SEO Basics in 45 Minutes

As most people who read this newsletter will know, Jill Whalen is a pioneer in search engine optimization. Nicknamed the First Lady of Search, Jill founded the site HighRankings.com in 1995. Today High Rankings has grown to be one of the pre-eminent SEO companies in the US. Jill’s company is dedicated to educating its clients and sharing its knowledge with the industry at large through the High Rankings Advisor newsletter, the High Rankings Forum and her in-house seminars.

In her presentation for Webstock 2008, Jill gave the audience a 45 minute tutorial in SEO Basics. First up, Jill discussed what SEO isn’t. Some of the most common SEO myths she exposed included:

PPC Myths:

PPC ads will help organic rankings
PPC ads will hurt organic rankings

Tag Myths:

you must have a keyword-rich domain
you must have keyword-rich page URLs
heading tags are necessary (H1, H2 etc.)
you need to use keywords in meta keyword tags, in particular you need to use keywords that are included in your page content.

Jill says that it’s actually better to use the keyword tag to include misspellings and other keyword varieties that you don’t have in your pages.
using keywords in comment tags will hurt your rankings.

Content Myths:

page copy must be a certain # of words. Jill actually made up the 250 word limit a few years ago and it’s stuck, but there is really no set limit to please search engines.
that you need to bold/italicize your target keywords.
that you must use a specific keyword density. Jill says that keyword density tools are ridiculous.
that you must optimize a page for a single keyword or phrase per page. Instead, try to optimize each page for 3-5 phrases that are related, so that your copy reads better than repeating one phrase over and over.
that you need to optimize for the long-tail searches. You don’t generally need to optimize for these – engines will find them on their own.
duplicate content will get your site penalized. There is not a penalty as such, but engines will filter out duplicates in lieu of the original copy (or what they think is the original).

Design Myths:

your HTML code must validate to W3C. Not even Google.com validates!
your navigation must be text links not images. Surprisingly, graphical navigation is fine as long as you use ALT tags.
you can’t use Flash. It’s fine to use Flash, as long as it is one element of your page, not a complete Flash site. Use a text-based site too if using a Flash site.
certain design techniques are black hat. Javascript code is legitimate, not just used by black hats.

Link Building Myths:

that Google’s link: command is accurate. It’s not a useful tool. Use Google Webmaster Tools or the Yahoo link command instead.
that reciprocal links won’t count. From the right site, reciprocal links are fine, even very helpful.
that pages are ranked in PageRank order in the search results. They’re not. Google Toolbar PageRank is not accurate anyway so ignore it.
you must be in DMOZ or Yahoo Directory to get good Google rankings. In Jill’s opinion, the Yahoo Directory is not worth the money these days.

Submitting, Crawling and Indexing Myths:

that you need to submit URLs to engines. Provided you have a link to your site, you will be found and indexed.
that you need a Google Sitemap. Not needed for the average site. It won’t change your site rank.
that you need to update your site frequently.
frequent spidering helps rankings. Not true.
that you need multiple sites. This won’t help in the engines and creates more maintenance work.
that you need doorway pages. Jill says this is so 1995!

SEO Company Myths:

that a #1 ranking will always lead to more traffic or sales. The good rankings need to be for keywords and phrases that people are actually searching for.
that the company can place pages in certain positions. Not possible, unless they’re using Pay Per Click or sponsored spots.
that your rankings will tank if you stop paying the company. Rubbish!
that they have a “proprietary method” of SEO. They’re lying!
that they have a “special relationship” with Google. Again, they’re lying. Google has no relationships with organic SEO companies that Jill is aware of.
that they can increase your rankings without doing any on-page work. Run away!

Next, Jill defined what SEO is. Her definition of SEO is “making your site the best it can be for your site visitors AND the search engines”. She made the point that search engines need to:

- Find
- Crawl
- Index
- Determine relevancy
- show results
So you should keep these top of mind when designing and SEOing your site.

Jill also made the point that search engines don’t know you. So you should disclose what you sell and who you are in plain language that naturally incorporates the keyword phrases. Dumb down your pages for users. What search engines want is good content. If you’re not getting good traffic from your pages, they’re broken, she says. In a nutshell, make sure your pages speak to your target audience and solve their problems.

Jill then discussed how to choose keywords to target on your site. She recommended brainstorming with friends, family and business colleagues and creating a seed list of keywords. Then take that list and run it through keyword research tools such as WordTracker or Keyword Discovery and even Google AdWords to determine the best keywords and phrases to target.

Jill says there are three types of keyword phrases:

1) General and highly competitive terms – not good choices.
2) Long tail – uncompetitive terms – generally no need to SEO for.
3) Relevant and specific terms, which are the best to choose because they highly searched, yet are targeted enough to bring qualified traffic.

Next, Jill explained where to put your keywords. She recommended putting them in:

- anchor text
- clickable image alt attributes (alt tags)
- headlines
- body text copy
- title tags (Don’t make your titles less than 10 words, she says.)
- meta description tags

Jill finished up by teaching the group how to measure SEO success. She said that high rankings are not the best measure of success because you might be ranking for phrases nobody is searching on. Instead you should be looking for increased targeted traffíc to your site and more conversions. Use your web stats to give you the clues as to whether your site and your SEO is working.

As for the future of SEO, well despite the rumors that SEO is dead, Jill doesn’t think that the big engines will switch to exclusively paid listings any time soon. In her opinion, there will always be some free ways to get listed so there will always be a need for SEO. In the same vein, a crawler-friendly site will always get good results and off page criteria (e.g. links) will always be important.

About The Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College – an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.

A Loophole For Paid Links

It seems it was only a matter of time before the cleverer element of the SEO world developed a workaround for Google’s penalizing of paid links. The workaround involves a pretty creative “dynamic” linking strategy, and it’s playing a little bit dirty.

No longer the province of tax accountants, lawyers, and politicians, an elaborate loophole has been developed by Andy Beard proposing how to get around Google’s paid-link vigilance via robots.txt and paid reviews.*

Beard’s explanation is complicated, lengthy, and loaded with historical context so visit Beard’s blog for further clarification, complete with nifty diagrams. What we will provide here is an overview and basic introduction, and not necessarily an endorsement.

Beard’s proposal (or as he describes it, a red flag in the face of the charging bull) involves strategic use of robots.txt to redirect Google crawlers away from paid reviews. This is intended to take the penalty sting away as Google can’t penalize for what it’s not supposed to crawl in the first place.

In addition to the paid review that is blocked from crawlers, the author creates a follow-up review at another domain that is not paid and links back to the original review, with link juice in-tow. According to Beard, a client would pay for the original domain link, but the not the follow-up on a separate domain (but I imagine the price just got higher, huh?).

The link on the paid review is not a nofollow link, meaning that it will still also pass PageRank since Google shouldn’t know or care about it if it can’t be crawled, and the link on the follow-up review is also not a nofollow because it’s, technically, not a paid link.

In theory, the original, blocked review will still pass a reduced amount of PageRank because Google still links to “dangling” pages, or pages it can’t see, if there are backlinks pointing to the page. The link juice it passes, however, is reduced, as is the link juice coming from backlinks to it. What happens next is a matter of determination and scale.

With enough backlinks (according to my understanding), especially authority backlinks, the decrease in link-juice can be overcome, thereby raising the blocked page’s PageRank eventually, which is then passed on to its intended paid review/link recipient.

Your first objection is probably that Google’s pretty vigilant about link-spam, too, and bursts of low-quality links over a short period of time will raise the spam alarms, thus either earning penalties anyway or negating the collective power of those links.

Quite right, which is why Andy has a plan for that too. This is where it gets a bit harder, since it involves a real commitment to getting that paid link some good juice to pass along. But it probably should be a part of your overall web-marketing campaign already and anyway.

Beard proposes getting authority links via:

Social bookmarking: A short description, a title, and a link from BloggingZoom, Digg or other social site is all that is needed to carry a decent, relevant amount of link juice to the target.

Targeted RSS syndication: Syndicate the article, make sure it links back. Send to “hub pages” on content sites that accept syndicated articles via RSS (because Google won’t be looking in RSS feeds, either). Aggregators (which will index a snippet and a link) like Technorati also make use of RSS feeds.

Authorized and unauthorized article syndication: Beard syndicates his articles to other publications with high PageRank. Link back to an un-crawled page from there and you’ve given it some much-needed power. What he calls “unauthorized syndication” we usually call “scraping.” On the bright side, publishers can make the most of scrapers by not making a fuss, and instead requiring a link.

Targeting Universal Search: Use images, video/audio descriptions, etc., in unpaid content (which is also syndicated, I assume, to sites intended for that type of format) to point back to paid content.

If Google doesn’t find a way to penalize, it could be a viable (if involved) strategy. But it is also more akin to traditional web marketing—taking advantage of the channels you have to promote.** It’s doubtful that less legitimate paid linkers will take the time and effort to promote this way, but you have to admire Beard’s never-say-die attitude.

*This all hinges, of course, on whether it will work and for how long, and how much you rely on Google as a search-traffic generator. The hard truth is that Google is the defacto search engine on the Net, so making el Goog happy whether or not you agree with el Goog’s decrees is an important part of the game. And nobody likes unhappy el Goog.

**Google’s penalties seem also to be forcing webmasters to do (nearly) legitimate content and marketing work, which is an interesting side-development.

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

How To Start A Social Marketing Campaign

Social marketing is a relatively new, often misunderstood form of online marketing that is reaping huge rewards for website owners who incorporate it into their marketing plans. I work with clients and customers who, while being very new to social marketing, are seeing results in the following areas:

1. Higher search engine rankings for their top keywords.

2. More rankings of additional keywords or “long tail” keyword phrases.

3. More link popularity from sites linking on their own accord.

4. More link popularity from social media sites.

5. More activity on their blogs, such as more commenting and interaction.

6. Direct traffic from incoming links on social media sites (One good StumbleUpon.com submission can net thousands of visitors alone.)

7. Fast traffic increases and steady growth in unique visitors month after month.

8. An increase in subscribers and sales. Social traffic, properly acquired, is very warm to your message and products.

The problem for most people when thinking about social marketing, after getting a taste of all the hundreds of sites there are to interact with, is becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed into inaction.

They assume established social marketers gained their “social authority” in a short period of time. This is simply not true. Although the opportunities for driving serious traffic and rankings from hundreds of social sites exists, it is an embarrassment of riches.

And it cannot be conquered over night. It is a gradual process you manage with all your other responsibilities and grow as time allows.

What I encourage my clients to do is set aside enough time each day to get one more link, participate in one more conversation, or sign up for one more account on a social site.

A little goes a long way and social marketing is not an “all or nothing” situation. Eventually you will have established yourself on the major social media sites you need to be on. And you will have a schedule that allows you to keep up with your other work while adding this extremely powerful marketing method to the mix.

10 Steps For Starting a Social Marketing Campaign

1. Schedule a bit of time each day to do some new things. Don’t just say you are going to do them. Write the time into your day and follow through.

2. Sign up for the major social news sites: Digg.com, Propeller.com, Mixx.com. Don’t submit anything to these sites until you have filled out your profile completely and submitted news from elsewhere on the web to generate a real presence and avoid being labeled as a spammer.

In fact, BE a real presence and don’t try to push your own content onto the networks you belong to. It should feel and be natural and you will know what “natural is on each network by participating, commenting, voting and getting a general sense of what members think is good and bad content. Watch their comments and votes and you will know how to proceed with your own site’s content from there.

3. If you don’t have a blog, you must install one immediately. This is not an option. It is an absolute necessity on today’s web. I recommend WordPress which can be downloaded and installed by you or your webmaster. WordPress download

Option #2: Check with your web host to see if they have Fantastico available to you and, if so, that it installs the latest version of WordPress. If so you are very lucky because the software can be installed by you very easily in just a few steps with Fantastico.

4. Once you have your blog set up, join the following networks. (These are blog communities that will help you generate visitors, authority, and links and most bloggers belong to them.) MyBlogLog.com (install the widget on your WordPress blog), and BlogCatalog.com. (they also have a widget to install)

5. Join groups, make friends, and interact with other bloggers on these networks. Especially the people who would be most likely to link to your blog and send you traffic who write about similar things or have an audience similar to yours who’d benefit by knowing you. You can even start your own group, promote it in the network, and send “shouts” to the group when you have announcements or need attention to a new post.

6. Once you have established yourself on all the sites above, meaning you have a decent profile in each that shows you’ve been active and involved, move on and search for networks that are geared toward your particular market niche. There are a lot of new “vertical” social sites popping up that focus on much more narrow markets and their membership is far warmer to your kind of information than on the bigger, more general networks above.

Add a new site to the mix as often as you can and repeat the steps for becoming established there as mentioned in Step 2 above.

7. Join a group dedicated to social marketing to pick up tips from other social marketers and find new places you can sign up with to continue building your social authority. New sites pop up every single day. Follow places like Go2Web20.net to find new opportunities to connect with your market.

8. Remote blog. Join blogger.com and put content there that is good, just not good enough to go on your main blog. This serves two purposes: 1) you get to use more of the great content you find as you travel through all the social news sites and 2) it gives you another place to link back to your main site and pass on traffic and link popularity over time.

9. Track your progress diligently. If something you are trying on a social network isn’t working, you need to know that in order to save time and move on to something more fruitful. MyBlogLog.com (above) has a tracking system which will show you where your traffic is coming from so you can avoid time wasting efforts and focus more on the sites that are really pulling in good traffic for you.

10. Don’t freak out! This is only overwhelming if you act like someone at an all-you-can-eat buffet with no self control. You have other things to do and this needs to fit into, not dominate, your current business and marketing.

Social marketing, once you’ve established some authority, will replace some things you are currently doing to promote your site. Many people completely drop their paid advertising or PPC campaigns once they see the organic, natural traffic and search engine rankings pile up from social marketing.

Until then, just take it one step at a time and do some social marketing. A little goes a long way and before you know it, you will reach a point where a lot of traffic and lots of search engine rankings are piling up because you simply started doing something each day.

There’s a lot you can learn about social marketing. And not all of it can be found on free blogs.

About The Author
Jack Humphrey is the author of The Authority Black Book and the creator of a powerful social marketing community at SocialPowerLinking.com .

7 Basic Rules for Internet Marketing

Internet marketing strategies involve driving targeted (people who are interested in what you have to offer) traffic to your website, blog, or sales page.

That traffic then has to be converted into sales. This simple formula illustrates this process:

Traffic + Conversions = Sales

Keeping this formula in your mind will help you in your internet marketing efforts because you will realize that you not only have to generate traffic, but also turn those visitors into buyers.

Furthermore, here are 7 basic rules to follow when applying this formula. These rules are relevant to all forms of marketing but are especially important for online marketing where inexperienced people can “burn” a lot of money quickly and become very discouraged.

1. All marketing involves RISK.

Whether you are trying something new or “copying” a strategy that has brought good results for others, there is still an element of risk.

When speaking of risk, you tend to think of gambling which makes for an appropriate analogy here.

For internet marketing, we try to reduce the risk and swing the odds in our favour by doing keyword research, learning skills like ad writing, article marketing, and pay per click, and other general marketing activities such as knowing what your target market is interested in.

2. Test small first.

Reduce your risk by testing a marketing approach on a small scale first. If it works, then increase the scale and create momentum.

This is how to make money!

3. Be consistent.

Successful marketers do something to propel themselves forward everyday. That is their secret.

A good practice is to create a to-do list every night featuring 5 actions that you must complete the following day.

By doing this at night before you go to sleep, you engage your subconscious mind and the next day you will know what you have to do and be on target to complete these tasks.

This is a very powerful process. Try to do this, one day at a time, until it becomes a daily habit.

4. Set a budget.

Determine what you can afford to spend on advertising on a monthly basis. In this way you can set and manage your expectations.

This should also prevent you from trying things you cannot afford.

5. Diversify.

Spread your efforts as much as you can over many different sources. This will also reduce your risk and help you to discover what works.

Remember that if one internet marketing method that you try does not produce results, you have not failed. This just means that you are one step closer to finding something that DOES work.

6. Learn how to write effective copy.

The skill that will make or break you in internet marketing is copywriting.

It is especially important to learn how to write headlines. There is a ton of good information online that is free regarding headlines and copywriting. Just do a Google search.

7. Take action, test, and track.

Tracking is essential because you absolutely need to know the results of your marketing efforts.

Once you start getting results, you can employ simple tests to see if you can improve. Often this testing involves strategies that are free.

One such strategy that comes to mind is split testing. You can do this for free, and it can provide incredible returns. Generally speaking, split testing involves making slight changes to a landing page or adwords ad, often just the wording of the headline, and testing it against a current version.

I have seen very simple changes DOUBLE the productivity of an ad. It’s not only amazing, but also a lot of fun! Marketing takes work. You simply cannot get something for nothing. Massive action creates massive results.

So take action and do not be afraid to fail. Remember to minimize your risk.

About the Author: Mark McCullagh is the author of the internet marketing strategies that work, especially for network marketing.

Top 10 Ways To Raise Your Site In Google

No matter how much some people claim the SEO industry is a den of snake-oil salesmen, there are still definite ways webmasters can improve their rankings, and thus their visibility in Google’s search results.

This isn’t a manipulation game—Google absolutely hates that game and will punish you for it—which is perhaps what the darker element of the SEO world sells. Good, in-bounds SEO is made up of smart, user-and-search-engine friendly techniques. Think of SEO as a performance-enhancing drug—one that won’t get you kicked out of baseball.

That being said, there are tons of things webmasters can do to help their sites perform better in search, so this list is not by a long shot finished. It is, though, what we think are the top ten strategies for better search engine—and by “search engine” I mean “Google” – placement.

1. Title tags

Listed by others as one of the Big Three (tags, links, and text), we’re putting title tags at the top. The words in the title tag appear in the link that pops up in the search result. This is where you tell the search engine (and the would-be visitor) as succinctly as possible what needs to be known: company or publication name; relevant, targeted keyword or keyword phrase taken from the text of the page. Each page should have a title tag as Google ranks each page individually, not the site in its entirety.

2. Content

The order of the Big Three is very debatable, but really they work as parts of the whole; not one of them can be left out if the machine is to work properly. In this case, you probably understand that content should be quality, however that is defined, but it should also be rich in the keywords you are targeting to drive search traffic. That doesn’t mean just throwing them in there like you’re cooking up a pot of SEO gumbo, though. Keyword use and keyword variation should natural and not overstuffed. For the visual text part of the page, focus on working in the relevant words and phrases you want people to find you for.

3. Quality Links

Or more specifically, backlinks, links to your site from outside sources. Links are your letters of recommendation. If nobody’s recommending you, or the recommendations seem phony, then it won’t work. Authority links are weighted most heavily, of course, so try to get industry-related authority sites to link to your site.

4. Quantity Links

Authority (high quality) links are by nature more difficult to get, so you’ll have to start somewhere else unless you already have the brand recognition you need from square one. Many SEOers propose “link-swaps” to each other and it used to be common trade to buy and sell links. But as Google demonstrated last Fall, you can’t buy Google’s love that way. In fact, you’ll get the opposite of love. So, try to get as many links as you can from industry peers the good old-fashioned way – by promoting. Submit links to respected directories like DMOZ and Yahoo, as well. A large burst of low-quality, non-authoritative, or bad-neighborhood links, though, can do a lot more harm than good; so keep things natural.

5. URL

The importance of the URL is often debated, but one argument seems to make more sense than the others. Search engines don’t like too many parameters in the URL (easy to confuse the spiders with & and ?) and people can’t read those long URLs and tell what they mean at a glance either. The people aspect here is especially important, because they’re the ones clicking and they need to understand where a link leads them at a millisecond glance. Lesson: keywords in the URL are a good idea.

6. Spider Food

Search spiders eat HTML, not Flash. They eat text, not pictures. Make the spiders happy with HTML and lots of text to eat.

7. Site Architecture

There’s a lot to consider here, but the goal is creating a site spiders can easily access, a site that tells them where to go and what to index. Sitemaps are vital for this purpose, as is proper use of Robots.txt. Just this week, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Susan Moskwa posted 7 must-read Webmaster Central blog posts about these very topics.

8. Frequently Updated Content

You could start a site, slap some content on it, and let it sit there in cyber space. It’ll be indexed, most likely. But you really expand your credibility as a devoted, relevant source if you update regularly. In addition to spiders, it gives people a reason to come back, too.

9. Start a Blog

A great way to establish yourself as an authority voice on the Internet is to start a blog about the industry you’re in. Maintaining a blog means another entry point with regularly updated content that eventually with some authority helps pull up the main site via targeted links to the site, or specific pages within the site. It’s not a spam blog, which will be zapped eventually, if there’s useful content on it and legitimate linking.

10. Don’t Forget Humans

This is so important, it probably should be higher up on the list. There’s an art to designing a site that is friendly to both Google crawlers and the people you ultimately want to convert. Without people, what’s the point? So first design for them, and then tweak to please the spiders, not the other way around. Jakob Nielsen is a usability guru you’ll want to check out. He’s been telling people how make user-centric websites since web directories were still phonebooks—you know, on paper.

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

How to Use Offline Advertising in Internet Marketing

Knowing how to use offline advertising in internet marketing can give you a significant advantage over your competitors, since many do not use offline methods to advertise their products.

Offline advertising is particularly relevant if you are selling a product, or offering a service, that attract customers locally. For example, you could offer a fitness aid at your local leisure center. Many leisure or fitness centers will allow you to put a free poster offering your product, but even if they charge you for it the price is usually small. Perhaps you have a golf training aid that you can advertise at your local golf club.

Local classified ads are also a good means of getting your product some local publicity. The classified ads pages or even adverts placed on selected pages of your local press, frequently provide you with local orders. The beauty of these is that they are very easy to follow up, either with back-end products or new ones. You need not even restrict yourself to the local press. How often have you seen an internet marketing advert on the national press? They are not uncommon, and although expensive, they must produce a good return.

If you have a niche website, it could be worth your while browsing round your local newsagent and checking out the magazines on display. You know the kind – all these racks upon racks of magazines on every topic you can think of. Have a word with the newsvendor and find out some of the more popular magazines that cover your niche. These could be good publications for placing your adverts, especially if they are not too expensive and they have a good circulation.

Poster campaigns can also work well. You can advertise with posters in many shopping malls, and some stores also offer you the opportunity place an A5 poster for only pennies a week. Have your own business cards printed with your internet business contact details, such as website address and email address in addition to your phone number. Put your website address on everything, and have a signature that use on all correspondence. Not just emails and forum postings, but also offline correspondence such as letters, invoices, receipts and anything else you send to other people.

Another form of offline marketing that most people have never heard of, let alone use, is buzz advertising. This type of advertising has been growing in popularity recently, especially by offline businesses. It is used extensively by some auto companies and by cosmetics companies. Buzz advertising involves getting a verbal buzz going about your website or product. Some companies pay people specifically to verbally promote their products by approaching strangers, striking up conversations and bringing up the product in the conversation.

“Say, have you heard about the latest perfume from —-!” While not yet common it is getting more popular. Of course, the buzz need not be started off by someone you have employed to do it, but you can do it yourself. You can get your family and relatives involved as well. Before you know it, everybody might be talking about your product or your great new website. That’s how YouTube and MySpace got so popular.

If you have a van or pick-up get your business name and website address painted on the site. It’s easier to get a buzz going if people see your website in their face all the time, on vehicles, on posters, in newspapers and magazines, and even chalked on walls! Well, perhaps not the last one, but that would sure get people noticing your website! Do you get the idea? Get your website name known in every way that you can.

How about a local radio slot, with you explaining the virtues and benefits of your product, service or website? Stress the benefits, and you need not restrict it to local radio. Try for a national radio slot or even TV if your business is sizeable enough. There are no restrictions to the advertising methods you can use. Hire a loudspeaker and shout it from the rooftops!

Online advertising methods are very effective in internet marketing, since they can be visible to people all round the world, but if you know how to use offline advertising it can also work very nicely for you, and bring you a lot of business you would not otherwise have.

About the Author: Andre Sanchez – How to Use Offline Advertising in Internet Marketing was originally published at http://www.affiliatemarketinglife.com.

Search Engine Optimization, Google, and The Reptilian Code

Search engine optimization dominates the thinking and to a large degree the marketing efforts of many small and medium-sized companies, but have you ever noticed that many of the largest and most profitable companies in the world ignore many SEO techniques.

Of course these companies have large advertising and marketing budgets that drive traffic to their websites and generate leads, sales, and most importantly customers; and they achieve these results without having to twist their Web-marketing message out of shape in order to satisfy search engine criteria.

Their prime interest is in delivering their finely crafted, focused marketing message to their audience, not to search robots. Last I heard search engines are in the business of selling you their stuff not buying yours. But these companies also know something that you don’t; they have a secret that makes their marketing work without the need for search engine appeasement. This secret is not much of a secret, in fact it is out there for all see; unfortunately most search engine crazed entrepreneurs choose to ignore it and instead look for an easy fix, a magic bullet, search engine nirvana.

Google’s Mission

Google’s success is based on two very simple facts: one, it is the best way to find what people are looking for on the Web; and two, it has parlayed this ability into a series of paid-for services. Pretty obvious stuff until you delve deeper into why and how this works. Google understands the same thing most extraordinarily successful companies understand and that is they know what you really want. The keyword here is ‘really:’ they understand the unconscious primal need to survive, to be the alpha-ape, to be first on page one of a search for whatever it is you do, because in the SEO game, if you ain’t on the leader board you ain’t in the money.

The Google Paradox

Here’s the problem: Google can only be successful as long as they deliver relevant search results to a vast Internet audience. If they fail to deliver appropriate search results people will stop using them and their paid-for services will decline. On the other hand, you as a business executive want access to Google’s vast audience, and the only way you think you can effectively gain this access is to appear on that first search page as close to the top as possible; and you really don’t give a damn how you get there. Enter the search engine optimization gurus, boffins, and Svengalis who provide the promise of survival of the most index-able.

So now we have Google whose success is based on delivering relevant searches and SEO companies intent on manipulating this ability to place their clients on page one near the top. Google of course being a smart bunch of guys foils the SEOs by constantly changing their methods and algorithms and trumps them by placing paid-for results in the most prominent places. And the game continues, bringing in huge profits to Google and wonderfully large fees to the search engine optimization experts, leaving you paying the shot with little to show for it.

Just as an aside, I can tell you that most of our website traffic and subsequent inquiries and worldwide clients come from Google searches, and our website is mostly Flash, concentrates on Web-video and audio, and basically ignores most search optimization tricks. We rely on providing our audience and Google with relevant material.

Back to Basics

The lesson here is clear: sound marketing practices based on the way people think and act should be your number one priority, not blind faith in the manipulation of some constantly changing mathematical formula that is increasingly playing second fiddle to paid-for placement.

Persuasion Techniques

The ability to make money on the Web is not based on traffic but rather on your ability to communicate. High volume expensive traffic that leaves your site within seconds serves no financial purpose. You should be spending your marketing dollars on methods that grab visitors’ attention and deliver a focused, informative, entertaining and memorable marketing message that resonates with your audience’s unconscious desires formed in the primitive reptilian portion of the brain.

The Lustication-Justification Process

Sales are generated by creating what Clotaire Rapaille, the reigning superstar of market research, refers to as the process of lustication and justification. Lustication is the psychological trigger of desire that makes your audience want to buy your product or service, while justification is merely the rational excuse used to expend resources.

Decoding the Motivating Triggers

Rapaille’s work is all about decoding the motivating triggers that prompt a purchase. Once found, the job of the marketing effort is to stay on code. The major research effort is to get past the excuses, the justifications, the rational left brain thinking that appeases the accountants, engineers and programmers, and to get down to the nitty-gritty, the elements and primal coding that make us tick.

Rapaille believes words carry more than their literal meaning and are ripe with unconscious associations, not a surprising revelation since all communication whether verbal or nonverbal is based on the associations we make over a lifetime of experience. These shared associations form the basis of the code we are looking to play upon in our marketing.

Where most corporations and advertising agencies use focus groups as an exercise designed to cover their collective asses, Rapaille takes a different approach. As a trained psychiatrist, he organizes his version of focus groups in stages. During the first stage he allows his subjects to gain a sense of accomplishment by justifying their reasoning through logical and rational thinking that he completely ignores. In the second stage, he pursues the more relevant hidden aspects of desire, and that’s the ultimate sales trigger he’s looking for.

An Affordable Solution

Most businesses certainly can’t afford the fees of someone like Clotaire Rapaille, but if you free yourself from conventional thinking and the need to justify and rationalize everything you do then maybe you to can find the hidden triggers of desire that form the code you need to base your marketing on.

Humans have two fundamental needs, survival and improvement; these essential requirements are subdivided into our need for food, shelter, reproduction, acceptance, community, status, and knowledge; these are motivational triggers for everything your audience does and for every cent they spend. While you’re knocking your brains out competing for top spot on a Google search, the big boys are delivering what people really want, and laughing all the way to the bank.

If you want your share of the Internet pie, you best discover what really satisfies your audience’s hunger, because that’s the basis for a marketing message and website presentation that works.

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

WNW Design Launches Exeter Caravan Centre’s Website

WNW Design is proud to announce the launch of Exeter Caravan Centre’s new website, showcasing all their used and new caravans for sale. The new website is a redesign of an old site, with the addition of an admin section enabling the client to update and manage their caravan listings online. Photo upload and content editing ensures Exeter Caravan Centre can keep their clients informed of all the latest models available for sale, and start pulling in customers from internet searches too.

To view the new website design and browse the used and new caravans for sale, visit www.exetercaravancentre.co.uk.

The Sociology of Social Media

While being hired on at StepForth Web Marketing our CEO, Ross Dunn, was interested in how someone with a background in sociology could benefit his company, specifically in understanding social media and how to market to it. Sociologists look at communities and try to dissect them as to what its participants have in common in addition to trends or commonalities within the communities.

Sociologists study society and social action by examining the groups and social institutions people form, as well as various social, religious, political, and business organizations. In essence it is the study of social interactions of people and groups.

They like to watch groups of people and see how they interact and function. Understanding the group’s values and ideas is the key because once you understand a group one can participate within it. Participation means that you have the ability to communicate to those within the groups and spread or gain information. The concept of a social media marketer is to gain understanding of a community and leverage it to increase awareness of their own or their client’s expertise. Social media based communities are seen as the new web properties for marketing campaigns. Driving traffic and developing information users trust and use is the monetization of the social media world.

This article is a general understanding as to what social media is and its potential for reaching the public. In the future I will be covering more specific areas within social media and helping clients build campaigns that work for their specific situation in this emerging marketplace. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Why People Use Social Media

Social Media is a web based venue that shares ideas, values, and information. Social media sites are formed when groups of people want to share information. They are used to keep up with friends and colleagues, to exchange ideas, and get information from those who might have an answer. Social media sites create a community (a group of individuals) based around this shared information. Many of these sites have gained huge followings and therefore are seen as authorities in their particular area of expertise (news, technology, sports, etc.).

Social media creates a community where like minded people can interact, mingle, and explore. They provide information that’s judged by those within the community to be deemed noteworthy. It is interesting to note that social media sites have the same basic format in how they propagate the content provided by their users. Individuals are able to vote on the content or respond to the content. In this way, social media sites seek to gain and direct viewers. Social media is about giving control over information back to the masses.

Information provided on these sites is judged on a combination of criteria; its relevance, its quality, and the uniqueness of its content. The information is seen as trustworthy and unbiased because it is peer filtered. The information within these communities will have influence on the people who view it and can determine what actions they take regarding this new found information. As social media sites prosper with large user bases of interconnected individuals they provide a new platform for finding web based information.

Social media is inherently personal. The users provide personal information and ideas, respond to them, share them, and create a social media personality. This is where social media marketing comes in. Marketers want to know who you are and what you like. With booming global communication and technologies social media sites are seen as important venues for exchange. They embrace ideas surrounding information like connectivity, word of mouth, promotion of quality, and trust of those deemed trustworthy. Social media sites are important because they contain information users find interesting, timely and informative.

Marketing is the sharing of information to influence a consumer to purchase a product or service. Social media marketers want to get their messages out across the many mediums (video, interactive, audio, etc.) on social media sites to the individuals spending time on them. Social media sites also provide a space for advertisers to promote and gain insight on their products. These sites are seen as a great venue for advertising because of their ability to reach individuals based on their demographics, like age, location, and search profiles.

In both social media and marketing a niche is a smaller more focused section of a broader market. Niche communities are able to congregate within social media sites and share ideas and fraternize on very specific topics. This idea is very important to marketers and social media because they want to be able to reach the appropriate market for their information. Niche marketing is the process of finding and serving these specific market segments and designing custom-made strategies to profit from them.

Currently social media sites hold huge amounts of information. Social media is a great tool for spreading information and adding to it. Do people want more personalized, up to date and high quality information? What kind of information do users actually get in a current search inquiry? Is there a better way of accessing all the information on the web? These are questions social media is trying to answer. Social media sites are giving the power back to the people for exchanging information; it is a tool that helps society communicate and connect. Society values unbiased, accurate information and access to it. Social media provides personalized information and the chance for your voice to be heard. Social media’s ability to influence one’s personal decisions will give it huge potential to shape the society we live in.

About The Author
Andrew Clough is StepForth’s Social Media Specialist at StepForth Web Marketing Inc.; based in Victoria, BC, Canada and founded in 1997. You can read more of Andrew’s articles and those of the StepForth team at http://news.stepforth.com or contact us at http://www.stepforth.com, Tel – 250-385-1190, Toll Free – 877-385-5526, Fax – 250-385-1198

Internet And Business Online And Stage Fright

If you’re a person who hates to even think about getting up on stage and performing for an audience then you may have some understanding of what it is like for some to consider starting their own online business.

For many people who experience stage fright there are two dynamics at work. The first is a feeling that they would love to be able to perform. In fact some might even believe they have everything it takes to be a great performer. The second is that they are fully convinced they would freeze on stage and not be able to perform. The potential embarrassment keeps them sidelined.

The idea of business ownership is very similar. If you visit enough brick and mortar stores you can begin to identify individuals who are gifted in multiple areas. They would be prime candidates for business ownership, but in may cases they would never seriously consider the idea although they may be equally certain they could make a business successful.

In most cases this dynamic may be attributed to the fact that the individual has never owned a business previously and may be uncertain that their present skills are enough to develop a business.

It may also have to do with a constantly shifting future timeline. For instance an individual may have a date of five years fixed in their mind to begin their own business, but that date is constantly on fast forward and the business idea never seems to be developed.

This process can be a bit like agreeing to play a part in a locally produced musical. You attend all the rehearsals and memorize your lines. You learn the music and are outfitted with a costume. However, after the dress rehearsal you go home and never return for the actual performance.

In the case of developing an online business a prospective owner can look at the potential of site development, hosting packages, product availability and a myriad of other issues and then just when family and friends think the business will launch the entire thought process stops and the business idea is simply referred to as “the business I could have started.”

It really is a bold step to develop a business. You are assuming a variety of risks and rewards and you are placing a dream on a pedestal for all to see. What happens if no one likes your business idea? What will you think if the idea is ridiculed at some point? Wouldn’t it be easier to just forget about it?

There are countless potential business owners who have shelved great ideas because they have developed a case of ‘stage fright’. They would like to own a business of their own, but they find more comfort in the idea that playing it safe (and out of the spotlight) may be the only option they could handle.

Stage fright comes when anyone has to perform in a setting they are not comfortable with, but the great performers always find a way to ensure that the show will ‘go on’.

You can be one of the great performers you just need to find the right stage and then confidently work through your performance.

About the Author: Scott Lindsay – Use the Website Builder with HighPowerSites.com or the Easy Website Builder at BuildAGreatSite.com. Make Money and Sell Ebooks at BooksWealth.com.