Facebook has announced new updates to its privacy features that will give users more control over the way things are shared.
Some of the new changes are similar to Google Plus’ Circles, making it possible for users to decide exactly who can view shared items like posts, photos, tags and other content.
These changes moved some of the privacy controls inline from the settings page, so now when posts are created, users will also decide who will be able to view specific posts with a dropdown menu that is located below the post. The dropdown menu gives the options for posts to be shared with everyone, friends of friends, friends or the ability to customize who will see the post.
Improvements have also been made with tagged photos. Instead of logging into Facebook and being surprised by random tagged photos that have appeared on your wall, users will now have the ability to approve tagged photos before they are displayed.
Additional changes include the ability for users to view their profile as another person with a “View Profile As…” button, as well as better options regarding location.
Previously locations could only be added through a smart phone, but now location can be added to anything— including previous posts. Soon the “places” option will be removed from smart phones.
Lastly, we noticed this change a few weeks ago— a recommendation option on business pages. This option provides a little box that is visible on the right-hand side of a business page, which allows someone to leave a recommendation.
By making a recommendation, consumers are sharing their comments with their friends and that business’s fans. The feature kind of brings back the “share” feature that allowed someone to share a business with their friends.
Take advantage of this feature by visiting your favorite business pages, and feel free to drop by our page and recommend us.
How To Make Search Engines Love Your Website?
The search engines play a crucial role in sending traffic to your website. In fact most of the websites depend on the search engines for their staple dose of traffic although these days it is advised that you should target other websites, blogs, social networking websites, three article directories, online directories, and online forums too.
In order to derive maximum traffic from various search engines you need to make your website search engine friendly and properly communicate to their algorithms what key phrases and keywords are important to your website. Let us quickly go through a few steps that can help you make search engines fall in love with your website.
* Write for the people and not just for the search engines
Some people have this misconception that you need to manipulate text in order to rank well on the search engines; partially this is true but most often it is not. The best way to fair well in the search engines is to write and organise your content in such a manner that it is best suited to human reading. The more human-friendly content you have the more search engine friendly content you have. The search engines want you to write relevant, well-organised content so that they can present quality results to their search engine users.
* Research your keywords in the beginning
You should be very clear about what keywords you want traffic from the search engines; focus on the wrong key words and all your effort will go to waste. If you’re not sure about what keywords to focus upon them go head and hire a consultant but never underestimate the importance of keyword-research. Don’t postpone the selection of your key words until the completion of your website because during many stages you will need to know what relevant keywords your website is trying to target.
* Organise paragraphs under headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings quickly tell your human readers as well as the search engine crawlers what your pages all about. The headings and subheadings often represent the gist of content so be careful what words you use when you formulate your headings and subheadings; preferably use your keywords and key phrases when writing them.
* Emphasise your important words
When you highlight or emphasise your important words it conveys both to your readers and the search engine crawlers that these words are important to understand your message.
* Give distinct titles to your web pages
Just as your name is important to your existence, the page titles are important for your web pages. Never have a single title — your company name, for example — for all your pages. Your page title should a property represent your web page and in fact use the central sentence of your web page as your page title. Avoid creating esoteric and confusing titles although they may seem attractive. Always use a title that clearly defines the message of your web page. Preferably use your keywords with creating your title but make sure you don’t unnecessarily stuff the title with all your important keywords: this will end up spoiling the effect of your title. Organise your keyword-distribution carefully Although he shouldn’t manipulate your content for the sake of search engines you can arrange your keywords without seeming spammy. For instance, use your main keywords a new title, in your headings and subheadings, twice or thrice in your first paragraph and then at least once in every paragraph, highlight your keywords once or twice on your web page, use your keywords as hyperlink text when you link to other pages of your website and when you are organising your thoughts using bullets then use your keywords did to.
* Submit your link to niche directories
There are online directories available to all niche markets and some of these online directories are highly trusted by the search engines, that is, if your website appears in one of these online directories than it automatically gets a higher ranking in the search engines. There are many business and consumer directories; very carefully select the most appropriate category and then submit your website under that category.
* Publish a blog
Not having some blogs is so passé; a blog is such an effective marketing, branding, combination, awareness and SEO tool that it is highly recommended that you have a blog for your business. Highly targeted blogs are quickly indexed by the search engines and whenever you post your blog posts they get the text quicker than your normal web pages. Also somehow the blog posts get ranked higher than the normal pages for the same sort of content. There are many other numerous benefits of publishing a blog but here are just talking in terms of SEO.
* Use bread crumb navigation
Bread crumb navigation is a system that you often come across on category-based websites. Take for instance a directory listing: initially ago on the homepage, then you click one of the categories, then you click one of the sub-categories, then you click one of the sub-sub-directories — and so on — until you arrive at the desired page. On top of the page you will see something like Main->Clothes->Shirts->Men->Large->Striped. This type of navigation system allows you to click on a parent directory and immediately move to another section of the website. This is good for your SEO.
* Search engine friendly URLs
You get an SEO boost when your URL contains some of your keywords. The search engines don’t appreciate dynamically generated URLs much; they prefer URLs that make sense in the real language. For instance, doublespark-seo.co.uk/search-engine-optimisation/ is always better than doublespark-seo.co.uk/page.php?p=34. Manually it is easy to achieve but if you are using a content management system that make sure that your content management system generates search engine friendly URLs and not dynamic URLs that require a parameter to access a page.
There are many different modules available in Drupal that help provide e-commerce solutions for websites.
Below are examples of a few of the best modules to help with the functionality of a Drupal e-commerce site:
Commerce Guys just released a new version of Drupal Commerce— Drupal Commerce 1.0. The new version of the e-commerce platform is compatible with Drupal 7 and features product content management, order management, payment processing, personalization and product search. Other aspects of this module include the ability to create product types with custom attributes, dynamic product displays and the availability of discount pricing rules.
Ubercart focuses on three categories: store configuration, product and catalog creation and order administration. This module has many customizable options and features single page checkout, automatic account generation and simple order creation and editing. Additionally, it has the ability to fully integrate your store with the rest of your site and can be enhanced with other modules and themes. It’s a great solution for stores that sell physical goods, digital product downloads and site memberships.
The Amazon Store module is desirable for anyone selling through Amazon. After installation and activation, the user must sign up for an Associate ID— in order to receive commissions based on purchases made through your store. This module allows for searching, provides product pages and manages a shopping cart.
Encoding.com, a video encoding service provider, has recently announced the launch of Vid.ly Pro, the commercial version of Vid.ly.com as well as a partnership with Wowza Media systems, a media server software company.
This new solution provides content publishers with a powerful and simple platform for serving video to every user on any browser or mobile device.
"I know how challenging it is today for video content developers to deliver cross-platform video," says Christian Heilmann, HTML5 evangelist for Mozilla. "Vid.ly is an elegant solution to this problem and makes it easy for any business to publish videos."
Publishers simply upload source videos, which Vid.ly converts into a variety of formats and bitrates appropriate for all popular desktops and mobile devices. Then Vid.ly gives a short URL and embed code for easy publishing. When visitors click on the URL, Vid.ly delivers the appropriate format based on the visitor’s browser or device.
Some of the professional features that Vid.ly Pro includes are custom output formats with adjustable bitrates, Adaptive bitrate streaming for Apple iOS devices and unlimited source video file size.
Pricing for Vid.ly is based on the number of videos, storage and streaming that is used, but a free trial is also available.
Wowza Media Systems
The partnership between Wowza and Encoding.com provides Wowza customers with custom Encoding.com presets that simplify the preparation and transcoding of videos into the best formats for adjustable bitrate delivery by the Wowza Media Server.
"Wowza has done an amazing job simplifying the very complex process of streaming video to the plethora of devices and platforms,” says Jeff Malkin, President of Encoding.com. “This partnership expands that notion by leveraging Encoding.com’s custom Wowza transcoding presets, so Wowza customers can remove yet another complicated component in their video workflow.”
Wowza Media Server supports live and VOD adaptive bitrate streaming, however by utilizing Encoding.com’s cloud-based encoding solution, Wowza customers can take advantage of new presets to produce other common adaptive bitrate files from a variety of source file formats.
Skype has launched an app store, with apps ranging from business to productivity tools.
However, the "app directory" currently only contains about 25 apps, which is far away from Apple’s more than 425,000. Yet most of Skype's apps are geared toward business users— with features like call recording and screen sharing.
The top paid downloaded app is currently the InnerPass Screen Sharing app at $4.95. This app gives users the ability to share their screen with up to 50 Skype contacts.
The Free top apps include VodBurner Video Call Recorder, a solution for recording and editing calls, Zaplee, a cloud-based company phone system, and PamFax for Windows, an app for sending and receiving faxes.
The categories that Skype currently features in its app directory include business, call recording (audio and video), call recording (audio only), desktop and whiteboard sharing, faxing, integrations with popular software and mobile video communications.
As summer starts to fade away, the holiday season is quickly approaching and businesses are already contemplating what strategies will be the most effective for maximizing sales.
According to a survey from Bizo, 65 percent of executives claim that social media is the most important aspect for the upcoming shopping season, followed by e-mail at 46 percent and content marketing at 45 percent.
The survey also shows that 55 percent of executives measure social success based on their number of followers, and 19 percent of executives claim that they’ll improve content offers over the next quarter.
Here are a few options to take into consideration when preparing a social media campaign for the 2011 holiday season:
• Sales - Publicize sales through social media that are specifically related to the holiday season. For example, post about early-bird specials, Black Friday deals or daily gift ideas. Suggesting gift ideas is a good way to get consumers thinking about what items they still need to buy on their gift lists.
• Links - Posting links to your website through social media during the holiday season is crucial. The links will drive traffic to your site and help maximize sales.
• Stay Interactive - Although the holiday season is a time to focus on sales, don’t forget that social media is a way to interact with your audience and create brand loyalty. Post holiday related questions or polls to keep your fans and followers interested. For example a toy store could ask, “What’s your favorite toy that you ever received for Christmas?” or “What toy do your children want this holiday season?” The consumer interaction will keep your fans thinking about your brand.
• Contests - Promote contests that will get your page more fans, bring consumers into brick and mortar stores and steer them to your website. Examples for contests could be, “Recommend our page to your friends for a chance to win a gift card,” or “Be one of the first 100 guests to make a purchase in our store tomorrow and receive a free gift.” These contests will get consumers attention because everyone likes free things, especially during the holiday season.
• Give - It is important to remember that the holidays are about giving. Use social media to promote what you will give back to the community during the holiday season. Raising money for families in need or setting up a toy drive are a few options to think about.
In light of the changes that are brewing over at Apple, here is a look at how Steve Jobs has built the company to become one of the most profitable and dependable companies for businesses, and people, in the U.S. and around the world.
Many moons ago, most businesses didn’t even use computers, believe it or not, but that all changed in the 1980s thanks to a host of innovations coming out of Silicon Valley in California, many of which were pioneered by Jobs and Apple.
Today, Macs are the go-to standard computers for many industries and have been for well over a decade.
The innovations that Jobs and partner Steve Wozniak made in personal computing during the late 70s and early 80s are widely known and often imitated, and many of their creations have helped to popularize personal computer usage.
Of course, as the story goes, Bill Gates and Microsoft won the Silicon Valley War of the 80s and Windows was unquestionably the dominant name in technology during the 90s. However, in 1996, Jobs returned to Apple and re-imagined the company’s future. The result would, as Apple found itself doing many times in the coming decade and a half, permanently change the way businesses use computers.
Today’s Macintosh variants, known as the iMac, run on Apple’s Mac OS and offer business owners many unique and inventive features.
The computers use an iPad or iPhone-like interface (which, at this point, is familiar to almost everyone, even those who don’t own either device) that handles a variety of applications that can be relevant to almost any business. Among these applications are some Apple standards that prove to be both simple and useful: Safari, their built-in Web browser, iCal, a calendar app that lets users maintain schedules, appointments and to-dos, Address Book and Time Machine, which allows you to easily back up your data in case of an emergency. Macs can also be integrated with little to no effort with iPhones or iPads, two of the most widely-used smartphones and tablets, respectively.
The Mac OS Dashboard allows users to easily track everything that is running on their computer at one time, which makes navigating through and keeping tabs on everything you’re doing much simpler.
Part of why Macs have caught on for many businesses is because of their strong, natural defenses that are built into them. Apple’s safe and secure design protects them against almost all types of viruses or malware by providing in-depth security at all levels of operation, from hardware to OS to apps. Macs provide businesses with a simple and cheap method of keeping their hardware functioning and their data safe.
Macs also offer compatibility with the always popular Microsoft Office line of software, which is usually the default software used by businesses who start out using PCs. This makes the transition from PC to Mac mostly seamless and helps Mac users by giving them an option for sharing files among customers or coworkers who may be using Office. What makes this unique to Apple is that they build their Macs with the intention of being Office and PC-file compatible, so there is no messy transition and data can be easily transferred among the two.
iPhone and iPad
Just like anything Apple does, these two products have changed everything.
When the original iPhone was released in 2007, the mobile industry did not know what hit them. Consumers gravitated from feature phones to smart phones the same way that bees gravitate to flowers.
The iPhone soon became a top pick for people within the business world, not only for its email, calendar and GPS capabilities, but also because of the compatible software like iTunes and the App store.
As newer versions of the iPhone are released, better features for businesses have also arrived, such as apps that allow for sharing, editing and viewing documents like Pages, Quickoffice and GoDocs. Other apps like Dropbox, Evernote and WebEx Meeting Center, also prove valuable with features that make keeping up with online meetings, managing to-do lists and accessing business data on the go easier. However, these apps are only a glimpse of the more than 425,000 apps currently available in the App Store.
This brings us to the iPad— the mother of all tablets.
This tablet, originally released in 2010, is only in its second generation, yet it already has been implemented into many businesses. It has the app power of the iPhone, yet with the web-surfing capability of a laptop. The iPad can be valuable to almost any type of business, with abilities to share Keynote and Powerpoint presentations, view and edit important files and access CRM databases.
Most recently, United Airlines has even implemented the iPad into their cockpits by giving all of their pilots iPads to replace paper flight manuals. Additionally, the iPad has been a good tool for the e-commerce world. With apps like Catalogue from The Find and Google Catalogs, the iPad has given e-commerce merchants a new avenue to display and sell their products to consumers.
Both of these products have changed how media works. From iTunes to the App store, these devices and their software have stayed unique and innovative— and the proof is shown in Apple’s earnings— With more than 20.34 million iPhones and 9.25 million iPads sold.
Though the revelation of the iCloud is a fairly recent one, signs point to Apple’s foray into cloud technology could have major implications for businesses in the future.
Many forecasters see the iCloud as being especially useful for businesses and professionals who often find themselves out of the office or on site and who need immediate and easy access to various data, such as documents, images or sound clips.
In short, iCloud could allow businesses to put all of the electronic data that they need in one place, which could be especially useful for small business owners. The cloud will work like a hard drive that businesses can use to store data in, but that can also be accessed from numerous devices.
Of course, as is the case with Apple, their own products and hardware will be the most easily integrated with the iCloud. Business owners who use Macs, iPhones, iPads or all three will have easy compatibility and access to the iCloud, eliminating the hassle of trying to manage all of their data among multiple devices and locations.
What really sets Apple apart from other computer hardware and software companies, though, is their support. They offer one of the most knowledgeable and helpful support staffs available on the market, because even those owners who fancy themselves to be highly computer literate may be lacking in some areas. Besides that, business owners, especially those running a small or medium-sized business, are always busy and may not have time to sit down and hammer out a hardware or software problem. Since Apple integrates all of their own products rather than bringing in a different OS to run on their devices, any and all questions that an owner may have can be answered in one convenient location. This saves both time and money for business owners in need of a quick computer fix.
Fits.me, a virtual fitting room provider for online clothing retailers, is breaking barriers with innovative technology that has already caught on through parts of Europe.
The company claims that the aggregation of Fits.me with an online clothing retailer can increase sales up to 57 percent and reduce returns and costs up to 28 percent.
According to Fits.me, the largest e-commerce category, apparel, only sells 7 percent of clothing online. This is considerably lower than the 50 percent of computers and 61 percent of books that are sold online.
However, Fits.me claims to solve this dilemma with the virtual fitting room, which solves one of the biggest problems that apparel e-commerce faces— the lack of being able to try clothes on.
In order to virtually try on clothes, a user simply needs to know their measurements. No web cam required.
Most recently Fits.me teamed up with Barbour By Mail, a British heritage and lifestyle clothing brand. Yet several British and German retailers have already implemented the fitting room into their sites and have seen positive results. Additionally, Fits.me has also launched recently in the U.S.
It seems that once solutions like Fits.me’s virtual fitting rooms and other augmented reality technology are perfected, they may be more widely used in the future of e-commerce.
The interactive testing solution used by video-based in-home marketing and advertising customer research service Userlytics just got a whole lot better for marketers, brands and businesses.
Userlytics' core offering, a solution that allows agencies and brands to qualitatively test and refine their marketing campaigns and creative with relevant audiences worldwide, will be receiving a pretty significant upgrade that will include a comprehensive new suite of demographic targeting capabilities.
The company claims that these new abilities will provide a level of granularity to the participant recruitment process that was not possible before.
While before testers could only be selected based on limited criteria like country, gender, age, education, employment status and family status, Userlytics clients can now filter through a variety of new, user-specific demographics at no additional charges.
The new demographics that can be studied by Userlytics include: salary/household income, cellular phone/tablet usage (e.g. iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad), service subscriptions (e.g. cable, Netflix, DirecTV), electronic devices (e.g. TVs, cameras, printers) and service providers (e.g. Comcast, Verizon, Sprint).
Along with the launch of these new demographics, Userlytics is also going to be launching new targeting filters that will allow companies to recruit test participants at any level of demographic attribute specification and located anywhere in the world, which can be done at a fraction of the cost and time required by traditional research methodologies.
Do you use Userlytics to study your video-based marketing strategies? Do you think that these new changes will be useful or beneficial to your business or brand?
A digital asset management (DAM) solution can make managing content in a multi-channel environment easier, by providing easy ways to catalogue images, as well as search and distribute content.
However, cloud-based DAM’s may be an even better solution. They are able to provide unlimited storage, are accessible from anywhere and are a secure place to store content.
Anyone looking for a better way to store and manage content should check out these cloud-based DAM providers:
This solution doesn’t require any technical knowledge. It allows all assets to be accessed anywhere at any time, without the installation of additional software. Media assets are also backed-up multiple times so that it is impossible to lose content. Other features include organization of data through cascading levels, the ability to crop and reformat images and a customizable user interface.
This web-based digital asset management software suite features easy ways to centralize, retrieve, transform and distribute digital media. Features can either be bought individually or bundled around the DAM product. Features include digital asset management, video asset management, project collaboration, dynamic media building and catalog publishing.
This platform can meet the needs of small businesses and large enterprises. It provides secure management and distribution of media and audio content to Internet-connected devices. The newest version of the platform also provides full 3D support and gives the ability to export to any file format such as AVI, WMV, MP4 or ISMV. Content can conveniently be distributed internally or publicly and is protected at multiple levels to ensure security. This solution also provides real-time analytics and reporting.
Whether the end goal is a steady stream of traffic, off-the-chart sales, endless hours of engagement or all of the above, creating effective Web designs can be a very personal endeavor that is best left to the proven tactics of the artist.
However, even the most creative designers occasionally suffer from their own version of writer’s block, which is why the Web is filled with communities to help one another through the toughest of times. Below are five such resources that invite discussion, offer advice, encourage competition and, most importantly, get those creative juices flowing again after the well’s run dry.
A fairly new community for Web developers and designers, Forrst provides a forum in which creative professionals can critique each other’s work and foster new ideas, share their knowledge and expertise to help build better-looking websites and mobile applications. Forrst is an invitation-driven community in that current members are responsible for inviting new members each month, and members are limited to an allotment of invites based on their participation to the community each month.
Positioned as the Twitter for creative professionals, Dribble is a show-and-tell for Web designers and developers. Members can post screenshots onto the site at maximum sizes of 400 x 300 pixels to be viewed by other members (referred to as “players”), as well as from “spectators” (no comments allowed) and “prospects” (those looking to join the community).
Basically a search engine for creatives, Designspiration helps designers work through their blocks by showcasing thousands of images, colors and schemes based on the information they include in their queries. For instance, if you’re still unsure about your holiday design strategies, type in “Christmas”, “Holidays” or “Hanukkah” on Designspiration and you will most likely find some fresh ideas.
This site is beyond cool, whether you are a Web designer or not. For those of us that embrace competition in the spirit of a better Web, this is one for the bucket list. Competitors swap files back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing on each other’s work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and the work is then posted to the site, and a third participant provides play-by-play commentary on all the action as it is happening. Matches last for ten volleys and when complete, fans offer their opinions of each designer’s work.
While Forrst and Dribble require invitations to join, and Layer Tennis requires a certain amount of moxy to participant, there are dozens of freely accessible social networks that can help the inspiration process along for Web designers. The most notable and useful are, without question, Tumblr and Quora, which both have significant portions of their users ingrained in the design community, and Twitter is another excellent resource for finding solutions related to both Web design and fairly high-level development.
Do you have a really great advertisement or video that you just went through all the work of filming, editing and preparing to go online only to realize that you don't have a way to put it up on your WordPress site?
Video plugins are the easiest way to host your own original content on your website. Whether it's a high-dollar, CGI mini-masterpiece or a 20-second product video, you can easily publish it to the Web using one of the many plugins available.
However, WordPress does not have a video player already built-in to its system, so if you want to host it you're going to have to find a plugin that will host your video. There are plenty available and most of them can integrate easily into some of the top video-hosting sites on the Internet, most notably YouTube and Google Videos.
These plugins range in price, size, simplicity and customization, so if you want to add a player that actually matches the neo-noir theme of your Bogart fansite, you should make sure that your plugin has customization options.
Here is a list of four of the most popular:
All in One Video Pack
Here's a deal! For free (up to 10 GB), the All in One Video Pack plugin includes all of the video and rich-media functionality needed to record, upload and import videos to your pages, as well as edit and remix content online, enable video responses and more. You can also manage and track interactive videos through the management console, enable video advertising and are given complete administrative capabilities, meaning you are in charge of deciding who can add and edit videos. The plugin supoorts over 150 video, audio and image file formats and codecs and owners can choose their preferred video player style for each player embedded, as well as its size. And on top of it all, it's totally easy to install and use.
YouTube is, far and away, the most widely used video platform on the Internet. With millions upon millions of users, it would almost be silly not to have your videos on YouTube, and this plugin is a great way to get those videos onto your site, as well. It's a simple tool that is designed to be fast and small and provides customization options for colors, borders, full screens and so on. You don't have to stop at just one video, either, because Smart YouTube allows you to publish whole playlists. They can go on your RSS feed, your blog posts or your site's comments section. It's a super great plugin for people who want to utilize the simplicity (and millions of users) of YouTube without having to establish another method of embedding their videos on their sites.
This is quite possibly the most popular and well-reviewed video plugin on the market. If you can't tell, this tool exists to make it easy to embed videos into a blog post. They can be exported from other places, like YouTube, dailymotion or Google Video, or uploaded from a server. Once embedded, you are able to add a link to the video on the video portal page or make it so that a download like to the file can be automatically generated. Not a lot of bells and whistles with this one, but it is tops as a generic video player.
WordPress Video Plugin
Contrary to what its name would have you believe, this is not the only WordPress video plugin, but it is one of the best. It acts as a filter for your site that allows for easy video embedding from supporting sites like YouTube, Google Video and Brightcove. Like Embedded Video, it's very easy-to-use and simple, not relying on frills but rather solid performance to satisfy the user. Definitely worth checking out, especially if all you need is a manageable and straightforward way to put up videos on your site.
Using one of these handy plugins should turn any WordPress website owner into Chad Hurley in no time.
For more information about WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
Behind every good business website is an even better analytics program. For WordPress users, however, that means going out and finding a plugin that will match their analytic needs.
WordPress offers very little in the way of site analytics from the core for a site's administrators, and so trying to figure out exactly how well your site is doing, the kind of measurements that are crucial to conducting a business online, can be really rough and incomplete using WordPress' built-in analytics. The need for such a tool has inspired the existence of a number of different plugins specifically designed to study the efficiency of your WordPress site.
Below are three of the most popular WordPress analytics plugins:
All in One Webmaster
This great plugin is helpful because it can integrate Google Webmaster Tool, Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Central into your website or blog. This gives you really great access to information from the revered GYB Triumverite. You can also include a single-click sitemap to Google, Bing, Ask and Yahoo, add tracking codes from Google, Clicky and 103Bees analytics and add Meta Tags for Google, Yahoo, Bing, Alexa and BlogCatalog. In short, it's a fabulous tool for integrating all three major search engines, and quite a few of the "lesser" engines, and get a really comprehensive look at your sites stats.
Super simple plugin here that collects information about page views, popular articles and/or pages and traffic flow. All of the real necessities of site analysis. It will also give you a link to a dashboard so that you can see all of the stats on a single page. This is a very barebones, to-the-point analytics tool, but isn't that really all that most website owners need? If you're not looking for a tool with a ton of features that you can easily install and use to get the most essential of information, WordPress Stats is highly recommended.
For more information about WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
Google added a new, very extensive feature to its popular +1 button on Wednesday, allowing users to share links to the Web pages they like with their Google+ circles by simply clicking the button.
Now, when a Google+ user decides that they like some online content enough to give it their +1 seal of approval, a box will open up on their screen for adding a comment that other users can see. In addition, it lets the user customize the piece of text (aka a "+Snippet") and image(s) that will show up in his or her stream.
The user also has the option of including in-line annotations, like with the Facebook "Like" button, so that the names and faces of Google+ friends who have affirmed the worthiness of the content in question with their trusty +1 buttons will be available to the rest of the original user's circles.
The +Snippet is a nifty feature that bestows upon your feed all of the information that you could want to share, including a link, image and description of the content, which makes sharing on Google+ really easy and really customizable. This allows a Plus user to surf the Web freely and, when he or she comes across favorable content that they want others in their circles to see, he or she can quickly and efficiently post a short review, include an image and link back to the content without ever having to enter G+. This mimics a Facebook user's current ability to share links on their profile, with the added bonus of not requiring users to go to their profile.
Factor in the information just recently released on Google's blog, that their +1 button is linked to over one million sites that get viewed more than 4 billion times a day, and the potential for the +1 button as a marketing tool becomes even more pronounced.
Does this mean that the +1 button is now becoming the more sought after click by those who provide content online? After all, if a user can easily share something without ever even leaving the original Web page, won't they be more likely to use that service over the one that requires a brief jaunt all the way to their profile?
If Google+ continues to roll out these types of features -- you know, the type that make you go, "Why didn't anyone think of that before?" -- they're going to start to win over more and more people. It seems obvious that Facebook will soon offer some type of similar feature to keep up, as well, so this is really a win-win situation for people who operate online. Now, having your business or brand shared and discussed will become quicker and simpler, greatly increasing the likelihood that online social network users will rant and rave about your great brand or content to their friends or circles.
It's hard to deny the power that social media plays in the general makeup of the Internet. As part of running your site, you are going to want to connect to the Web-based world around you.
One problem with WordPress, however, is that it doesn't immediately provide users with a way to include bookmarks to the biggest social networking sites on your blog. If you're trying to promote a business or market yourself on the Web, you need to be a part of social media and you need to start as soon as possible.
So, if you're going to use a WordPress platform to create your site, your best bet would be to download one (or more) social media-specific plugins to help get your social engagement off the ground. Here are three to consider:
This plugin is all about using social bookmarking to generate traffic. Sociable will automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on all of your posts and pages, as well as into your RSS feed. It allows you to choose from 99 different social bookmarking sites, such as Twitter, StumbleUpon and Digg. What's really helpful is that Sociable allows for easy bookmarking in any browser, so it is very user-friendly. It also gives you an email tab and is easily integrated with Google Analytics. This is a very popular plugin tool with many WordPress users.
I Love Social Bookmarking
The designers of this plugin really went for it with that title, didn't they? What really sets this particular tool apart is that it lets users vote on your blog posts using a drop down menu that allows them to select which social media site they will vote from, keeping less icons on your blog and eliminating clutter. The goal is simplicity, for the site owner and their readers. According to the site, they want I Love Social Bookmarking "to run with minimal system resources, and to look good whilst she’s at it." They accomplish this by making it very easy to customize.
This is another vote-based social media plugin, only Share This lets you choose which particular sites you want to target and then has readers vote for you using the plugin. Essentially, it's job is to provide an unobtrusive way for visitors to post your content to social bookmarking sites or send an email link to a friend. Again, it's highly customizable, allowing you to change its colors to match your website. Also, it provides you with tracking reports, which is a feature many social plugins lack.
For more information about WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
SEO Client Relationships: Tips
Communication between client and service provider is a vital part in the success of any campaign, or indeed any business relationship at all. Due to the nature of SEO, many clients will have quite a lot of questions and these should be dealt with right at the early stages, before a campaign has even begun. It is really important that clients are made aware of the fact that it can take a long time to see results, especially for new domains. It is also highly advisable to discuss suitable measurements of a campaigns success, for example traffic numbers, search engine results and so on. These will all have to be tailored to the work in question and every job will have its own individual needs and challenges. This article aims to point out five common questions, and how you can deal with them effectively.
1. Why Don’t I Have More Traffic?
Many clients simply don’t know what they can expect with regards to traffic numbers. This is no fault of their own, but sometimes they can be disappointed by the traffic they receive from seemingly good search engine positions. Traffic estimates should be based on search volume and it’s important to clearly explain the huge difference in click through rate between a number one position and a number four position.
2. Why Don’t I Appear for This Keyword?
When clients first engage in SEO activities, it must be clearly explained that in order to even begin to rank well for certain keywords, each page must effectively target its own keyword. If you try to focus a page on too many different keywords, it will dilute the message and leave the search engines confused as to what the page in question is talking about. Therefore, unless you have a large website, there is a limit to how many keywords you can expect to rank well for.
3. My Local Directory Listing Is Outranking Me, Why Is This?
This is particularly troublesome for new and small websites. Quite often when a search is carried out for a chosen keyword, not only will you see your website come up, you will also see your directory listings appear. Sometimes the directory listings will actually outrank you. This is due to the fact that the directory probably has a lot more authority than you, and work will have to be done to boost the importance of your website above that of your page on the said directory. You could also try changing your directory listing to reduce its competitiveness.
4. How Long Do I Have To Wait?
Probably the biggest question of all, how long will it take and how long will I have to pay you for? It’s vital to make this clear right from the start. You have to explain that it will take time for your work to bear results. Honesty really is the best policy here. I would recommend preparing a client for anywhere between at least six to twelve months with a thorough check of progress being carried out every three months.
5. How Will Doing More Help?
This is a big one, especially if you are not getting the results as quickly as you may have expected. You may be going back to client several months down the line and suggesting yet more site improvements or link building efforts. Marketing a website should be approached with a long term view. If results aren’t going so well it may mean you have to revisit some of the website structure and address any technical issues that may be causing issues. Explain the from the offset and you should avoid digging yourself into any unnecessary holes.
Welcome to WordPress Wednesday at WebsiteMagazine.com.
Since WordPress is an open-source platform for creating a blog-based website, it doesn't come with very many specific features. Rather, the site builders are expected to customize on their own, which is a way to keep the platform easy-to-use and doesn't let it get bogged down with specialized features that many owners may not use.
That is why today we are going to focus on the plugins that will best help you create the most efficient site possible for your specific needs.
Anyone in the Web world can tell you that SEO is a necessity, and many of those same people will also tell you that it can be cumbersome and difficult -- especially when just starting out. There are whole books on the subject, and a significant portion of the work we do here at WM is devoted to helping people navigate the turbulent waters of search engine optimization.
Luckily for those who may be unfamiliar with the best SEO practices, WordPress offers a wide array of plugins that will help you increase your visibility on the Web. These plugins add to your site by providing you with many different methods and options for using Meta Tags, optimizing your URLS, using no-follow options and many other great practices to help get your website to the top of the search rankings.
Here are three of the top WordPress SEO plugins:
All in One SEO Pack
The name says it all. This is one of the most popular SEO plugins available for WordPress. It's pretty simple, not a lot bells and whistles to be found on this plugin, but it is key to helping drive search engine traffic to your site. What really makes All in One SEO great is that it's easy to use and install, which makes it perfect for beginners or those who are new to SEO, but it is also able to be customized and fine-tuned for more advanced users. It also helps you to avoid duplicate content, a problem often associated with WordPress blogs, automatically optimizes your titles for search engines and generates Meta tags for you, allowing the website owner to have superior control over titles and meta descriptions. This plugin gives you a lot of hands-on control over how your blog's pages are indexed in search engines. It's probably the most highly-praised and trusted SEO plugin available.
SEO Smart Links
There are a lot of cool features that come with SEO Smart Links, which provides automatic SEO benefits to your site with the inclusion of custom keyword lists, nofollow and more. This plugin can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts or comments with corresponding pages, posts, categories and tags on your blog. You can also use it to set nofollow attributes, open links in a new window and set up your own keywords and set of matching URLs. SEO Smart Links is a great tool for interlinking your blog posts or adding affiliate links to other sites, and it's nothing to go in to control and edit the plugin's options from the administration settings panel.
Sitemap Generator is an excellent plugin that, believe it or not, generates a sitemap for your WordPress site. It's strength is that it is highly customizable by offering its own options page in the administration panel. Among the features it offers are multi-level category and page support, category and page exclusion, multiple-page generation with navigation, permalink support, the ability to choose what to display and what order to list items in and showing comment counts and(/or) post dates, along with many other great options. This is plugin has been very well-received by many WordPress users thanks to its rich features and capacity for customization. This particular plugin is made by Dagon Design, but its very "descriptive" name makes it really hard to find, because it seems like every developer has designed X's Sitemap Generator, so if you don't find it by clicking the link in this post, make sure that you track it down by its designer so you don't end up with a lesser version from someone else.
For more information on WordPress plugins, check out WordPress Plugins from A to Z.
7 Tips to a High Ranking Site
So you would like your site to rank higher in the search engines. Below are some tips to help you achieve your goal.
1. Before building your website decide on which keywords you want the site to rank high for. Keywords are words or phrases that people type into search engines to find websites. Your keywords need to be related to your product or service so that you get targeted traffic ( There is no point in having “buy flowers online” as a keyword if you sell “houses”) Your keywords should also have as many people searching for the keyword and as fewer websites competing for the high rankings. I would not get overly worried about this. There are several tools out there to help (Just google “Keyword Effectiveness”) but I would concentrate more on the relevance of your keywords.
2. Once you have decided on your keywords you can start to build your site. The look of the site needs to be good to convert visitors into customers but will not help with getting a higher ranking. I would concentrate on getting a high-ranking site and then worry about the look and feel of the site later. (There is no point in having a site that looks wonderful if nobody can find it and it therefore has no visitors). Remember when you start to build your site that what the search engines are looking for is content. The content you have also needs to be rich with your keywords.
3. A very common mistake people make is the links between pages on their own site. The links need to be “spider friendly” i.e. a spider needs to be able to follow them easily. A graphic button with a rollover effect using an active X control might make the site look wonderful but a spider will be able to follow a text link far easier. This is important, as unless the spider can follow the links only your Index page is likely to be included in the search engine.
4. There are certain important elements of your site that can be added after the site is built. Title Tag – H1 Header Tag – Keywords – Meta Description. All of these should include your most important keywords and phrases. Your Meta Description should be a short paragraph about your site including your keywords and phrases in the text. It should also encourage people to take a look at your site.
5. Alt Image Tags – These are tags that you attach to an image so that when the mouse hovers over an image the text is displayed. So any images on your site should have Alt Image Tags that are rich with your keywords and phrases.
6. Links – One of the ways that a search engine decides which pages are to be located at the top of the rankings or be a higher ranking page is that it looks at the links that are pointing towards the site. It is not just the number of links but also the relevancy of the links and the type of links that point to the site. Also the type of site that is linking to your site is important. In other words a text link from a high-ranking site that uses your keywords in the link is a far more important link that a picture link without keywords from a low ranking site. – So you want to have as many relevant links from high-ranking sites as you can. There are several ways to achieve this and the more links that you have the more important the search engines will believe your site to be and therefore the higher your site will be ranked in the search engines. The search engines are working on the presumption that if you have lots of high ranking sites that want to have a link to your site then your site must have some valuable content otherwise they would not want to link to it and potentially send their visitors onto another site.
7. You can also help to keep your site high in the rankings by adding new content to your site and updating the pages as the search engines are looking for current content. Not a site that has been built and just left.
Once you have built your site and got some links to it you will need to tell the search engines about it (This is called submitting your site). You can manually submit your site to the search engines but there are several good programmes you can buy to do this for you. Just do your homework before you decide which one to use. ( I use addwebb but its quite expensive)
Google’s new extended Sitelinks are sending Webmasters scrambling to find out how they too can secure more virtual real estate on the world’s most popular search engine – now estimated at well over 60-percent market share. So, are there any tricks to making sure your site is returned with the highly coveted extended Sitelink? Yes, there are. Let’s expose the secrets to getting extended Sitelinks.
It is difficult to know what signals Google uses in its Sitelinks algorithm, but a close inspection of the search result pages for queries which return an extended Sitelinks – and a thorough look at the Google Webmaster Guidelines – do provide us an opportunity to make some reasonable assumptions. There are in fact several signals that websites should consider addressing if the allure of extended Sitelinks is too much to ignore.
Based on the current research, it seems that whether Google includes Sitelinks is heavily dependent upon the behavior of users. Since search results page listings include tracking info, Google can/could easily determine which pages or categories of your site are most frequently visited. Thanks to this click stream data, Google is able to improve its search results and give users direct access to the sections of your Web property which are of the greatest interest or importance. Google generates sitelinks automatically but with a little strategic thinking, it is possible (somewhat) to influence extended sitelinks. If you don't already know the most popular sections of your website, it's time to dig into your website analytics.
Perhaps most noteworthy within the Webmaster Guidelines is the recommendation to make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. If Google cannot understand what sites or individual sub-pages are about, it is unlikely that extended Sitelinks will appear. To increase the likelihood of extended Sitelinks appearing for your site on important queries, consider rethinking navigation.
For example, consider refining the navigation to include but a handful of the most important links. Fewer navigation choices will help you funnel users to specific destinations, and giving Google enough click stream data to make some choices on your site’s behalf. Take a look at Apple.com’s navigation, and then at the extended sitelinks Google has returned on the search results pages, and tell me that there is no correlation between navigation links and the sitelinks that returned.
Google needs not look very far for perhaps the strongest signal of a page’s worthiness to be included in Sitelinks. SEOs should focus much of their energy on the quality of page titles (keeping them brief but accurate) and doing the same for the actual file names of pages as both are strong signals that specific pages are of importance. Take a look at the Ameritrade example below. See how the titles are short in length? That is certainly one good indicator. But dig deeper into the “Rates & Fees” Sitelink and you’ll see that the page itself is named ratesfees.html. If the aim is to obtain extended Sitelinks, considering a site’s naming conventions (titles and pages) is a vitally important task.
Another opportunity is to ensure that the internal links within your site and external links pointing to your site from third-party websites use an appropriate keyword anchor text. The aim should be to identify which pages are most representative of the site in question, and to set about acquiring a mixture of links with the keyword or key phrase anchor text you want to have your site appear with extended Sitelinks.
Extended Sitelinks are obviously a new addition to the search results pages of Google, so expect development to continue over the next several months and years. As it stands today, the sites of well known (established) brands are those which are receiving the extended Sitelinks. Take the necessary steps today to acquire extended sitelinks and you will likely be pleased at the virtual real estate you secure on the search results pages.
Why didn't anyone think of this before?
After working at Apple for three years, Paul Canetti left to work on a series that would train businesses on iOS development. He's since turned his attention to MagAppZine, a new service that he co-founded that will make it much easier for users to publish content on the iTunes App Store.
MagAppZine's makeup is relatively simple, it is a white label, do-it-yourself platform that, as of now, is limited to allowing users to upload PDFs, make website viewing available in an in-app browser and let users offer in-app sales of multiple issues of any publication.
What really makes it a great service, however, is its simplicity and accessibility. The service began just last spring with the goal of evening the playing field for online app publishing, mimicking the strengths of blogging on the Web in an application-driven era.
Having your content available in the App Store means that your work is published on the world's most famous destination for applications, and with the total dominance of the iPad in the tablet market, that's a pretty good place to be. iTunes provides you with a central location for consumers to search for your app, download it, read reviews from other users and discover related materials.
The company is expected to roll out a new pricing schedule in September that starts at $99 per month, thanks in part to the soon-to-be released MagAppZine 2.0.
"Our most basic app package launched in April of this year," says Canetti, "But in September we are re-launching MagAppZine 2.0, which will include the new links and multimedia, an InDesign tool, and integration with Apple's upcoming Newsstand feature. We're also rolling out a new tiered monthly pricing structure that has plans starting at $99 a month."
While this product obviously hasn't reached its fullest potential yet, MagAppZine 2.0 sounds like it is going to be a very big step in the right direction. Those who have simple, print-based content that you want to get distributed to a larger audience (retail catalogs, perhaps?) should certainly consider application publishing, and as of now, MagAppZine seems to have that niche covered.
How to Play Russian Roulette with the Search Engines
Want to play Russian roulette with the search engines? Try these techniques:
1. Link Farming
You have probably seen those sites with a directory page that contains hundreds of links. The problem is they bear no relation to what the actual website is all about. Putting up links about mortgage loans, acne, the history of wastebaskets etc when your site is about the quality of fishing in Great Falls Montana would be an example of link farming. There was a time when the search engines were okay with this but as is usually the case, people went overboard with it.
Make sure the links on your directory page relate directly or indirectly to the content on your website. In fact save yourself the time and effort by focusing on getting one way links to your site. A couple of quality one way links are worth way more than thousands of links unrelated to your niche.
2. The Sybil Attack
One of the most famous TV movies of all time is Sybil: The Girl with 16 Different Personalities starring Sally Field. This is the blackhat foundation for setting up mirror sites.
By creating multiple web sites with the exact same content but different domain addresses, blackhatters are able to trick the search engines into ranking their main website higher. Sybil attacks can also turn quite nasty and take control of large scale computer networks including peer to peer systems which are quite vulnerable.
Cloaking software was an underground rage a few years back. The concept is to present two types of content: One for the actual visitors to your website, the other was for the search engine spiders that crawl your web pages looking for updating content that has been keyword optimized. This was an elaborate way of getting the search engines to show a page they normally would not.
All of this may sound ridiculous and totally unnecessary. Yes on both counts. The easiest way to stay on the good side of the search engines is to give them exactly what they want; namely a website with good content (preferably unique) that grows at a more natural pace.
This maybe a slow way to success for some people but it’s safe and it works. You are building a business which hopefully will be successful for a very long time. Do not let anyone talk you into putting it at risk by using blackhat techniques.
Online video continues to grow, with 180 million U.S. Internet users watching video in the month of July according to the latest report from ComScore.
The study averaged the watched video content at 18.5 hours per viewer, and showed that the total U.S. Internet audience set a record by watching 6.9 billion videos.
Google Sites ranked as the top online video content property in July with 158.1 million unique visitors, thanks in large part to YouTube. Second place went to VEVO with 62.1 million, and Facebook came in third with 51.4 million viewers.
Additionally, Americans viewed more than 5.3 billion video ads in July. Hulu produced the highest number of video ad impressions with 963 million, followed by Adap.tv with 674 million and Tremor Video with 639 million.
Other findings showed that 86 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in July, the average online content video lasted 5.3 minutes and video ads counted for more than 12 percent of the viewed videos.
It's been almost two months since the launch of Google+, and reports vary as to how much praise we should be heaping onto Larry Page and the teams behind the new social networking service.
On the positive side, by attracting over 25 million users in just over a month, Plus has earned the title as the fastest-growing website ever. Detractors, however, claim that the site's popularity has already peaked, making its lifespan as a significant tool for Web users limited at best.
Additional opinions have been fueled by a new study from Bime Analytics that reported that 83 percent of Google+ users are inactive, citing figures from an online directory that collected the data from "a voluntary sample of around 10 million Google+ users."
The Bime study describes an "active" Google+ user as someone who has posted publicly on G+ at least one time. However, there is a high margin of error for this particular set of data as it does not take into account those who may use their profiles to post privately on the site, nor those who may choose to comment on others' posts without making any of their own.
That said, the study revealed some interesting data about the earliest users of Google+, such as the fact that most are students and nearly three-quarters of them are male. But keep in mind that Google+ has yet to truly open its doors to Web businesses, which is when we can begin to learn what kind of value the service really has for marketers.
Below is the infographic from Bime's study:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) decision to approve the creation of generic top-level domain (TLD) names has been rife with controversy, but recent opposition from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and the adult entertainment industry has reignited the debate.
The first statement came from the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), a trade association of the adult entertainment industry, advocating adult trademark holders to attempt to protect their brands from being sold on .XXX domains to third parties. The concern of the group is that the expansion of the .XXX domain extension is going to blackball all sites using it on the Internet, and could ultimately hurt the image of the industry in the long-run.
These fears have been somewhat validated by the release of information that only about 20 percent of businesses registering for the .XXX domains are adult content-related, meaning most businesses are registering to keep their brands from becoming associated with a .XXX domain.
4As also recently announced that they are cooperating with other marketing and advertising groups to "strongly" oppose the proposed changes in Internet domain names. They are asking ICANN to reconsider its decision for fear that the new registration will disrupt the ideal of the online global marketplace by diminishing the trust of the consumers that the quality and history of a product or service will continue to be accurately reflected on the Internet, making it harder to make important marketplace choices and decisions.
The recent statements illustrate some of the major concerns that various industries have about the proposed changes to TLD registrations. There are many questions about the impact that these changes will have on brands, especially smaller ones that don't necessarily have the capital to procure secure and relevant domain name registrations.
The Criteria For Improving Your Website Ranking
Any website owner wants their website to be ranking well for those keywords which will mean that targeted visitors arrive on their website and possibly turn into customers or clients.
A website’s ranking on search engines (especially Google) is quite important when you take into account the following important statistics:
- 90% of users don’t go past the Page 1 of Google
- 42% of users click on the website on position 1, 12.5% on position 2 and only 8% on position 3
* What does this all mean?
This means that if your website is not on Page 1 of Google and in the top 3 positions, then you are effectively missing out on more than 60% of potential visitors (and customers for that matter).
If your website isn’t currently in a good position on the search engines, don’t panic! There are many things you can do to move its rankings up. Below is a list of website ranking factors from the most important:
If you want to rank for a certain keyword, it’s absolutely vital that you have that keyword in your domain name. If you feel tempted to use your company or brand name instead, keep in mind that the goal of ranking at number 1 for your main keyword will only get much harder if you do so.
* Domain Age
If you register a brand new domain name, you are going to be starting from scratch. However, a start is a start and as the months and years go by, your website will benefit immensely from this factor. On the other hand, you can get a head start by purchasing an expired domain name which does not currently have an owner. Just make sure that it hasn’t been banned by the search engines before purchasing.
* Title Tag
Having the keyword in the title tag of your home page is a MUST. There are many websites which still use their brand name or company name in their title tag which make ranking for target keywords even harder. This is a ranking factor that is applicable to all pages on your website.
* Page Structure
Optimize each page on your website for just 1 keyword. Every page on your website should only be optimized for one keyword. Any more and ranking for your target keywords will be that much difficult. Your home page should target the main keyword while other pages should target related, long tailed keywords.
* Keyword Density
It’s important that you mention the keyword you are targeting on the relevant page. A good density to aim for is 3% which means that your target keyword only makes up 3% of the text on the page. Any more and your page could be seen as being spammy.
You’re probably wondering why backlinks is at the bottom of the list when it is an important factor in getting website rankings. The reason why I put it down there is to emphasize getting your website set up right first before getting backlinks. Getting hundreds or even thousands of backlinks to a website which is incorrectly optimized will diminish the value of each link in getting rankings.
On the subject of backlinks, it’s important that you get them from a variety of sources while using a variety of anchor text.
The key to a successful website in terms of getting targeted traffic and customers is all in this article. Read it many times over if you have to. Simply get these website ranking factors right and you will have a immensely successful website before you know it.
Infolinks, an in-text advertising network, has announced the launch of a new self-service in-text advertising marketplace.
The new service allows for advertisers to quickly create an in-text advertising campaign that includes various target options. Some included features in the self-service marketplace are real-time reporting, keyword selection, keyword bidding and advanced optimization.
“Infolinks' new self-service model now makes it easy for anyone familiar with Google Adwords to quickly launch an In-Text Advertising campaign,” says Tomar Treves, chief marketing officer of Infolinks.
“Other services match advertisements to relevant keyword searches, the entire context of the website or the interests of the user. With Infolinks In-Text Advertising Marketplace, people are actively choosing to open the advertisement in a contextually relevant environment making them much more open to the advertiser's message.”
Use of the new service costs $5 a day. On average, Infolinks delivers in-text advertising campaigns across 250 billion pages and reaches 350 million unique visitors each month.
Use Robots.txt: Save the World
Robots.txt help the search engines learn all about your website
There is a growing interest in the little known file that every website should have in the root directory: robots.txt
It’s a very simple text file you can find all about at the robotstxt.org website Why should you use it ? Here are some good reasons for you to consider.
* Controlled access to your content
With a robots.txt file you can “ask” the search engines to “keep out” of certain areas of your website. A typical area you might like to exclude is your images folder: If you aren’t a photographer, painter and your images are for your website use only, there are good chances you don’t want them to be indexed and showing up on image search engines, for people to download, or hotlink.
Unfortunately grabbers and similar software (such as Email harvesting applications) will not read your robots.txt file disregarding any indication you may provide in this respect. But that’s life isn’t it, always someone being disrespectful to say the least …
You can keep search engines away from content you wish to keep out of sight, but remember your robots file is also subject to attention of hackers seeking sensitive objectives you might inadvertently list: keeping out the robots while inviting the hackers – keep this in mind.
(cont. from front…)
* The growing importance of robots.txt
At SES New York a robots.txt summit was held where major search engines (Ask, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!) participated, sharing interesting information on this file. Here are some numbers.
According to Keith Hogan from Ask:
a) Less than 35% of websites have a robots.txt file
b) The majority of robots.txt files are copied from others found online
c) On many occasions robots.txt files are provided by your web hosting service
It looks like the majority of webmasters aren’t familiar with this file. This is going to play a major role as the size of the web continues to grow: Spidering is a costly effort that search engines tend to optimize. Those web sites demonstrating optimal command (which in turn determines efficiency) will be rewarded.
During the summit, all search engines announced they will identify (or autodiscover) sitemaps via the robots.txt file. In essence search engines are now able to discover your sitemap via a link in the following format:
Sitemap: <sitemap_location>, where <sitemap_location> is the complete URL of your Sitemap Index File (or your sitemap file, if you don’t have an index file).
* Being compliant to Google Terms of Service
Robots.txt can help prevent you getting banned or being penalized by Google. In a move to eliminate search results pages because “web search results don’t add value to users” Google has recently added the following sentence to their terms of service:
- Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.
* How to implement a robots.txt file
If your website doesn’t support a sitemap and you do not have any areas to exclude, include an empty robots.txt file in your root directory. By doing so you are acknowledging full spidering of your entire site.
Carefully review the robots exclusion protocol available at robotstxt.org. If you must exclude numerous areas of your website, build your file in a step by step manner and monitor spider behaviour with a log analyser tool.
Test your robots.txt file with a few online tools and keep in mind that every spider has a different behaviour and spidering criteria.
* Avoid useless spidering traffic
When your website grows to a significant size and achieves optimal visibility, spidering significantly increases to hundreds (if not thousands) of hits per day and will put your server and bandwidth to the test.
Recently I was called on to examine a blog burdened by a very unusual and extremely heavy spidering activity: the log file I examined reported an excess of 8 Gbyte of invisibile (spider) traffic over a 1 month period. Given the reduced amount of daily visitors (less than 200) and the reduced size of the blog (less than 100 posts), there was something wrong in the architecture.
It took just a few minutes to identify the problem: There was no robots.txt file.
At each request for a robots.txt there was a redirect to the home page of the blog triggering a complete download of the blog home page. Each download of the home page was approximately 250 K. There were thousands of unnecessary hits on the home page. This was causing a spidering frenzy that ceased when an empty robots.txt file was created and uploaded to the server. Traffic is now down from 8 Gbyte to 500 Mbyte.
* Keep the spiders informed, help save the world
The web is growing by leaps and bounds, the use of a robots.txt file helps the search engines effectively allocate their resources and is a tangible sign of respect and courtesy. If you don’t have a robots.txt file on your website set one up now. Use it to inform the crawlers on how your site is organized, and how often it is changing. I think we should all do our part to avoid waste of resources, saving energy and helping to save the world.
Six Simple SEO Techniques to Improve your Search Engine Ranking
1. Title Tags
The title tag is contained within the ‘HEAD’ tags of your HTML, before the ‘BODY’ tags. This states the title of the page, and must contain the major keywords of the page. The contents of your title tag do not appear in the text of the page: its purpose is to inform the search engine spiders what the topic of your page is, and what words are important (i.e. your main page keyword). For example, the TITLE tag of a page based on this article would be “SEO Techniques – Improve your Search Engine Ranking”.
2. Description Tags
The description Meta tag is used by Google, and other search engines, in the search engine listings. I have tested this with them all and Google uses it as is, while Yahoo uses part of it. You should provide a description of what the web page is about, and a simple check of the descriptions in other sites using your keyword on Google will show you how many words you can use to have the whole description included. About 20 words are fine.
3. Keyword Tags
Search engines rarely use the keyword Meta tag: Google ignores it completely. However, it doesn’t hurt, and can help in a small way. Include your brand name and your own name. That way some engines might show your pages if somebody is looking for your name. The other Meta tags have no SEO value, and do not help to improve your search engine ranking whatsoever.
4. Heading Tags
Heading tags (H1, H2, . . .) are used by Google to determine the importance of the text contained in your headings. Use H1 tags for the main title of your page (you also use it in the TITLE tag, but that isn’t seen by readers, only by the spiders). Put subtitles in H2 tags. You can change the font size of the text within these tags.
5. Text Formatting
Text in bold, italics and underscored are seen by the search engines as having greater weight, and so will be used in determining the relevance of your site. Always bolden your titles, and it also helps to underline it if it doesn’t make it look out of place.
6. Writing Style and Content
Do not write for algorithms (spiders): write for your readers. Always write for humans and you won’t go wrong. If your page content reads well, and has good vocabulary relating to the topic, then it will have a better chance of a higher listing than if you stuffed it full of keywords. I rarely use more than 1.5% – the keyword densities of the terms ‘SEO’, SEO techniques’ and ’search engine ranking’ (the main keywords) of this article are 1.5, 0.87 and 0.87 respectively. Too many keywords is bad SEO, and could result in a poor listing for your page – if it is listed at all.
So there you are: six simple SEO techniques to improve your search engine ranking. It is surprising how many experienced webmasters fail to apply all of these: there is no excuse, and they are failing to get the nuts and bolts properly fitted and tightened on their web pages.
Apply these to every page and not only will you improve your SEO, but also your chances of a good search engine ranking. It is amazing how many web pages lack these basic SEO techniques.
SEO: How To Research For Free
The first step of any online campaign is deciding what you want to be known for, particularly when aiming for a stronger presence on the search engines. These terms or search phrases that you wish to be seen for are called ‘keywords’. Researching and implementing these keywords into your website is crucial to the success of your website. It is vital that you look into both the search volume of each keyword and also the competition levels. By conducting a bit of research first you will gain a good understanding of how your market looks online, and also what keywords you could realistically achieve good positions for.
There are many ways you can conduct keyword research. The internet offers different tools, both free and paid for, and in addition to that there are some commands on the search engines that will also give you some clues. Free tools such as Google’s Adword’s keyword tool give you a basic look into monthly search volumes and competition levels, however it is sometimes questionable as to how accurate these figures can be. If you want to step it up a notch, you could try paying for software such as Word Tracker. Word Tracker will give you a much more thorough analysis of each word and ultimately give you a better view of the market.
For most people, using the free tools and search commands are enough to give a good idea of what keywords you should target with your website. Listed below are a few useful search commands that you could use to do a little research:
1. “In URL : ‘keyword’”
By typing this into a search engine and replacing the word ‘keyword’ with your keyword, you will get a list, and more importantly a number, of websites that are using your keyword in their URLs. This will give you a solid idea of how many websites are directly targeting your keyword.
2. “In title: ‘keyword’”
2nd most important to the URL, the meta title is vital to targeting a particular keyword. By using this command you will be able to see how many websites are using your keyword in their meta titles.
3. “In text: ‘keyword”
This command will give you a really good rounded view of the market. It will produce a list of websites that are talking about your keyword. The perfect keyword is one that has a substantial amount of traffic, yet a relatively low competition level. Of course, the keyword must be highly relevant to your website and business to ensure that any traffic that comes from the search engines is looking for exactly what you offer.
You will probably find that when you start to look into keywords, by varying the phrase slightly you can find keywords with high traffic levels and low competition…this is exactly what you are looking for. Also, don’t ignore keywords with low search volumes; if these keywords are relevant to your website the traffic they could bring could be a lot higher in quality if you are targeting a niche area.
10 essential components you need to create an effective squeeze page for your ezine
1. Domain Name
Pick a compelling domain name that accurately describes the result of opting into your list or the nature of the list to which the visitor is opting into. You’ll want to forward this domain to a hidden page on your site that is not accessible via your navigation menu. Don’t mask the domain when you forward it (i.e. hide the internal URL to which the domain is forwarded — your domain registrar usually offers this as an option). If you use this domain in your resource box when you syndicate your articles, you want to reap the rewards of strong inbound links from high-traffic article directories, and that won’t happen if you mask the domain name of your squeeze page.
2. Client Attraction Device
The most effective way to entice a visitor to opt into your list is by giving something away. Typically this giveaway, or what I call a Client Attraction Device, is in an electronic download format and helps solve a major issue faced by your target market. Many savvy online business owners put several electronic downloads together into a kit (audio, ebook, and checklist, for example) for their giveaway, as the expectations have increased as to what visitors expect when exchanging their contact info for free information.
3. Graphic of Giveaway
The adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings quite true in the Internet marketing world. Have a graphic representation created of your giveaway, as that increases the perceived value of what you’re offering.
4. Value of Giveaway
Placing a monetary value on your giveway is another strategy to enhance the importance of this free item in the eyes of your visitors. Don’t be outrageous in your pricing — determine what you might actually charge for your giveaway if you were selling it as a product on your site.
5. Compelling Headline
A headline that grabs your reader’s attention will go a long way in convincing them to hang out long enough to finish reading the content on your squeeze page. Appealing to some emotion of the visitor is the most effective way to construct a compelling headline, like fear of loss, greed, vanity, lust, pride, envy, laziness…you get the idea.
6. Captivating Copy
It’s no longer sufficient to simply invite a visitor to opt into a list. Most visitors have become too savvy for that. In order to convince them to opt into your list, you must answer the “WIIFM” question, or “What’s In It For Me?” This means that you need to take a page out of the copy writing playbook and essentially create a short sales letter on your squeeze page. Outline the benefits they’ll receive if they opt into your list for the giveaway.
7. Enhance with Audio and Video
It never hurts to appeal to all information intake styles of your visitors. Record a quick audio or video that convinces your visitors that your giveaway is something that they cannot live without. Verbally instruct them how to opt into your list, as well.
Reading (or hearing) glowing reviews of how others liked the giveaway will often serve as the deciding factor to get a visitor to take action. Request written, audio, or video testimonials from others who’ve received your Client Attraction Device or from those who’ve purchased other products and services from you. Testimonials go a long way in convincing visitors that opting into your list is worth their time and energy.
9. Opt-in Box
You need an email marketing service to help you create an opt-in box to capture your visitor’s name and primary email address. If you plan on doing direct mail marketing in the future, you may also request their mailing address and phone number as optional fields. You’ll be surprised at how many visitors will complete the entire form with all of their contact info, even if the name and email address are the only two required items.
10. Informed opt-in
Let visitors know that they will also be receiving a complimentary subscription to your ezine when they opt into your list. Don’t hide this fact from your visitor. Give them a bit of info about your ezine, like how often you publish it. You may want to create a graphic image of your ezine to add to this page, as well.
A squeeze page for your ezine is an effective way to triple the opt-in rate to your email marketing list. Follow these 10 steps to skyrocket the size of your list today!
Monitoring Search Engine Positions
Since search engines are the first stop for people on the Internet looking for goods or services, the position your website appears in search results is an important factor. If your URL shows up far down the results list, the chances of the consumer never finding you increase incrementally. Once you achieve a high search engine position, it is essential that you make sure you maintain the high ranking you have worked so hard to achieve.
This means you must come up with a strategy to monitor your search engines positions. This strategy is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. Think of your search engine positions as your online portfolio. Would you let your stock portfolio be ruled by chance and market fluctuations, or would you keep close tabs on your stocks so you could buy and sell when the time is right? This is the way you must consider your search engines positions.
Be aware that at first, after you have launched your search engine campaign and done all the right things to increase your rankings, you will most likely see a continual upward climb. What you need to be on the lookout for is the moment that upward climb reaches a plateau. When this happens, your search engine position campaign moves into stage two, the monitoring and protecting stage.
In stage two, do not be concerned about the short-term fluctuations in your positions. These are similar to the subtle rising and falling of stocks in a portfolio. Short-term movement is an integral part of the whole process. It’s the long-term changes that you must watch for and prepare to act on immediately.
Analyzing the long-term trends of search engines positions is imperative. The way in which search engines rank websites may change at the drop of hat. If you are unaware of these changes – many of which are subtle yet can be deadly to your ranking – your position may drop to the bottom of the list before you can get your bearings. To prevent this kind of precipitous drop, you must create a system to monitor your positions on a monthly basis. Devise a chart to keep tabs on your top ranking positions or your top pages, and make sure to watch “the market” closely.
Each search engine uses a formula to compute website rankings. When a search engine changes this formula in any way, it may raise or lower your ranking. Some search engines use a number of different formulas, rotating them so that a formula doesn’t become overused or outdated. Depending on which formula is being applied, your search engine position may suddenly drop or rise in rank significantly. Therefore, you must check your positions frequently in order to catch when a search engine changes formulas and what effect it has on your positions.
You must also deal with your competition – a crucial factor you must always be vigilant about. Your competitor’s position may suddenly rise, automatically lowering your position. Or their position may drop, pushing your position higher. Each month, expect position changes due to the continual changes that are occurring in your competitor’s position, and be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy to compensate for decreased rankings. Monitoring these fluctuations will also give you vital information about how to improve your website to increase your position in search results.
Of course, you must discern what the most popular search engines are in order for your monitoring efforts to be effective. Right now, there are ten popular search engines that direct most of Internet traffic to your sites. The challenge you face is that these top ten may change from month to month.
This means that your must not only monitor your search engine positions, but you must also keep track of the ranking popularity of the search engines you are monitoring. Find out which search engines people use most frequently every month and be sure to live in the present! People are fickle about their favorite search engines, and it takes constant vigilance to follow their dalliances. The search engines they loved when you first launched your campaign may be old news in the next few months. You must adjust your list of engines according to the whims of the Internet users. Check out http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/netratings.html for a current list of website favorites.
Another factor to monitor carefully is a sudden drop of your positions in all search engines. This is not the same as monthly fluctuations – this is a neon red warning sign! It could mean a number of different things.
It all your search engine positions have plummeted, it may indicate that search engines spiders – those sneaky programs that seek out your site and rank their positions – have found some type of problem with your website. If you have recently changed the code, for instance, the spider may become utterly confused and consequently drop your positions disastrously. If a spider creeps up on your website when it is down for adjustments or changes, you may actually disappear from a search engine index entirely. Or a search engine may drastically change its formula, and suddenly all of your website come up as irrelevant. If that search engine is a current favorite, it may create a domino effect, causing all of your position to drop in all search engines.
Some search engines rely on the results from other search engines, and it is vital that you know which engines these are and keep track of all the engines they influence. The biggest problem here is that search engines will sometimes change affiliations, and this can create a major shift in the geography of the Internet. For example, recently Yahoo decided to display only results gleaned from Google. So you must not only monitor your own positions, but you must keep abreast of seismic shifts in the landscape of the Internet as a whole.
Finally, pay attention to your keywords. Keywords are the foundation bricks of the entire search engine system, and they demand individual scrutiny in your monitoring efforts. If you have found that a number of your positions have plummeted, it may mean that a page of your website has become invisible or inaccessible to search engine spiders. Or the competition for that particular keyword or phrase has recently rocketed into outer space. In either case, you must act quickly and efficiently to regain lost ground.
Your search engine marketing campaign is an investment. If costs you time and money on a continual basis. Protect this investment as diligently as you would your financial portfolio. In the same way, track your positions from an objective perspective, and monitor your positions on a regular basis. Make sure your time and effort reap rewards by keeping your eye on the big picture – your long-term marketing campaign.
How to Get Your Article to the Top of the Search Engines
There are millions-if not billions-of articles on the internet. No matter the topic, people have already written about it online. So it can be difficult to get new articles to the top of the search engines. But, it can definitely be done.
It isn’t enough to select a topic people about which people will want to read. Let’s say that you went over to Google’s AdWords (or another website that determines which keywords are the most popular search terms at the moment) and then decided to write about one of the latest trends. While this does improve your chances of ranking higher on the search engines (and it is, in fact, a worthwhile step to take), it alone will not guarantee success. Instead, you will need to make your article stand out somehow.
- Tips on Writing Your Article
Writing about the current buzzwords and trends-also known as viral marketing-is a great start. But you can definitely take other steps to make sure that your article rises to the top of the search engines. These are some ideas that you might try:
* Choose your keywords wisely: Let’s say that you did research and found that a certain brand of candy bar was a big trend that a lot of people were talking about because of a contest that was going on. Keywords for your article could very well be ‘candy bar’ and ‘contest.’ The brand name could also be a keyword. Don’t, however, choose something extraneous, such as ‘chocolate’ or ‘nougat.’ For this type of article or articles, you won’t need to describe the candy bar.
* Select keyword placement wisely: You should include your keywords in the headline of your article. You should also make certain to include them in the body of your article several times, toward the beginning and the end.
* Keep keyword density in mind: Keyword density is the number of times your keyword appears relative to the number of words in total. Your density should be no more than 5% to 7%. Any more than that, and most search engines may regard your article to be spam.
* Include links to high-ranking websites (or other articles on your own website): Links will help you to achieve high search engine rankings, especially if they are links to popular websites.
* Remember: Content is King. If the quality of your article isn’t good, no one will read it-and, therefore, no one will click on any of the links. Make your article interesting and readable.
- What to do After the Article is Written
Once you have finished the article, there are still a few ideas you can try that can help to get your article to the top of the search engines:
* Submit your articles to the several article directories.
* Submit your article to ezine editors that accept articles on your topic.
* Look for blogs related to your topic, and ask if they accept outside articles for submission.
* Post a link to the article on Twitter and Facebook.
* Submit the article to social bookmarking websites, such as StumbleUpon and Digg.
How to Protect Your Search Engine Rankings
If you have a web site that you have been maintaining and updating on a consistent basis for several years, chances are, you have acquired some decent traffic from the search engines. The thing that most webmasters don’t consider is that once they have that search engine traffic, it doesn’t mean it will stay forever. There are things that can happen with your web site that can cause it to drop out of the search engine rankings. So what is a web master to do in order to keep their search engine rankings?
Some very legitimate high quality sites are being hurt by some of the actions taken by the search engines to ban the spammy sites created by less than above-board webmasters. There are some things a webmaster can do to reduce their chances of their legitimate site being mistaken for a spam site.
1) Take care in who you are linking to on your website
While it is good to have links that are helpful to your web visitors, you need to be careful who you are linking to. If you link to sites that are considered “bad neighborhoods”, you will certainly see a drop in your search engine results. This is because the search engines will assume that you are linking just to increase your search engine ranking. Avoid linking to sites and pages that are mostly a list of links. Many of these sites are somewhat spammy and also link to many other “questionable” sites. If you want to put your link in a link directory, go for high quality link directories, especially if these directories require a reciprocal link back to their site. Sometimes paying the few bucks they ask for to get listed could be worth it as it will filter out all of the spammers. The penalty hit is from an action on your part of linking to the bad neighborhood so you can control it by not linking to one in the first place. If you aren’t sure if the sites are in bad neighborhoods or not, you can easily check it out by using online tools that tell you if your website is linking to a bad neighborhood. Tools like bad-neighborhood.com give you detailed information about the websites you are linking to.
2) Make sure your keyword density isn’t too high
Your keyword density is also a factor that affects your search engine rankings. Search engines determine the relevance of your website to a particular subject by the use of keywords in your web page text. The higher the density of the keyword, the more relevant the web page for that keyword subject. However too high a keyword density, and the search engines will consider you trying to spam the search engines and will penalize your website for keyword stuffing, or keyword spamming. Content with a conversational tone or a natural editorial flavor can produce a premium keyword density and leave you with good quality content. The old rule of thumb is that your keyword should never appear in more than half of the sentences on the page. A better approach is to have your keyword not appear in more than 1/3 of the sentences, yet use synonyms and other related keywords on the page as well to add relevance. In total, you don’t want your keyword density to be above 3%. Tools like keyworddensity.com can give you a quick reference to web page keyword density.
There are some simple things you can do to keep your legitimate web site above board and not have it mistaken for a spam site so it doesn’t lose rank in the search engines. These 2 are some of the easiest and quickest things you can do to keep your website above board and ranking well in the search engines
SEO Secrets: Fighting Against the Domain Age Tide
So you’ve bought your Dreamweaver, an eternity later worked out how it works, started to build your site which is targeting your chosen niche or promoting your affiliate product and after what seems like forever you have added quality content. You’ve bust a gut to get this far, but this is where the real work begins. You need to get your site seen by as many people as possible. You need to drive as much traffic as you can whether it be through a pay-per-click campaign or via organic traffic.
Let’s say you decide to target organic traffic. You need to get a high ranking in the search engines. During your website construction you have already been using a keyword research tool and a SEO Tool and spending the midnight hours mulling over the chosen keyword phrases your research has indicated you should be targeting on your pages and using in your URL. Your whole site from headings to meta-tags, to meta-descriptions and anchor text are all optimized taking account of semantically related words, keyword density and the long tail.
Next you begin your back link campaign spending hours trying to get quality back links to your site. Social bookmarking takes over your life for days on end, you post on relevant blogs and all relevant forums, you set up your own blog, submit articles to article directories and then submit your entire site to SEO friendly website directories.
Yet more analysis follows, as you now study your competitors’ websites. You investigate what keywords they are targeting and study the links that they have developed and you develop strategies to be better than they are. Slowly but surely your site climbs the rankings. You constantly update your site adding quality content and before you know it your site is fast approaching the first page. A steady trickle of traffic flows on a daily basis. At this rate you should soon be top of the rankings and then… the sky’s the limit!
Unfortunately it doesn’t usually quite work like this. Yes it is true that if you have picked some long tail keywords to target you may be able to get somewhere near the top of the rankings or indeed even to the number one spot. In most instances however the traffic won’t be great and you would need to get each page of your website targeting a different long tail phrase and getting to the top of the rankings for that phrase each time for the total traffic to be lucrative. It’s certainly possible but does require a lot more graft.
For very popular keyword phrases it proves incredibly difficult to dislodge the top sites from their positions, even though in theory you may know that you have better back links and better content. Without the top positions the mass traffic will never be yours. It is just so frustrating as you probably know. I certainly do. So you go away and you research again and you analyze again and you spend days poring over the detail and you
work and you work and you know what, it makes not one jot of difference. You just cannot crack the top spots. Why not? How many times have I asked this of myself?
Now perhaps your tactics aren’t quite right. Perhaps the phrases you are targeting are the wrong ones or perhaps you’re back links are not quality back links. Do you have the quality of content on your site that you think you do? Yes, yes, yes, I hear you say. So what is going on? Well it could be something as simple as the age of your domain.
Google places a lot of trust in back links, especially quality back links to your site, but it also places significant trust in sites which have been around for a significant period of time. This is especially true if they are frequently updated. In many cases the top ranked sites are trusted sites as far as Google is concerned because they have an authority status due to their back links, but also due to the length of time they have been operating. If your site is an equal to a competitor’s site in terms of content and back links, but it is a far newer domain, there will be little chance of you dislodging your competitor from the top slot. The site that has been there for five years serving the web community carries a lot of trust with Google.
To dislodge these sites requires tremendous effort to create quality back links and sometimes you may never achieve it. It can be done however, you just need to be aware of what is going on and keep persevering. Some internet marketers have resorted to buying old domains in an attempt to overcome this challenge in building the website around the domain. I’m not entirely sure how Google reacts to this, especially if you are adding new content on a continual basis. Does the domain itself carry an inherent trust because of its age or is it the content that carried the trust from the old website?
Either way it’s worth exploring as one of the tactics along with keyword analysis and building back links that you could adopt in an attempt to get higher rankings and hence higher rates of traffic.
How Much is Too Much to Pay for SEO?
How much is too much to pay for SEO? (…or should you try to do it yourself first?)
Yes, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be an excellent way of getting leads.
Yes, good SEO can level the playing field between you and competitors.
Yes, you should do some level of SEO.
…but how much is too much?
Too much? Good question.
You’ll find that everybody that uses the word “Internet” is going to suggest that you engage in SEO and many will make you an offer to do it for you. There’s nothing wrong with that as far it goes. But what you have to decide is how much you should pay for having it done.
* Some Perspectives On Paying For SEO
Here are a few important tips to help you decide the answer to that question:
(1) First, make sure you really do need outside assistance. If you’re looking for better SEO placement for relatively unique or so-called “long tail” key words (e.g. “pine street rental condominiums” ) it might be worth trying it yourself before you involve an SEO consultant or SEO firm.
(2) SEO is not rocket-science. Mostly it’s monotonous drudgery. So what you pay should not be about hiring “expertise”. The SEO effort is more like 90% drudgery, 8% experience, and 2% expertise and you should compensate accordingly.
(3) The value of SEO boils down to “clicks” – preferably clicks that result in a sale conversion. SEO should be measured on the same cost-per-click basis any search-engine-marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) campaign would be – i.e. the basis of ROI. If you don’t know how many clicks or orders you want, do not engage SEO until you do.
(4) SEO is not static and optimization is competitive. You may be on the first page today but your competitors aren’t necessarily going to sit still forever. You could be bumped at any time. So if you’re not prepared to maintain an ongoing and strategic SEO effort – no matter what the competition does – then save your money.
(5) Search engine “secrets” are just that – secret. The search engines aren’t telling them and anybody that claims to know the secrets is just guessing. It doesn’t mean they can’t help but it’s not as if they have some special advantage. Impossible.
(6) Frankly, from the search engine point-of-view, if your site doesn’t have enough useful and relevant content to be on the first page, ethical SEO notwithstanding, eventually it won’t be. This is the objective of the search engines and there’s little likelihood that the SEO “expert” pitching you is going to out-think Google, Yahoo!, Bing and others in the long run.
* Is Doing SEO Yourself An Option?
It’s almost always worth taking a first crack at SEO yourself. Often only a little effort can make a significant difference. If you do want to make the effort, invest a few dollars in a do-it-yourself SEO guide and try to adhere to the following minimum suggestions:
(1) Focus on keywords that are realistic. You’re not likely to get a good placement with a keyword like “real estate” but you might get first page with a keyword like “Hill street real estate”;
(2) Make sure your keyword is mentioned in the link to your page. Instead of saying “click HERE” make sure the text for the link says something like “for more information about HILL STREET REAL ESTATE”;
(3) Make sure your keyword is mentioned in your page title, your keyword list, your page content, bolded page content;
(4) For every keyword you’re interested in, make sure you have an appropriate page to focus on it (and that it complies with #1, #2, and #3 above)
(5) Register with search engine webmaster accounts so that you can submit your site to them quickly and efficiently (search for “google webmaster”, “bing webmaster”, or “yahoo webmaster” to find the details).
* Don’t Forget Links
Lastly, if you going to make an initial stab yourself, understand that quality links to your site are a vital factor in your ultimate placement. The more the merrier. To get a head-start on building links to your site, do the following:
(1) Enroll in all relevant local or regional directories – (search “free directories” to find lists of these); many will be free, some will want nominal fees or backlinks. You decide.
(2) Ensure that any press releases and announcements you make refer to your site and specific pages within it.
(3) Post pages of your site to delicious.com or to digg.com and to similar bookmarking sites.
(4) Ask local friends and business acquaintances if they will exchange links with you.
(5) On the other hand, DO NOT sign up for paid links without the guidance of someone experienced in Internet marketing.
* Do these things sound particularly difficult? No.
And well worth taking a stab at by yourself. From there you can decide whether its desirable or worth the cost to pay for SEO services from a 3rd-party.
* No Matter What You Do…
You need to think in terms of what kind of return you are going to get on your investment. The calculation is simple: Divide the total SEO cost (yours or a 3rd-party’s) by the number of orders/sales you’ve received as a result of the effort. Then compare that cost-per-sale against your margin-per-sale. If you have margin left over, you’re in the right territory. If you don’t, you’ve got a problem.
The bottom line is that when you talk with any SEO service provider, you must think in terms of ROI. Not in terms of “secrets” or first pages or top spots, but ROI. (Note: it is theoretically possible to be on the 3rd page and still get a positive ROI – not likely, but possible) If the ROI doesn’t work, then search engine optimization may not be for you and other Internet marketing methods might yield better results and a better ROI.
Optimize Your Images On Search Engines
Starting competitive advantages in the business is vital both in online and offline aspects. If you are a business organization, you need to distinguish your organization from the competition, especially if your business is not on commodity products. You can easily distinguish these advantages on the internet because of the already established fundamentals of the business.
For some companies, they get their edge from targeted advertising from high-traffic websites. For others, it is through social media marketing.
But one relatively easy way to drive relevant traffic to your website without too much effort is to optimize your images for search engines. Think of it as a tiny webpage within the website structure. It is recommended for you to include an anchor text, descriptive tagging, and URL structure to maximize results.
* Search for the Right Image
Successful bloggers, writers, and website owners know the value of using the right image for their text content. It adds another dimension to articles and enables readers to appreciate their webpage even more. However, many fail to use images for search engine optimization purposes. It is in fact a good way to drive backlinks and visitors. There’s no need to upload your own pictures. A lot of stock photos are available from free from sites like Flickr and iStockPhoto among others. It is also a good idea to use Google Search to find good photos. Make sure that you are not violating any copyright if you do this (look for Creative Commons licensing).
* Make Proper Use of Keywords
Keywords are an integral part of any search engine optimization effort. It is used to optimize all kinds of digital assets from videos to podcasts. You will really benefit if you use keywords wisely for your images. Rename the image because having “012345RR.jpg” as the file name isn’t going to help. It is a very simple step and can go a long way in helping your website rank better.
* Use Descriptive Text
It is important to use descriptive tags, file names, and alt text for your images. This is because search engines cannot read images and would use its surrounding text as reference. Make use of this feature by adding keywords on the descriptive text, anchor text, and any other tags (related to the image). Bear in mind that anchor text is one of the most important elements to optimize your image effectively so take advantage of it.
As you can see, image SEO is a straight-forward process that provides tenfold benefit from your efforts. Follow the guidelines outlined above and you’ll see your more traffic coming in from image search soon.
Easy Ways to Improve Search Engine Ranking and Drive Traffic
To learn how to increase search engine rankings and drive website traffic you need to understand the concepts that govern the way the search engines work.
Without an understanding of these principles and a system to incorporate them into everything you do online, you will not get the success you are seeking.
On the other hand, learn how to effectively utilize them and you will start dominating niches all over the Internet driving thousands of visitors to your site on a daily basis.
So what are the principles that rule search engine rankings and how do I improve mine? Here they are:
Relevancy is something defined as having relationship to. For example if your website was about golf, related content would include information about such things as golf clubs, golf courses and golf lessons.
Content about anything other than the topic of the website or related topics would not score for relevancy, thereby having no chance of ranking in the search engines. Search engines check your site for relevancy.
You need to be right on topic for whatever it is you are targeting with the content you create. A final word of caution about relevancy: Relevancy alone will not rank your site. You could have the most highly relevant, best original content ever written posted at your site, however if there are no sites pointing to it, it will never rank in the search engines. Relevancy does not work without the concepts of popularity and original content.
The first step is to choose the keyword or keyword phrase you want your content to target. Let’s say you’re trying to get a higher ranking for this keyword phrase, the topic I am currently writing about, “Improve Search Engine Ranking”. First, you would want to find what people are searching for and specifically target that keyword if you want your content to rank for that phrase.
Make sure you include the keyword phrase in the title of the article. For example, your title could be “Strategies To Improve Search Engine Ranking”. Always try to put the keyword or keyword phrase as the first few words of the article title. Always remember to use the keyword phrase, several times throughout the article. Finally make sure your content remains 100% relevant to the keyword phrase.
Popularity works together with relevancy to improve search engine rankings. Popularity is based on two key measures:
a) How Many Sites Link to Your Site
A site’s popularity is measured first by the number of sites that directly link to your site.
To demonstrate popularity let’s take a quick look at YouTube. YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, Why? All links and embed codes taken from YouTube and embedded on other sites, whether on Facebook, Myspace, a blog, a sales page or a website, create automatic links back to YouTube where the video is hosted. Every time someone shares a YouTube video a link is created.
With the number of videos shared, Youtube gets thousands of new incoming links daily. This is one of the reasons why YouTube videos rank very highly on the search engines. Their site is super popular.
b) The Popularity of the Sites Linking to You
The more popular the site linking to you is, the better the score given by the search engines.
The more incoming links to your site the more popular it is. It is therefore always important to syndicate the content of your site (with a direct link to the content on your site), to as many sites as possible. The Internet presents a host of sites where you can post your content for free to increase your search engine rankings, including popular high ranking sites like article directories, blogs, social bookmarking sites, video sites, press release and social network pages.
Originality basically refers to unique content. In simple terms the search engines ask the question, is this same piece of content all over the Internet? As an example, if I took a highly relevant and popular article from my site and posted it to hundreds of sites it would not rank high in the search engines as it would no longer be deemed unique.
There is no doubt that spreading your unique content across the Internet is important for driving traffic to your site. The secret is to make several unique versions of the same information all with a backlink to your original article posted on your site. Spinning is a popular term used to describe the process of changing the titles, key words and phrases throughout your article to make several unique versions. Placing these all over the Internet with a back link to your site will improve rankings.
Follow the steps above and I promise you will see an increase in the number of visitors to your site.
Your Website’s Financial Success Will Rely On Search Engine Optimization!
One of the difficulties that internet business proprietors encounter is obtaining enough traffic and revenues for their products and services. The financial success of a site is driven by the amount of targeted traffic that it gets, and the chief source of traffic nowadays is top search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo!. Search engine optimization can either offer you an increased rating if done properly or make your online business fail if done erroneously.
It is estimated that around 85%-90% of web surfers go to websites via search engines. Moreover, most folks would click on the websites which are included in the very first page of search engines’ listings. If you wish to get even more targeted traffic, sales and recognition, your target should be to secure an improved page rating for your site and get it to be included as among the leading results for numerous web queries. Having a website without audience is pointless, so it’s vital that you compel individuals to go to your website and see what you are selling them. A lot of search engine optimization methods will help you realize this goal.
There are a few basic search engine optimization aspects that you ought to keep in mind when you try to make search engines notice your site. Several website owners feel that the only thing they have to undertake is send their URL to many search engines, then sit back and expect their traffic to improve. While search engine submission could help you get an improved ranking and also put you on page 1 of search engines’ results, it must be supported by other SEO tactics.
The search engine optimization process is as follows: after submitting your web address to search engines or allowing them to come across it by themselves, search engines would dispatch crawlers that will index and examine your website. All your web pages are going to be ranked through complex algorithms and a sophisticated combination of factors. These bots’ purpose is to find the most appropriate pages that they can offer their searchers for specific subjects, so they must ensure that every single link they include in search engines’ listings actually possesses the needed information or details that accurately fit the users’ keywords. Search engines will then rate your website based on how valuable they determine it to be.
The highest target for your web-based business and website is to have it on page 1, not page 10 or 20. Thus, generating applicable keyword phrases, accurate labels and also related content is truly important for your success! Your keywords must be painstakingly planned and also researched. It’s incredibly crucial to find out what words or phrases visitors often enter to look for certain products and services. In many instances, it’s best to stick to the basics instead of attempting to be too creative with your keyword phrases. To illustrate, if you sell pet products, refrain from using words like canine because this is not the first word that folks use when looking for a dog collar.
Another good SEO technique would be to utilize a web address that reflects your products and services rather than using a business name, except if your brand is already established. Using the previous example, the phrase ‘dog collars’ ought to be a part of your web address if that is the product that you’re marketing. Aside from that, you should have corresponding or related words in your webpage titles as well as throughout your site. Developing titles and copy that do not correspond with each other will confuse your customers and you wouldn’t secure the positioning that you want.
In addition, your page titles should be thoughtfully made in order to mirror the material that appears on your site, and your material has to be unique, helpful as well as enjoyable. Your website cannot look like a twin of other websites; you want to make your own web presence and be
known as an expert in your selected niche.
It is tough to trick contemporary search engines, so don’t even bother having a go at it! Keyword stuffing, which calls for placing popular search phrases on websites that are totally unconnected to those keyword phrases, is a technique employed by Internet business owners who desire great outcomes without undertaking search engine optimization correctly. This specific strategy will lower your page rank or even get you banned from search engines’ listings permanently! Search engine optimization ought to be done correctly for it to make your internet business and website successful.
Create Professional RSS Feeds
More and more companies are using RSS as a means to communicate, so having an RSS feed that is professional and well polished will help differentiate your company from your competition. What makes an RSS feed professional? Follow these simple steps to polish your RSS feed and take it to the next level…
1. Feed Image
Add an image to your RSS feed. The image will be displayed by many feed readers each time your feed is displayed. This will help build and reinforce your brand or image in the minds of people who read your RSS feed. Adding an image to an RSS feed is relatively easy, and adds a level of professionalism.
2. Images And Links
Add images and links within the RSS feed. The process of adding images and links to the description field of an RSS feed is really quite simple if you are using software to manage your feed, while it may be somewhat complex if you are hand-coding your feed. Incorporating images or hot links in the feed’s content will allow your readers to explore further and dig deeper into your content. The added benefit, of course, are the additional web links back to your site from any sites that choose to syndicate or display your feed’s contents.
Properly formed code is important, in order to ensure that all RSS readers can read and display your feed. But it is also very important for another reason… nothing is more embarrassing or unprofessional than an RSS feed that is broken or stops working. Use software to manage your feed creation, and validate your feed on a regular basis.
4. Easy To Subscribe
Make your RSS feed easy to subscribe to. Include the traditional RSS icon, or an indicator site-wide, so that website visitors can easily locate and subscribe to your RSS feeds. Include basic directions on how website visitors should subscribe to your RSS feed.
5. Auto Discovery
Add “auto-discovery” code to the HTML header of your website. Many RSS aggregators include an auto-discovery feature, which allows them to automatically detect when a website offers an RSS feed. So, if your website visitors are using one of those aggregators, they will instantly know that an RSS feed for your content is available from your website.
Instantly create auto discovery code – http://www.feedforall.com/autodiscovery.htm
Add a “favicon” to your website. Favicons (short for “favorite icons”) are typically a tiny version of a company or Web site’s logo, and appear in the URL bar of the user’s web browser. When a user bookmarks a specific Web page that includes a favicon, that Web page loads the customized icon into the user’s browser. Because the favicon is usually displayed next to the web site address, it can act like a small logo or an icon that visitors can use to remember the web site or the site address. Feed directories and RSS Search Engines will often use a favicon beside an RSS feed’s listings. So be sure that you have one on your website; otherwise, you’ll have nothing but a generic icon beside your feed. Webmasters can establish branding by creating a favicon for their website. Here is a free service from HTMLKit: http://www.html-kit.com/favicon
7. Subscribe To Your Own Feed
Always subscribe to your RSS feed, so you can see what your website visitors are seeing.
While it is not essential to incorporate the above elements in your RSS feed, the additions will result in a more professional and polished RSS feed that stands apart from competitors in news aggregators and RSS directories. Spending a few extra minutes here could easily draw more attention to your feed.