January 11, 2012

Posted by:

Category: Online Business

Tags:

How to keep users interested in your mailing list


As a first step consider potential red flags which would make users weary of your mailing list. imagine yourself in the recipoients position dealing with potential spam mail. People are used to recieving unwanted mail from seemingly harmless mailing lists and as a result even harmless email can put users off.

Users are right to be weary as unsolicited emails are an enormous time-waster and a minefield of potential maleware. In the course of the average day an individual will send and receive several emails therefor email recipients should be individuals who have voluntarily chosen to recieve information from your list. Once this choice has been made by the user it is essential to further cultivate the users trust.

One important way to cultivate trust is to show your subscribers that you respect their time. Do not send superflous emails which will turn people off to your list , do not allow so much time to pass that the subscriber will forget about you. ideally you should send timely emails that contain pertenaint information. another way to cultivate trust is to avoid obstacles which will make it harder for users to unsubscribe to your list. it is important to convey the impression that you do not need to steal peoples attention. in otherwords make it clear that they need you and you don’t need them
the email should be easily identifiable as having originated from a source that the user will consider friendly ie an email list for which they have voulontarily subscribed.

A second major factor to consider is the automated factor. many people have set up spam filthers on thier email accounts which will flag certain messages based on automated paramaters. filter systems are suceptable to error and have a tendancy to flag harmless emails because an algorithm has determined that they fit a certain profile. pay attention to what information is contained in the subject line.
navigating past the twin obstacles of user disinterest and automated filter screening is the main objective of a sucessful mailing list, once these twin problems have been conquered it is important to keep the good will of your subscribers by respecting the fact that they have other things to do with thier time.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven – Part 1


Are you fed up with feeling baffled by search engine optimization (SEO) because of jargon and poor practitioners? Do you feel you have been charged too much for less than you were promised? This two part article sets out to explain the process and put you back in control.

If you have focused objectives and a clear online strategy then SEO will almost always be a good cost effective addition to the marketing tool set. The first thing to understand is that search engine businesses, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, have customers to satisfy too. Their customers are searching and they expect to see the ‘best and most relevant’ search results. I expect like me, you get frustrated if your searches bring irrelevant results first. No surprise then, that the methods used by the search engine operators are designed to deliver customer satisfaction. They work hard to eliminate bogus SEO services that aim to cheat.

It is possible for you to make your website ‘the best and most relevant’ for certain searches and to convince the search engine operator you are just that too. That is SEO. Each of my 11 steps to SEO heaven is necessary. I assume that you will be committed to a long term marketing strategy, and to measuring results with a view to adjusting your activity. The steps include those of preparation as well of those of continuous repeated activities. The early preparatory steps are perhaps the most important as errors here will frustrate the effectiveness of the later ones.

Armed with our clear objectives and online strategy:

Step 1 to SEO Heaven – Keyword Research

A vital first step that should not be undertaken lightly. While experienced pay-per-click advertisers will know that you can easily test and change hundreds of keywords in paid search campaigns, they should understand this not possible for organic search optimization. It is normally advisable to concentrate on one to five key phrases for the whole site around a core theme. Then, for individual pages only one to three phrases. For large sites with hundreds of pages it is hard to optimize every single page. The effort and cost of SEO to the full extent produces diminishing returns.

Step 2 to SEO Heaven – Competitive Intelligence

SEO is competitive. There is only one front page and only one top slot so it is important to know your competition and perform better. What are they doing? Where do they rank and for which keywords? Who is linking to their website and why? The less competitive your industry is online the easier it is for you to outperform your competition. This is an important determining factor in the cost and resources necessary to achieve your desired SEO outcome

Step 3 to SEO Heaven – Web Design and Development

Like trying to cable an old building for modern communications or boosting performance of an obsolete machine, fixing a bad website design is much tougher than building properly from scratch. When you create a new website, make sure to consider search engine friendly design and architecture before and during the actual development of the website. Almost all template-based websites are tough to re-engineer for SEO. A good design from the start will save you a lot of time and money. In most cases it will put you ahead of a considerable number of your competitors. In most cases a high performing design for SEO is also a user friendly design, but occasionally compromise is necessary.

Step 4 to SEO Heaven – Get Your First Inbound Links

There is no need to pay to submít your website to any search engine. Just as soon as you create inbound links from other websites to yours the search engines will find your website.

There are plenty of scam products and services. Avoid them. They are a waste of your money. No one can guarantee you a number 1 ranking. It must be earned and maintained by being the best and most relevant.

There are some web directories that are recognized by search engines and gaining a trade listing there will be a helpful kick-start to your SEO campaign. Then ask your customers and suppliers to place a link to your website from theirs. Most will be pleased for the favor to be returned.

Step 5 to SEO Heaven – Sitemaps

The larger search engines allow webmasters to submit a sitemap to them via a webmaster console. The search engines also provide reports and other useful information, such as technical problems with your websites you might not be aware of via their console. Even if you decide against the submission of a site map to the search engines, it is advisable to create an account and register your website with them, just for the reports and statistics they provide free of charge and which are invaluable for your internet marketing efforts.

After completion of the first 5 steps, schedule them for occasional review. The remaining tasks require regular and repetitive effort. In Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven (steps 6 to eleven) we look at taking a website that is a SEO ready site with a ready to run campaign and look at the steps and work needed to claim a high search engine ranking.

About The Author
Tim Meadows-Smith is an experienced non-executive chairman, director and business advisor from a classical sales and marketing background gained with famous global FMCG brand owners. He has worked with businesses globally in the FMCG, logistics, service and technology sectors. He may be reached by email at Tim@Meadows-Smith.com. Find further articles at: www.timmeadows-smith.co.uk/blogarticles.php

For Steps 6 – 11, continue here …

Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Ten Top Tips for Video Marketing Your Online Business


Here is a basic summary of tips and tricks to create a web video by Jay Allyson. If you are at all serious about creating web videos or video marketing, I would HIGHLY recommend the following …

- Web Video University (Dave Kaminski)
- Video BOSS (Andy Jenkins) (currently sold out but you can get on a waiting list)

I have, and am using these and honestly think they were worth EVERY PENNY …

=================

By Jay Allyson

Nearly all internet marketing professionals use video as one of the core methods for marketing their business. These ten tips aim to help you get started creating short, attractive, effective videos based on solid keywords that convert and that stand the test of time.

Video grabs people’s attention far more quickly and effectively than text, audio or photographs. Making a short video can capture a thousand words and pictures and helps to get across your personal brand and lifestyle.

It’s important to stand out in the crowd on video channels and search engines. Aim your headlines at capturing the imagination regarding your topic. So don’t be dull – test out curiosity, shock or fun tactics for getting those download clícks.

First of all, get set up.

When you’re starting out, it’s ok to just use your webcam. It will give you the chance to practice while you’re honing your presentation skills before you fork out for a camcorder. When you’re ready, you can purchase an inexpensive digital video recorder, like say the Flip and a tripod.

Make sure you take your videos in well-lit conditions. Inside your office you’ll need decent lighting, or you can whip out your camera when you’re out and about. It makes for a much more interesting back drop.

OK. So now let’s go through each of my TOP 10 TIPS for creating and using videos to market your business.

#1: Keep Your Videos Short

Whether you’re loading videos on YouTube or just putting them up on your website or blog, it’s really important to keep to just 5 or 6 minutes.

If needed, you can of course break longer topics up into a series of smaller videos, which you could market as a series (see tip 10).

#2: Post Videos on Your Sales Pages

You can use video on your sales page to introduce the main benefits of your product or business opportuníty. How about placing a video on your sales page or sign up pages.

This helps to orientate visitors and to highlight the main points of your regular, written sales letter.

#3: Choose Your Keywords Carefully

This is really an important tip, because it will affect how your video gets picked up by the search engines and other internet ‘bots’ that seek out content.

Research your top keyword phrases. Pick keywords that will attract the right kind of traffic and leads – research like crazy to find out what your prospects are looking for – and be sure to include your keywords in headings and tags and description boxes.

Doing this research and tracking clíck thrus (CTR) and conversions will help you secure your most cost-effective keywords and keyword phrases.

#4: Have a Clear Purpose & Structure

Your keywords will help make sure you target your video on the right purpose before you start. Does your video answer the questions your visitors have in their heads when they’re searching for solutions. Make things crystal clear.

Stay on topic and give added value – unique value if possible – and your videos will convert much better for you. Write down a structure – a set of headings – for what you’re going to cover. Have a script if necessary.

You can mention any links that you have to another video specifically on that related topic.

#5: Look at the Camera

The aim here is to connect with your audience, both in the topic you choose and the content as well as in your communication style. Remember you are talking to people – real live people. What are their needs and wants, hopes and fears.

With regards to presentation, stick your líst of headings right next to the camera so you stay looking in the camera at all times, rather than looking away at a screen or down at your notes.

An authentic and honest video is far more valuable than a glossy TV like broadcast. So don’t worry if you’re not up to TV presenter standards. Just be yourself and enjoy the opportuníty to reach out to people in a different way than using text copy.

#6: Create a Clear Call to Action

You should create one very clear service and call to action. It’s very important that people know exactly what to do as a result of watching your video.

What is your most wanted response (MWR)? Don’t confuse visitors with lots of options and different offers. Focus on the single most wanted response.

Alternatively, you can put your video up next to a sign up box – linked to your emaíl marketing – and clearly ask them to opt ín, more than once. Provide an incentive, such as a free report or further video coaching resources.

#7: Encourage Comments on Your Video

One of the best things about video is that it’s a very personal, social medium. The more people that are talking about your video and passing it on, the more buzz you’ll create.

Visitors may return to your page to see who has commented since their last comment. There may accumulate a whole líst of tips that have been created by your niche community, prompted by your initial video post.

About The Author
Jay Allyson escaped the job rat race. She is Mum to two wonderful children and has run a business from home since 2004. She is an Internet marketing coach and wealth consultant, teaching people to make significant revenue in 12 months, part-time or full-time. Find out more at: http://www.JayAllyson.com and http://GetRichLifestyle.com

Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

39 Free/Low-Cost Tools for Marketing Your Small Business Online


Thousands of free online marketing tools clamor for attention, with new ones popping up every week it seems. You know you should be doing more to reach out to your customers, but just researching which tools to use can be a vast time investment, even if they don’t require a big financial outlay.

Below is a compiled a list of the most popular (or most useful) low-cost or free small business marketing tools. You might be using some of them already, but you’re sure to find a couple that will round out your small business marketing toolkit nicely. And, if you’re just starting out marketing a new business online, this list may help point you in the right direction.

Directories

The Open Directory A staple of the SEO crowd, this directory can be tricky to get into but well worth it for the link juice it passes along to your site.

Yahoo! Directory – It’s not free – this directory will set you back a couple hundred bucks a year – but it’s well worth it for inclusion.

Best of the Web Directory – This directory has been around a while and can pass along some good PageRank to your site.

Niche Directories

Find the directories in your industry that pass along good link building opportunities. Some examples to get you started: SBDGraphics.com for ad agencies, web developers, printers and other graphics professionals; sbdpro.com for small businesses and businesses that serve them; Cpapro.com for the accounting industry; SEOAlpaca.org for alpaca breeders, and so on.

Press Release Distribution Services

Marketwire – The most bang for your buck from an actual wire service, Marketwire’s prices are lower than PR Newswire and Businesswire. This newer service is built for powerful online exposure, and you’ll enjoy the full online distribution with any geographical AP wire distribution. (Sometimes you can get statewide wire distribution for nearly the same cost as only your local metropolitan area.) It’s great for building inbound links – just choose the SEO Enhanced option.

PRLog – A good-performing free press release distribution outlet, PRLog press releases rank really well and for a really long time if they are written with SEO copywriting best practices. Press releases include three links, though they are URL based (starting with http) rather than text anchor. PRLog also lets you create your own newsroom where all your press releases reside, as well as an “about us” page and product showcase area.

PitchEngine – A relatively new PR-for-social-media site that promises to let you create and share press releases easily and for free and syndicate content to Google News. Lets you include HTML in your press release, so you can use keyword text anchor links. The site is marketing itself quite aggressively and will likely build a big presence quickly. The only catch is your release will disappear off the site after 30 days if you aren’t a paid member ($50/month for your own press room).

Email Marketing

AWeber – AWeber makes it easy to start building your email marketing list, if you haven’t already. For less than $20/month, you can build unlimited newsletter lists, send unlimited email blasts, and email unlimited autorespond messages to up to 500 subscribers/list. (Then it’s $29/month up to 2500 subscribers.) Also offers a recurring 30% commission – a pretty good affiliate program for a service you’ll appreciate enough to recommend to others. (Disclosure note: the link above is our affiliate link. We’ve been using the service for 3 years now, after trying out Constant Contact and researching about 20 other providers! Most either do autoresponders or email blasts/newsletters – not both.)

Content Sharing Websites

Squidoo – Create a lens around your business area. A good one with lots of information will even rank in the search engines and can bring traffic to your web site.

Scribd – Share your expert content like white papers and articles. You can make them available for free or sell them. You can submit documents in PowerPoint, Word, PDF and many other file formats.

SlideShare – Post your presentations and documents online for others to view and share. This is a great way to get exponential exposure for your sales or marketing materials – or share documents privately. See some tips for getting more visibility with SlideShare: http://bit.ly/aNXmS2

Flikr – Does your product or service translate well visually? Use this popular photo sharing site to get more eyeballs.

Blip.tv – A video-sharing alternative to YouTube, blip.tv lets you embed links in your descriptions and create a TV station showing all your videos in one spot.

Social Networks

Facebook – Create a page for your business. Feed your blog in. Start a group. Get fans. Advertise to targeted users if your products appeal to the Facebook crowd (which is basically everyone nowadays). See using the new Facebook business page layout to learn more. Stop by our page and become a fan, too!

MySpace – Take a second look at this medium for social networking. According to MarketingProfs, more than half of MySpace.com users are 35 or older. Explore using MySpace for your business.

LinkedIn – Like a virtual Rolodex. Build your professional profile, link up with other professionals, join groups or even start a group. Participating in Q&A’s related to your profession is a great way to build credibility and visibility.

Ning – Build your own social network around your business. You may even get your network into the search engine results pages. Learn more about using Ning for business. (http://bit.ly/amLKcE)

Read “Utlize Social Media to Gain Additional Exposure for Your Site” (http://bit.ly/bcoWEQ) for more information about social networks and how they can drive targeted traffic to your site.

Social Bookmarking

Digg – Getting your content on the home page of Digg is one way to bump up your web site’s traffic by thousands within minutes. This can result in valuable links to your site. Start with this beginner’s guide to Digg.

StumbleUpon – Build friends and send them your articles to rate. More thumbs up will get your article shown to more people outside your network and can result in thousands of visitors every day. Tips for using StumbleUpon.

Reddit – Even if your content gets buried on Digg, it can flourish on Reddit – which can be a catalyst for jumping to the home page of other social bookmarking sites. Learn more about the types of topics that do well on Reddit.

Blogs

Your own blog -

Write great content relevant to your business area that people will find useful. Use it to link to deep pages on your site to help them get indexed in the search engines. Build your thought leadership and let your customers get to know your business better. Try WordPress for an easy-to-use platform that’s also search engine friendly.

Others’ blogs -

Read and comment on other blogs in your industry. Use your comment signature to link back to your blog or web site. Build relationships online and spread the link love from your own blog to others’.

Twitter

Micro-blogging. Update your status daily or a couple times a week. Use keywords in your posts and profile to help gain followers on Twitter quickly. Link to your unique content in your updates and take advantage of the multitude of new applications created to help you manage your Twitter experience.

Affiliate Marketing

Post Affiliate Pro

Traditionally links generated through affiliate marketing have not been helpful for search engine optimization – until Post Affiliate Pro, that is. This easy-to-use affiliate program lets you set up a referral program in minutes and keeps your links simple and search engine friendly.

Technorati

Claim your blog at Technorati to make sure it’s indexed in the blog search engines and have your updates broadcast across the network.

Your Own Web Properties

Create A Knowledge Center

Build a content area on your site where you can add articles regularly. This can be as formal as white papers or case studies, but it can also work with less formal articles, as long as they further your company’s thought leadership position and credibility. They will also boost your search engine rankings if you contribute regularly and ensure your site architecture is optimized. See how we’re doing this with SEO Advantage’s new knowledge center.

PowerReviews

People are going to look up user reviews whether on your site or elsewhere – might as well take advantage of the user-generated content for additional search engine visibility. You’ll also rank higher in trust with your efforts at transparency.

SurveyMonkey

Voting/polling/surveys. A tool of engagement that lets you gauge interest, measure customer satisfaction or just provide some fun. (People love to give their opinions.)

Awards and Contests

Enter them and host them. Winning an industry award can add to your credibility, and giving them out can get you lots of press coverage and links. Get creative.

Search Engine Optimization

Make sure your site architecture is optimized for maximum exposure in the search engines. Create link-building campaigns. Add to your content regularly. Enlist the services of a search engine optimization company to guide your efforts or handle implementation completely.

Research

Google

Designate the keywords you’d like to keep track of, and Google will send you alerts of news and pages indexed on those topics “as it happens” with Google News Alerts. You can also enter multiple terms at Google Trends to compare the general level of buzz around those terms.

AllTop

An “online magazine rack”, this site aggregates content and organizes it. Select your topics and have the latest content delivered to you, or just browse the site when you’re in research mode. Also, be sure to submit your site so it shows among the related content.

WordTracker

Find keywords with a more comprehensive tool than free pay-per-click research tools, which may skew results. A free trial will give you an idea of how it works.

Yahoo! Pipes

See who’s talking about your company or brand by pulling together RSS feeds from different sources around the Web using the beta Yahoo! Pipes. This handy video shows you how.

Analytics

You need to measure all your online marketing efforts. If you’re looking for a free analytics package, try Google Analytics or Yahoo! IndexTools. (Which is better?) However, you’ll probably want some help implementing and interpreting your analytics package to get the most from it – ask your SEO company if they offer this.

About The Author
Stone Reuning is president of SEO Advantage, a search engine optimization company that helps businesses harness the revenue generation potential of their websites. Referenced in books such as “Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale” and the BusinessWeek bestseller “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”, http://www.seo-advantage.com/ offers information to help small businesses compete online.

Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Site Content And Application


Here’s a brief article by Robert Imbriale on the importance of content for your site or blog AND the applications used to build a successful business …

———————————-

The Lifeblood of the Internet

If you’ve been involved in marketing of any kind over the last two decades, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “content is King.” Marketers, successful marketers, live by that mantra. When I look at the Internet what I really see are two things. There is the content and then there are the applications that allow you to interact with the content.

To completely over-simplify things, the applications are what make it possible for us to create, share, and use the content we find on the Internet. So to say content is King, you’d have to also say that the applications are Queen in order to have a more complete view of the Internet. There are all kinds of applications from the browsers that make surfing the Internet possible to all sorts of applications that manage and deliver the content.

Think about it. Without the application we know as Google, how would you find the content you’re looking for on the Internet? I’ve been there and I remember finding things online was next to impossible, but that was back in 1987. Then we have Adobe TM Flash that allows us to see and hear sounds and images over the Internet.

There are all sorts of content management systems available to us today that simply didn’t exist a few years back. As it becomes easier and easier to manage and digest, the demand for new content grows and grows.

Marketers who create quality content often find they are able to generate large amounts of traffic, they usually have large mailing lists, and it almost goes without saying that they usually have healthy bank accounts.

It all starts with the content. The more you create, share, distribute, the better off you’ll be in building a profitable business on the web. If you want the real secret to Internet success, this is it.

Content comes in many forms, and it’s best to use as many forms as possible on your web site because there are now so many ways to access and use content and not everybody wants it the same way. Some people love to read, others prefer to listen, some prefer to sit back and watch a video.

As you develop your content, think about creating not just written articles, white papers, and special reports. Be sure to add streaming audio, podcasts, videos, screen-captures, and even animations to your mix.

Sometimes it’s best to give the same content in different formats. For instance, you might present an article as both a regular web page and a downloadable .PDF file. You might present a video and also present just the audio track from that same video.

Now how do you get from creating content to building a successful business?

Think about why most people use the Internet. They get online and check e-mail. They log into their social networks to keep up with their friends. They search for information to help them answer a question. They look for things to purchase. They come to play games and meet people. All of these activities revolve around finding and using content.

When you’ve got content on your web site and you make it easy for people to find, you íncrease the traffic to your web site, naturally.

The more content you have, the more people will be stopping by your web site. Truly the days of the single-page sales letter web sites are done. You’ve got to do more than make a compelling sales pitch, you’ve got to demonstrate that you’re the leader in your market. You’ve got to show people why they need what you have and how it will truly make their lives better. And most of all, you’ve got to let them sample your stuff before they purchase.

Let’s look at it from the customer’s perspective. Your customer wants the best of what’s available but how can they figure out what’s best from a sales letter alone? They need more information that’s not in the form of a sales pitch. They need to feel like they can try it on, test it out, and they can do that when you present them plenty of content on your web site.

So if you’re selling a product that is best demonstrated in a video, be sure you have a number of videos on your web site showing customers using and loving your product. If you sell consulting, demonstrate your knowledge of your topic with articles, reports, white papers, audio presentations, and even videos of you speaking to an audience.

As you plan your content, also keep in mind how you’re going to present it on your web site so that it’s in the formats people can really use, that it’s easy to find, and that it’s readily accessible from different Internet devices, including smart phones.

If you’ll take to time to do this, what you’ll soon realize is that your sales letters will perform better, people will not need as much strong-arm salesmanship before they purchase, your mailing líst will grow, and your web site will show up in more places on the Internet.

It’s no surprise that web sites that present a lot of content lead the field when it comes to sales. Take a look at your web site today and think about how a new visitor would really get to sample what it is you do without having to purchase what you’re selling.

How good is your web site at attracting new visitors with little or no direct effort on your part? Do you have enough easily accessible content on your web site to keep people coming back for more?

Most web sites, including my own, can always use more great content. Adding content is the best and most profitable use of your marketing dollars because the return on your investment continues for years.

For instance, in 1991 I wrote my very first article on marketing. It was published in a national business magazine a few months later and it continues to appear on the Internet almost 20 years later. In that time, this one article has been read more than a million times, and has generated countless sales for my business. What other kind of marketing can do that?

In my opinion, no other marketing piece can do what adding fresh content to your web site can. Ideally, you’ll be adding new content regularly, and expiring content that is no longer relevant. When you do, you’ll have the most profitable marketing strategy working for you all day, every day for years to come.

About The Author
Robert Imbriale is the author of the best-selling book, Motivational Marketing (Wiley, 2007). He has personally coached thousands of business owners since he began coaching in 1995. He is a leader in the marketing industry and regularly appears on radio and television. To get your copy of Why People purchase go to www.UltimateWealth.com/money.htm

Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Customer Connections Now Important for Google Results


Google Puts Social Results in the Mix

If you are one of those people still skeptical about the business uses of social media, you may be interested to know that Google’s Social Search is no longer just an experiment. Though it does have the beta tag on it, it is now mainstream. This is something we’ve all known would come sooner or later, but now it’s here.

Have you established enough connections to do well in social search? Leave your comment t WebProNews.

If people were already seeing different search results from one another before, that is really going to be true now, now that Google is plugging results based on the individual’s social circle into any given SERP. This is one of the many ways SEO is changing, and it would appear that any business looking to get some play in Google search, would do well to have as many connections established as possible, via various social networking sites and tools.

Keep in mind that the social circle is based upon information that Google has about you from your Google account. You can see your list of connections anytime from here (assuming you have a Google account). It pulls connections from your Google Contacts, and any services you have listed on your Google profile (assuming you have services listed on your profile). If you have Twitter listed for example (Facebook connections are not public), anyone you are connected to through one of those services is fair game for potential search results.

Google’s thinking is that if the user is connected to certain people, results from those people will have relevance because you know and trust them. Google says, “You can improve social search results for your friends and contacts by linking to content you have created such as blogs, photos and videos on your Google profile.”

“We’ve been having a lot of fun with Social Search. It’s baby season here on our team — two of us just had little ones, and a third is on the way,” the company says in the announcement. “We’re all getting ready to be parents for the first time and we have lots of questions. So, what do we do? We search Google, of course! With Social Search, when we search for [baby sleep patterns], [swaddling] or [best cribs], not only do we get the usual websites with expert opinions, we also find relevant pages from our friends and contacts. For example, if one of my friends has written a blog where he talks about a great baby shop he found in Mountain View, this might appear in my social results. I could probably find other reviews, but my friend’s blog is more relevant because I know and trust the author.”

Appearing in social search results means:

1. Make sure you have all of your important links on your Google Profile.
2. Make as many connections as possible.
3. Encourage customers to follow you via social networks.
4. Participate in social media so people will engage with you.
5. Encourage sharing of content (there are plenty available social media buttons)
6. Include social network info on business cards/signage, etc.
7. Include social network info in your online advertising
8. There are probably many more worthwhile tips (if you have any, share them in the comments at WebProNews).

Google’s social search doesn’t end with regular web search. They’re adding it to image search, and who knows what else. Look for a lot more features to become part of social search, as Google leaves that Beta tag on. Let’s not forget that Gmail only left beta last year, and I don’t have to tell you they’ve added a lot to that over the years.

Just remember that social results will always be clearly marked as such on Google’s SERPs. They will be accompanied by a heading that says “Results from your social circle”. Still, for traditional SEO it is just one more thing to compete with as far as page real estate. That’s why social is a much more of an important part of search than ever.

Google has been making many moves over the last couple years that seem to slowly turn it more and more into its own social network. Now that its profiles have a direct impact on search results, how people view Google in this light is likely to change significantly. Once more and more average users start to realize the social features are being integrated more into their everyday searches, they may find themselves getting sucked into using Google as more of a social tool, as opposed to just search.

What are your thoughts on Google’s social search? Let WebProNews know.

Related Articles:

> Google Profiles Go to the SERPs
> Google Launches Social Search Experiment
> Can Search Engine Optimization Survive Google?

About the Author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

| Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

A Markup That Could Have Big Implications for SEO


RDFa Could Play an Increasingly Big Role in Search

RDFa, which stands for Resource Description Framework in attributes, is a W3C recommendation, which adds a set of attribute level extensions to XHTML for embedding rich metadata within web documents. While not everyone believes that W3C standards are incredibly necessary to operate a successful site, some see a great deal of potential for search engine optimization in RDFa.

In fact, this is the topic of a current WebProWorld thread, which was started by Dave Lauretti of MoreStar, who asks, “Are you working the RDFa Framework into your SEO campaigns?” He writes, “Now under certain conditions and with certain search strings on both Google and Yahoo we can find instances where the RDFa framework integrated within a website can enhance their listing in the search results.”

Lauretti refers to an article from last summer at A List Apart, by Mark Birbeck who said that Google was beginning to process RDFa and Microformats as it indexes sites, using the parsed data to enhance the display of search results with “rich snippets”. This results in the Google results you see like this:

RDFa in play

“It’s a simple change to the display of search results, yet our experiments have shown that users find the new data valuable — if they see useful and relevant information from the page, they are more likely to click through,” Google said upon the launch of rich snippets.

Google says it is experimenting with markup for business and location data, but that it doesn’t currently display this information, unless the business or organization is part of a review (hence the results in the above example). But when review information is marked up in the body of a web page, Google can identify it and may make it available in search results. When review information is shown in search results, this can of course entice users to click through to the page (one of the many reasons to treat customers right and monitor your reputation).

Currently Google uses RDFa for reviews, but this search also displays the date of the review, the star rating, the author and the price range of an iPod, as Lauretti points out.

Best Buy’s lead web development engineer reported that by adding RDFa the company saw improved ranking for respective pages. They saw a 30% increase in traffic, and Yahoo evidently observed a 15% increase in click-through rates.(via Steven Pemberton)

Implications for SEO

I’m not going to get into the technical side of RDFa here (see resources listed later in the article), but I would like to get into some of the implications that Google’s use of RDFa could have on SEO practices. For one, rich snippets can show specific information related to products that are searched for. For example, a result for a movie search could bring up information like:

- Run time
- Release Date
- Rating
- Theaters that are showing it

“The implementation of RDFa not only gives more information about products or services but also increases the visibility of these in the latest generations of search engines, recommender systems and other applications,” Lauretti tells WebProNews. “If accuracy is an issue when it comes to search and search results then pages with RDFa will get better rankings as there would be little to question regarding the page theme.” (Source) He provides the following chart containing examples of the types of data that could potentially be displayed with RDFa:

RDFa Implications

“It is obvious that search marketers and SEOs will be utilizing this ability for themselves and their clients,” says Lauretti. Take contact information specifically. “Using RDFa in your contact information clarifies to the search engine that the text within your contact block of code is indeed contact information.” He says in this same light, “people information” can be displayed in the search results (usually social networking info). You could potentially show manufacturer information or author information.

RDFa actually has implications beyond just Google’s regular web search.
With respect to Google’s Image search, the owner of images can also use RDFa to provide license information about the images they own. Google currently allows image searchers to have images displayed based on license type, and using RDFa with your images lets the search bots know under which licenses you are making your images available (Via Mark Birbeck). There is also RDFa support for video.

Following are some resources where you can learn more about RDFa and how to implement it:

Google Introduces Rich Snippets
Introduction to RDFa
RDFa Primer
About RDFa (Google Webmaster Central)
RDFa to Provide Image License Info
RDFa Microformat Tagging For Your Website
For Businesses and Organizations
About Review Data (Google Webmaster Central)

Google’s Matt Cutts has said in the past that Google has been kind of “white listing” sites to get rich snippets, as Google feels they are appropriate, but as they grow more confident that such snippets don’t hurt the user experience, then Google will likely roll the ability out more and more broadly. This is one thing to keep an eye on as the year progresses, and is why those in the WebProWorld thread believe RDFa will become a bigger topic of discussion in 2010.

WebProNews would like to thank Dave Lauretti, who contributed some findings to this piece.

Update: As I pieced together this article, Google coincidentally announced support for rich snippets for Events.

Related Articles:

> Get Your Breadcrumbs in Google for More Links in Results
> Google Makes it Easier to Tell Where Results Originate From
> Get More Links in Your Actual Google Results

About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow WebProNews on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter: @CCrum237

|   Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Why 2010 Will Be A White Knuckle Ride For Web Marketers


Here is an interesting article written by Titus Hoskins that I personally have seen some of the effects of. If you do ANY internet marketing at all, I feel that this is a MUST READ ……..

Next year may just prove to be one of the most challenging times for pursuing online or Internet marketing on the web. It may just be a watershed moment for many marketers struggling to keep abreast of all the different factors which have come into play in recent months. Most of these changes will stem from two main sources for potential upheaval: the first being the New FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Guidelines regarding Testimonials and Endorsements and the second being “ALL” the recent changes within Google.

Actually, we already have the new FTC Guidelines which came into effect on Dec. 1st of 2009, but how these new rules are enforced will play out in the coming year as test-cases are brought to court. Basically, these new rules call for absolute disclosure and full transparency regarding Testimonials and Endorsements when a product or service is being offered for sale. Any business (monetary) relationship between the endorser and the company must be made known to the potential buyer. Obviously for those in online or affiliate marketing this could have a great impact if these new rules are strictly enforced. Just imagine all the website owners and bloggers who slap a few banners or affiliate links on their sites to cover hosting or operating costs… will they now have to disclose all these business arrangements?

For professional affiliate marketers and the companies/products they’re promoting, these new guidelines could cause potential headaches and/or legal ramifications since a general blanket disclaimer on their sites will no longer be suffice. To help solve this problem, many of the major companies are now placing an “affiliate” tag on all their banners and making it obvious a business relationship exists with its affiliates. In addition, many online marketers are placing additional disclaimers, affiliate seals and in other ways making it known certain links are indeed affiliate links and a relationship does exist with the product and/or services being promoted.

With these new guidelines, another big issue is email marketing, one of the major marketing techniques of most online marketers. Will a full disclosure be necessary for every email sales pitch? Savvy web marketers know the key to increased sales is in the “follow-up” and the “cookie-ing” of potential buyers; how will the new Guidelines affect this very effective marketing practice? How all these new rules or guidelines play out will make next year a very interesting one for marketing on the web.

Despite this, perhaps the greatest cause for upheaval in the coming year will be Google. There are countless reasons why Google will be a major game changer in 2010 for online marketing. Ever since Bing and more recently the potential Bing/Yahoo competition, Google has gone into complete overdrive, implementing new changes and debuting new programs like there was no tomorrow.

First, we have Google Caffeine which Google is introducing (full force) early in the new year. Google Caffeine, which is a major overhaul of its search engine, will no doubt cause many a marketer some sleepless nights as the total fall-out becomes evident. Other Google updates in the past (Florida Update comes readily to mind) have wreaked havoc on many top ranking sites, but this time Google is doing things a little differently and have even given webmasters a beta version of the new search engine. Still, rightly or wrongly, many online marketers are bracing themselves for the full impact of Caffeine. Will it mean smooth sailing or a stomach sickening roller-coaster ride for marketers and webmasters?

Second, we have the introduction of “Real Time” search which will be featured in Google’s SERPs. This will make the social media sites like Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace… much more important. Again, the implications for online marketers could be enormous since many can now reach the first page through a different route. Will it also mean more “Real Time” spam? But more importantly, will it mean a greater marketing opportunity for the online marketer who exploits it?

Third, we are seeing Google moving more and more towards “Visual Search” with the introduction of Google Goggles for mobile phones. Just take a picture and you get the Google results instantly – no typing, just point and click. Just envision countless clueless teenagers or more importantly helpless shoppers suddenly being empowered with knowledge and wisdom. Could do more for education since the invention of the printed word and the info-commercial combined. Talk about scary! But will the implications for web marketing be just as revolutionary and enlightening?

Fourth, Google has made it known through its spokesperson Matt Cutts, that site-loading times will be a ranking factor in the new improved Google. Also, proper and correct page coding will also be more important if you want your site to be at full advantage. Broken links will be a big “No-No”, while linking out to important related sites a big plus. All this is only logical, Google’s main product is and has always been its search results, anything which improves those results and provides a more pleasing experience for the Google user should be front and center. Obviously, one way for Google to stay on top, is to provide the best search results to its users.

Fifth, in order to please the end-user, Google is also moving more towards “Personalized Search” which will make SEO and ranking in the top spot for your chosen keywords a total nightmare for many professional SEOs and online marketers. If everyone can choose their own top results, isn’t SEO more or less, a lame duck? Again, the ramifications of personalized search will further play out in 2010, but will professional marketers like what they see?

Finally, while no one would argue Google is King of the Hill when it comes to online search, will all these new changes strengthen or weaken Google’s grip? Will the combined Bing/Yahoo be able to give this giant some much needed competition? Or will Google’s main competition come from an unlikely source, such as big name multi-national corporations who are moving their operations online. Can these big-name keyworded domains start directly pulling in the majority of the web’s traffic, making all search engines secondary? As people become more web savvy, will they go directly to what they’re looking for on the web, bypassing the search engines altogether – including the mighty Google? Such a scenario could have greater consequences for the affiliate marketer since a direct line to a company’s site or product will obviously mean less sales for the online marketer, who really works in coordination with the search engines, either through organic search or PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising in these same search engines.

Overall, the new FTC Guidelines and recent changes to Google, will make next year one of the most interesting times to be pitching anything online. Throw into this the full effect that a combined Bing/Yahoo might bring to the table, and you have the recipe for a tumultuous white knuckle ride, until the dust finally settles and marketers make adjustments like they always do. Until then, hold on because things will probably get a little hectic for many web marketers before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

About The Author
Titus Hoskins is a full time online affiliate marketer. His livelihood is derived from & dependent upon search engine marketing & daily monitoring of targeted keywords, mainly within Google. He runs numerous sites, including: Free Marketing Tools & Internet Marketing Tools
Titus Hoskins Copyright 2009. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.

|   Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Cutting Rank: How an Improper Domain Name Redirect Can Forfeit Your Top Rankings


Can my site rank better with a keyword-rich domain name? Sure.

Can my site rank better without a keyword in the domain name at all? Absolutely.

I get questions (or assumptions) like this regularly. Actually, there are many other things going on behind the scenes that impact rank, and the domain name is rarely a significant factor.

Let’s say your website has been out there for 6 months or more and you assume, for whatever reason, that you can get a higher search engine ranking if you were using a keyword in your domain name instead of the one you have. In addition to your company web domain, maindomain.com, you rush to purchase keyword1.com, keyword2.com and keyword3.com.

From Google’s perspective, there is both a good way and a detrimental way to assign these additional domain names to your site. This can cause a much greater problem in terms of organic ranking if you get it wrong in terms of duplicate content and trust. Have you ever heard of duplicate content? Which domain name does Google have more history and trust with, your current domain name or one you just bought?

Common methods webmasters use to point multiple domain names to your web server include:

• Domain Mirroring/Masking
• Domain Cloaking
• Domain Alias/URL Alias
• Domain Redirecting

Domain mirroring/masking is sometimes called a pointer domain. It looks like it is the domain name when it is used in a browser, but it is simply a mask overlaying the real domain name and its content. When someone types in www.domain.com, it’s really forwarding to domain.blogspot.com without the address changing in the address bar. The user continues to see www.domain.com in the address bar, although the site and its contents are really from domain.blogspot.com.

Domain cloaking uses an iframe or embedded frameset to display the content of another site.

Domain redirecting (also called URL redirecting) requires all traffic that is sent through the new domain name to be redirected to the main domain name. This can also be a domain redirected to a subdirectory of the main domain, or multiple domains redirected to a complex URL. This is different from domain mirroring/masking and domain cloaking because, when a user types in www.domain.com, they end up on www.maindomain.com and the address changes appropriately in the address bar.

But, let’s back up a second and look at the issues you must consider before making this decision.

1. To limit confusion, it’s better to change the brand (or company) name to better reflect the keyword-rich domain name. This could be as simple as recreating the company logo, but you might consult your customer base first.

2. The technical procedure of redirecting domain names must be done so that the search engines do not get confused about what you are trying to do. Otherwise, you risk tripping a duplicate content filter, which would force Google to accept only one domain with that content (explained below). But the biggest risk is setting off an alarm at Google that you are trying to trick them to get a better rank.

Just for fun, let’s say you’ve gone through the trouble of changing the company name to reflect your new keyword-rich domain. Now it’s time to get technical.

If you use any method other than domain redirecting, you are going to be disappointed with your search rank. Domain mirroring, masking, cloaking and aliases confuse search engines because they see the same content under a different domain name. Google then selects one of the domain names to display that content and leaves the others out of the search results. Google chooses for you – since you are not aware of how to manage your duplicate content issues – and no one knows which domain name Google will choose. You could be saying “bye-bye” to all the hard-earned link juice pointed at your main domain name.

The more serious issue with domain mirroring/masking is the probability that Google suspects you are trying to manipulate search rank by suddenly using keywords in additional domain names. The result is either loss of whatever good ranking you did have or your site is banned from Google altogether. Ouch!

This is precisely what happened with a client. Despite my warnings, but thinking they might change the company name eventually, they bought additional keyword-rich domain names and had the webmaster point them at their server (using domain masking). Within a couple weeks Google dropped their domain ranking across the board, but did not ban them.

Of course they came to me with their issue. I gently reminded them about how this should have been done, redirected the domain names properly (using a 301 redirect) and asked them to consult me next time they’re considering a marketing or technical decision regarding the website. It took about 6 weeks – a long and painful 6 weeks – for Google to restore their good rank again.

When a company acquires additional domain names, they should be permanently redirected to the main domain name – the one, central location on the web for all of the company’s or brand’s content.

Redirecting a domain name should be handled differently depending on the type of server hosting your site (Apache or Windows), how much control you have over that server (hosted on a shared or dedicated server) and the purpose of the redirected domain name.

 

About The Author
Tom Shivers is an SEO consultant and president of Capture Commerce, Inc. – a professional SEO company focused on tailored Internet marketing.

NEED A DOMAIN NAME? Choose from several domain extensions (including international), many for under $10 USD/yr! Visit DirectGlobal Domains right now and create a name for yourself!

|   Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Testing On A Hidden Domain May Soon Become Illegal


You know that domain name that you don’t want anyone to know that you own?

The one that you’re either testing out some SEO stuff that’s in the “gray hat” area?

The one you don’t want your competitors to know that you own?

The one you’ve been considering for sending spam emails?

Yeah, that one.

Well, the Ninth Circuit court of appeals just ruled that using any kind of domain privacy service could get you into legal trouble:

[P]rivate registration is a service that allows registration of a domain name in a manner that conceals the actual registrant’s identity from the public absent a subpoena. We fail to perceive any vagueness on this point.

Based on the plain meaning of the relevant terms discussed above, private registration for the purpose of concealing the actual registrant’s identity would constitute “material falsification.”

Defendants assert that many innocent people who privately register without the requisite intent may be subject to investigation for violation of § 1037 until their intent can be determined, allowing for abuse by enforcement authorities. This may be so, but it does not make the statute unconstitutionally vague.

Simply using a domain privacy service doesn’t make you a criminal, but the ruling appears to suggest that the use of such a service-especially in the use of sending spam emails-could be interpreted as trying to evade identification.

You probably don’t have to worry about the local sheriff knocking on your door, but as far as this ruling goes, no matter what your intentions, concealing your ownership of a domain is-by the letter of the law-material falsification.

Legal eagles, feel free to weigh in with your expert opinions!

 

About the Author:
Andy Beal is an internet marketing consultant and considered one of the world’s most respected and interactive search engine marketing experts.

Andy has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies such as Motorola, CitiFinancial, Lowes, Alaska Air, DeWALT, NBC and Experian.

You can read his internet marketing blog at Marketing Pilgrim and reach him at andy.beal@gmail.com.

|   Subscribe to Building Mailing Lists

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

« Older Entries