Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving art form or science. A genuine search engine optimization specialist is very much in demand and usually makes a lot of money. (In my case, I’ll work for for slightly less than a lot.) It’s all about doing what is necessary to get the pages of your website indexed (added to the search engines) and then ranked.
In order to determine how they are going to index and rank websites and their individual pages, the major search engines send out a program known as a search engine robot (a ‘bot’), or ‘spider’, to determine what each of those pages is about.
What the search engines are actually looking for when they send their spider to a website is something of a mystery, with Google in particular being unwilling to give specific guidelines on how to create a website that they are going to like. Yahoo and MSN are more transparent, but many SEO experts would suggest that their indexing and ranking system is considerably more old fashioned than Google’s.
To complicate things even further, Google changes their search algorithms on a very regular basis, at least partially because the better SEO experts become far too good at ‘second-guessing’ what they are doing!
The first step in optimizing your website for the search engines is on-page optimization. Although Google does not pay a lot of attention to on-page optimization, it is important because the other major search engines like Yahoo, MSN and Ask still focus on it. On-page optimization concerns making the underlying code used to create each of the pages of your site as search engine friendly as possible.
Each web page is written in a code that is converted by your web browser into information and images that show on the screen as a web page. Most of the code used to create a webpage is there because it creates information and images on the screen, but a portion of it is created solely to provide background information to the search engine spiders.
If you are unfamiliar with how this underlying code looks, open a webpage from any site in your favorite browser, right click on the page, and click on the ‘View’ and the ‘Source’ link if you’re using Internet Explorer or ‘View’ and then ‘Page Source’ with Mozilla Firefox. Pay particular attention to what is at the top of the page, between the <head> and </head> tags…and more specifically items labeled “meta”. These are called Meta Tags.
On-page optimization is about ensuring that this code is written so that it does everything possible to tell the search engines exactly what each of the pages of your site are about. The more efficiently you can do this, the more accurately they are going to index and then rank that page for the correct search term, improving the chances of that page being found by a searcher who is specifically looking for the kind of information you are providing.
As search engine gurus become increasingly savvy with “on-site” optimization, they learned to game the system which in turn makes search engine results increasingly unreliable. When you build a webpage you include a few keywords and keyword terms that you want to target in the search engines to get traffic to your page. At one time, there was no limit to the number of keywords you could target, and you could even include keywords that had nothing at all to do with the content of your page. Unscrupulous web developers and SEO experts would create extensive keyword lists that included many popular search terms, ensuring that individual pages showed up in searches for those fashionable terms. This became a huge concern for Google, Yahoo and MSN. It was annoying their advertisers, and these advertisers are the root of their business. As a result they changed the rules. These days if there are more than 10-20 keywords and phrases, the search engine spiders just ignore them.
Since the search engine algorithms are constantly evolving it is difficult to stay ahead of the curve. For this reason it is best to stick with a few tried and true basics. Stick to optimizing your site in an honest and straightforward way:
Easy site navigation is extremely important, so you should try to ensure that people (and the search spiders) can reach any internal page of your site in no more than three clicks and get back to the homepage in one.
This concludes on-site optimization. In my next post I will discuss off-site optimization.
Many times writing can inspire such strong emotions that you find yourself becoming critical or overly cute. Even though it may sound or look good to you and some of your friends, it may not be as well received by the rest of your audience. Using this careless style, you might not get the intended results. Here are some reasons why you want to avoid being cute or derogatory when you write copy and how to improve your writing:
Being overly clever can be perceived as arrogance
Writers who try too hard to impress their audience can often come across as condescending and annoying. The reader’s usual reaction is often, “What, does this writer think I am, in idiot?”
Being too clever, can alienate your audience. They won’t be pleased at being subjected to a write-up that appears to insinuate that they are ignorant. Instead, speak to them as you would to a respected colleague and don’t simply assume that you know better.
Being critical can rub people the wrong waySome writing styles and topics call for a writer to use a critical tone. Satire, for example, is often critical. Nevertheless, really great writers still manage to inject humor into the writing, which is actually a sign of genuine talent.
When writing reviews, you also need to be critical in order to inform the reader the positive and negative points of the person, event or product being reviewed. Being critical could be harsh but if you can phrase your sentences well, your write-up will be more entertaining.
Write like ShakespeareNo, not iambic pentameters and rhymes…be able to state the obvious without doing so. Instead of confronting the issue upfront by being clever and critical, find different ways to describe, illustrate, critique or opine. You can add or omit words, use metaphors and use other linguistic tricks. The key here is to produce a well-written piece. Be careful though, not to overdo it or people will know you’re trying to be cute.
Avoid using strong or offensive language
You don’t have to be offensive for people to know that you have something to say. Some writers can’t help using strong language when trying to be critical about something.
Sometimes writers may even use strong language in an attempt to prevent boring their readers. This trick often backfires however, since not everyone appreciates language used in street fights. If you use strong language out of context, your readers might think that you are either trying to be clever or being overly critical, or they may just feel you are incapable of intelligent discourse. Instead of falling into this trap, use references such as a dictionary or a thesaurus for better alternatives. You’d be surprised at how well you can write copy that expresses exactly what you want to say using well-chosen words. It will gain you much more respect.
Humor is a great alternative
Instead of being clever and critical when writing copy, consider appealing to your readers’ funny side. Some of the best writers ever, used humor to express their opinions and ideas even about more serious topics. By doing so you can explore a different aspect of your subject and offer your readers an opportunity to see things in a different light.
Video sales are the hot tip du jour it seems. I can understand it, it is easier and takes less time in many cases to watch a video then to read. Also, video gives one the opportunity to demonstrate firsthand how to navigate through programs, changes in sales records over time, and most importantly it gives a greater personal touch to everything, making one feel they know the individual.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. Being in the ecommerce world, I receive lots of sales promotions via email, and click on numerous ads online. I can personally tell you I shut down 80% of the video ads I receive and never view them. Not because I don’t like video, but because it is extremely intrusive most of the time.
I work at home, in a room where my husband, a writer (among other things), works side by side with me on another computer. Frequently I will open an email or ad that takes me straight to a video, and it immediately starts blasting into the silence, bringing me harsh looks or worse. Then there are the early morning or late night hours, when I am checking my email or surfing the internet, trying to be very quiet and not wake him. All of a sudden I inadvertently open an email with a video and it comes blasting out at me.
Think about all those poor souls at work, that are trying to research ways to make extra money online, or find a way out of their dead end jobs, and are surfing the internet during their down time. All of a sudden, they click on something and their whole roomful of coworkers immediately knows what their up to.
My advice to marketers considering video marketing is this: Use your video, but include it as part of a squeeze page that tells about the product as well. Have the video on the page, but not as an auto play. Let the reader decide whether or not to view the video. That way they get the basic information on your page, but still have the option to see the video for more in depth information, and for that personal touch.
Time is something everyone claims they lack, and yet if we were all a bit more efficient as we went about our day, we would have plenty of time to do the things we needed. Are you someone that feels time is a constant challenge? Something that attacks you rather than something you attack? The number one problem people have when trying to succeed, carry out job tasks or just get on with their day is finding enough time to do everything they want to in the short time they feel they have available. This usually is a result of their lack of skill in managing time.
Do you fall into any of these categories?
1. The Procrastinator – Waits until the last minute to accomplish important tasks; often forgets tasks; submits assignments late; may arrive to events late; often find you make excuses for your tardiness; seldom plan ahead for events or activities in the near future.
2. The Overachiever – Multi-task oriented; usually takes on too many activities and finds they can’t complete any with great skill or ability; finds they frequently have to cancel or are running late or staying up too late at night to finish tasks or assignments (or other duties as assigned).
3. The Yes Man/Woman – You take on too many roles and find it difficult to say no; you often find you are stressed and frustrated; you consistently have time to tend to others needs but not your own.
4. The Indecisive – You find you have a difficult time choosing between choices; you often start projects but leave them for others; you find you have little direction and don’t know what the next best step is; you often rely on others to make decisions for you; you “waste” time by not taking the time to take an affirmative position on issues that are or are not important to you.
There are many subtypes of each of these main types. All of these time waster descriptions have common traits. Some include the following:
Fail to prioritize
Fail to set goals
Have difficulty deciding the right course of action
Live with too much stress associated with lack of time
Tendency to wait or procrastinate before accomplishing tasks
Failure to pay attention to details
Lack of ability to ask for help or delegate
Don’t feel bad if you share any of these common traits. The good news is with a bit of coaching you can overcome bad habits and adopt good habits. Now that you have some idea of what your time triggers are, it is time you learned how to save time:
To a newbie, the idea of writing a blog might seem like an enormous time waster! “Why spend my time writing a free article?” “I need to put my time into making money!”…but wait! Besides increasing your Search Engine presence and driving more traffic to your site (2 very important side benefits of blogging), There are several ways to make money from writing blogs.
Two obvious ones are direct sales (selling your product on your site) and adsense (Placing a code on your site for Google to automatically rotate ads relating to your field that pay you for click throughs and sales). Three other tried and true methods are lead generation, affiliate marketing and newsletter subscriptions.
Let’s look at an example of lead generation. Assume for a moment that your blog is in the realm of finance. You have ads on your site for a Mortgage company. Interest rates are low and people are buying homes or refinancing for lower payments. Mortgage and refinance leads are great, as they can potentially create tiered commissions. Initially, when someone fills out a “free information” form, you can earn between $3 and $12 for the lead. Then, if this person goes on to refinance or mortgage their home with that company, you could earn several hundred to thousands of dollars…all for just placing an ad within your blog post about mortgages.
Now, add to that some strategically placed ads for products that you advertise on your site. Sign up as an affiliate through someone else’s website or through a third party such as Clickbank, and market other people’s products. Some companies will pay you as much 75% of each sale! That’s 10 times as much as you can make selling many hard goods from Link Share retailers!
The third method, newsletter subscriptions, works like this…You create an opt-in page or a “squeeze page” on your blog and offer a trial subscription to your newsletter. If you provide quality content and promote your blog, you could end up with hundreds of subscribers over time. These are people who want to receive emails from you. You then follow up with them on a regular basis (this could be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) These newsletters can then contain ads or links to other products (yours or an affiliates) that you can promote to this targeted group of people interested in your field.
Other methods that can make you money on your blog include selling advertising space directly and selling site memberships that allow visitors to access certain server-side tools.
OK, but you might say “I am not a writer, I just make a good product that I want to sell.” No problem:
What if you could get someone else to do the writing for you for a nominal fee, or in some cases, even free? All you need to do is to look for PLR content material that relates for your area of interest. What is PLR content? PLR (or Private Label Rights) content is something that someone else has written that they allow you to remarket as your own. In some cases you might need to tweak it, combine or break up articles, or correct spelling and grammar, but the research and compilation of ideas is done for you.
You can use PLR content to make your blogging quick and simple:
You can obtain PLR content articles or e-books combine or break them up into blog posts. You find PLR material that relates to your particular area of interest. You then break that into pieces and revise some of the wording to make it distinctive. Keep in mind that search engines like Google look for unique content to index your blog and generate visitors. Simply add an introduction and conclusion, change the title, and you have a unique article.
You can buy additional PLR articles and e-books and make them available on your blog for free in exchange for someone opting-in and providing their email address to you. This helps you to build a targeted subscribers list that you can then market to.
PLR articles can be used to write your own e-books, special reports, etc. that you can then market in a variety of ways, or use to create an informative newsletter that will hold the interest of your subscribers and allow you to market your own products or affiliate products to through an automated email campaign. As your list builds, your income builds exponentially. The power of blogging combined with PLR products cannot be overstated.
The American Life Project and The Guardian (UK), recently did studies on whether or not the popularity of blogs was growing in these two countries. Most members of the blogosphere might be surprised by the results.
The American Life Project concluded that while the popularity of blogs in today’s readers in the United States was literally exploding, the amount of new blogs being developed were comparatively small. During the last six months of 2004, while the readers grew from 17% of the population to a whopping 37%, the number of writers only increase by 2% (from 5% to 7%). Most of these were young, wealthy males. The increase at that time appeared to be largely attributable to the Presidential race. Both Presidential candidates used blogging to get the word out and attract new donors to their campaigns.
The Guardian’s study was more recent. They found similar results in the United Kingdom. They also found, that readerships had dramatically increased, but did not find the same slow growth in the number of bloggers. They did conclude however, that an astonishing 30% of frequent Internet users had never even heard of a blog.
So what is the current trend for blogs? … Profusion or obscurity?
At the present time, blogs provide the best link between websites and forums, and is stands to reason that they will only increase in popularity, but they will likewise continue to improve in quality and functionality, as they have since they were introduced in the mid-1990′s. That being said, I have decided to create a series of articles here that will assist the blogging newbie, while also providing valuable tools and advice for the intermediate and seasoned bloggers.
First and foremost, it is important to understand blogging vocabulary. To understand blogs, you need to comprehend terms such as blog, platform, domain, and web host. Once you grasp these basics, you can intelligently discuss blogging. If you understand what a blog is, you will have a solid foundation to build upon.
Blog is short for weblog. A weblog could be defined as a series of online posts presented in reverse chronological order. That’s it! While most blogs are text, there are also photo blogs and video blogs.
Now that we have that out of the way, we will discuss the technical side of things. If you are setting up a blog, you will need to choose a platform, a web host, and a domain. A blogging platform is a computer software program that allows you to write posts and to update your blog. Your platform is also what you use to design the appearance of your blog, from color scheme to font (text) size and style. It is recommended that you choose a style that is easy to read, as opposed to fancy. The size should be large enough to be easily read, without being so big that it is intrusive. For beginners, Google has an excellent free blogging platform called “Blogger.”
The web host is sort of like the virtual file cabinet where your blog content is stored. Your computer communicates with the host when you upload or edit a post. The domain is your blog’s online address, and most frequently ends in “. com”, pronounced ‘dot com’. You are now thoroughly educated in what a blog is, what a platform is, and what domains and hosts are, congratulate yourself!
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