How to Fire up Your Link Building Mojo

You know you need inbound links to your site to succeed in SEO. What you may not know is, you don’t need to spend a dime to get them. In fact, I would advise you not to purchase links.

The recent Google shakeup is all about paid links. Stop paying for links now! Google is now “punishing” websites for having paid links, because they feel it’s cheating the algorithm. You might be upset by this, but they are doing it to improve the quality of their results. Here is how you can take advantage of it.

Google is moving towards algorithms that favor sites that are “naturally” linked to. What is “natural” linking? These are links that a webmaster puts up because he or she wanted to, not because they were paid to. They saw something they liked, and put a link to it. This means all those shady SEOs who were buying links up by the hundreds can’t cheat good sites out of the rankings anymore. So how you do get natural links?

Focus on Your Subject

There is a saying in marketing, if you market to everyone, you are marketing to no one. Maintain your focus, and keep your content within your niche. Don’t try to spread yourself too thin.

I personally have been guilty of this sin in the past. At one time JeremyMorgan.com had SEO articles, PHP scripts, Ford Mustang News and photoshop tutorials, and pictures of my family and locations back home. Needless to say I didn’t really dominate any of those niches. Focus your efforts, and try to stay on topic.

Give Them Something to Link to

Once you find your focus, provide content that others in your niche want to link to. It’s really that simple. Think to yourself, “are people going to want to link to this?”. As much as I think my speculations and opinions on industry trends are great, the reality is most people link to articles I write that actually tell you how to do something. If you really want to build links, give them something helpful or really interesting to link to.

Even pages that you cannot easily monetize. The more links you get, the better.

Join the Community

In 2008, they have a community for almost anything. Get involved in those communities, sign up for forums and comment on posts. Become an authority. Just by being helpful to others and bringing information to a community, people will link to your site out of respect, knowing that their audience will appreciate the link. Be honest, helpful, and maintain your integrity on the boards. Instead of making fun of that newbie, help them out.

Look for Places with High Quality Links

Don’t be afraid to ask to exchange links with others who might benefit from your service. Links from sites like your local library or community-centric pages go a long ways. Even your employer may put up a link (be careful not to mess that one up!).

Get Deep Links

Deep links are very important. Try to get links pointing towards inner pages of your site rather than the front page. With enough of these types of links, you can dominate some of the serps related to that topic, as well as build your overall quality.

Write Articles

Chances are, you’re reading this article on somewhere other than JeremyMorgan.com or Webfoot Central. That’s because I submit articles all over the internet. Not only do you help build backlinks, but you contribute to your community, and make a name for yourself. Don’t write spammy articles, or try to advertise too hard. Make something useful that others will want as content on their own site.

Issue Press Releases

I can’t really comment on this one too much, because I’ve never done it, but for some sites it’s a very useful tool for getting inbound links, and good publicity. Make sure you have something going on that’s worth talking about!

Blog, Blog, Blog

Every site needs a blog. Even if your site is primarily about selling widgets, have a widget news related blog. Individual articles will get people linking to them, and will keep your site fresh and add content, which google and other search engines love.

If You Must, Sponsor Some Links.

There are a few sponsored links worth getting. Yahoo Search Inclusion is one example. If you are in a highly competitive industry, such as adult, SEO, mortgage, finance, or gambling you will need to purchase links to get an edge. There are a lot of people competing for your terms.

Conclusion

Use common sense. The best way to get ahead is by being honest, and providing a decent service. Stop trying gimmicks or tricks to cheat your way into good rankings. The best long term SEO plan involves taking the high road and doing things honestly. Check out the SEO book to see what I learned about ethical SEO. Now I don’t have any problems getting people to my website. You can too, all it takes is a little effort!

About The Author
Jeremy Morgan is a Portland SEO who frequently blogs about SEO and how to earn a living online.

Adsense Earnings Up Or Down?

There’s word around the Webmaster World forum that publishers have been experiencing a sharp decline in AdSense earnings over the past month. There’s been little consensus, lots of possible explanations, but nothing you might call conclusive.

A small poll at Search Engine Roundtable (108 participants as of this writing) shows just over half reporting a decrease in AdSense earnings, the other half reporting that things are on the level or increasing.

It’s hard to say that’s a representative sample, but it does match a bit with the reports at Webmaster World: some are losing, some aren’t.

Many plausible explanations have been proffered without any real, thorough site examinations, as no URLs have been given by those complaining. The center of conversation though, has been around Google’s “smart pricing,” and whether that is the cause of lower returns on ad clicks.

An ad’s cost-per-click is determined by a number of factors, according to the AdSense blog’s explanation:

“More than conversion rate goes into determining the price of an ad: the advertiser’s bid, the quality of the ad, the other ads competing for the space, the start or end of an ad campaign, and other advertiser fluctuations.”

Keep in mind also that Google has the leader in CPC inflation rate, also.

Google denies that clickthrough rates affect the price of an ad click, though they don’t go into how much weight is put on user action beyond the click, i.e., sales completed, forms filled out, engagement on the site that follows. Google describes smart pricing this way:

“Google’s smart pricing feature automatically adjusts the cost of a keyword-targeted content click based on its effectiveness compared to a search click. So if our data shows that a click from a content page is less likely to turn into actionable business results — such as online sales, registrations, phone calls, or newsletter signups — we reduce the price you pay for that click.”

But observers are right also to note that the higher quality the site, the higher likelihood the publisher gets high quality, costlier, better-converting ads. AdSense Publisher Support pretty much says so, reminding publishers that content is king:

“[Smart pricing] leads to higher payouts for publishers by drawing a larger pool of advertisers and rewarding publishers who create high quality sites…. The best way to ensure you benefit from AdSense is to create compelling content for interested users.

“This also means driving traffic to your site — advertisers don’t gain as much ROI when paying for generic clicks as they do for quality clicks that come from interest in your content. Good content usually equals a good experience for user plus advertiser, which can be much more valuable than CTR.”

So, this is Google’s usual stance: create some relevance and we’ll help create you some revenue. Things like that have added to the cynicism in the aforementioned forum, as one member notes the lack of examples to test, and, without naming names, notes that some complaining members’ sites are nothing to write home about with potential quality problems like:
Obviously made for AdSense (which implies lack of content)
Too many ads, including unrelated ads (lack of focus on content, lack of central theme)
Confusing layouts (not end-user focused)
Webmasters also reported conversations they had with the Google AdSense team, who told them the sharp decline likely has to do with advertiser budgets, many of which would understandably be tightened after the holiday crunch, and perhaps even more so during economic uncertainty.

So recession in the economy might mean recession in your AdSense take-in, too.

An interesting frustration was also presented. Google’s smart pricing, according to forum members applies account-wide. A webmaster with many sites but one AdSense account could experience a hit on all of his or her sites, instead of just one or two. This brings down the revenue potential of the more popular sites the webmaster owns.

The suggestion, then, is that Google adjust so that smart pricing affects individual sites and pages, rather than targeting an entire account.

About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.

5 Tips for Writing Website Content – That Gets Results!

I’m going to ask you to use your imagination for a moment.

Think of a topic that interests you. Maybe it’s your favorite sport or hobby, for example. Now imagine that you’re searching the Internet for information on that topic.

The first article you come across is related to the topic you’re researching, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of value. It’s too general and full of pointless “fluff.” It makes obvious points that a third-grader could grasp. And it fails to offer any related information or resources.

The second article you come across is much more in-depth. It explains several aspects of your topic with refreshing insight. It is helpful and useful, and it links out to many related articles and resources on the subject.

If you could only bookmark one of these pages for future reference, which one would it be? It would be the second page, right?

You, like most people, would probably prefer the second page to the first. It’s an easy choice, and that’s because the author of the second article understood (and delivered) the most important concept of website content development — the value factor.

5 Benefits of High-Value Web Content

This kind of content has value for the reader, obviously. But it also benefits the author / publisher. Here are the top five benefits of creating high-value website content for your small business website:

1. It keeps people on your website longer.

2. It makes people more inclined to trust you.

3. It encourages readers to recommend the site to others.

4. It encourages other webmasters to link to your content.

5. It helps you improve your search engine ranking and visibility.

All of this sounds great, you say. But how do I create that kind of small business website content? Here are the top five guidelines for creating high-value website content.

5 Steps to High-Value Web Content

1. Choose the right author.

2. Choose the right topic.

3. Address all sides of the topic.

4. Add supporting graphics, pictures, etc.

5. Link to related resources, both on your site and elsewhere.

Let’s look at each of these steps in greater detail.

1. Choose the Right Author

I once worked for a company who let their web programmers write the instructions for their online ordering process. Big mistake. If their audience were programmers as well, this might be okay. But most of their customers had limited technical skills. So when these people encountered online instructions such as “Validate parameters before advancing” … the customers would often become dead in the water.

This is a prime example of choosing the wrong author for web writing. Sure, the programmers’ input is important. After all, they built the thing. But they should not be the voice of customer guidance. A skilled web writer (someone with usability experience) would have “translated” these instructions to say something like “Please fill in all required information before moving to the next screen.”

Here’s the key to this. The best author for your small business website content is not always the person who knows the most about the product or service from a technical standpoint. Often, it’s best to have an in-house writer who plays the go-between role of “consumer advocate,” getting the information from one group and translating it for another group.

2. Choose the Right Topic

If your small business only offers one product or service, then that will likely be the topic of your web content. In this case, I would focus on choosing the right angle as well. Don’t tell people what you want them to know — this is an outdated way of thinking about public information, especially when it comes to small business website content. Instead, find out what people want to know about the types of products you offer, and use your web content to address those questions or concerns.

If you are writing web content for a company that has many products or services, you will have to spend more time choosing topics first and choosing your angle second. In this case, it becomes more about topic organization than anything. Large websites with many topics are ideally suited for a category and sub-category system: These are our products >> And this is product ‘A’ >> And this is a web page that explains product ‘A’ in detail.

3. Address All Sides of the Topic

Whether you’re writing about one of your products, or you’re creating a tutorial of some kind, you need to cover all the angles. There’s nothing worse than website content that leaves the job only half-done, telling you why a certain thing is important but not pursuing that lead.

When you are close to a certain topic — as is the case with people who create a product or service — it’s easy to assume everyone else understands it as well as you do. But the opposite is usually true, so you need to explain all sides of a topic when you write content for your small business website.

Want to keep your pages relatively short for easy reading? You can do that while still offering complete information. That’s what hyperlinks are for!

4. Link to Related Resources

Here’s the key to developing great content for your small business website. Try to create authority documents that others in your field would link to and recommend to others. One of the key criteria for a resource document is that it links to plenty of supporting information, both on the same website and elsewhere on the web.

In addition to being good for your readers, this kind of useful content will make other webmasters more inclined to link to your website. This adds to your link “popularity” and can further improve the search engine ranking of your small business website.

When writing a particular web page, try to think of it as “the ultimate guide to [blank].” This is the first step to creating the kind of authority documents that eventually dominate the search engines and drive endless web traffic for the authors. But it’s rarely possible to create an “ultimate guide” to anything in just one page, so be liberal about linking to other sources on your own website and elsewhere (as long as they are not direct competitors).

5. Add Supporting Graphics, Pictures, Etc.

Reading online can be hard on the eyeballs. You can make the reader’s job easier in two ways. First, you can format your content appropriately for web reading (short paragraphs, narrow text columns, lots of bullet points, headers, sub-headers, etc.). Secondly, you can add supporting images and helpful graphics.

Well-placed graphics can improve website content in a number of ways. Images are more enticing than text upon first glance, so they can help attract and retain readers. They also help you clarify your message with visual reinforcement.

Conclusion

I have a motto I use regarding website content. “If it’s not worth putting online, don’t put it online.” This is my reminder to myself that I need to use the techniques outlined above to create superior website content. Because that’s the kind of content that leads to online success. Apply these lessons to your small business website and watch your own success increase!

About The Author
Brandon Cornett operates a web marketing firm in Austin, Texas and is a web writer at large for dozens of websites and blogs. Learn more by visiting http://www.austinseoguy.com.

Crusaders Google Bomb Scientology

An apparent Google bomb aimed at the Church of Scientology is just part of an all-out ideological (holy?) war perpetrated by a group called “Anonymous.” The rest of the digital war has been carried out via social media as a highly organized and carefully orchestrated Internet campaign that’s getting the group a lot of attention.

It’s learning good lessons from questionable examples, but the Anonymous campaign has a lot to teach us about online campaigns. (Just to be clear, though, not everything highlighted in this article is condoned.)

Yesterday, it came to light that searches for the terms “dangerous cult” brought back the Scientology homepage as the top result in Google – and it apparently took about a week to do that.

The occurrence was interesting because just a year ago, Google announced they’d taken measures that would eliminate the practice. Those measures included not allowing the anchor text in a mass of links to influence ranking if those words did not appear on the targeted homepage. Thus, John Kerry’s website no longer ranked number one for “waffle” and George W. Bush no longer ranked number one for “miserable failure.”

However, the word failure did eventually appear on his website, which served to relight the fuse for the word “failure,” at least for a time. Wikipedia has replaced it since, and so has a site that shall not be named and should not (EVER) be visited. (This is like the big red nuke button. Just trust me when I say that the second result for “failure” should not be clicked.)

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, unsure if it was a true Google bomb, investigated links pointing toward the Scientology homepage, their anchor texts, as well as the keywords on the targeted page. Under Google’s explanation, the Google bomb should only work if the targeted words are actually on the page. Sullivan discovered the word “dangerous,” but not “cult.”

The only use of the word “cult” came from links pointing to the Scientology website.

Then something very interesting happened. In the comments at SEL, a reader points to what appears to be a wiki from Anonymous about how to conduct an all-out media blitz. The master plan includes a Google bomb targeting “dangerous cult,” but also ” brainwashing cult” and whatever keyword supporters wanted to match with “cult.” They also wished to replace Scientology.org with Xenu.net, a site aimed at debunking the religion, as the number one result for the keyword “scientology.”

Anonymous didn’t achieve the number one ranking they wanted for “brainwashing cult” or for “scientology” …but they did take them up to the third result. Not bad for a brand new effort.

Ideologies, agendas, and holy wars aside, Anonymous launched one heckuva successful campaign. If you look closer at the wiki, members are instructed not to spam. Naturally, spammy tactics are targeted by search engines and everybody else – plus, content matters. But they are instructed to set up blogs, to utilize email, press releases and press release sites, Digg.com, YouTube, and other social networking sites, as well as comments in comment sections (which sort of walk the line on comment spam).

(Spam is encouraged, however, as a weapon, as are denial of service attacks, which seem to be working – as of 3:00 PM today – to shut down the Church of Scientology’s website.)

Part of the reason for the quick success could be that recently Google seems to have placed more weight on buzzy, timely resources, which comes from news sites, social bookmarking, and often social networks and blogs. Google definitely weights Wikipedia, Digg and YouTube pretty heavily.

So what we have here, in a controversial example, is a lesson in buzz creation and SEO. This campaign was highly targeted and highly specific. From the SEO standpoint we can confirm:

Links are crazy important for higher rankings
Anchor text matters
Content matters
Keyword density matters
Link authority matters
Timeliness matters
Generating buzz via social media matters

It also means that a tightly integrated, holistic campaign can make an impact, as utilization of collective media produce a mass effect the search engines (in their current configuration) can’t ignore.

Likely, Google will do something about it. Matt Cutts is a bit busy giving tips about Gmail and WordPress right now, though. Until then, we have some valuable insight on how to get more attention online (without waging a holy war).

About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.

5 Tips for Writing Website Content – That Gets Results!

I’m going to ask you to use your imagination for a moment.

Think of a topic that interests you. Maybe it’s your favorite sport or hobby, for example. Now imagine that you’re searching the Internet for information on that topic.

The first article you come across is related to the topic you’re researching, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of value. It’s too general and full of pointless “fluff.” It makes obvious points that a third-grader could grasp. And it fails to offer any related information or resources.

The second article you come across is much more in-depth. It explains several aspects of your topic with refreshing insight. It is helpful and useful, and it links out to many related articles and resources on the subject.

If you could only bookmark one of these pages for future reference, which one would it be? It would be the second page, right?

You, like most people, would probably prefer the second page to the first. It’s an easy choice, and that’s because the author of the second article understood (and delivered) the most important concept of website content development — the value factor.

5 Benefits of High-Value Web Content

This kind of content has value for the reader, obviously. But it also benefits the author / publisher. Here are the top five benefits of creating high-value website content for your small business website:

1. It keeps people on your website longer.
2. It makes people more inclined to trust you.
3. It encourages readers to recommend the site to others.
4. It encourages other webmasters to link to your content.
5. It helps you improve your search engine ranking and visibility.

All of this sounds great, you say. But how do I create that kind of small business website content? Here are the top five guidelines for creating high-value website content.

5 Steps to High-Value Web Content

1. Choose the right author.
2. Choose the right topic.
3. Address all sides of the topic.
4. Add supporting graphics, pictures, etc.
5. Link to related resources, both on your site and elsewhere.

Let’s look at each of these steps in greater detail.

1. Choose the Right Author

I once worked for a company who let their web programmers write the instructions for their online ordering process. Big mistake. If their audience were programmers as well, this might be okay. But most of their customers had limited technical skills. So when these people encountered online instructions such as “Validate parameters before advancing” … the customers would often become dead in the water.

This is a prime example of choosing the wrong author for web writing. Sure, the programmers’ input is important. After all, they built the thing. But they should not be the voice of customer guidance. A skilled web writer (someone with usability experience) would have “translated” these instructions to say something like “Please fill in all required information before moving to the next screen.”

Here’s the key to this. The best author for your small business website content is not always the person who knows the most about the product or service from a technical standpoint. Often, it’s best to have an in-house writer who plays the go-between role of “consumer advocate,” getting the information from one group and translating it for another group.

2. Choose the Right Topic

If your small business only offers one product or service, then that will likely be the topic of your web content. In this case, I would focus on choosing the right angle as well. Don’t tell people what you want them to know — this is an outdated way of thinking about public information, especially when it comes to small business website content. Instead, find out what people want to know about the types of products you offer, and use your web content to address those questions or concerns.

If you are writing web content for a company that has many products or services, you will have to spend more time choosing topics first and choosing your angle second. In this case, it becomes more about topic organization than anything. Large websites with many topics are ideally suited for a category and sub-category system: These are our products >> And this is product ‘A’ >> And this is a web page that explains product ‘A’ in detail.

3. Address All Sides of the Topic

Whether you’re writing about one of your products, or you’re creating a tutorial of some kind, you need to cover all the angles. There’s nothing worse than website content that leaves the job only half-done, telling you why a certain thing is important but not pursuing that lead.

When you are close to a certain topic — as is the case with people who create a product or service — it’s easy to assume everyone else understands it as well as you do. But the opposite is usually true, so you need to explain all sides of a topic when you write content for your small business website.

Want to keep your pages relatively short for easy reading? You can do that while still offering complete information. That’s what hyperlinks are for!

4. Link to Related Resources

Here’s the key to developing great content for your small business website. Try to create authority documents that others in your field would link to and recommend to others. One of the key criteria for a resource document is that it links to plenty of supporting information, both on the same website and elsewhere on the web.

In addition to being good for your readers, this kind of useful content will make other webmasters more inclined to link to your website. This adds to your link “popularity” and can further improve the search engine ranking of your small business website.

When writing a particular web page, try to think of it as “the ultimate guide to [blank].” This is the first step to creating the kind of authority documents that eventually dominate the search engines and drive endless web traffic for the authors. But it’s rarely possible to create an “ultimate guide” to anything in just one page, so be liberal about linking to other sources on your own website and elsewhere (as long as their not direct competitors).

5. Add Supporting Graphics, Pictures, Etc.

Reading online can be hard on the eyeballs. You can make the reader’s job easier in two ways. First, you can format your content appropriately for web reading (short paragraphs, narrow text columns, lots of bullet points, headers, sub-headers, etc.). Secondly, you can add supporting images and helpful graphics.

Well-placed graphics can improve website content in a number of ways. Images are more enticing than text upon first glance, so they can help attract and retain readers. They also help you clarify your message with visual reinforcement.

Conclusion: I have a motto I use regarding website content. “If it’s not worth putting online, don’t put it online.” This is my reminder to myself that I need to use the techniques outlined above to create superior website content. Because that’s the kind of content that leads to online success. Apply these lessons to your small business website and watch your own success increase!

——————————————————————————–

About the Author: Brandon Cornett operates an web marketing firm in Austin, Texas and is a web writer at large for dozens of websites and blogs. Learn more by visiting http://www.austinseoguy.com.

Is Buying An iPhone A Vote Against Net Neutrality?

One name we haven’t seen in the Net Neutrality debate is Apple, Inc. Though Jobs & Company are cozy neutral net advocate Google, they also just launched iPhone with AT&T exclusivity. And that brings up some interesting questions, the most interesting of which: Is Is Buying An iPhone A Vote Against Net Neutrality?

It wasn’t too long ago that former AT&T chief Ed Whitacre, who has been vocal about his and his company’s opposition to Net Neutrality regulation, expressed an interest in buying Yahoo, which historically has been on the pro side of the issue. We pondered then what a buyout would mean for the Net Neutrality cause.

News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, also not a fan of regulation, reportedly offered to swap MySpace for a 25% stake in Yahoo. Neither of these offers were accepted, and so far Yahoo has not, at least publicly, reversed its stance on the issue.

But all of these “entangling alliances,” to borrow from George Washington in advance of Independence Day, can make you wonder which side of the debate supporters are likely to land, especially when big bags of money are involved.

The public is known to vote with its pocketbook, especially in leaner times, and likewise, the public’s representatives are sometimes known to do the same, except the money flow is more direct and reversed.

So one would assume, though the company has been pretty quiet about it, that Apple would be a fan of Net Neutrality, especially with its flagship online product iTunes directly at stake. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on the board at Apple and there has even been speculation about a merger. “AppleGoo,” Schmidt joked at the iPhone unveiling.

But here’s Apple, which has its own fanatical tech-cult bowing and seizing at the base of the pyramid each time Steve Jobs tosses something down, locking up its fans into a two-year, amazingly expensive contract with the dev…biggest Net Neutrality opponent there is.

Yet, the same Apple Cult that waited in line for a week to buy the iPhone (where do these people work, and how do you request time off to buy a phone?) is the same group that has been highly vocal about supporting Net Neutrality. Now, they’re a big part of the funding against.

Admittedly, that is like saying that buying certain sneakers is supporting child labor or buying marijuana supports terrorism.

Even so, I still try to avoid buying anything from China, as impossible as it seems, to avoid these moral dilemmas. The free market economy works that way, boycott companies you don’t like, vote for them by supporting them with money.

Are there other options if you want (have to have) the iPhone. No. Though it has been established that consumers have a right to switch out their SIM cards and use their phones with other carriers, the iPhone is designed so it only works with AT&T’s network.

Jobs has said this is so the phone will work on 80% of the world’s networks, but the States, it seems incredibly anticompetitive, which is AT&T’s primary MO.

To be fair, it’s unclear that having a choice of carriers would matter. Verizon has been just as vocal against Net Neutrality as the new Ma Bell. T-Mobile? Wouldn’t count on them, parent company Deutsche Telekom doesn’t seem to be a big fan, either. Sprint-Nextel? They’ve been noticeably quiet on the issue, but they seem to like Net Neutrality henchman Sen. Ted Stevens pretty well.

Article by Jason Lee Miller, a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.

Top 10 Search Engine Optimization Strategies For Your Website!

Although the concept of search engine optimization can be somewhat complex, there are a number of basic search engine optimization techniques you can use to improve your organic search results. Keep the following in mind when trying to achieve top rankings for your website.

1. Meta Tags.

Meta tags are simple lines of code at the top of your web page programming that tell search engines about your page. Include the title tag, keyword stag, description tag, and robots tag on each page.

2. Create and update your sitemap.

Developing a site map is a simple way of giving search engines the information they need to crawl your entire website. There are plenty of free software packages on the web that can help you generate a sitemap. Once you create a sitemap, submit it to Google and Yahoo.

3. Ensure that all navigation is in HTML.

All too often, navigational items are in the form of java script. Even though navigation technically still works in this format, it’s not optimized. Create your navigation in HTML to enhance internal links throughout your website.

4. Check that all images include ALT text.

Your image’s alt text is spidered by search engines. If you’re not including your keywords in alt text, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for improved search engine result placements. Label all of your images properly.

5. Use Flash content sparingly.

Content generated through java script or flash is a big no-no. Some webmasters like to use flash because of the presentation. If you must, use it sparingly, but only after your site has been properly optimized with basic search engine optimization in mind.

6. Make sure that your website code is clean.

Keep in mind when optimizing a web page crawlers are basically only looking at your source code. When programming your web pages, having W3C compliant code can make all the difference. Run your code through a W3C validator before promoting.

7. Place keywords in your page content.

Search engines scan your website and web pages for keywords. Shoot for a keyword density of between two and eight percent. Google likes your page to be at the lower end of this scale and Yahoo at the upper end.

8. Submit your website to search engine directories.

It’s always a good idea to let large search engine directories know that you’re out there. Submit your website URL to directories like Google, Yahoo, and DMOZ.

9. Build links to your website.

Consider building a link exchange program or create one-way links to your site using articles or forum posts. All major search engines value the importance of your website based on how many others websites are linking to it.

10. Learn the basics.

Learning to optimize your website for search engines takes time and patience. Start by applying basic search engine optimization principles. If you’re new to website optimization, or even a well seasoned veteran, begin by prioritizing which pages are most important to you and go from there. Soon you’ll find yourself moving up the rankings.

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About the Author: Michael Fleischner is a Marketing Expert and Search Engine Optimization Specialist. He has more than 12 years of marketing experience and had appeared on The TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. Visit MarketingScoop.com for further details and more marketing articles.

Easy Cross-Promotion Tactics

Cross-promotion is an easy, inexpensive method for generating more traffic and more revenue for your business and for the business of your promotional partners.

What could be better than a real win-win situation? With cross-promotion not only can you generate more customers and profit, usually for free, but you can help another entrepreneur do the same!

One simple example of good cross-promotion is swapping business cards with another business in your area. The idea is to find a related, yet non-competing operation, give them a stack of your cards to hand out and take a stack of their cards in exchange.

For example when I ran a local Web design company I swapped stacks of business cards with a nearby computer repair service. It made sense because both of us targeted small businesses, and nearly all small businesses today have computers in their office and a Website to promote their products and services. So often my customers would have an interest in a good computer repair service, and the repair shop’s clients might be interested in somebody to build or re-design their Website.

It’s easy to see how both parties stand to benefit in this arrangement. And the customers of both businesses also benefit!

Putting together a win-win cross-promotion on the Web is even easier, and here are a few examples of how you might do this:

Exchange Thank You Page Ads
Thank you or confirmation pages that prospects see after they make a purchase or register for a free mailing list are great places to post promotions. The people who see these pages are action takers, making them the ultimate target for a good advertisement.

You could place an ad for your cross-promotion partner on one or more of your thank you pages and have them do the same for you.

Unannounced Member Bonus
If you and your promotional partner run membership programs, you could place unannounced bonuses within one another’s secure member areas. For instance, when members login to your site they could find a “free gift” from your partner, and be required to register at your partner’s Website to receive access to their free gift; of course you would place a similar promotion in your promotion partner’s member area.

Swap Autoresponder Messages
You could include an email in your automated message series promoting your partner’s product or service, and they could reciprocate with an email for you. You could even promote as affiliates for one another so you both earn commissions in the process.

Cover Page Promotions
If you and your partner both produce digital information products such as e-books and special reports, you could swap promotions on the first page of your PDF products. This would provide both of you with quality exposure as your ads would be seen by the people who purchase and actually open digital products; so prospects generated by this measure are both buyers and action takers.

These four examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Once you sit down and really brainstorm about innovative ways to cross promote you might be amazed with what you come up with.

Both you and your promotional partner(s) stand to benefit, and neither of you will need to pay any advertising expense to generate new traffic and sales.

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About the Author: Tim Whiston is a professional Internet marketer who enjoys his work. He has owned numerous Websites and ezines and has created hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits for his clients. Be sure to check out his free Information Marketing Course and Internet Marketing Tools.

Why RSS May Be The Email Killer – Parts 1 & 2

According to online statistics from eMarketer, less than 20% of internet users intentionally read content with the aid of an RSS reader.

Indeed, even frequent internet users have no idea what that little orange RSS square represents and certainly don’t realize that there is a big shift brewing in the bowels of online publishing and marketing.

But, that may change more quickly than we all used to think for 3 very potent reasons.

There are advantages to RSS that will compel most, if not all, internet users and content consumers to “learn” to use an RSS reader and start managing RSS subscriptions.

In the same way email eclipsed snail mail for content delivery, RSS will eclipse email as the consumer’s choice for opt-in messaging.

If you are an email marketer, the time for you to get engaged to RSS has come, because, whether you like it or not, the wedding bells will be ringing soon.

Here’s why…

RSS = Embedded Video (and audio)

I recently was asked to help a small business embed video into emails they wanted to send to established clients.

Their vision was clear:

1. Create a quick video email with a webcam, stick it right into their corporate Outlook email with a Youtube style preview.

2. The customer gets the email, clicks the Youtube-looking video preview and the video starts playing.

3. No landing page, they wanted everthing to happen right there inside the email client, whether it was Outlook, AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or otherwise.

Simple right? Nope…

This is simply not possible with email.

Many brilliant companies have tried various tactics to embed video into email in a way that doesn’t consistently get blocked or stripped by the various email providers.

With email, the best that can be done is mimic the embedded video look by putting a video preview image in the email which opens up the web browser and plays the video there when clicked.

Ironically, even this comes at a significant cost because of the technical knowledge needed to make it happen.

So why is this a less than perfect solution?

Primarily because none of us like to be bounced around, we want to view video instantly, seamlessly.

After all, we have been trained to expect this level of immediacy by seeing it everyday on Google’s “universal search” and countless blogs.

The good news is, embedded video and audio are part and parcel (fundamental elements) of RSS.

Adding video (and audio) that can be instantly viewed by someone receiving an RSS feed is as simple as adding text.

Readers get what they have come to expect and corporations, as well as small businesses, can provide dynamic, highly personal content without paying a coder or webmaster thousands of bucks.

RSS = 100% Deliverability

I was shocked to see the stats on email deliverability rates for the typical business. The fact is, even if you have come by a person’s email honestly (that is – you did not buy a bootleg list of emails from some guy in a dark virtual alley) the likelihood of them actually receiving that message from you is 60% or less.

So, let’s say you have a list of 1000 customer emails – which you have worked hard and paid real money to acquire. When you send a message, 400 of them (on average) don’t get it. It either automatically lands in their Sp@m Folder or gets deleted even before it reaches them.

Even companies like Aweber who make a living sending emails for other people and have intimate agreements with email providers like Gmail, AOL and Yahoo, only get a 90% deliverabilty rate – on a good day (they claim %99.4 but I use Aweber and when I factor in the whole opt-in and email management process, at least 10% of my emails are undelivered).

RSS is quite different. If someone has opted-in to your RSS “feed”, they will get 100% of your messages. No doubt about it.

This is obviously good for the company but how is this also an advantage for the customer?

Well, have you ever had the frustration of opting-in to something that you were interested in only to find (after searching for a few minutes) that it was buried in your sp@m box.

Have you ever had to “whitelist” an email address so that each email that was sent wasn’t immediately deleted?

Doing this takes TIME… the most expensive commodity any one of us owns.

Once consumers realize there is a simpler way to get 100% of what they want, 100% of the time, and 0% of what they don’t want, RSS will start to look like a (pardon the old expression) “no brainer”.

RSS = Sp@m-Free

This may be the “tipping point” that triggers the general masses toward RSS.

Yes, sp@m is annoying… it takes time to delete… it contains inappropriate messages which make parents steaming mad… and it is the constant burden of corporations and email providers.

Especially due to the last reason, email will not be free forever. You may not have to pay if you send just a few emails to your friends and family each month but if your sending out a significant number of messages… you will pay.

This will be the email manager’s final attempt at curbing the clever spammer.

In fact, email providers are already debating and tweaking a platform similar to cell phone companies where you will have a sending quota.

This will only push spamming into a “higher” art form and challenge the suprisingly intelligent geeks behind this modern phenomenon to new technical heights.

All of this will only serve to highlight the value of RSS even more and compel the average folks into opening up a Google Reader account or using the one they goofed around with more often.

However, before RSS eliminates email as we know it, a few things have to happen…

In the first part of this article we discussed the three compelling features of RSS that will lure the mases of content seekers.

Namely, embedded video, 100% deliverability and sp@m-free information management.

But, before any of us permanently trades in our email account for an RSS Reader, a few things need to happen.

Until then, we will be doing double-duty… checking both our Inbox and our latest feeds.

What RSS Needs Before It Kills Email

1. RSS Content Clients (like Outlook for RSS).
As it stands, messages which are sent via RSS are usually composed inside some sort of blog or other similar content management system and published to the world. All the folks who have requested the RSS “feed” then receive that message into the RSS reader they check whenever it is convenient for them. Generally speaking, the entire group of subscribers gets every message.

Now, imagine a software application that works like an email client such as Outlook that allows you to create a message, format it, add video and audio and then send it to just one (or a selected group) of subscribers via RSS…All without having to publish that content to the world.

This would be the silver bullet solution to all the woes of email.

2. RSS to One or Selected Groups
One of the current appeals of RSS is the fact that one can subscribe to an RSS feed anonymously. You are assured of receiving only messages from that person or website (which is hopefully run by a person) and nothing else. Neither the website owner or the RSS service knows anything about the subscriber. This is a good thing and something that will continue to make RSS valuable.

However, at some point, a more personal RSS option should appear which allows the subscriber a choice. In the future, when someone chooses to subscribe to an RSS feed, h/she will have the option of sharing personal information with the publisher, perhaps just their name and a few selected interests.

They will be glad to do this for two reasons.

1. It will allow the publisher to send only content that matches their desired interests (this is actually already possible but very few take advantage of it).

2. It will allow for private RSS communication between individuals and groups with all 3 benefits listed above – embedded media, 100% deliverability, sp@m-free.

What Killer-RSS Will Look Like

In this new more advanced world, you will have a personal RSS address. Not connected to a business or blog content, just to you personally. Yes, you may be thinking… “just like my email address”.

When someone wants to hear from you, they will go to some fancy Web 2.0 service and subscribe to your personal RSS feed. They will sign-up for their own personal RSS feed and then subscribe to yours, providing you with their name (if they are a friend) and perhaps their interests if they are a business contact.

When you want to send them, and only them a message, you’ll open up the fancy wysiwyg editor provided by the cool Web 2.0 service mentioned above, create a message and publish it.

Sounds like email right? Exactly…

The difference is, you publish the message not to your public blog but to a private space on the net and to your friend’s RSS reader.

So, your friend checks their RSS reader, sees your name on their list of subscriptions, notices that you have published a message to them (and maybe a few other friends) and either reads the message in their reader or in the private space online.

So, as this shift occurs, what we are calling Killer-RSS will be viewed as an upgrade to typical email services with the added benefits mentioned above.

What do you think – will RSS be the email killer? If not, how do you see the RSS – email relationship working out? Visit Web2Center.com to join the dialogue.

About The Author
Peter Lenkefi publishes social marketing and blog promotion tips at http://Web2Center.com .

The Meta Tag Question

What is the deal with Meta Tags?

Search Engine Optimizers often have two different views when it comes to meta tags. One this is unanimous meta tags have definitely been devalued for use in most major search engines but you will find they are still being used as the description often times when your site is listed in the search results.

Meta tags were started back in the early 90′s when the Internet was just getting its brand new legs and they were used to help the search engines organize the growing number of web pages. This was an easy way to get your site indexed and listed high.

Soon after unethical webmasters started to abuse the meta tag by either spamming the page full of keywords or sometimes even made different websites appear in the results for a completely different keyword. Gambling sites would stuff their meta tags with more commonly used phrases in order to bring their sites to the first page and trick the search engine and moreover the user.

Now obviously, most search engines have discontinued the use of meta tags for organizing their search results. Algorithms have become much more technologically advanced and they use a number of other methods for indexing and sorting. The big question is if they are no longer viewed as a helpful tag, why do some SEO’s still use them?

Meta tags come in a multitude of different names and uses, so which ones do you use? There are four that I often find myself using when I am optimizing a site. They are as follows:

Meta Robots:
This tag is still widely supported and it simply tells the search bots to either follow the URL through or you can ask them not to index certain parts of your site for aspects that may not be relevant to your actual site.

Meta Description:
My favorite tag. This is your first impression, if you don’t have this tag search engines will just tag clips of your index page including the keyword that was being searched for by the surfer. First impressions often is the difference between a sale or no sale.

Meta Keywords:
A controversial meta tag, some use it, some don’t. I still thinks it holds a bit of value if you keep it simple. Don’t add more than 20 or so keywords, as I think it does increase your on-page keyword density.

Meta Content Type:
This is recommended because you may find that if you do not have this tag it could cause display problems.

Now, most search engines don’t use the meta tags as they did in the early nineties, but as I explained you can still use them for a variety of other reasons. There is of course a number of opinions on this matter: Some SEO firms are strong believers in the meta tag and other firms are strongly against it.

In conclusion, my opinion is that meta tags can be used for a number of alternative reasons and still offer you a great place to sell your stuff.

I always will recommend the use of at least a small number of Meta Tags, and if used correctly they will greatly improve your chances of more sales and higher rankings.

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About the Author: Carrie Haggerty has been working in SEO and Internet marketing for the past 3 years. She has started her own SEO Firm and also her own SEO article website.