Jumat, 30 November 2007

Things I wish I knew BEFORE I started my blog....

Jumping into blogging is something that really should require a license. There are many ways to get started, some better than others, and all have implications that stretch far beyond what a newbie blogger expects.

I started a blog in late September and, frankly, have been learning as I go. I did do a LITTLE research first and had a concept that I thought would interest at least a few people. I knew I wanted to use my own URL for branding purposes, but beyond that I was stumped.

Mistake Number 1: Using the Quick Blogging Software my URL registrar had available.
In its favor, the software works well. And it is screamingly cheap. The problem is that there are some serious limitations to what it can do. For example:

• The software won't let me reorder even unpublished posts.
• The software won't let me schedule an item to appear later. I have to click a button to publish an entry.
• There are a few different templates but not a lot. I can customize them to an extent, but primarily elements of the look and feel.
• There are limitations on my ability to embed a piece of code into all pages. There are even MORE limitations on my ability to put certain types of code into the post.
• Half the time my sidebar items don't show up.

Mistake Number 2: Not learning enough about monetizing strategies before I started.

I'm not trying to make a fortune but covering my costs would be nice. I've been fumbling through the process of adding things after the fact, trying not to offend anyone and yet trying to provide useful links. But there are people who know a lot about that already and from whom I could have learned.

Mistake Number 3: Not looking into design strategies before I started.
I am embarrassed to say that my first template was a black background with white lettering. I liked the image at the top, so I didn't think about it. And since my template choices are limited it took me a while to find one that fit my topic, appealed to me AND wasn't blinding white on black. Getting that bit right in advance would have ALSO saved me work in revamping sidebar items later to make them look right.

Rabu, 28 November 2007

Keyword Analysis: Relevant keywords

Almost all the potential hits and transactions in the Internet originate from a keyword search. Therefore, keyword analysis finds much relevance in the context of getting a good indexing in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Proper use of keywords will improve the traffic of your website in the search engines. The web crawlers will identify the potential customers for you with the help of these keywords. If the keywords are wrong or irrelevant with respect to the information given in your website, the search engine will discard your website or may cause the visit of unsolicited customers to your page.

There are various aspects involved in researching the relevant keywords. The most common among them are the following.

Seasonal relevance of the keywords
You may find that the relevance of a particular keyword varies from time to time. For example, the word ‘Ester’ will find a lot of relevance in the month of April whereas ‘Christmas’ will find less relevance in the same period. It is therefore important to identify the keywords that are appropriate for each occasion. For example, if you own an online shop that sells gifts/bouquets, you may use the phrase ‘Christmas gifts’ during the month of November and December and the phrase ‘Easter gifts’ in the month of March and April. Revise your web marketing strategies according to the occasion.

Location-specific keywords
Keywords sometimes are location specific. A keyword that is used to describe particular information in a particular place may not find the same relevance in certain other places. For example, the word ’states’ may refer to the states as well as the entire government of the USA, whereas the same word is used to refer only the individual states in other countries.

Keywords with different spellings
Though some spellings have slight variations in British and American English, the impact of this difference in the website page indexing is not negligible. For example, a user who wishes to enter the website of US defense may type the word ‘US defence’ by mistake. If the particular website did not choose the option ‘defence’ as one of its possible keyword options, there are less chances that this page is indexed properly. Also there are possible manual typing errors that can happen from the user’s side. Therefore, most of the websites include a group of ‘wrongly spelt’ keywords in their list of keywords. For example, the word ‘New Zealand’ may be wrongly typed as ‘New Zeland’ or Newzealand’ by a user, and so he may not identify the sites that are provided with the keyword ‘New Zealand’ alone. It is therefore important to analyze the possible mistakes and come out with appropriate options.

Keywords with similar meanings
Most of the keywords will have more than one optional word that conveys the same idea. For example, the word ‘painter’ can also be used to refer the word ‘artist’. Prepare a list of synonyms that suit the main keyword of your website.

There are various methods available in the Internet to check the effectiveness of a keyword in the search engine indexes. You may find out the popularity of a particular keyword, the user habits of searching a particular information, etc. from these sources.

Minggu, 25 November 2007

Link Partners

Subscribing to the famous and reliable directories like Yahoo, DMOZ, LookSmart and so on, is something any Webmaster can do to achieve links of repute. The trick lies in looking beyond what is easily available and linking with winners who do not really know you yet. Your website must reflect substance and that is what you must work at to begin with, literally speaking.

Stylish and/ or out of the box graphics are not imperative to success. Nice and pleasing ones will do. Emphasize on factual, authentic, informative and articulate content optimized to give maximum but meaningful and useful web pages. All web pages must be well connected to the each other and in each case to the home page – the site should be highly navigable and menus well organized. In gist, visitors to your website should be able to travel across your website quite intuitively and find it useful – that is left impressed by the website in short!

Once your website is optimized in itself to please the visitor, it is time to find the “winners” who can be linked with without harming the business. Relevancy is the keyword while linking. But of course, not everybody related to your business is worth linking with. Sporting an outbound link from your competitor website, though related, will filter your visitors onto him, thereby draining all your efforts to vain. So, the strategy is to approach relevant but non-competing webmasters – the tip is to search Google etc. for regionally filtered vertically-related websites, preferably with added text “add link” or “submit link” or “suggest link”.

Once you have the list of sites of interest, it’s for you to decide which ones deserve your proposal for link exchange. Shortlist 10-15 sites at a time and look for respective suggest link form. If not found, send a concise link request email. On similar lines, you can also publish a suggest link form at your website, though it may bear fruits only once you gather a good track record.

After the request, it is time to slow down and await response patiently. Upon a decent interval of days, you may start sending a new batch of requests to another fifteen links of relevance. Keeping the sites to be approached numbered thus, clears you out of the ’suspicious websites’ bracket from the point of view of the search engine, as otherwise links in hordes may attach to you in a rather short span of time. There is no reason to be discouraged by a rather lukewarm response to your requests. It only indicates need of improvements in the content of your request email.

Apart from seeking, it is important to use bait for link-exchange. In simpler words, circulate compelling well-written articles, blogs and press releases across web containing a link to your website. As these link-baits will be extensively read or discussed on the web, your website will develop advantageous one-way links automatically. To be emphasized is good content and intelligent use of keywords within the articles and blog entries for desired results.

Kamis, 22 November 2007

Why Blogger is the Best Blogging Platform for Beginners

If you're just considering starting your own blog, you may be wondering which of the many blog services will offer the best blogging platform for your needs. If you're new to blogging, are on a budget and/or are not tech-savvy, I recommend Blogger as the best blog platform for beginners. Here's why:

It's free, with no strings attached.

TypePad has some great features, but you'll pay for them. Their most basic level starts at $4.95 per month (after a 14 day free trial). WordPress.com is free, until you want to do things like include Adsense ads or display your blog on your own domain name. Blogger is completely free.

It's easy to use, even if you're a tech-dummy.

Blogger, in my experience, has always been the best blog platform for the tech-challenged. However, their new version makes customizing templates and rearranging widgets easier than ever before. Their XML templates allow for dragging and dropping of widgets, which means you don't have to know HTML (even a little bit) to make your blog look the way you want it.

You can show up in search results faster.

Because Blogger is now owned by Google, you'll have a powerful spider on your side. In general, when you start a new website or blog it can take weeks for the search engines to crawl the site, which means you won't appear in search engine results for a while. My Blogger-powered blogs have all shown up in search results the same day I post my first post. I have one client whose Blogger-powered blog ranks higher than his own website. I have another client whose newly created Blogger-powered blog out-ranked her already popular MySpace blog in less than a week. There is power in having Google on your side.

There are plenty of free templates available.

If you don't like the classic templates offered by Blogger, you can choose a more attractive template fairly easily. There are many tech-savvy folks online who spend a lot of time creating new Blogger templates and/or converting free templates from other platforms to work for Blogger. If you want to browse your choices for more attractive Blogger-compatible templates, I recommend the layouts at FinalSense, Isnaini and GeckoFly. For more recommendations, check out the Top 5 Free Blogger Templates listing at About Weblogs. You can also Google "free blogger templates" and browse the results.

Of course, there are also some disadvantages of using Blogger, like not being able to file your posts in traditional categories and the inability to "drip" your posts to show up on future dates. For a new blogger on a budget, though, I wholeheartedly believe the advantages of Blogger outweigh the drawbacks. Especially if you're as tech-challenged as I am, I don't think you'll regret giving Blogger a try. If you're really worried about the decision, you might want to open free accounts both with Blogger.com and WordPress.com. Play around a little bit on both and decide for yourself which is the best blogging platform for you.

Whether you're a new or seasoned blogger, I'd love to know your experience. Which platform did you use for your first blog? Any advantages or disadvantages? Which do you feel is the best blog platform for new bloggers?

Senin, 19 November 2007

PPC or Organic SEO Which is better?

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising program where the website owner pays a certain amount of money to the advertiser for every click produced on his website link. This program is gaining popularity, owing to its direct impact on the productivity. A study conducted by Jupiter Research suggests that the total amount spent on PPC by 2010 will cross $7 billion.

PPC, however, is becoming a costly affair for the websites; the rates are increasing day by day, and the competition is getting tougher and tougher. The PPC, though promises to be a good marketing strategy, if not carried out in a proper manner, will result in huge financial loss.

Organic SEO, the natural method of improving the search engine optimization (SEO), always has got its relevance in the present SEO scenario. While natural SEO depends mostly on the link popularity of the websites, PPC method relies on the advertising strategies wholly.

Let’s compare these two methods of website marketing.

Natural SEO – Pros

• If done effectively natural SEO will surely bring better results. The reason for this is that the viewer is attracted to the natural links than the links displayed under the ‘ads’ category.

• Link popularity brings double advantage to the website. Buying links from popular websites and directing them to your websites can improve the page ranking of your website. Secondly, the popular links will themselves act as a promoter for your website without the need of further investment.

Natural SEO- Cons

• The inbound links to a website can result in poor performance of a website due to various reasons. If websites that are linked by external links do not have relevant contents, they will be treated as ‘link farm’ and will be penalized by the search engines. Also, if the websites that offer the outbound links are not so popular and fails to bring proper SEO for it, all the linked websites will suffer.

• It takes comparatively longer period to get the SEO by natural SEO method. It will take a minimum of three months to start reaping the fruits of the natural SEO.

PPC- Pros

• PPC advertising offers a smooth traffic and so quicker result. Thus it would be the best option for those who are ready to invest huge money but want immediate results.

• PPC ads have more targeted nature and so are more productive compared to the hits made by the natural SEO methods.

PPC- Cons

• The cost involved in PPC is always on the higher side. Depending on the popularity of the keyword of your business or service, the PPC cost may vary. It can range from a mere $100 to a shocking $100,000 per year.

• Fraud clicks can cost a great deal of your advertising money. Though fraud clicks can be monitored and controlled to an extent by the search engine algorithms, they cannot be completely controlled. The cost to the company will be huge if there are planned attempts by the competitors for risking the business of another company.
PPC will be the ideal method for those who are ready to invest huge money and want immediate result. However, natural SEO is advisable for a cost-effective long-term result. Both methods, however, require expertise.

Minggu, 18 November 2007

How To Send Visitors Off Your Blog Using Advertisements

This post is to explain what you shouldn’t do when advertising in your blog. Anything said in a different way will easily be digested. If you stop doing what I mention below, you will be able to have the visitors stay for long in your blog.

If you are a blogger, especially a blogger who wish to earn a living online, you will push many ads and at times you might even over do it. You can advertise in a way that your readers should not be distracted by advertisements. After all, they came to read your blog and not to see advertisements. I always used to say this:

Have advertisements in your blog and not blog in advertisements

Try these and you will have your visitors off your blog very easily. Also you will see a decrease in subscribers.

Place AdSense more than twice in the middle of a blog post
Normally, bloggers say that you will get an increase in earnings if you place them in the blog posts. But this had led to a misconception that few bloggers place more than 2 ad units in the middle of the post.

Use In-Text Advertising in a weird way
I have seen bloggers who use In-Text advertising in an evil way :). For those who don’t know what is In-Text advertising, it is a type of advertising where special keywords will be double underlined and will lead to the advertiser’s website when clicked. You can differentiate it from normal links by seeing the double underline. To send your readers off your blog, try to find the keywords which the In-Text advertising double underlines and add a normal link to the words surrounding it. This will confuse the reader and will lead your visitor to the advertiser’s website.

Have Pop-ups and pop-under advertisements
This is the most efficient way of send your readers off your blog. Add Pop-ups and set them to appear after every refresh of your blog. You can use it in more evil way by setting your blog to automatic refresh after a particular duration and allowing the pop-up to appear. By doing this, your readers will get irritated and soon leave your blog. This will also lead to a situation where the readers will never return to your blog again.

Link to your affiliate link telling it is a good post
This is one of the worst types of linking I’m starting to see in the blogosphere. Tell you read a good blog post and link to your affiliate site saying it is the post you read. Hide the affiliate link else your reader will not click on it and go off your blog.

If you ever plan to do one of the above acts, don’t expect your blog reader to come to your blog again even if you write a top notch article. Head over to the big blogs and see how efficiently they display ads. Try to follow them. Your main aim should be getting more readers and subscribers. Earnings will automatically flow in once you have a large reader base. Now go to your blog and see all over as if it one of the 100 blogs you read everyday. Is that the type of blog you look forward to or is it having too many advertisements? If your heart says it is the latter, then change the advertising method soon before you lose any reader. Once you change it, you will see a increase in the page views and also in the subscriber count. Not only that, but your readers will also start to comment more in your blog.

Jumat, 16 November 2007

Spider-Friendly Navigation

Most blogs that I see are not remotely spider friendly. By that I mean the search engine spiders have to wade through a good bit of html only to find there isn’t much there but the posts. Each and every blogger has to view their blog the way the spiders do, and then fine-tune things to be not only spider friendly, but also to spoon-feed the spiders what you want them to eat. How do we do that? Well, for starters use a utility that examines your blog the way a spider does.

Spider Simulators.

There are several simulators available that will do the hard work for you. They visit your URL, strip out the HTML code, and serve up the meat of your blog site the way a spider sees your site. Here are the best sites to use:

WebConfs Spider Simulator
SEOChat Spider Simulator
Webmaster Toolkit Spider Simulator

Fix Your Theme

Now that you have looked at your site using one of the simulators, you may notice that there are no meta names or descriptions listed. You may even find that the top lines are spam for your theme designer. The first thing you need to do is realize that most themes are designed for looks, not for search engines. You need to add some “meat” to your theme by way of meta descriptions and keywords. In WordPress, you will probably need to open your theme editor and use the header.php which is where most theme writers put meta information. Examine what you see closely. With Blogger, you will need to use Blogger’s theme editor for the main page. For starters, try adding a line in the section of your theme for keywords. Although Google does not put much emphasis on keywords, some search engines do. A meta keyword listing would be something like [meta content=”term1, term2, phrase one and two, another phrase, term3″ name=”keywords” /] (we used square brackets so this code will display. Replace with angle brackets).

The terms and phrases, obviously, should be something relevant to your site that you would like the search engines to pick up. Try running a simulator again and see whether the keywords are now being picked up. With the WebConfs spider simlulator you not only get the meta listing, you also get links from each of your keywords to other suggested keywords. Experiment, learn about meta and how spiders looks at your site. Fine-tune your site. You may have information in a sidebar that is being wasted. Notice where the spiders put sidebar information. Keep in mind that most spiders consider text at the top of a page to be more important than text near the bottom.

10 Effective Methods To Increase Web Traffic

If you own a website for your business, attracting website traffic and more importantly sustaining it will be one of your top priorities if you want to succeed in your home business. Needless to say, there are many ways to increase website traffic. You do need to find the best strategies of learning how to tap this traffic, hopefully a growing one at that, perhaps self-replicating stream and preferably free.

This article provides some ideas to increase online traffic.

(1) Search Engine Optimization

It would benefit your business to ensure that your website is search engine friendly as this will certainly help grow your website traffic. Ensure all the meta and alt tags are completed and there is a H1 header, optimizing the text for your chosen keywords. There are a number of sites which provide a "spider simulation" which shows you what your site looks like to a spider and what you can do to improve its search engine ranking. A report on the quality of your website is generated for your view and to take necessary steps for improvements.

(2) Directories

Directories are website listings and there are many to choose from. A good method to choose a reputable one would be to look for directories that have a good traffic rating, one that receives significant high volumes of website traffic (use Alexa). A few good examples to start this would be Yahoo and DMOZ.

(3) Traffic Exchanges

Every website you view in a traffic exchange generates credits which are exchanged for views of your own site. Most Traffic Exchanges are free to join and they generate traffic for you almost instantly. There are basically two types of exchanges, manual surf and auto surf. The manual surf exchanges are preferred as they require the person to view and click the sites. The more sites you view the more people visit your website and the more your website traffic grows. To increase web traffic even further, join a few of them so as to generate more visitors, which can help in your page ranking too.

(4) Article Writing

One of the most time consuming but effective methods of increasing search engine traffic. Most of these article directories offer this service free. Ensure that your article is optimized for keywords and that you include your website url bio line at the bottom of the article before you submit. Ezines, Magazines, Business Blogs, and webmasters are always on the lookout for good content to include in their articles as they are also in the quest for better search engine rankings. This method is very effective in getting one-way back links to your site.

(5) Blogs

There are more than 10 blog platforms to choose from. High on this list are word press and blogspot. Ensure your blog is located on your site, and check that it links to your key pages and that you ping each time your blog is updated. Search engines favor sites with frequently changing, unique content so you will need to provide regular updates to your blog. A regularly updated blog will attract readers which in turn builds and increases website traffic.

(6) Forum Marketing

Join a few good forums so that you can leave your URL in them. This will increase traffic in two ways. Firstly, people who read your posts are likely to click the link to checkout your site. Secondly search engines will generally accept the link which adds up to your link popularity. Another benefit of joining these forums is also to learn from other experienced and successful marketers. You'll be surprised at their willingness to share their knowledge with you.

(7) Viral Advertising

If you have an idea and you tell 10 people and they each tell 10 people and so on, by the time the idea goes through 10 levels it has been passed on to a million people.

You can use this similar principle as your business marketing strategy too. If you produced a free report or ebook filled with links back to your site and gave it away, the chances are those you gave it away to would do the same thing. Your links would then multiply significantly over the Internet giving a viral effect and your website traffic will grow.

(8) Reciprocal Links

They are also called link exchange and link swapping. Webmasters hope that people will click on their link in other websites thereby generating website traffic. However, be selective in who you do reciprocal links with. Always ensure that your link partner is relevant to your business niche and preferably has good Page Ranking. This strategy is one of the very best ways of generating free, targeted website traffic. It also is highly rated by search engines

(9) Classified Ads

Before the web came along, if you wanted to advertise you would turn to the newspaper "classified" section. Classified ads didn't die with the web, they just went online. One of the most popular classified sites is Craigslist.com. This can be a powerful tool for getting search engines to notice your site and send you traffic.

(10) PPC Marketing

PPC stands for "Pay Per Click" and is one good way to increase traffic into the website you are promoting. Google's Adwords program is one of the most successful PPC engines. You buy ads from Google by writing an ad and bidding on keywords to determine how much you will pay when someone clicks your ad. This is a powerful tool to advertise your product or webpage to millions of people who access the Internet at very low bid.

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Rabu, 14 November 2007

Blogging for Product Ideas

I believe it’s important that you have a great deal of either knowledge or passion about any topic that you develop into an information product. Knowledge makes it easier to create something valuable. However, if you lack knowledge, but have a great passion to learn about a certain subject, it can be even better. You’ll approach the topic with “new eyes” that allow for a fresh perspective and your enthusiasm will carry you through the learning curve.

Once you know the general topic, start blogging. You don’t necessarily need or even want to know exactly what your product will be, unless you already have an idea you think can’t miss. Even then, blogging allows you to have interaction with your readers that will give you valuable market insight. Comments and questions that you receive will be guideposts, and you can also survey your readers.

The secret to hitting a home run with an information product is to ask your readers what they want.

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