7 Tips for Flipping Websites for Income


Flipping websites is a lot like flipping houses – except that they’re totally different. When you flip a house, you purchase it for $100,000, spend $30,000 more than you expected fixing it up, which takes three months longer than you hoped to make mortgage payments, then sell it for $120,000. Or so I’ve heard from some folks who have been a little burned.

With flipping websites, it’s a bit different in that you’re dealing strictly with digital goods, so to speak, so there’s no material cost involved. And there are many more opportunities for old-fashioned, do-it-yourself, boot-strapping – IF you know what you’re doing. And if you don’t? You can still get burned, so be careful.

Here are some tips for launching a website flipping venture:

Stick With Well-Known Sources

My own favorite is Flippa. A while back it was under the umbrella of the Sitepoint.com marketplace and eventually launched as Flippa. Flippa offers some nice and helpful features such as:

* Current revenue, with verification of anything suspicious.
* Detailed traffic and ranking information.
* A secure transaction method.
* Domain registration information.
* Both bidding and purchase it now possibilities.
* Incredible searching and sorting abilities so you can find a niche-targeted site in your price range easily.

There are other sources, such as the Digital Point forums and even eBay, but the few sites I’ve bought and sold have occurred on Flippa.

Watch Out for Spam and Scam Sites

Yep, they’re everywhere, and sometimes they sneak through on Flippa as well. You’ll often see sites for sale that seem fishy, make too many promises, or look way too familiar. Go with your gut and walk very carefully. Do your research and verify claims of original content, high traffic numbers, and revenue earned. Make sure they haven’t been blacklisted by Google and be sure to ask every question that crosses your mind before purchasing to see that the owner answers well.

Stick to Your Budget

If you’ve decided to invest $300 into flipping a website, don’t give into the temptation to spend $500 on the hope that you can turn the website around and make even more.

Write Out an Improvement Plan

Before buying, make a list of the things that you think you’d need to do to turn the website around. Such as:

* Freshening up the graphics.
* Freshening up the typography.
* Addressing usability issues.
* Re-structuring the content flow and/or sitemap.
* Adding social sharing features.
* Moving to a new platform.
* Adding more features and services.

Consider Your Time and Expense Budget for Improvements

Decide how long the changes will take, how much money you might spend on graphic design, data migration, etc., and whether these changes will actually improve the site enough to sell it for a profit or not.

I once heard that improving a kitchen or bathroom will yield more than a 100% on your investment when selling a house, but adding on a deck will wind up costing you. The same is true of websites. If a complete redesign is in order, it may be smarter to get yourself a property (domain name) and build from scratch to begin with.

Do It Enthusiastically, or Not at All

If you’ve been around the WordPress world much, you might know the story of Small Potato, who sold WPDesigner.com to a guy who made great promises to the site’s community and then didn’t ever really showed up again. His lack of passion created a community backlash from the people who had been so loyal to Small Potato. It was really the first premium WordPress theme marketplace around, offering “premium” themes for a $5 membership fee. Small Potato felt so bad about the sale that he refunded each person’s fees personally, of his own accord.

So, if you’re passionate about selling bells and whistles, then by all means, buy a bells and whistles website, fix it up, and sell your bells and whistles website after building the community. But if you don’t know a bell from a whistle, veer in a different direction.

When It’s Time to Sell It, Sell It

If you’re growing a site, chances are it’s because of the energy you’re pouring into it. In many cases, continuing to pour more energy in will produce even greater results and growth. But at some point along the growth curve, you have to determine when it’s time to sell it, if at all.

The Internet is filled with stories of startup companies who were offered great sums of money for their growing ventures. Some turned down those opportunities to sell, only to go on to even greater heights. The obvious risk is that someone else will beat you to the punch and release a better website first, but this is the open world of the Internet. There is room for multiple sites about bells and whistles.

About The Author
Brandon Cox has been involved in many areas of entrepreneurship and web development, including helping people flip websites for cash.

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The Google Duplicate Content Penalty: the Truth


Here’s an interesting article by Peter Nisbet of Article-Writing.com on Google’s duplicate content penalty (or lack thereof). Go figure … :>

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The truth of the Google duplicate content penalty is quite simply that there is none! If that confuses you, then you have been reading too many misinformed forums or blogs where people get stuck on some popular term that they have no idea what it means, and then profess to be experts.

The only experts on the Google duplicate content penalty, and the only people who are qualified to define it, are Google, and in Google’s own words “There is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty“. This comes directly from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

That should be the end of this article, at precisely 96 words excluding title as I define my word count. But it is not. Why? Because even though this blog is operated by Google, and even though much the same has been stated by Matt Cutts, Google’s main software engineer, and other Google experts, people still argue and complain about the Google ‘duplicate content penalty’.

So here is the truth: you might ask who am I to know the truth, but I read all the Google blogs and their official statements, and in applying what I learn, I achieve excellent results for my web pages on Google search engine listings: and those of Yahoo, MSN and Bing. So I am coming from a sound base that my results can prove.

As a professional article writer whose customers trust to get them the best results from the articles I write, I have to be very aware of the policies and the way the algorithms work of each of the major search engines, and so I am as qualified as anybody to comment on myths such as this.

The Truth of the Google Duplicate Content Penalty

There is no duplicate content penalty. Google’s major search engine function is to provide a customer the best possible results for a search, based upon the search term (keywords) that the customer has used in the Google search box.

Google’s customers are not:

1. You, who use it to get your web pages listed.

2. Adwords advertisers that use Adwords to advertise their products.

3. Corporations or individuals that use it to have their web pages listed.

4. Internet marketers who recommend others to use Google for advertising or searching.

Google’s customers are those seeking information, whether that is to solve a problem, where to purchase a product at the cheapest price, find a sports result or to get directions to a specific location. Everybody that uses Google uses a search term to find some information that they need. That search term is what you and I refer to as a keyword.

If Google detects several web pages offering exactly the same content, its algorithms will select that which best offers the information required and list that. It might also list one or two other pages offering exactly the same content if there are good reasons for it doing so (e.g. more links to other relevant websites, more other relevant pages on the domain, and so on).

So, not all duplicate content pages will be refused a listing. If these duplicates are articles, then the algorithms that the spiders carry on their backs will take the links from these articles into consideration, the authority of the directory on which it is published, and other factors, before deciding which should be listed. It is wrong to believe that this decision has a chronological factor, but, if you include a link in your article Resource section to your web page that contains the same article, then your page is liable to be listed above the others, partially because of a greater number of links back to it from the other copies, and partially because your entire site is liable to be more relevant than these others to information being sought by Google’s customer.

This is not because yours was created first, but because it better meets Google’s criterion for authoritative back-links. However, if the rest of your website is not equally authoritative, your page might be listed behind another with the same content or even not listed at all.

All of this is designed by Google so that its customer is offered the most relevant range of results to the keywords they used. That is what Google is for, and is its ultimate objective. Google will not penalize any individual or any website for publishing what you refer to as ‘duplicate content’, and it will take your version into consideration for publication just as any other version.

What counts in the long run is which version Google’s algorithms believe to be most likely to provide the best possible information to the person seeking it, and if that means not publishing a whole host of duplicate information, then that is only fair, isn’t it? If you used Google to find some information, you wouldn’t want to find page after page saying exactly the same thing, would you?

No, and neither does Google. A Google listing comes from its indexing of billions of web pages that contain the keywords used by the searcher: both in relation to the entire phrase and to the individual words used in the search term. If you want your copy to be different, make some minor changes and perhaps change the form of the keywords, but most importantly, change the title and the introductory paragraph to which the crawlers will take special notice.

You then have a better chance of your version being listed along with some of the others, but remember: the next time you use the term ‘duplicate content’ you are using a term that does not exist in Google’s vocabulary for any reason than to deny its existence. The Google Duplicate Content Penalty does not exist: the truth!

About The Author
For more information on the mythical duplicate content penalty visit www.article-services.com where Peter Nisbet will also explain how to earn money using article marketing.

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Eleven Steps to SEO Heaven – Part 2


One piece of ‘new media jargon’ that has got the vast majority of business leaders confused is SEO (search engine optimization). Too many people have been charged too much for either inappropriate or ineffective SEO services, often because the supplier does not really understand it either. This two part article is for people who are not experienced or very knowledgeable when it comes to SEO – defining what it is and what it can do.

The introduction and first five steps to SEO heaven discussed how to get a website ready for an SEO campaign. In part two (steps 6 to 11), we’ll explore the continuous and competitive process of earning a high search engine ranking for a SEO prepared website.

Step 6 to SEO Heaven – Web Analytics

As with any marketing, but particularly for online marketing, where the tools and results are so effective, it is essential to measure and track results. Market behaviour is very predictable. Accordingly, the effectiveness of each part of your campaign can be compared and optimized. The options for web analytics vary from free services to very expensive and customizable packages.

Whichever you choose, don’t put it off. Measure your results from day one and use them to improve your site and your marketing campaigns. That old statement ‘I know half my advertising does not work, if I only knew which half was not working I’d stop spending it’ is not true on the internet. You can and must know.

Step 7 to SEO Heaven – Content Building

Part of being ‘the best and most relevant’ result is having the freshest content, and the search engines look for that by regular visits to your site and reviewing your site’s progress. They use a formula, not usually a human being, unless they detect potential fraud.

Actually, good SEO means a website isn’t ever done, and the fact that it has to change and grow over time gives your customers a better experience. Search engines reward a ‘natural process’ that adjusts to changes in the market and your normal business growth.

Providing good quality content that is related to what you do, but not necessarily aimed at selling something directly, is a powerful, perhaps the the best, option to improve the traffic to your website and the exposure of your business. Most people do not link to pages that only serve the purpose of making a sale.

This leads to the next step in this 11 step process of successful search engine optimization for your website.

Step 8 to SEO Heaven – Link Building

The internet works through links, it would not be a “net” without links. A collection of independent pages that are not connected to each other cannot be found and, for the most part, that defeats their purpose. People seeing and clicking on links to your site make effective inbound links that search engines like to reward with a higher ranking for your website. They are also vital for SEO.

Inbound links play an important role in virtually every search engine when it comes to ranking pages in their search results. In the normal course of business links are added, and sometimes removed, all the time. This neverending organic process is monitored and measured by the search engines as an indicator of importance and relevance – so it is advisable to be pro-active in acquiring good inbound links. There are plenty of sites out there that should link to you, but don’t know you and your content. Help them to find your content and encourage linking to it.

Step 9 to SEO Heaven – Engagement, Trust and Community Building

Like it or not social media is a reality whole sections of society participate in for hours daily and is a fundamental indicator of relevance and popularity. Don’t allow your website to exist in an isolated bubble. Talk to people and allow them to respond and to interact with you.

People will talk about you with or without your permission. Much better to seize the initiative and become part of the discussion. Use it to build trust and deeper relationships with your customers or potential customers. Use it like research. Listen to what they say and learn about their wants and their needs. Listen and take note of comments, especially criticisms, and use them to improve. You can save the money you might have spent on focus groups and get feedback free of charge on the internet.

In relation to SEO, social media provides a huge opportuníty to expand your link building. For your business it increases your brand exposure for a fraction of the cost of traditional, more intrusive advertising campaigns that are usually less effective.

Step 10 to SEO Heaven – Ranking and Traffic Analysis

When you begin, or if you have already started, check where you are today to be able to track and compare with data in the future. Look for trends and evaluate the progress towards your goals. You know those goals which we set in the first paragraph before we began the campaign. The ones you should specify before you engage in any type of marketing campaign. Those goals were measurable I hope? If you view improving your SEO ranking as a measure of your business success rather than an essential step to achieving business success, you will maintain a high SEO ranking for the long term. Why, because the high traffic that comes with it will drive your business.

Does the change in ranking yield the traffic you expected? Does this traffic actually convert? Which leads us neatly to step 11 of SEO heaven.

Step 11 to SEO Heaven – Conversion Analysis

All of this effort matters not one jot unless you make your profit number (or the equivalent in not for profit organizations). It all comes down to one critical factor – what is your bottom line? Did you make profit or did you lose money. Web Analytics is part of the process of making this determination. Focus on the things that work and help your bottom line and stop doing the things that don’t. Work on the details to improve visitor conversion to sales. This requires testing. Don’t try anything upfront without testing it first. The things that work for others might not work for you and the same is true the other way around.

Many with experience in the SEO game will tell you that there is another, more important step that would make this article 12 steps to SEO heaven. That step is to be sure only to work with people who can really explain SEO in plain English. To be blunt, small, independent and one-man-band web designers rarely get SEO fully and their usually well meaning efforts end up costing you more than they deliver. They do get part of the story, but they fail you by wasting both your money and your time.

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

If you missed Steps 1 – 5, go here …

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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 …

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Google’s SEO Report Card… Information Nuggets or Fool’s Gold?


While ostensibly aimed at helping Google target potential weaknesses in its own product pages, and of no direct use to SEOs, there is nonetheless more than a little gold to be found here, if one just examines the document in a little more depth. So while the post at Google’s Webmaster Central Blog is already beginning to bristle with comments lamenting the fact that this isn’t a clear treasure map to the search-ranking mother lode, it’s worth sifting through the Report Card to see what informational nuggets are hidden inside.

Subject I: Search Result Presentation

It’s easy to see why some readers simply dismissed this document out of hand, as the first section starts off being little more than a rehash of the standard “Use Page Titles, Use Meta Descriptions” advice found in any SEO-101 manual. Only by persevering to the part talking about Google Sitelink Triggering, does one begin to suspect that there may be a little more to the report card than meets the eye. Here the authors throw out a couple of crumbs about categorizing website and link-structure, and consolidating a site’s URLs to maximize its informational focus with the aim of increasing the chances of
Google generating Sitelinks.

Even so, it’s nothing most professionals haven’t heard before, and I suspect that by this time a lot of readers had given up, thinking that nothing interesting was in store.

Subject II: URLs and Redirects

This is where we see a little glitter among the rubble, as the section starts off with the statement that: “Google products’ URLs take many different forms. Most larger products use a subdomain, while smaller ones usually use a directory form…”

In itself this is not an exceptional statement, and the chapter continues to give handy, but hardly unique, information about canonicalization, URL structure, and redirects until Page 10, where we find the following declaration:

“Subdomains require an extra DNS lookup, slightly affecting latency, which is very important at Google.”

Page load-speeds are an important factor to Google. There’s been talk and speculation about this ever since Matt Cutts dropped the first hints last year, and these days most SEOs are busily proclaiming that slow websites are now a handicap.

Haven’t they always been?

Be that as it may, this fact is not common knowledge with the average webmaster, as demonstrated by a question I’m regularly confronted with over at the Google Webmaster Help Forum:

“Which is a better way to categorize my site, subdomains or folders?”

The standard answer to this question used to be “Whichever you prefer” before load-times became an issue. Now, however, we find a clear indicator that a folder-based approach is much-preferable unless a category actually contains enough information to merit its own site, which is effectively what a subdomain turns it into.

Subject III: On-Page Optimizations

While at first glance this chapter is more standard SEO-101 fodder, it’s where we find a sizable nugget, as the report talks about semantic markup, and how Google uses it to gauge a page’s content.

“Nothing new here; we all use H1 tags.” you might say, but you’d only be partially right, because this issue not only runs much deeper than H1 headings, it runs beyond Heading tags altogether, as I’ll explain shortly. For the moment, however, let’s stay with them.

In the past few years, a great many Optimizers have reached the conclusion that only H1, and, to a degree, H2 are of any promotional value, and that lesser headings (H3 – H6) carry practically no weight at all. But let’s take a look at the following statement, taken from Page 38 of the Report:

“Most product main pages have an opportunity to use one <h1> tag, like the example above, but they’re currently only using other heading tags (<h3> in this case) or larger font styling. While styling your text so it appears larger might achieve the same visual presentation, it does not provide the same semantic meaning to the search engine that an <h1> tag does.”

For starters it’s obvious that the lesser headings are alive and well, and being used by Google. We’re also told that Google does not, or cannot, judge the visual-context meaning of CSS styled text. The conclusion is to use more heading tags instead of CSS styles wherever your content calls for it. However, there’s more to it still. Let’s take another look at part of that statement:

“…but they’re currently only using other heading tags…”

It would appear that Google still places greater value on other semantic markup tags (em, strong, blockquote, etc.) than many professionals give them credit for these days. Otherwise why would the author specifically note the fact that Google only uses headings and font styles?

I personally know quite a few professionals who have long-since abandoned most semantic markup tags in favour of CSS style, since the prevailing attitude of designers and SEOs has been that making text bold or italic no longer carries much promotional weight, following widespread abuses in the mid-2000s and Google’s consequent algorithm updates.

And although the above statement may be a tentative one, it might just point the way back to a more HTML-based approach to web design. Indeed, if it can be taken at face-value, it’s entirely possible that those SEOs and designers advocating CSS-based, table-less design as the way forward are barking up the wrong tree. Whatever the case may be, there is undoubtedly more to the SEO Report Card than first meets the eye, and at the very least, there is a little gold to be extracted from the mass of standard information. Only by reading the full document will you be able to make an assessment yourself.

What should also be remembered is that the SEO Report Card is not aimed at high-flying SEOs or E-lebrity industry pundits, but at the intermediate webmaster for whom even the report’s basic information is of immense value, if read alongside Google’s SEO Starter Guide.

About The Author
Sasch Mayer is a writer and consultant with a career spanning well over a decade and a half. Over the years, his web design and promotion advice and Professional Keyword Research have helped countless clients diagnose and solve problems with a wide range of site issues.

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Killer Campaigns Volume Four: The Color of Branding


Web video is a communication technique that provides a viewer-experience that delivers several big advantages over broadcast: first, the length of your presentation is for the most part a non issue other than the degree to which your content and delivery holds your audience’s attention; second, the cost to produce and present professional online video is far more affordable than broadcast; and third, Web video provides the chance to intellectually and emotionally engage your audience with a memorable viewing experience, and involve them physically by prompting direct-response action. On the other hand, broadcast does provide a mass audience, but not necessarily an attentive one like your website.

As we have seen in previous installments of Killer Campaigns, the commercial broadcast industry, despite its economic and time constraints, has plenty of good examples of techniques that can be used effectively in Web video campaigns, if you understand how certain elements affect an audience.

It’s easy to misread a commercial’s true marketing effectiveness and assume the big flashy special effects and grandiose production stunts are what makes a commercial work, but in fact those kinds of things generally only make a commercial more expensive. True the big-deal aspects of a production may attract attention, but it’s the small things that are the most important, the most effective and the most affordable. It’s the things you hardly notice like writing, casting, music, performance, and campaign consistency that have the most impact on a presentation’s ability to communicate, influence and persuade. It’s the production techniques to which the audience pays little attention that maximizes sale-conversions and increases the bottom-line. Take nuts for example.

Color Me Nuts

Nuts, the edible kind, not the irritating relative kind, are about as generic as you can get. So how do you go about creating a marketing campaign for something as mundane as nuts?

The Wonderful Pistachio “Get Crackin” video campaign and micro site got a lot of things right. This series of videos use the same format, style, message, and color in order to turn a nondescript, seemingly unbrandable generic product into a hip, sexy brand. Each element of the presentation re-enforces the other leaving a lasting brand impression without blowing anything up, or spending a fortune creating animated baby skateboarders.

One element that turns this campaign into a great campaign rather than just a very good one is its use of color. What could be simpler?

The campaign’s consistent use of a signature color palette, green and black, combined with a great tagline and a series of clever sketches deliver the kind of memorable impression that prompts instant recognition and impulse-purchasing when seen on store shelves.

One video is not a campaign, so Paramount Farms had seven different videos created, all following the same formula so the audience’s recognition and retention was enhanced and re-enforced every time they watched a new video segment.

Watch the: Pistachios Mobsters Do It Video (my favorite BTW) the Three Toed Crow

This technique is not new; in particular Danone uses color co-ordination effectively in their television commercials to distinguish their various brands of yogurt: Activa uses a green color palette, DanActive uses yellow, and Silhouette uses purple. The Danone commercials don’t have the edginess of the pistachio campaign but their use of color is well thought-out and effective even though the messaging is pretty standard.

The edgy style, consistent format, and color branding definitely qualifies the “Get Crackin” videos as a Killer Campaign.

The Color of Money

Another campaign that makes an impression by means of its clever use of color is the Edward Jones “Join Us” campaign. If you’re not familiar with the commercials they are available on YouTube but unfortunately the embed option for them has been disabled.

These commercials were shot on a white background in black-and-white, a technique that draws special visual attention to the yellow-and-black Edward Jones logo. The whole package is very clever from the way the videos are shot, to the dialog, the music, and of course the clever use of color, or lack-there-of.

The same visual style was repurposed for a companion print ad campaign further establishing and enhancing the brand image in the minds of the audience.

Edward Jones Companion Print Ads

The Audacity to Believe

Is on Board With the Crazy Idea

Signature Color Branding

Colorcom is a color consultancy located in Hawaii and New York. According to their website, color branding increases recognition by up to eighty percent; it aids memory processing and storage; and it attracts attention, increases comprehension and mentally engages the viewer. That’s pretty powerful stuff, and you don’t have to be a mega corporation with deep pockets to implement color effectively.

Color Affects, a London-based color consultancy, explains how color affects perception on a physiological level through the electrical impulses that pass from the retina to the hypothalamus area of the brain that controls our hormones and endocrine system. The hypothalamus controls behavior patterns, sex and reproductive functions, metabolism and appetite among others.

Color By Association

Color by itself is not enough to get the job done. The pistachio campaign added the format, style, messaging and performance elements in a consistent campaign that re-enforced the message and the brand.

In the end, Web videos are not as much about making a sale as they are about making contact: contact in the sense of connecting to an audience on an intellectual and emotional level. Web videos designed merely to flog some product or service have built-in limitations, and an abbreviated shelf-life, whereas video presentations designed to engage can become eternal.

RELATED ARTICLES:

- Killer Campaigns Volume 1
- Killer Campaigns Volume 2: Making Emotional Connections
- Killer Campaigns Volume 3 – Tell A Memorable Story

About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design and marketing firm that specializes in Web-video Marketing Campaigns and Video Websites. Visit www.mrpwebmedia.com, www.136words.com, and www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.

Learn more of these tips, tricks and hands on training at: the Video BOSS

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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

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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.

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Who’s Linking to Your Web Site and What Does That Say About You to Google?


Linking is the mechanism that connects all the pages on the Internet. You’ve got links throughout your web site to let people navigate their way around. You may have links going out to other web sites that you think will be useful for your visitors. And hopefully you have links coming into your web site from independent sources.

All types of links can impact your search engine optimization results, helping determine where your web site shows up online. Though the hardest to control, inbound links pointing to your site can make the biggest impact.

At its most basic, the concept is that if several high-quality sites are linking to your web site, then Google and other search engines figure your site must be a popular, valuable resource – and they will be more likely to show it higher in their search results. In effect, your site receives “link juice” from other web pages that link to it.

However, it’s not enough to secure a couple links and then sit still. The Google PageRank algorithm looks at the pattern of links to your site as they build over time.

Building the right kind of links can bring a major payoff, while a wrong turn could get you penalized – and the Google Sandbox is not easy to dig out of.

Armed with a bit of knowledge and some creativity, you can build up valuable incoming links naturally and powerfully, avoiding the traps that plague amateurs.

Spice Up Your Links With Some Variety

There are all kinds of link farming schemes to grow links, and you need to run the other way from these. This is also called reciprocal linking, where you exchange links with other web sites that will then link to you on a mass scale. Warning: Google is onto this.

While it’s perfectly advantageous to link to high-quality sites that also link to you, the key here is to cultivate a natural mix of links over time.

Is it natural to suddenly have 100 links pointing to your site, all with the same text? Of course not. When people link to you naturally, they might use your business name (SEO Advantage) or some variation on a descriptive phrase (search optimization company). If too many similar links exist, it can signal that those links were generated artificially and potentially result in penalties.

Also consider which pages on your site inbound links point to. Your home page is probably going to get the most, but it’s natural to have links pointing to specific pages inside your web site, too. Cultivate links to your services, your blog, your news pages, your articles, etc., to help those pages get indexed and build their own PageRank. Called deep links, these can help bolster your site’s overall performance.

Some links also carry a title tag, which is indicated in the source code. This is a little too technical to go into detail here, but if you can influence this you’ll want both the link text and title to vary a bit among the links pointing to your site. Once again, the key is to grow your links in a natural pattern.

Not Every Link Carries The Same Value

Links from popular, established web sites usually carry the greatest value. That’s because they have high PageRank from plenty of other people already linking to them. A link from CNN.com, for example, will carry much more weight than a link from a free press release distribution site that few people know of. Likewise, a link from www.sbdpro.com will have a greater impact than a link from a directory that uses no-follow tags.

No-follow tags are the bane of naive link builders. It’s tempting to think you can just link to pages on your site from your Twitter tweets, Facebook and other social media applications. However, many of these sites as well as online ads and also some directories employ “no follow” tags that prevent the search engines from following a link to your site. In this case, it’s as if the link doesn’t exist in the eyes of the search engines. (That doesn’t mean the links aren’t valuable to people who find you and follow the link, it’s just not helping your web site show up in Google.)

So, How Can A Business Build Incoming Links Naturally?

The mix of links created out on the web pointing back at your web site should avoid skewing toward any particular type. A good mix that you can influence may include:

• Directories – Professional organizations, online communities and forums, business directories, etc. can all potentially provide good links to your site. There are several premium directories that are staples in an SEO firm’s link building toolkit, like DMOZ.org. Keep in mind that your listing itself should be optimized in order to reap the full link juice benefits.

• Press Releases – Writing and submitting press releases online can help you get your news in front of more people and build links to your site. (Be sure to use best practices for writing and evaluate carefully your outlets for good links).

• Blogs – Link to relevant pages on your site from your blog. Build relationships online with other bloggers, too, and they may want to link back to you! Active blogs with high visibility and large followings are going to be your best bet, but you can mix it up over time targeting lesser known bloggers, too. Keep in mind that as other sites grow in PageRank, the value passed to your site will also grow.

• Create Some Link Bait – Make sure your content is so fascinating or funny that people will want to tell others about it. This is the ultimate for building naturally growing incoming links but of course hard to do.

A sample schedule could mean every month you líst your site in two good dírectories, link to interior site pages from a couple relevant posts in your blog, distribute one press release to news sites, and write one great article that other people may want to link to and then let them know about it.

A word about selecting outlets is in order, too. You’ll need to carefully assess each place you target in order to determine the link value they can pass onto you. For example, different press release submission sites and directories can offer you a wide variety in link value. This can be time-consuming to determine but worth it when your site’s PageRank starts to climb. (Find some information on how to evaluate outlets in this article on press release optimization.

See Who’s Linking To Your Web Site

You can see all the links pointing to your site via a couple handy tools online. Go to Google.com to see who Google is crediting with a link to you. Enter in the search box [link:www.yourwebaddress.com] without the brackets.

Not all your links are going to show here, though, but you can use Google’s free webmaster tools for more in-depth research if you’re inclined. You can also use the free Yahoo! Site Explorer to see what links Yahoo! shows pointing at your site.

Every month, make it a part of your link-building strategy to check for any new links and build relationships with more web properties. After all, a link is a compliment and a great way to network in addition to an important way to build value for your web site.

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 content online.

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3 Ways To Safeguard Your Business From Google Slaps and Triple Your Traffic At The Same Time


Time and time again I hear webmasters complaining about their sites getting slapped. In fact, if you take a look at Google’s official webmaster forum, you’ll be shocked at the number of new threads where business owners are pleading with the moderators for a reason why their site has dropped 10 pages down the rankings.

It’s soon brought to their attention that the moderators have no control over the listings and 9 times out of 10 there’s nothing they can do to resurrect their sites’ rankings other than playing the waiting game.

How would you feel if you relied on Google for 80% of your traffic and it suddenly dropped in the rankings overnight? And, if you’re sitting there shaking your head thinking that it won’t happen to you because you’re a ‘good guy’ and you follow all the webmaster rules, then you need to seriously re-evaluate your mindset because time and time again I see innocent sites with great content get the “good news”.

Google reportedly updates its algorithm over 200 times a year

This time next week 50% of the backlinks pointing back to your site could be instantly discounted because the latest updates deems them as being too “spammy”. Where does that leave you? 50 places down the rankings and a dismal outlook for next quarter’s financial results.

So, now that I’ve scared the heck out of you, I’m going to give you five ways in which you can safeguard yourself from Google’s right hook and put you in a position far stronger than your competitors. It’ll also help you sleep at night!

1.Take Advantage of Untapped Traffic Sources

I am serious when I say the traffic generating potential online is incredible. By going one step beyond that of your competition you can really get a foot up and get your brand in front of a TON of laser targeted prospects.

Did you know that there are literally hundreds of high traffic web sites out there that will publish your content and let you include a small pitch and link back to your web site? I’m not talking about article directories here! I’m talking about hugely established and well respected sites that get hundreds of thousands of hits per month. So, do you think it’s worth spending a couple of hours writing an article to get your name in front of that hoard of traffic? Of course it is!

Are you skeptical? Don’t think that it works? Well, you’re reading my article aren’t you?

Not only will you get hugely targeted traffíc, but you’ll also get some incredibly powerful back links (to keep the big G happy until it gets trigger happy again), brand recognition and be able to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Here’s a tip, if you’re a new startup and you’re doing something interesting and something that people will want to read about (a USP that nobody else delivers or an alternative way of thinking for example) then head on over to http://www.mashable.com and write them a nice little article. That’ll kick start your new business for sure!

2.Build A List Of Subscribers

Outside of the internet marketing niche and large corporate companies, I rarely see líst building done effectively. Yet building a list tripled my income within the first couple of months and helped me to build a relationship with prospects that over time I converted into buyers, some of whom became repeat buyers. Without a list I simply would not have a way of building up a relationship, trust, authority and my bottom line. So, in basic terms a list makes you more money, but it doesn’t stop there…

It also provides you with a sense of security – you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if at any time every single last piece of traffic dried up overnight, you’d still make the payroll and survive until you figured out the underlying problem.

But how do you build a líst of subscribers if you’re not technical? Hosted services such as Aweber have made it so simple to set up your autoresponder service that all you need to know how to do is copy a bit of code into your squeeze page – it’s as simple as that.

3. Start An Affiliate Program

I know some companies that do absolutely nothing to get traffic to their web site. They don’t write articles, they don’t backlink to their site, they literally do nothing and let an army of affiliates do the job for them. And the army produces incredible results!

The great thing about an affiliate program is that there is no risk as a vendor. You do the sums up front, figure out how much you’re prepared to pay someone for making a sale on your behalf and that’s that. How would you like a no-risk, pay on results, unlimited sized sales force at your disposal?

You can really attract a bucket load of affiliates if you’re selling digital products with reasonably high profit margins, high valued products so that you can afford to give quite large payouts per sale or, the gold pot of them all, a service that is billable on a monthly basis so that the affiliate can earn a small monthly retainer per sale.

And don’t be afraid to start an affiliate program – you don’t even need to run it yourself if you don’t want to. There are a number of excellent affiliate brokers out there who will manage the tracking, payments and creatives on your behalf – you just need to find one that suits you and get cracking. Should you choose a managed affiliate program then you’ll usually be expected to pay a small fee up front for setup costs and then a small percentage of earnings thereafter.

In Summary

Please, take my advice and don’t get into the position where your business is relying on Google. In the offline world it’s akin to being in the wholesale business with one contract to a huge retailer. What happens when that retailer doesn’t renew the contract? Bad things happen!

You can choose the three methods I’ve mentioned above, or find other ways of generating laser targeted traffic such as PPC, press releases, e-book creation, video marketing and so on – it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it!

About The Author
95% of affiliate marketers are doing it wrong. Discover the 5 shortcuts to huge affiiliate cheques: http://www.amshortcuts.com – Paul McCarthy is a full time internet marketer who specializes in traffic generation, SEO, article marketing and consultancy.

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