space will become bigger and SMEs need to get on board. If your website isn't accessible through a smartphone or app, users will give up and go somewhere else - losing you traffic and potential sales.

Ovum analyst Nathan Burley says the number of people taking up smartphones instead of traditional handsets will require businesses to develop mobile websites.

"In our view there are two big trends that will occur in 2010. That is mobile broadband and the adoption of smartphones, and the impact of those two things on the industry. This is changing the way people access the internet, and that is in mobile."

"The big change is that these smartphones are allowing people to use tools in the same way a laptop did in the past, which is opening more users to the internet on the go."

Chris Thomas, chief executive of SEO firm Reseo, says 2010 will be "the year of the mobile".

"I think mobile search is definitely here. Google is throwing a lot of money at mobile, and it's going to be really interesting to see how businesses leverage that."


Using search engine algorithms in order to get your site on "page one" has been a tactic used by online businesses for years. But SEO experts say the process of getting a website known will become even harder in 2010 with the rise of personalised and real-time search.

Social network Twitter sparked a trend when it designed the first popular real-time search engine. When users search for a term, the site would update that search with new "tweets" as they were being made.

Google has recently introduced a real-time search function of its own, complete with indexed tweets, while Microsoft Bing has made a deal to show tweets in search results. But Thomas says while 2010 will see a rise in real-time search traffic, businesses shouldn't be too keen to pursue a dedicated real-time search strategy.

"I think people are still trying to figure out what to do with it. Perhaps if there's a trending topic, such as Copenhagen or climate change, that's where we could see real-time do some work because there's an opportunity for someone selling solar panels to come in, using a message like "stop climate change" via solar panels or something. There is some real potential there."

"This is where it could go, but it's such an active industry, with optimisation and SEO changing. But I always say to our clients, stick to your knitting and don't do anything silly."

Jim Stewart, chief executive of Stewart Media, says real-time search will continue to grow but businesses need to be aware of the more subtle changes Google is making to its search algorithms.

"All of the normal SEO things still apply, even though Google is going forward with things like personalised search. That will surely play a part, but you still have to get on the front page at all before you get into someone's personal search results."

Stewart warns Google will be updating its speed-check feature, through which the engine checks how fast it takes for a user to connect to a website. If a business has any downtime, it could affect search rankings.

But Stewart also says Google could potentially lose its place as the top search engine, as users could migrate to other offerings or be wary of the company's search power.

"I don't believe the search engine is providing as relevant results as it did this time last year. I'm sure they know it, but it doesn't seem to be working as well. I'd also love to think that people will begin to start using Bing more and more, but it has to become a better search engine before that happens."

"The other thing is privacy. A lot of people already are pretty wary of Google and privacy issues, even to the point where Eric Schmidt said if you're doing something on the web you don't want people to know, then maybe you shouldn't be doing it."

Social Media

Facebook and Twitter were the standout social networks from 2009, and their popularity will surge in 2010 with both introducing new features, including paid accounts for business.

But businesses need to pay attention to the trends on these sites. Creating a social media strategy is no longer optional, it is vital to the health of a company and its ability to tap into an online user-base.

Some experts say if you aren't engaging online, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to gain new customers and fans who will effectively market for you if given enough reason.

Thomas says 2010 will be the year in which businesses must jump on social media or risk being left behind by the competition.

"If you don't have a Facebook fan page you should get in, and if you're in a community-minded space, where you can offer things like competitions and such, then you're set."

James Griffin, founder and chief executive of online reputation management company SR7, says this year will see the rise of analysts who will begin to convince businesses to study, track and move operations into social media.

"Analysts will be versed in understanding and using social media, the quantitative and qualitative reports will empower businesses to implement researched social media strategies and gather market intelligence."

Online retail

More and more Australian businesses are selling online, but compared to the US we have a lot of catching up to do. Online spending has grown from 1% to 3% of overall spending over the last 10 years, compared to the American equivalent of 7%.

Hal Pritchard, founder and chief executive of online kitchenware retailer Everton Online, says 2010 should be the year in which businesses start to realise they cannot operate without an eCommerce offering.

"The whole market in general is maturing. I think some of the people who didn't want to do it originally are now deciding they have to do it, because if I count the number of competitors I have now compared to last year, there's certainly a lot more out there."

Pritchard says the biggest trend emerging in Australia is the growth of free shipping, which has allowed retailers in the US to stand out from the crowd.

"Freight is getting lower and is free in some places, which I suspect is going to be a general trend as competition hots up. Margins will get even tighter, and affording these things will be difficult, but I think it's one of the things that are happening."

"We seem to be following the US as we progress, and we're less far behind and I think that free freight is the next thing. But it's not just about that, it's about pushing the boundaries and staying on the edge, not just having a good website. The people who can innovate and stay ahead will do well."


The internet advertising industry continued to grow in 2009 and will do the same in 2010, but the next 12 months is expected to see the ongoing development of mobile advertising.

Last year the Interactive Advertising Bureau forecast the online ad market to pass $2 billion by next month, representing a 27% increase from 2008. While the downturn forced spending down in 2009, it's safe to assume that figure will rise in 2010.

The mobile advertising scene is fairly new, so naturally few SMEs are actually investing in the sector. But Apple's recent acquisitions of Quattro, along with Google's purchase of AdMob, shows the big players are serious about the mobile space.

But Thomas says businesses should think about advertising on prominent sites such as social networks, in order to keep up with the market.

"In the last 12 months we have started various campaigns using Facebook ads with quite good success, and it's getting better. Businesses should be taking advantage of the solid targeting available through sites like Facebook."

"We're certainly seeing more advertising on Twitter. You have sites now which are allowing companies to hire someone with a million followers to tweet their messages. I mean, it'll cost you, but the return on investment of that tweet could be huge."

YouTube senior product manager David King says the growth of viral content, pieces of media published online which gain popularity in a short amount of time, are opening businesses up to new advertising models.

He says if a business finds a piece of content it created on a YouTube video, it can choose to place an in-video or AdWords advertisements rather than claim a copyright violation.

"These advertising structures are really geared towards taking control of what users upload. It's only relevant if you're uploading content, but if you are a small business and are doing that, this could be relevant for you."

Reputation management

Most businesses are at least operating a website, but even those rejecting the online space need to be aware of how fast rumours and allegations can fly in the digital age. Several companies have had their reputations tarnished within hours from the activities of either rogue employees, or a botched advertising campaign.

Griffin says businesses need to control their reputation by monitoring what people are saying about them.

"The answer is, companies have been pushed into conducting a social media marketing campaigns without research and without adequately addressing the risk factors associated with social media."

"2010 will see companies embracing the need to address the inherent risks of social media, with enterprises moving towards a scientific and empirically based approach to managing risk."

Last year, Domino's Pizza landed itself into trouble when two employees posted a video of themselves handling food unhygienically on the internet. Cotton On experienced backlash on Facebook when it continued to sell baby clothes with slogans such as "They Shake Me".

Griffin says businesses can avoid such catastrophes by carefully monitoring who is talking about their brand, and being ready to address any situation as quickly as it appeared.

"The many and varied social media 'fails' of 2008-2009 will see companies and institutions take a measured, risk-based approach to these platforms."

"Auditing, monitoring and analysing social media platforms along with risk mitigation strategies will become standard fare for those companies looking to protect and enhance their brand on social media platforms."


While mobile advertising may be taking awhile to heat up, many businesses are developing new and interesting mobile marketing campaigns to draw people into their stores.

Google has developed a system whereby users take a picture of a barcode with their mobile phone and use the search engine to find information. Closer to home, Hoyts Cinemas currently runs a promotion where movie goers with Bluetooth activated on their handsets sometimes receive discount offers via text messages when they walk into a lobby.

But it isn't just big companies which are using mobiles for marketing. Peter Shipman, who owns a casual Mexican restaurant in the US, bought ads in university newspapers to advertise a barcode sent through text messages used to claim discounts.

US company Jagtag is now developing a technology used to identify barcodes through camera phones, when it is then sent via text message in order for the user to receive a discount code.

Thomas says this year will see a number of companies bring mobile marketing strategies to the forefront of their campaigns.

"There are going to be some really good creative ways people will start to get customers in store, and sending messages out like that... providing they don't break any spam laws."

"We're going to see these companies start to realise how much activity is occurring through mobiles, and then we're going to see them respond by commissioning campaigns of their own."

Thomas also says a number of companies will begin to commission mobile apps, especially on the iPhone, purely for marketing purposes. Whether this will gain them revenue or purely open their brand to a new audience, the mobile apps market will become part of an online business's marketing strategy in 2010.


The growth of the internet has allowed businesses to publish content of their own, including blogs, pictures and even videos. King says SMEs should think about creating some sort of content on YouTube or similar sites such as a tutorial, and see a fan base grow.

"There are a lot of smaller to medium sized businesses which have really operated with a focus of specifically gearing themselves towards publishing on YouTube, and they really make a go of it - and we give them a global audience to do so."

But King warns businesses they must be generating useful content, without the appearance of a blatant marketing pitch, and not be scared of entering a new area where they might not have experience.

"As these things become more commonplace, consumers love them, but unfortunately businesses which have been relying on older business models do not. I really think they need to get over that a little bit. Ultimately the consumer is right, and they are going to spend their time the way they spend it."

"Businesses need to really stay focused on that consumer experience and not get hung up on the comfort of the way things used to be. The more businesses can try and anticipate where things can go as opposed to stopping it, I think that's the best place to be for them."

Open Source

Once upon a time, businesses wouldn't trust open-source programs in favour of branded, more trustworthy software solutions. But now open-source has given SMEs a way of operating high-end programs without substantial costs.

With popular programs such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Open Office, WordPress and Joomla now gaining notoriety, organisations are beginning to realise open-source programs aren't just technically inferior rip-offs, but legitimate alternatives.

A number of organisations, including the British Government and the French police force, have openly supported open-source, while Gartner research from late-2008 indicates the majority of businesses in the Asia/Pacific region took up open-source in 2009.

And with the development and popularity of open-source Android operating system continuing to grow, open-source is likely to play a major part in a business's IT strategy in 2010.

Cloud computing

Two years ago "cloud computing" was viewed by many businesses as a buzzword with no particular meaning, used by tech-heads who didn't quite know what they were talking about.

Now, using cloud services has become an essential for businesses. Whether they are backing up their data or using a piece of software hosted on external servers, cloud computing is now a part of everyday operations for many SMEs.

Cloud services have branched out into three main categories: applications, also known as software-as-a-service, infrastructure, used for data backups, and internal service providers for businesses with customised apps and programs.

Analyst firm Gartner recently named cloud computing as one of the top strategic technologies for 2010, saying it could be exploited in a number of different ways to customise programs and apps to a particular company's needs.

"Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does rearrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners."

About the Author: Patrick Stafford -

A Brief History of SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of designing and creating content that will result in increased amounts of quality traffic to a website via "organic" or un-paid search engine results.

Webmasters and internet content providers started doing SEO in the mid-90s. However, what actually constitutes SEO work has changed as the field evolved over the years, sometimes rather drastically.

The Early Years

According to Danny Sullivan, a respected search engine industry analyst, the actual term "search engine optimization" started being used around 1997. But even before that, in the early days of Yahoo!, people were already starting to mess around with SEO concepts, testing out different keywords and different keyword densities and placement.

In the early days of search engines, webmasters needed only to submit their page addresses or URLs to the various search engines, who would then send spiders to crawl through and index the sites. As soon as people started to realize the value of having their websites show up on the first page of SERPS, they began looking for ways of manipulating the search engines indexing algorithms.

Back then, search algorithms relied on on-site information to determine page rankings. In other words, they relied on information that was provided by the webmaster, things like keyword density, meta tags and index files. All people needed to do was put in the right keywords in the sufficient density and they would start seeing front-page SE rankings in no-time. Web content providers also started manipulating HTML source attributes to get clients higher rankings. This started to result in the SERPS becoming unreliable, often filled with spam pages whose keyword tags did not accurately represent the pages' actual content.

The first algorithm crackers appeared around '97. By decoding a search engine's ranking algorithm, which at the time was nowhere near impossible, unscrupulous webmasters could get sites into the top 10 results at will. 1997 was the year that several SEO providers decoded all 35 parameters of Excite's algorithm.

A Shift, And the Arrival of Google

Relying so much on on-site factors like keyword density, which could be directly manipulated by webmasters, to determine their rankings had gotten search engines in trouble. To make search results useful to internet users, search engines had to find another method of ranking pages that actually reflected a page's value and search relevance.

More complex algorithms started being developed that took into account off-site factors. Things like link pop and directory age become important ranking determinants, and cracking SE algorithms becomes a more difficult and sophisticated task.

At this point, Alta Vista was ahead of the pack and the rest of internet users were evenly split between Lycos, Yahoo!, MSN and InfoSeek. Despite the improved algorithms, black hat SEOs were still finding ways to manipulate them, and page jacking and site theft was rampant.

Google, a company founded in September 4, 1998 by Stanford grad students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google's algorithm, PageRank, determines site rankings by measuring the quantity and quality of their inbound links. Google's superior, relevant search results immediately attracted a loyal following, and competing search engines started to realize the importance of keeping up with Google's new page ranking methodology.

As the new millennium comes around, Google is solidifying its spot as the de-facto engine, while engines like Infoseek are becoming part of SEO and Internet history. By 2001, users are abandoning search engines like Lycos, Excite, AltaVista and Hotbot.

The Google Age

By 2004, the three major search engines that are left, Google, MSN and Yahoo!, start incorporating undisclosed page ranking factors into their algorithms. The era of keyword-spamming SEO is long over. Webmasters and content providers have to rely on more creative ways to promote content and generate inbound links in order to achieve long term increases in SE rankings.

In 2005, Google starts personalizing search results, taking into account a user's search history to come up with customized results pages when that user is logged in. In 2007, Google starts a campaign against paid links affecting PageRank. In 2009, the company announces it is attempting to stop the effects of PageRank sculpting that come as a result of nofollow links.

Today, SEO is, for the most part, a conversation with Google Search. Google has over 70% of today's search engine users and is thus the place you have to be in in order to start driving organic traffic your way. SEO campaigns are much more laborious and complex now than they were a decade ago, but this is largely a good thing. Users get better relevant results and webmasters and content providers have to provide actual value in order to rank high on search results.

About the Author: Ryan Frank - For more information about search engine optimization or to inquire about a variety of great SEM marketing services, please visit

Developing Your Online Business Brand

Developing a business brand online is an important strategic maneuver to help customers identify you or your products and what they stand for. Online branding not only helps to readily identify you with a particular niche but also helps to build your reputation as well.

Successful business branding is not a transformation that takes place over night. Instead it consists of a series of online branding strategies utilizing various activities calculated to convey a consistent message.

Whether it is content distribution, article submissions or promotional consistencies a repeated message is being sent out to consumers. Invariably these messages are relating you to a theme, niche or level of quality. Over time this message eventually becomes embedded in the consumers mind and at that point the brand development is complete.

But before any branding strategies can be developed a determination must first be made of what in fact the brand is. This initial step is very important since business branding is much like a tattoo; you CAN NOT just wake up and wash it off if you do not like it.

You need to be right on target as to what it is you want consumers to associate you with. And on the 'flip' side you best represent what it is you are trying to impress people that you stand for.

Here are 5 questions you need to answer, and honestly, before you can determine exactly what your branding strategies should be.

What is it You Do?

What type of product or service do you offer? For example do you sell weight loss products or do you offer a computer programming service? Are your products physical or are they digitally delivered to customers? Perhaps you offer consultation or advice in a particular field.

Do you work within a clearly defined niche or do you offer a broad base of products or services? Is your focus short term or do you long range plans within this niche?

Determining exactly what it is you do is your first step towards developing a sense of what your brand should be.

What Sets You Apart?

Considering the products or services you offer, what makes them different or unique to the customer as opposed to comparable products. Do you have a 'unique selling point' you can emphasize in your branding strategies?

Why Would Customers Care?

As far as the product(s) you offer and considering any uniqueness they may have why would a customer care? Is there something about what it is you do that would make a difference or impact in the life of the customer?
Why Would Customers Buy from Me?

Assuming that there are similar products available to what you offer why would anyone want to purchase from you? How would they benefit? What makes you special or different from your competitors?

Can you list any reasons as to why you standout? If so make a list and the longer the better!

What Are Your Strengths & Weaknesses?

Assess your strengths and weaknesses regarding your expertise in the field and your ability to conduct business in a professional and reliable manner. Take into consideration how this would impact the customers overall buying experience including any necessary activities involving customer service.

Once again by compiling the results of your assessments in a list it will be easier to work them into your overall branding strategy.

Developing a business brand online makes you more credible and identifiable within your niche. Online branding is very effective at improving your ability to do business on the internet.

It is very important however that before you attempt to implement any brand development strategies you need FIRST to determine what your brand is or should be.

The 5 questions we reviewed above that need to be answered should better clarify for you what you stand for in the eyes of the consumer. Once you have determined that you have also determined you brand.

About the Author: TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina. To learn more about developing your Business Brand and to also receive a free instructional manual that teaches valuable niche research techniques simply visit

Is Your Website Springing A Leak?

Imagine that you own a beautifully designed yacht. It looks great on the surface of the water, with superb lines, gleaming decks, a well-appointed galley... but you're having real trouble getting out of the harbor and you can't figure out why!

You investigate, and you find that beneath the surface your beautiful boat has a number of slow, silent, leaks. None of them are big enough to sink you on their own, so there's no obvious immediate crisis - just a constant drain on your efficiency and your speed.

I've been reviewing Web traffic reports for over 10 years, and I believe that this analogy applies very well to almost all business websites. Very few sites are so terrible or have something so wrong with them that they're clearly a disaster. Yet just about every site has some area where it's quietly losing traffic, losing potential business or the opportunity to create relationships - or failing to attract visitors in the first place.

If you're not regularly reviewing your traffic analysis, you can't know for sure if your site is leak proof. In this article, I'll show you a few of the most common areas where you can look for - and fix - those silent leaks.

1. Leaks in your Brand & Positioning

The excellent folks at MarketingExperiments online research laboratories have shown that clearly articulated and differentiating value propositions have a critical effect on Website conversion rates.

(The conversion rate is the measurement of visitors fulfilling your desired outcomes - which might include calling you, buying a product at your site, signing up for your newsletter or blog feed, etc.)

Your value proposition should be front and center on your home page. It should answer the classic question: "Why should we do business with you instead of your competition?"

Although this question isn't a Web strategy issue in itself, it is one that many people struggle to answer. But the lack of a compelling opening message can be a major impediment to your online success.

How to check for this leak: Even if they don't enter your site at the home page, most visitors who don't know you will go there as the second page they look at to find out more about you and your business.

If visitors are taking a quick look at your home page and then immediately leaving, something is wrong. Your copy is failing to pique their curiosity or to answer their questions: "Can this company meet my needs?" and "Should I explore further?" You have a leak!

2. Leaks in Visitor Engagement

Popular theory says that you have 10 seconds to engage a visitor - i.e. convince them to stay on your site before they click away in search of something more interesting.

While I don't believe that it's quite that simple, there are some definite ways to get rid of visitors fast before they've had a chance to really check you out.

The best of these is probably the infamous splash page - the entry page to your site that your Web designer persuaded you to have because it "does cool stuff". Hopefully there's a "Skip Intro" button somewhere on the page!

In all my reviews of traffic reports I've seen a consistent leak of up to 30% of visitors leaving from this page alone - before they've ever seen who you are or what you offer.

How to check for this leak: Easy - look for the splash page in your traffic reports and see how many visitors exit at that point. If it's more than a small percentage, you have a leak - take the page out today!

The other major area where you should watch for leaks in visitor engagement is in what are called "landing pages". These are inside pages of your Website which turn out to be the first page that a visitor sees, usually because you have some well-indexed content that they've found in a search engine.

Here it's absolutely critical to understand the visitor's mindset. Each visitor is at your site looking for something specific, they may well have found you by accident, so they may have no idea who you are - and worse, no interest in you.

The first page that they see on your Website must engage them immediately in accordance with their needs, and it must have enough context to draw them into other areas, and to want to find out more about you. It's not enough to give great information on this page - they'll soak that up, and then leave.

How to check for this leak: Hopefully your traffic reports are sophisticated enough to show you which keywords bring visitors to each specific page of your site. This shows you each visitor's "mindset".

If visitors are leaving a page very quickly, then it probably isn't satisfying their informational needs, so you should review the content.

If visitors are reading the page (your traffic reports should show the time spent at each page) and then leaving, you've given them what they wanted but failed to draw them into the rest of your site. This can be fixed with more compelling navigation and calls to action.

Either way, you have a leak!

3. Leaks in Directions & Outcomes

I'm constantly amazed by the number of Web pages that give great information and content - and then just end abruptly - perhaps with some navigation tabs if you're lucky!

Steve Krug in his excellent book "Don't Make Me Think!" describes how crucial it is to direct visitors to the next step that you want them to take. If you don't do this, and rely on your visitors to figure this out for themselves, there's a strong chance that they'll make a different choice than the one you want - or they'll leave your site altogether, creating leaks in your potential revenue stream.

Every page of your site needs strong calls to action that stand out visually and click directly to where the visitor can fulfill the outcome that you want (e.g. "buy now!", "sign up for our newsletter / RSS feed".) Pages can have more than one call to action, and there's nothing wrong with repeating them on longer pages so that they're always within eyeshot.

And by the way, "Back to top" is not a call to action!

How to check for this leak: If your traffic reports show this information, look at the paths that visitors take through your site - where do visitors go next from each page? If many of them are exiting the site and / or they fan out across many pages with no clear pattern or direction, you have a possible leak.

4. Leaks in your Credibility Building

MarketingExperiments research has also shown that powerful, specific, and authoritative testimonials can have a major impact on your site's conversion rates.

Consider this statement: "Documented results show that just a few hours with [ expert ] can increase lead generation by 125%". Imagine how much stronger that assertion would be if there were some examples of the "documented results" and some customer quotes to that effect.

However, including a page on your site called "What Customers Say" doesn't do it - I can safely say that visitors don't go to those pages. And it's not just traffic reports that tell me this - whenever I ask a live audience "Would you click this link?" there's always a resounding "No!"

How to check for this leak: This is a much more subtle leak to detect, but it's an important one. The question here is whether you are potentially losing business because your site fails adequately to establish your value and credibility.

My recommended approach is to review your site for credibility-building content such as client lists, testimonials and case studies. You need to spread your testimonials through your site, using short one or two line excerpts that are relevant to the content of each page - whether it's about a product or a service, or the value of subscribing to your newsletter or blog.

Make sure that all of this material is linked to from other pages so that it's easily found by visitors. If you then experience an increase in calls, or in the quality of your leads, then you might have just fixed a leak!

About the Author: Philippa Gamse is a Web strategy expert who spends much of her time fixing leaky Websites. Would you like your own "Leaky Boat Website" Review? Visit for more information.

7 Tips to Maintain Your Website Reputation

In order to succeed and combat the competitive online world, you need to maintain a good reputation online. A good reputation does not only require a good website design but a lot more to build confidence, to grow sales and ultimately leads to better revenues and higher profitability.

In today's Internet buzz nasty rumors, wrong opinions and incorrect news spread rapidly and if not taken timely action to handle the news properly, you may face a serious threat to your online business and credibility.

Here are some simple measures you can take to maintain your website's reputation:

1. Respond to customers

Being open and responsive to customers is an important part of creating a positive impression and managing your website's reputation. If someone asks you a question, answer it there or through e-mail. Be quick in addressing your customer issues before the word spreads.

2. Answer the negative comments humbly

Be real, not everyone is satisfied with your work and services. If these people are among the ones spreading negative comments about you for whatever reason like delayed service or unfriendly attitude, answer them instantly to terminate the issue right there!

Be very polite when putting your point of view in front of such people and you'll sure succeed in saving your reputation. Answering negative remarks modestly can be a great way of turning a bad situation into positive one.

3. Create official online profiles

Create your own platform for users to share their experiences they've had with you. Create your own profiles and websites complete with the kind of information you actually want to be available about you. Let users communicate with each other and comment about your products or services, whether positive or negative.

4. Report stolen material from you

It's very well possible that online competitors may steal material from your website to increase their ranking and traffic. This may lose your credibility among your users, making you "not-so-unique" in their eyes. To control such theft, you can report their site through strict action.

5. Write blogs

Writing blog posts are extremely effective in promoting your business. Through blog reviews and blog comments, you even increase your chance of getting high traffic volumes to your website.

If you or any of the experts in your business have important knowledge like instructions, guidelines, tips and trick that can be useful for the users, share them through writing blog posts, let say you write blog for "basic tips for web design". This will greatly enhance your online reputation.

6. Optimize For Search Engines

Majority of the internet users accept results from Google searches or any other search engine as highly credible. Therefore, to maintain a good website reputation, don't forget to optimize your website. You can consult professional search engine optimization services for this purpose.

7. Using the social media

Setting up social media networks in order to maintain your website's online reputation is a great thought. To begin with, set up your profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace. Once you have your accounts setup, you will need to do the following things:

- Create a complete profile by putting all the information
- Engage and Interact with the members
- Monitor comments for both positive and negative remarks

You might have spend good time and money for your website design and building up your website's good reputation, so it's important not to let anyone drag it through the mud. Follow the above given tips to maintain your positive reputation among the online community.

About the Author: James Parker is a marketing specialist and IT consultant working in diverse domains of IT. He has also worked with some Web design and web development and Web design Firms. He can be approached at

SEO - Cutting Through the Clutter to Get You Results

If you had to guess, how many websites would you say are in the world? One million? Ten million? Internet experts differ wildly in their estimates.

Guesses range from between one hundred million to more than three hundred million active websites today. So with all this competition, how are you going to get your website noticed?
The answer is clear: Search Engine Optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization? Basically, it is industry speak for anything that makes your site more attractive to search engines. Websites like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and others send out programs called "crawlers." These "crawlers" search for new websites and content. When they find anything new, they add it to their database and make it possible for people to find it using them. This is called indexing. But you have to do it correctly, or Google will skip right past you.

For example, let's say you own a small shoe company called Seattle Treks. You just put up a website. How can you make sure people find you on Google?

1.) Be sure the purpose of your site is clear.

In the code of your site, there is a place for "meta" information. This is the information that Google and other search engines look for first. There are two types of meta information: Meta descriptions and meta tags (more on meta tags in step 2). The meta description is what people read below your name in Google. Describe the purpose of your site and your company in a short, succinct phrase. "Seattle Treks - Buy fine custom footwear made in Seattle, Washington" will attract Google and tell people what to expect from your site.

2.) Fill in the meta tags.

These are words that are associated with what you are. They go in the code on the main index page of your site. These words give Google clues as to what your site is about. If people type these clue words into Google, your site will pop up. So for your imaginary shoe company, you would put words like "shoes, usa made shoes, leather shoes, hiking books, A-TRAK shoes, treks, treks seattle, shoes seattle, outdoor shoes," etc.

Try to picture the words people might type into Google. This SEO work will ensure that when people are looking for shoes made in USA, or maybe for hiking boots, your website will pop up. Every site, no matter what it is for, needs to have solid meta tag information.

3.) Put dynamic content on your site.

This means anything that changes. The Internet is like a pile of sand that you have to keep climbing and climbing. The moment you stop going up, you start sliding down. So add content to your site constantly. The more new content you have, the more often Google's crawlers come by. The more often they come, the more often you get indexed. The more you get indexed, the higher you show in the search results. This is why big companies pay lots of money for SEO experts to keep them on top.

How can you have dynamic content? Easy. Start a blog. Blogs are a painless way to add new content. Talk about your new shoe models. Take pictures of your community activities and write about them. Add to your blog at least once a month. Be sure that when Google comes around again, it finds a lot of new things to index.

4.) In the writing of your site, be keyword rich.

What does that mean? It's SEO speak for having a lot of the words that Google looks for. For example, images are an often overlooked keyword opportunity. Don't call a picture of your new shoe "img3.jpg." Try "new_shoe_model_XTRAC4_seattle_treks_shoe.jpg." If someone searches any of those words on Google, chances are good they will stumble across your picture and come to your site.

When you write on the site, use lots of keywords. "Our shoes are made right here in Seattle, using the finest nubuck and space-age materials," will help Google. Keep that in mind when you write on your blog, and be sure to put "tags" on your entries.

5.) Set up company pages with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

Backlink them to your site and add as many friends as you can. Google loves sites that link to other sites.

6.) Make a site map.

This is an .xml file that goes in the root directory of your site and tells Google what all the pages are for. If you don't understand .xml, it's probably something you should have an expert do.

7.) Use a Search Engine Optimization service.

These people are experts who know how to make search engines find you. They can also help you to create a site map.

About the Author: Troy Childers - For more information, or to get started on your SEO campaign now, visit

Google Caffeine And The New Ranking Factors

Google Caffeine is the name given to Google's "Next Generation" search engine, which it will use to rank and index all the pages on the wonderful world wide web. According to all indications, this is not just another one of Google's infamous Updates, but a major "Overhaul" of its index and algorithm, the complex formula and calculations Google uses to rank all web pages, including yours.

If that doesn't sound ominous enough, according to Matt Cutts (Google Spokesperson) one database is already showing Google Caffeine, and the full blown version will be released after the holidays. The reasoning behind this, Google doesn't want to upset webmasters and site owners during the lucrative holiday buying season. In the past, other major Google Updates have come around this time of the year, most notably the "Florida Update" which severely affected many web sites and webmasters.

Recently, Google has been more aware and much more generous to webmasters by being more open and forthcoming in regards to how it indexes its pages. This time around, webmasters were even given access to a beta version of Caffeine which Google released last summer ('09) where webmasters could check to see how well their keywords and site would fare in this new search index. This beta site ( has now been taken down by Google.

Like any professional search engine marketer who works online, I was constantly checking my sites and keywords in Google's new search engine. I have drawn some conclusions from what I have observed, but please be aware it is often very foolish to draw conclusions and make predictions from your own small sampling of results. You can end up with egg on your face very quickly, especially when you consider Google is probably still making adjustments and refinements on Caffeine as it analyzes the results.

However, there are certain ranking factors that even Google is telling us about, mainly "Site Speed" or how fast your site loads will play a part in how it's ranked. We have also heard a lot about "Broken Links" and if your page or site has them, then it will probably be ranked lower. Of course, linking out to "Bad Neighborhoods" will probably still not be a good practice if you want higher rankings within Google.

It should not come as a shock or a surprise, that "Over-All Page Quality" will play a greater role in how well your page ranks. Keep in mind, Google is like any other company putting out a product, if that product doesn't have a high standard of quality, it reflects badly back on everyone concerned. Google's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is the key to all their online revenue, they must do everything in their power to keep that product fast, relevant, current and above all, something of high quality.

Therefore, expect "OnPage Factors" to play a much greater role in Google Caffeine. Quality unique content, page design, good navigation, title, meta tags, description, keyword density, alt tags, page views, bounce rate, traffic numbers, time spent on page, and the number of social bookmarks may play an increased role in achieving high rankings. A perfectly optimized keyworded page, with the keyword in the title, description, meta tags, alt tags, on the page... will probably get you ranked higher in Caffeine, as well as most search engines on the web.

This may be pure speculation on my part, but one of the areas Caffeine will be addressing or incorporating is "Social BookMarking", that is the number of social bookmarks a page receives will determine how high it is ranked. I also believe one of the major reasons these bookmarks will become much more important has to do with the whole nasty issue of link buying.

Now, the integrity of Google's index is not in question, but any savvy marketer or webmaster knows any individual or company with deep pockets and huge resources can buy their way into the top spot. Despite Google's attempt to stop it, link buying and keyword positioning is a thriving industry on the web. Rightly or wrongly, money and unlimited resources will get you or your company to the top in organic search, regardless of which search engine you're targeting.

All moral and ethnical issues aside, the small webmaster and/or online marketer is stuck right in the middle, with Google on one side and these major multinational competitors on the other. Looming on the horizon is Google Caffeine, a new sheriff in town!

What new rules will this sheriff bring?

The major question here is this: has the importance of backlinking been downplayed in this new index in favor of the keyworded domain and onsite content and optimization? Has there been a major shift to listing more quality content rather than relying on the number of backlinks a site is receiving, even from important related themed sites? The major problem and question to Google is this: if links can be bought, how do you keep your organic results democratic and fair, which was the original intention of Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they started Google in 1998.

One possible solution is social bookmarking.

Will we see an ever growing importance of social bookmarks and links in this new index. It is quite easy to buy 1000 links, but getting 1000 or 10,000 "re-tweets" is a little more difficult, similarly getting two or three thousand "diggs" may be a little harder to pull off. Same goes for bookmarks, Facebook fans... well you get the picture. Will Google's use of these new social sites make Caffeine faster, more relevant, more current and most importantly of all, can it bring some democracy back into their index?

Of course, nothing in Google's new index will be that cut and dry, that black and white. Other ranking factors such as age of site, past history and reputation, traffic numbers, authority branding... will all play a role in whether your site gets listed on that all important first page. However, on page factors may play a greater role - title, meta tags, description, keyword density, alt tags, page views, bounce rate, time spent on page, and the number of social bookmarks may play an increased role in achieving high rankings. Website speed or how fast your site loads may also be a new ranking factor.

Underlying this whole issue is the fact which many experienced webmasters/marketers already know, Google's SERPs is not a one-trick pony anymore. For very lucrative (monetized) keyword phrases, Google's results are broken up into Five categories... Info listings, Video listings, News Listings, Shopping Listings and Corporate Listings. Forget Caffeine, this is probably the fairest move Google has made in the last few years to make its SERPs more democratic.

Another even more puzzling issue for me concerning Google Caffeine is how much emphasis or ranking power will it place on "Keyworded Domains", domain names which have your keyword or keyword phrase in them. Will these domains be ranked higher? Webmasters and marketers for years have been telling us we should always pick domain names which have our major keywords in them. Just common sense really, someone searching for "brown widgets" will more likely than not find that item at a domain called brownwidgets(dot)com or brownwidget(dot)com. The major SEO reasoning, all your backlinks will inherently have your searched keyword in the URL, thus bringing it up in the rankings.

Against this whole backdrop, everyone has to realize the web itself is evolving, new sites like Twitter, FaceBook... have changed the whole cyber landscape. Likewise, the web user is also changing and becoming more web savvy in how they use the web. Will search engines, not only Google, take a back-seat role in how we find stuff on the web? As major sites are branded into the web user's psyche, will these users go directly to these sites, by-passing the search engines altogether?

As the web evolves, keyworded domains will become more valuable and this value will be reflected in the quality of the site. If you're making thousands or even millions from your keyworded domain, you can afford to invest in quality content and design. Cream rises to the top. Gradually, as these domains become more valuable, they will probably be snapped up by marketers and companies who know just how to exploit them. Thousands upon thousands of keyworded domains will probably be bought up by multi-billion dollar corporations who finally realize what the web has to offer. This new evolved web will probably be much more narrower in scope and very topic specific.

In the "next generation" web the re-direct shall be king!

Will the role of the search engines, whether it be Google or Bing/Yahoo, become less and less important, as savvy web searchers go directly to a site by typing in the keyworded domain to find what they're looking for on the web? Cutting out the middleman may just become a world wide passion as big multinational and fully funded corporations snap up all these valuable and lucrative keyworded domains, will we see these domains grow in importance and the search engines take more of a back-up role? Human nature dictates we always take the fastest route to our destination, and the web will be no exception to this rule.

Have all the smart people at Google figured this out already, and designed the new Google Caffeine to reflect the growing importance of the keyworded domain? Of course, we can only speculate when it comes to just what Google is planning and doing with its next generation search engine, but will onsite factors and your domain name play a greater role in their organic SERPs?

Regardless of what the new sheriff actually does, when the dust finally settles on all these latest developments, the keyworded domain will probably be standing tall, watching the sun rise on a brand new day.

About the Author: Titus Hoskins is a full time online affiliate marketer. His livelihood is derived from & depended upon search engine marketing & daily monitoring of targeted keywords, mainly within Google. He runs numerous sites, including: Free Marketing Tools & Internet Marketing Tools.

How to Draft Powerful Press Releases For Online Publishing

Press releases can help drive targeted traffic to your website almost instantaneously. But you need to know how to use them correctly. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time and resources. Here is how you can maximize the results of your press releases.

A good press release, when properly drafted, can help attract the right target audience. Here are some tips on how you can create an effective press release.

Tip 1: Use keyword based headlines for your press releases.
Traditional press releases don't care about keywords. That is because the releases are meant for the print medium. In a newspaper, a news agent would be more concerned about the news angle.

Press releases on the Internet are quite different. Sure, a headline with a great news angle will help attract more eyeballs. But on the Internet, having a news angle just isn't enough. Your headlines must contain popular keywords that you know your target visitors will use.

For example, let's say you want to issue a press release about a new piece of treadmill equipment. This new treadmill has got a new motor that is so quiet that you won't even notice that it's running. Unfortunately, the new motor has got a name that nobody knows about (yet). It's called "kazoom motor".
Since no one has heard about "kazoom motor" yet, it's unlikely that they will use these words when searching for information on treadmill motors.

Here are two headline options:

(A) New Kazoom Motor - Quietest Motor in the Market

(B) Quietest Treadmill Motor Tested to Run Silently in Home Treadmills

Which headline do you think is a better headline? Option (B) would be the better headline because your press release will be more likely to show up when visitors use keywords such as "quietest treadmill", "silent treadmills" or "quiet home treadmills".

Your primary goal is to attract targeted traffic. You achieve that by using keyword based headlines. If your press release doesn't show up in the search results for those keywords, it doesn't matter how you write the press release. Nobody is going to read it.

Tip 2: Use a brief but powerful summary for your press release.
This is of utmost importance - never attempt to write a lengthy summary for your press release. On the Internet, most readers just scan the content. If you have a lengthy summary, you end up chasing away the readers.

The best summary has at most two to three short sentences. Here is the difficult part. Within those two to three sentences, you must sum up what your press release is about. One way to do that is to just focus on one issue.

For instance, your press release body may contain three or four important points. Of those points, pick the most important one and use that as your key message. The job of the summary is simple - to get the key message across. If it fails to accomplish that, you may have just lost a potential customer.

Tip 3: Keep your press release body short.
Sometimes, in the course of my work, I encounter clients asking for lengthy press releases. I try my best to give them what they want, but I also try to give them the correct advice.
My advice to them is that having a lengthy press release may not be the best thing to do. Figures from my web stats software tell me that most visitors spend less than a minute on a web page. In other words, 90% of your readers won't read the entire press release. You are much better off with a short and concise press release. The ideal word count is about five hundred words, which takes about a minute to read. Anything more than that, your press release is too lengthy.

I know that it's kind of counterintuitive. After all, how can shorter be better? But it's true. You want your press releases to be effective. That means you are shooting for measurable results. The results have, time and again, proven that a shorter press release works better.

Five hundred words will allow you to explore just three to four ideas within the press release body. So pick your ideas very carefully. To make sure that you convey your messages clearly, you may wish to employ sub-headers. Bold the sub-headers for a clearer presentation style. When visitors scan your press release, the bold texts will be more likely to catch their attention.

Tip 4: Remember those anchor texts!

A press release can get you valuable back links from many well respected authority sites. These are websites that have been around for years, and many of them have high page rank.
Sure, you may be after the initial traffic rush, which will last for about two weeks or so. But what happens after the initial surge of traffic? Well, you can always rely on organic search traffic.
Like articles, press releases also remain online indefinitely. Since you are allowed to choose your desired anchor texts when you issue paid press releases, why not do some off-site SEO in the process?
Choose your anchor texts wisely and reap the SEO benefits that come with the back links. The links will help boost your search engine rankings. When that happens, you will be receiving organic search traffic. Organic search traffic will become your source of long term traffic.

As you can see, drafting a press release for online publishing can be very different from drafting a release for print publishing. That is because the Internet is a completely different medium, so it requires a very different approach. Keep the above tips in mind and profit from your next press release!

About the Author: Darren Chow is a full time article marketer. He founded a successful press release distribution service. Press releases are published on high page rank sites, including the brand new latest breaking news website.

Link Building Best Practices - A Guide to Effective Link Building Methods

Just to cover the ground, lets go over what link building is quickly. Link building is the process of building backlinks to your site. More backlinks (link form other sites to your site) a site has, higher it ranks on the search engines. Link building therefore is a mission of all money making webmasters.

Link building methods have changed form time to time and a specific method that worked yesterday may not work today anymore. This is due to changes in the industry over time and in some cases extreme abuse. If a specific link building method has been abused too much, then that method will not work anymore.

It is therefore very important to know which link building method works today so that you can spend your time in a most productive way.

There are many link building methods out there today that work with some working better than others. Below are some of the today's popular links building methods that work to some extent:

Article Submission

If you are reading this article, then you know that you can publish your own article in article directories. Not only do you gain backlinks to your site from your published articles (see bottom of this article), you will get some traffic as a bonus. Think of you reading this article. There might be many reading your published articles as well.

Article submission is a great way of building backlinks as it provides you with 100% relevant contextual backlinks that Google loves.

Directory Submission

Directory submission used to work lot better before but it is still a popular link building method that still works if done properly. How many directories are out there as of this date is anyone's guess but one thing is certain: that most of the directories aren't worth submitting to.

Google considers a Yahoo Directory link as a quality backlink so if you can afford and justify the cost, it is worth submitting to Yahoo Directory. Yahoo charges $300 for a yearly submission and there is no guarantee that your site will be approved!

DMOZ is another directory that is worth submitting to and can come to great benefit in your SEO campaign. It may take months to get the approval form DMOZ and the chance of getting approved is pretty slim. Lot of small directories use DMOZ directory categories so getting listed with DMOZ would mean getting bonus listing on many other web directories.

Another good directory to submit to would be BOTW directory that cost $99 for a yearly submission and $299 for a permanent listing.

Other than the above ones, you should look for quality directories where you can submit your site. You can judge the quality of the directories by analyzing the number of sites listed, number of backlinks the directory has, PR, age of the directory, etc.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking worked like charm only a few months ago. If bookmarked on authority and quality bookmarking site like Digg, Mixx, Propeller, etc, then you can still make good use of social bookmarking. Other than backlinks, social bookmarking also offers you some bonus traffic depending on where you submit to. If you can manage to put together or collect a good bookmarking site list, then social bookmarking can still be a useful link building method.

Blog Commenting

This is a link building method where lots of spamming have already been done so to make the best of it, you need to work a little harder here. It is best to find quality blogs related to your own category and make on-topic relevant comments. Not only do your comments add value to the blogpost, you now have a greater chance of getting your comment approved and your comments have greater chance of staying on those blogposts.

Press Releases

Submitting to press release sites can get you some backlinks as well. It is however hard to put together a list of good press release sites that's worth submitting to. If a good list can be managed, then this method can offer some quality relevant backlinks as well.

Social Media and Web 2.0 Pages

There are a lot of quality social media and Web 2.0 sites where you can publish your articles for backlinks. You should write articles that are relevant to your site and publish them on these social media and Web 2.0 sites with your keywords hyperlinked to your own site. Some of the authority sites are Squidoo, Hubpages, Blogger,, etc.

Social media and Web 2.0 links are very popular these days as they work great. They offer quality relevant contextual backlinks that Google and other major search engines love. There are lots of other link building methods out there but if you can utilize the above ones to their fullest potential, there is no need for any other methods.

Does Google PageRank Count Anymore?

Being a full-time SEM (Search Engine Marketer) I have been conditioned like Pavlov's dog (not a pretty picture) to jump every time Google twitches.

Lately Google has been doing a lot of twitching. Specifically, the rather startling news from Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Susan Moskwa that Google has ditched PageRank from Webmaster Tools.

"We've been telling people for a long time that they shouldn't focus on PageRank so much; many site owners seem to think it's the most important metric for them to track, which is simply not true," states Moskwa. "We removed it because we felt it was silly to tell people not to think about it, but then to show them the data, implying that they should look at it." (Source: WebProNews)

Now, for SEO reasons or for ranking in Google's index, PageRank has long been eunuchified by Google. However, even missing a few dangling bits, history has shown us, eunuchs still wheel tremendous power. PageRank is no different.

Regardless of what Google wants to happen, PageRank is still extremely important to anyone marketing on the web, especially if you're selling SEO services or operating a web business. Try selling SEO services when that little green bar on your site is pointing to PR0 or worst yet, pointing to a solid gray bar.

Obtaining a high PR7 or PR8 simply means more business and revenues... regardless of how Google is or is not using PageRank. People know how to count and they learned long ago, a ten is a lot more than a big fat zero.

Placed against a PR1 site, a PR8 will win more respect in the eyes of potential clients and can produce enormous profits for the site owner and we won't even mention the still widely practiced habit of selling links, which Google is desperately trying to stop. Total and full elimination of PageRank would be an honest start but it will still be an uphill, if not an unwinnable battle, for Google to fully eliminate link selling.

Even with my modest sites, I have turned down a small fortune by not selling text links on any of my sites. When I had a PR6 site instead of a PR4 - those link requests were nearly doubled. So one can easily understand Google's position and the need to downplay PageRank, if they want to put even a small dent in all this link selling and buying, which is still running rampant on today's web.

PageRank is Google's creation, and unless they remove it fully from their system and the Google toolbar, then PageRank still Counts. Actually, in the whole scheme of marketing your website on the net, PageRank counts big time. And in more ways than one.

There are several reasons why you shouldn't count PageRank out.

For years Google has been downplaying the importance of PageRank and states it's only one of about 200 ranking factors which determines how Google ranks its index for keywords. Obtaining top organic rankings for popular lucrative keywords in Google simply means money in the bank. Actually, even a movement of only one or two places on those first page SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) can make a major difference to any online marketer's bottom line.

Now while you can have a lower PR number and still rank above other higher PR pages for your chosen keywords, I have even had many times when my PR drops but my actual SERPs rankings in Google goes up, mainly due to building related relevant backlinks. So PageRank counts little towards your keyword rankings but it can't be totally dismissed.

Mainly because, even if PR is just one ranking factor, in close competitive keyword battles (I am presently fighting tooth and nail for some very choice keywords) just one ranking factor such as high PR can make the difference of whether or not you get to the top spot. Big dogs are still jumping and for those of us who know how to count, getting a number one spot in Google makes all the difference in the world.

Not only because Google controls roughly 80% of all search engine traffic, but more importantly Google has established unmatched credibility and brand recognition in the eyes of potential customers visiting your site. Web users trust Google. Web users look to Google for guidance and direction. Web users believe what Google is telling them. In the online world, rightly or wrongly, perception is everything.

As an online marketer, I am completely amazed each day at the marketing power Google now commands with web surfers and with the general population. Google is king of online search and no other search engine even comes close to Google.

PageRank is Google's ranking system, and in the eyes of those who notice these things, it still wheels tremendous influence and power. By default, PageRank is Google's opinion of your site, and web users can count (at least to 10) and if Google believes people are still not counting when it comes to PageRank, then they are fully mistaken.

About the Author: Titus Hoskins is a full-time professional online marketer who has numerous niche websites.

How to Register Your Domain Name

Registering domain names is not as complicated as you might think. Your web design is completed, everything is set up and you are ready to go.

The best thing to do is to find a registrar that is an official Internet registering service and use this to register the name. Often web hosting sites will offer registration of your domain name. However, there is some confusion among some of the sites when it comes to ownership of the domain name so the best idea is to register it yourself.

Where to Go

Your domain name can be anything that you can think of that describes your site. As long as it is not already taken by someone else, you will be the owner of the name when you register it.

Find out if your choice is available by visiting and search the name you have chosen. Whois is a database that displays information for those searching for domain names. If someone does a search for the one you have chosen, after you register it, this is where the information comes from to show the name is already taken.

For instance, you may do web design for people who do not know how to do their own. The name of your site will be the URL that is entered when people search for a web design service to help them set up their own web site.

So the name you choose needs to reflect the service you provide so that it will be easier to find. Because there are millions of domain names this may prove a little difficult. But if you do a search for keywords that describe your site you should be able to come up with the right combination.

Once you have chosen the name you will use and made sure that it is available, visit some of the Internet registrars and find the one you want to use. What the registrar basically does is resells domain names.

The prices vary among the different ones but typically start at around $5.00 for a one year registration. They can go as high as $50 so finding the one that offers the best price can take some investigative work.

When you are ready to register the name, you will be required to provide either a PayPal account or a credit card to pay for it. This is not optional. Most all providers require this method of payment. On the plus side by paying using this method you can immediately have access to the name.

How Long Can You Keep the Domain Name?

You may also register the name for a longer period than one year but this is the minimum time. The domain name may be registered at some registrars for up to 10 years. This is a good idea if you are worried about forgetting to re-register. If you have a very popular name and want to ensure that it remains yours, registering it for as long as possible will keep anyone else from purchasing it.

When you find the registrar that you want to use, they will ask for your contact information. This is the information that will show in the Whois database when someone searches this domain name.

The contact information should have a correct email address as well as other information because this is where re-registering information as well as anything else that concerns your name will be sent.

If someone should want to purchase your web design name for their site, they can contact you to make an offer. Some domain names have sold for a lot of money if they are very popular.

The Importance of the Domain Name

The web hosting site that you are using when you choose your domain name may not always be the site that you use. If you change to another site you can take your name and this will allow you to keep your regular customers as well as visitors. The name will be typed in the same as before and they will be taken to your new site.

If you have a web hosting site already, you will need to get their name servers. There are normally primary and secondary ones. This is necessary for pointing your domain name to the website you have set up. Often this information is in the frequently asked questions section under the domain name category. Email the host if you cannot find them.

By following the instructions at the web hosting site you choose, this is not difficult. The main thing you want to remember is to re-register your domain name at the end of the period of time you have chosen. This will ensure that your name remains with you which is essential to finding your website and keeping your business going.

A Beginner's Guide To Article Marketing

Article marketing is the act of writing an article and submitting it to article directories, ezines, and other online directories and publishers.

By including links back to your own websites or blogs you can generate direct surf through traffic while also building back links to your website that will help to improve search engine rankings for your specific keywords.

Writing the most appealing articles, submitting them to search engine friendly directories, and repeating the process on a regular basis can be the recipe for search engine success.

What Is Article Marketing?
All websites have a thirst for high quality, topical content that will be relevant to their readers but not all website owners and promoters are willing or able to create this content as part of their marketing routine.

By creating content articles that others can use for their websites you are rewarded with the opportunity to include one or two links back to your own website. As well as receiving a link from the article directory itself, which are often authoritative websites crawled regularly by search engine spiders, you also gain some benefit when other websites publish your article and links on their own site.

Why Do It?

Article marketing offers an effective and inexpensive way of building quality inbound links to a website. You know that the links generated are from contextually relevant pages because you have written the content that is used.

Furthermore, by using the most beneficial and SEO friendly directories you can dictate the keywords that are used in the anchor text; a critical component of a strong SEO link.

As well as the SEO benefits, you may also find your article published in ezines and newsletters that have a strong, dedicated, and loyal following driving direct traffic to your site.

Choosing Directories

There are literally hundreds of article directories online and choosing the right ones should be considered an integral part of article marketing success.
Directories should be SEO friendly so do not use nofollow tags in links or in robot files. They should allow you to use HTML code for your links and they should keep the number of links and advertisements on a page down to a minimum. They should also be crawled by search engines and be considered a strong SEO site in order to offer any real benefit.

Alternatively, they should generate a large number of visitors directly through the links in your articles.

Writing Articles
The most popular articles are well written and provide genuinely useful information. Good directories will not accept those that are little more than blatant self promotion and very few will accept articles with more than 2 or possibly 3 links to your website.

Ensure that your writing is not only appealing to other website owners but also to their own readership base because this will encourage more website owners to use your articles.

Including Links

Links to your site are typically added to the "Resource" or "About The Author" paragraph. Some directories will allow links in the body of the article and these too offer very good benefit especially in driving traffic directly to your pages.

Always try to use those directories that enable you to construct your own HTML link including anchor text because this will give you SEO benefit as well as potential surf through traffic. Always ensure that the link is relevant to the page you've written as well as to the page you direct readers too.

Submitting To Article Directories
Having written a useful piece on a relevant topic and having chosen SEO friendly directories you will need to submit the articles for consideration. Most directories use a number of anti-spam measures to ensure that they offer only very good quality articles to publishers. Manual submission of articles is, therefore, advised. While automated software does exist, you will still find that you need to complete a number of aspects of the submission yourself.

Using Article Submission Services
Manual article submission services do exist and can prove a beneficial method of building links and generating traffic especially if you do not have the time or resources to write and submit a large number of articles.
Try to see a good portfolio of articles that have been written by the service and always ensure they offer a manual and ethical submission service.

About the Author: Matt Jackson - WebWiseWords offers a variety of SEO copywriting services including a full article marketing package that includes the writing of compelling articles and their submission to SEO friendly article directories.

How to Make a Website Successful

When doing business on the Internet, there are many ways in which you can make a website successful. Although the look is important, fancy websites don't make sales.

There is much more to creating a quality website. To make it successful, you must create a website that will be of interest to your target market and make them want to visit it over and over again. In addition, it should lead your visitors to take the action you desire, such as joining your mailing list, or making a purchase.

Selecting a Website's Niche

The first step toward how to make a website successful, will be to target it for one specific niche. For example, if you are designing a website about wine, everything within it should relate to wine.

Selecting a Website's Keyword Phrase

You must also select the most relevant keyword phrase for each webpage. A keyword phrase is two or more words that best describe your webpage. For example, if your webpage is about 'making wine,' your best keyword phrase would be 'wine making.' You should use your keyword phrase a few times within your webpage, as this will enable the search engines to determine what the website is about. This is a very important step to make a website successful.

Using HTML Heading Tags

When you begin writing your content, it is very important that you use the HTML H1 heading tag with your main title at the top of your webpage. In addition, use th HTML H2 tags for your sub-titles. This is very important, as some search engines place relevance on the text displayed with heading tags.

As the default text for the H1 heading tag is very large, you may want to use CSS style sheets to display the heading tags in the font style and size you prefer.

Using META Tags Within a Webpage

Another step to help make a website successful is to include META tags between the HEAD tags of your webpage. META tags help the search engines to know what keywords are relevant to the webpage. They are also used to tell the search engines what the webpage is about. Many search engines will display this description within the search results.

Backgrounds and Text

It is always best to display a webpage with a white background and black text, as this will make the text easy to read. Distracting backgrounds will make the text hard to read. A good rule of thumb is to just use common sense and keep it simple. This alone is a great way to help make a website successful.

Animated Graphics

If you're using animated graphics, it is important that you use them sparingly. Graphics that continually flash are VERY annoying and may prevent your visitors from returning to your website in the future.

Navigational Links

It is very important to include good navigational links on every page. They should be displayed at the top, bottom, left or right side of your webpage. In addition, your visitors should be able to get to any webpage within your website within four clicks.

Webpage Layout

Always be consistent with your design. This is a very important step to help make a website successful. The layout for should be the same on each page. If you make it different, your visitors will become confused. In addition, it will make your website appear to be unprofessional. Your design should include the same layout, logo, and navigation setup on each page.

Spelling and Grammar

Always make sure you proof read and spell check your webpages for errors. It is also very important that it doesn't have any broken images or links.

Important Webpages

When you launch your website, it is very important that you include the following webpages:

The 'About' page is used to tell your visitors about you and/or your company.

The 'Privacy' page is used to let your visitors know what you do with their personal information, such as their email address.

Terms and Conditions
The 'Terms and Conditions' page should be displayed on your website for your protection.

Site Map
A 'Site Map' is used to help the search engines index your website more easily.

You can learn more about all of these pages by doing a search through your favorite search engine. They are very important and will help make a website successful.

Website Interactivity

Another way to make a website successful is to make it interactive. This can be done by including a targeted forum that compliments your website, a form in which they can subscribe to an ezine, a feedback form to enable them to give their opinion, or an informative blog in which visitors can comment.

Web Browsers and Screen Resolutions

When you begin designing your webpage, it is HIGHLY recommended that you install the most popular web browsers on your computer. This will enable you to see how your website will display in different browsers. You will find that it looks great in one browser and terrible in another. It would be wise to design your website to display properly in Firefox and then it should display properly in Internet Explorer, Opera, etc.

It is also important that you view your website through different screen resolutions. You can either open your webpage in your browser and then change your computer's screen resolution, or there are resources online that you can visit, such as Any Browser, to test your website.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you can begin to make a website successful in no time.

About the Author: Shelley Lowery - If you want to learn how to make a website successful, visit for a wealth of free website design tutorials, video tutorials, HTML codes, JavaScript codes, CSS codes, tips, tools and resources.

9 Tips For Effective Website Content

Web readers may be a difficult bunch, they may take a while to digest information and they may need convincing of every single point you deliver but they are essential. They can become long term, loyal customers, as long as you give them what they want.

Writing for the Internet is a different skill to writing for paper print or paper publications. Website readers digest smaller amounts of information in less time when compared to reading from paper.

This means that website content needs to be very well organised, concise, well formatted, and appealing. Throw in the proper use of search engine keywords, a powerful Call To Action (CTA), your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and the natural scepticism of web users and it's easy to see why many website owners use professional content writers.

1 - Use An Inverted Pyramid Style Of Writing

The inverted pyramid style of writing means getting your point across early in the text. Web readers are an impatient bunch and they need to know that the page they're reading is relevant. Include a summary or conclusion of the page's main points at the beginning of the text and then elaborate on this as you progress.

2 - Make It Concise

As well as being impatient, web readers aren't able to digest and process information as well on a computer screen as they are on paper. There are masses of studies and numerous sets of data giving statistics on this, but the general point is that basic pages need to be between a third and a half of the length they would be on paper. Try to aim for 300-500 words for web pages, with longer pages for technical articles, newsletters, and other web based publications.

3 - Use Headers And Sub-Headers

Headers and sub-headers not only enable you, as the writer, to properly structure the page; they also enable the reader to scan through and find the information that is most pertinent to them. Don't try anything too clever with your headers and do ensure that they are relevant and informational.

4 - Use Bullets And Lists

Bullets and lists are another method of enabling readers to quickly navigate around a page and grab the most important information. Many readers will simply scroll down a page and if no information jumps out at them then they won't read anything. Prevent these readers from clicking away from your website by offering bite sized chunks of information.

5 - Use Simple Language

Another area where statistics and figures differ is in the comprehension level of website readers. No matter which figures you listen to, though, one point is clear - we simply can't process information as well when reading from a computer. Use simple language, avoid jargon that isn't necessary or clearly defined, and engage your readers using language that everybody can understand.

6 - Use Short Paragraphs And Shorter Sentences

A paragraph should contain text relating to a single, simple idea. When you reach the conclusion of that idea, you should also reach the end of that paragraph. Paragraphs should contain no more than 70-80 words where possible. If a paragraph requires fewer words then make it shorter. The same goes for sentences.

7 - Make It Easy To Scan

Shorter paragraphs, more concise pages, and good headers make a page easy to scan. So too do bullets and lists. Add formatting such as bold and italicised text, quotes, and even hyperlinked text to make the page easier to scan. Remember to use a degree of caution, however, because a page that consists of different formatting techniques will be very difficult to read and understand. Many readers will simply close your page and move on.

8 - Write Objectively

We've already discussed how Internet users are impatient and find it difficult to digest information; they're also a highly sceptical bunch that will take convincing of virtually anything you have to say. Use objective language and avoid the use of too much marketing fluff. Avoid exaggerated claims such telling readers that yours is the best product in the world and instead show them why - convince them to come to that conclusion on their own and you will enjoy better results for your effort.

9 - One Idea Per Paragraph, One Subject Per Page

A single paragraph should contain a single idea and a single page should cover one topic. If a page is becoming too wordy because it includes information on other subjects, then break it down and hyperlink to those other pages. For longer pages remember the bookmark function and use it wisely to help readers navigate their way around your site and take in all of the information that you have to offer.

Giving Visitors What They Want

Web readers may be a difficult bunch, they may take a while to digest information and they may need convincing of every single point you deliver but they are essential. They can become long term, loyal customers, as long as you give them what they want and that's why we love them so much. If you don't have the time or the resource to write your own compelling and effective website content then consider using professional copywriters.

About the Author: Matt Jackson - WebWiseWords offers a full range of copywriting services. They can provide affordable and high quality SEO copywriting services so that you can enjoy the benefits of compelling website content without breaking the bank.