2 Dozen Ways to Improve Your E-Mail Marketing Results

I suppose I can title this article “25 Email Marketing Mistakes I’ve Made.” But rather than focus on the negative, below I’ve outlined the best practices I’ve come to adopt over the years. Hope you find something here useful.

1. Diversify your Content: If your entire email focuses on one product, service, or topic, you risk alienating all but the few people who will be interested. Unless you have segmented your database based on previous behavior, do not send an email on only 1 topic. I consistently find that the click through rate increases in proportion with varied content.

2. Don’t Stress about Spam Words: Many experts will tell you to avoid words like “free” or “sale”. In my opinion, ISPs tend to be moving away from content based spam filtering in favor of reputation based filtering. In other words, your sending IP address and from email are more important than whether or not your email contains certain words. Personally, I’ve used words like “free” in the subject line without any affect on delivery rates.

3. Make it Readable with Images Disabled: Always take into account the appearance of your email with images disabled. For email clients such as Outlook, this is now the default feature. Even popular web mails like Hotmail now disable images unless the sender is in the address book of the recipient. The best tactic to create readable emails with images block is use an alt description.

4. Create an Online Version: Always provide an online version of your email for users having trouble viewing images. I’ve calculated from emails I’ve sent in the past that around 5% of users will use this feature.

5. Remove Inactive Subscribers: Inactive subscribers are the most likely to get you in trouble by clicking the spam button. Consider automatically removing a subscriber that hasn’t opened an email in several months.

6. Proofreading: Always have every email proofread by at least 2 detail oriented people. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a typo in an email blast.

7. Monitor Replies: When you send out thousands of emails, you’re bound to get a few replies. Occasionally, you’ll get some good feedback from your subscribers. In addition, some people reply with unsubscribe requests.

8. Unsubscribe at Top: I know what you’re thinking, “At the TOP!?” Yes, at the top. Lazy unsubscribers have a tendency to click the spam button instead scrolling down to find the unsubscribe link. By placing the link at the top, you might increase your unsubscribe rate, but that’s better than an inflated spam complaint count.

9. Don’t Over or Under Mail: If you send too much, you’ll get deleted or marked as spam. Oddly enough, if you send once every 3 months you may have the same problem. Keep your brand top of mind for your customers by finding the perfect balance between over and under mailing.

10. Forward to Friend Feature: Many users automatically do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. First time potential customers can be very open to a company when it is introduced by a friend or colleague.

11. Subscribe Feature for Forwards: Make it easy for potential new subscribers to subscribe if they receive your email as a forward. Include somewhere in the body a subscribe link.

12. White List Reminder: If you want your subscribers to add you to their white list or address book, you need to ask. Sure, not everyone will add you. However, those who do are likely the people who care most about receiving your emails and, therefore, you have the most to lose if your emails get flagged as spam.

13. Single Click Unsubscribe: I generally recommend keeping the unsubscribe as simple as possible. However, you may want to confirm the action if you place your unsubscribe at the top of every email in case users click the link on accident.

14. Privacy Policy: Always place your privacy policy at the bottom of every email. Assure customers that you obtained their email address in a legitimate fashion, and you will not sell their personal info.

15. Don’t Rent Lists: Some may disagree on this, but I’ve never seen anything good come from a rented list. Don’t risk your sender reputation with emails from questionable sources. If you want to reach a new audience, consider a joint venture with another firm in a similar but non-competing industry.

16. Develop your Brand: Remember that your emails will slowly build your brand in the minds of your subscribers. Even if they never click-through and make a purchase, be sure to keep a consistent and accurate corporate image with your email content.

17. Call to Action: Each section must contain a specific call to action that avoids vague phrases like “click here.” You’ll be surprised how an effective call to action button or link can improve your click through rate.

18. Mix Freebies with Products: Too much selling can burn people out. Engage your subscribers with useful, free content. For example, if you sell home theater equipment, send out an article on the explaining the benefits of newer technologies. When you provide additional value to your customers with learning resources, they are sometimes even willing to pay more for your merchandise. In addition, strategies like this keep your brand top of mind.

19. Find Your “Tuesday”: For the eCommerce sites I’ve worked with, Tuesday morning has always resulted in the best open, click-through, and conversion rates. However, every company is different.

20. Same Day, Same Time: Be consistent in the time you send your emails for two reasons. First, the ISPs see inconsistency as a possible spam flag. Spammers can care less when they send out mass emails. Second, your customers will begin to anticipate your emails at a certain time each week, possibly increasing the likely hood of them opening and clicking through.

21. Keep the Good Stuff above the Fold: Remember that many email clients will obscure a large portion of your email unless the user scrolls down. Make sure the top 400 pixels are as engaging as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to send artwork back to the design department because the top of the email failed to grab your attention.

22. A/B Test 1 Variable at a Time: It took me far too long to learn this. For years, I would change several factors in each successive email blast, but never could find that perfect mix. If you really want to find out what works, you can only change 1 variable. For example, should the subject line be short or long? Keep the same content and split your list in 2, sending half a longer subject and the other half a shorter one. Do not change any other variables!

23. 600 Pixel Width: Due to the limitations of many email clients, stick with a width somewhere between 500 to 600 pixels wide.

24. Experiment with Subject Lines: I wish there was a magic principle I can share with you about subject lines. Unfortunately, there isn’t. The best we can do is test, test, and test again. Sometimes short subjects are better, sometimes long, sometimes intriguing, sometimes urgent, whatever works best for you. Here’s a great article on email subject lines.

25. Begin Segmentation & Personalization Now: In a few years, email marketers that don’t practice segmentation and personalization will be left in the dust. There are an endless number of ways to segment your email list. Some popular ways are by purchase behavior, geography, or ordering frequency.

As a long term strategy, I would also greatly encourage researching transactional and trigger based email marketing, as they tend to product much better open, click-through, and conversion rates. To learn more about eCommerce Email marketing, please visit the Palmer Ecommerce Marketing Blog.

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About the Author: Justin Palmer offers expert eCommerce consulting services and Do It Yourself search engine optimization lessons. In addition, Justin is the eCommerce director for C28.com, which sells Spiritual t-shirts and Witness wear.

How To “Big Brother” Your Own Website

How Well Do You Really Know Your Website?

If you’re like most webmasters, you have probably spent years building your site. You have spent years adding content, building links and cultivating traffíc – but how well do you really know your website?

How well do you know the intricate details of your website’s traffíc? Where do your site’s visitors come from? How long do they stay on your site? Just where do they go to on your site and how well do they convert into buyers or subscribers?

Do you know your site’s rankings in the major search engines? What are your site’s top keywords? What’s your site’s Google PageRank? Who are your IP neighbors? What your site looks like in other browsers? How much is your site worth?

These are just some of the questíons you should know, mainly because the more knowledge you possess about your site, the better equipped you will be at improving it. So here’s a simple líst of free site checking tools/sites that will let you “Big Brother” (monitor and watch) your site.

1. Google Analytics

Perhaps one of the most helpful analytical tools you can use on your site. Google Analytics will give you a wealth of information about your site’s traffíc. Where it comes from, how long it stays on your site, where it goes on your site, how well your content converts… invaluable information every webmaster should have in their possession.

2. NetMechanic Toolbox

Review your site’s mechanics – find broken links, test browser compatibility, find bad HTML code, spot slow-loading pages, and review your spelling… all by using the NetMechanic Toolbox.

3. Keyword Suggestion Tool

This free keyword suggestion tool will tell you how many searches are done in WordTracker and Overture for your site’s keywords. Extremely valuable information since much of the web’s traffíc and ecommerce is keyword driven.

4. Iwebtool

This is another free site which offers many valuable webmaster’s tools that will give you information about your/any site. Google PageRank, PageRank Prediction, Link Popularity, Search Engine Positions for Keywords, Backlink Checker… also Visual PageRank where you can see all the PR values of all the links on a given page – both internal and external.

5. Alexa Traffic Rankings

Alexa tracks the web’s traffíc by using the Alexa bar in a surfer’s browser. Most people know it is not an accurate assessment of the traffíc on the net but it is a handy measuring stick, nonetheless. It is also a handy tool for comparing sites and seeing the long-tern traffíc trends of different sites, including your own.

6. Your Site’s Traffic Logs

Most webmasters know your raw traffíc logs are worth checking and reading. They contain valuable information about your site. Especially helpful, if you’re checking for broken links on your site, you don’t want to see those 302′s everywhere. Close examination and regular checking of your traffíc logs and stats will point out the profitable keywords on your site.

7. BetterWhois

You can use this site to find out the domain information about your site. Do you have control of your domain? Many webmasters buy their domain name thru their web hostíng company. While this is not a problem in itself, if any dispute should arise, who has administrative control of your domain; you or your hostíng company? Can you change hostíng companies?

8. Google Alerts

Another valuable tool from Google which notifies you by email when your link or site is found anywhere on the web. Great for keeping track of any new links your site is getting. Many webmasters also use this handy tool to keep track of their competitors’ sites. They also use Google Alerts to keep track of whenever their own name is mentioned anywhere on the web. This one would even make Orwell proud.

9. IP Neighbors

Many webmasters have their site hosted on shared hostíng plans, which means there can be hundreds of sites sharing the same IP address. This site lets you discover who your IP neighbors are. Why would you want to know your IP neighbors? Well like neighbors everywhere; there are good ones and there are bad ones. For example, if you have a neighboring site that uses email to sp@m, it could get your IP address blocked or shut down.

10. Any Browser

Use to this handy site to discover what your site looks like in different browsers; you could be in for a real shock.

11. Google Toolbar

The Google Toolbar can be placed on your browser so that when you’re surfing you can see the Google PageRank of each page/site you’re visiting. Many SEO experts believe Google is not giving us the true PR of a page and this bar is rather useless. However, like the Alexa rankings it is a handy measuring stick, nonetheless.

12. What Is Your Site Worth?

Please take this last analyzing tool with “a large grain of salt”, but it is fun to use and to see how much your site is worth. Measurement here is done largely by the amount of links you have coming into your site.

In conclusion, all of these free handy tools/sites will give you a better, more complete picture of your own site. Remember, the more knowledge you acquire about your own site and your competitors’ sites, the more equipped you will be to succeed. This is one case where being a “Big Brother” can truly benefit your site.

About The Author
The author is a full-time online marketer who has numerous websites, including two sites on Internet marketing. For the latest and most effective web marketing tools try: BizwareMagic.com . Or why not try these excellent free training manuals and videos. 2007 Titus Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.

Can You Really Buy Web Traffic?

Many people wonder about generating traffic to their websites through paid traffic offerings. This topic is highly debated among the industries top SEO managers because some believe in the practice and others do not.

Paid traffic services can be useful as part of an overall traffic generation strategy. I have used paid traffic services in the past and believe they do present some value when used in conjunction with Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Email Marketing.

So What’s the Rub With Paid Traffic?

Have you ever wondered where paid traffic comes from? The services that generate paid traffic do it through a few key methods.

1. Traffic Exchange.

Using this method, these sites sell access to their traffic exchange networks where individuals surf for credits. As they earn credits viewing websites like yours, their ads/websites are displayed across the network for others to click on. If this method is being used, you may certainly experience a decrease in performance only because the same individuals are seeing your ad over and over, reducing their likelihood to click.

2. Search Engine Marketing.

A great way to generate traffic for others is through search engine marketing like Google, ExactSeek or Yahoo! Traffic generation sites buy keywords in bulk or many long-tail keywords and resell the traffic generated from them. If they can do this at a profit, its a win-win. This is a difficult strategy only because the cost of keywords change frequently based on industry demand.

3. List Marketing.

Traffic generation websites also generate traffic through email marketing and house lists. These techniques are usually leveraged through daily, weekly, and monthly electronic newsletters. Driving less traffic than the first two methods, the list marketing option usually rounds out a comprehensive traffic generation strategy.

So to answer the question about paying for traffic, is it worth? My answer is that as part of an overall traffic generation strategy, paying for traffic can be beneficial. It all comes down to how you use paid traffic acquisition as part of your overall marketing strategy, the quality of the traffic generated and the costs associated with the traffic.

The other factor to consider is the quality of the traffic you receive. The purpose of most traffic acquisition strategies is to improve sales, generate leads, and/or conversions. To that end, I would only recommend paying for traffic if you have a way to measure the traffic to your site, the path the traffic takes through your website and whether or not that traffic actually converts. Whether you consider a conversion to be the completion of a web form or the actual purchase of a product, your buying this traffic for one reason and one reason only – conversion. Keep this in mind before you spend any money on traffic.

Although you can find plenty of sites willing to give you traffic in exchange for a fixed fee, I personally prefer to sign up for my own traffic exchange, purchase my own keywords, and manage my newsletters and email lists. By doing so, I have a better handle on where the traffic is coming from and ultimately the value of this traffic. Keep that in mind before you run out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on acquiring traffic that may or may not convert for your web site.

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About the Author: Michael Fleischner is an Internet marketing expert with more than 12 years of marketing experience. To discover how to improve search engine rankings on Google and other major search engines visit http://www.webmastersbookofsecrets.com and the Marketing Blog.

Search Engine Optimization for Small Business Owners

Small business owners are often limited by small marketing budgets and manpower. But that doesn’t mean they can’t compete against larger businesses or websites when focused on search engine optimization. SEO is a basic marketing tool that everyone should use regardless of size.

Can the small websites compete with the big guys?

I’m often asked by small business owners if they stand a chance against larger websites when it comes to organic search results. My response is that size doesn’t matter. When it comes to improving natural search results, it’s all about the keywords you choose and how competitive those keywords are.

What makes a keyword competitive?

One way to determine the competitiveness of a search term is to simply type that search term into Google and notice the number of web pages that contain that search term. This number appears in the upper right-hand corner of the search results page and appears as, “Results 1 – 10 of about 228,000,000 for [your search term here].”

The large number you see gives you an indication of how many websites contain the keyword term or phrase you’re searching for. Not all of these sites would necessarily be competitors, but have been indexed by Google none-the-less. From my perspective, when this number is less than 3 or 4 million, the particular search term would not be all that competitive in and of itself.

Determining just how competitive the search term is.

There are a variety of methods to determine true keyword effectiveness (KEI, etc.). However, if you’re just a regular person trying to figure out how difficult it will be to rank well for a particular keyword, consider the following. In addition to the number of sites that contain your keyword, how well optimized are the top 3 sites that appear on the search result. You can determine this by:

1. Visiting the site and determining the Google PR of the page. This information is available by downloading the Google toolbar and looking in your browser. You will see a green bar and ranking (ex: PR5), which tells you how Google ranks this page/website with regard to popularity. Any site with a Google PR6 or better is well established and will be difficult to outrank in the near term.

2. Visit Google and type, “link:www.competitorwebsite.com”. Be sure to replace ‘competitorwebsite’ with the website name you are researching. Remember, this should be a website that appears on the Google search result for the keyword term or phrase you’re researching. This will tell you how many sites are linking to this particular website. The larger the number the more difficult it will be to outrank.

3. Look at the website code. Simply visit the competitor’s website and go to “View”, “View Source”. Look for the meta tags of “Title”, “Description”, and “Keywords”. Are the meta tags at the very top of the page? Does the website also use h1, h2, and h3 tags? If so, they probably know something about SEO and have applied some on-page optimization techniques.

Using the above will give you a good sense of whether of not you can compete for given keywords. As you’ve figured out by now, a company’s size is no indication of their level of experience in optimizing their own website. You’d be surprise of the type (and size) of companies that call me for SEO advice.

Keep this in mind the next time you think that size matters!

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About the Author: Michael Fleischner is an Internet marketing expert with more than 12 years of marketing experience. To discover how to improve search engine rankings on Google and other major search engines visit http://www.webmastersbookofsecrets.com and the Marketing Blog.

Google’s OpenSocial API?

By Philipp Lenssen

TechCrunch reports that Google will soon publicly launch a project named OpenSocial.

To be hosted at code.google.com/apis/opensocial, according to TechCrunch OpenSocial is “a set of common APIs that application developers can use to create applications that work on any social networks (called ‘hosts’) that choose to participate”. Mike Arrington adds:

Google wants to create an easy way for developers to create an application that works on all social networks. And if they pull it off, they’ll be in the center, controlling the network.

Mike adds that the core functions the API will be able to access are profile information, information on the friends someone has, and information on the social network user’s activities. At the moment, Mike says the participating social networks are Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Plaxo, Friendster and more (but not Google-competitor Facebook, though who knows, peer pressure might get them to join).

Also, John Battelle of Searchblog posted a press release on the subject. From that release (I linked the Orkut sandbox, though it doesn’t work here yet):

Developers will have access to:

- Three JavaScript and Gdata APIs to access social functions

- A live developer sandbox on Orkut at sandbox.orkut.com

Websites will have access to:

- A tool to help OpenSocial-enable their websites

- A support forum for communicating with Google and other
websites

On a related note, in August this year Google’s Brad Fitzpatrick released a manifesto called Thoughts on the Social Graph. Brad said the goal should be to “Ultimately make the social graph [social network] a community asset, utilizing the data from all the different sites, but not depending on any company or organization as ‘the’ central graph owner.” Brad adds that the goal is specifically not to create another social networking site, or to replace Facebook, saying “Early talks with Facebook about participating in this project have been incredibly promising.”

However, as the New York Times argues, OpenSocial may still mean trouble for Facebook. “The strategy is aimed at one-upping Facebook, which last spring opened its service to outside developers. Since then, more than 5,000 small programs have been built to run on the Facebook site, and some have been adopted by millions of the site’s users.” A person who remains anonymous but is associated with the “alliance,” as the NYT names it, is quoted to have said, “Facebook got the jump by announcing the Facebook platform and getting the traction they got. This is an open alternative to that.”

ZDNet blogger Garett Rogers already shares his first impressions on OpenSocial from a developer perspective:

“For the past several weeks, I’ve been using Google’s OpenSocial platform to develop a gadget that will work in the Orkut “container”. I have developed several applications for Facebook in the past, so I can say from experience that compared to Facebook, this new platform has some very cool features. For example, developers have access to store shared data right on Google’s servers – that means you can build scalable applications that require no infrastructure of your own.”

[Thanks Colin Colehour and TomHTML!]

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About the Author:
Philipp Lenssen from Germany, author of 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google, shares his views & news on the search industry in the daily Google Blogoscoped.

WNW Design Launches Luna Porcelain

WNW Design is proud to announce the launch of Luna Porcelain’s new website. La La Luna sell beautiful and quite unique shells and urchin shells, transformed into porcelain ornaments. Ornaments are in a pearly white or cream, and at night can be highlighted with candles inside, lighting up the spiralling shapes.

Luna Porcelain currently has its selection of porcelain shells listed on the new website, with information for traders and resellers. Currently they are only providing bulk orders, and you can view the range here: www.lunaporcelain.co.uk

How I Got 70,000 Useless Visitors To My Site In One Day!

Recently, a page on one of my websites was bookmarked or listed on Digg, a popular social bookmark site. It gave me the perfect opportuníty to study and analyze the traffic coming from these social media sites. Read to discover the advantages and disadvantages of social bookmark traffic and how it can be applied to your own online marketíng or site.

Is Social BookMark Traffic Useless?

First, we must make the distinction that no traffic is useless. Any visitor to your site is a good thing and should be welcomed. However, all traffic is not created equally, there are great differences in the sources of your traffic. This article takes a close analytical look at social bookmark traffic from an internet marketing perspective.

In case you haven’t noticed, right now social bookmark and media sites are all the rage on the web. Social bookmark traffic comes from such popular sites as Slashdot, Digg, Stumbleupon… basically these sites are driven by their users – that is, users or members pick and bookmark the content they want to view and discuss.

These social bookmark sites are extremely popular; they command the high traffic numbers most ordinary sites can only dream about obtaining. But is this social bookmark traffic useful?

Is it worth your time? Should you be actively promoting to these social media sites? Should you concentrate your online marketíng efforts on these types of sites? More importantly, what are the benefits and disadvantages of getting a front page listing on a site like Digg or Stumbleupon?

As a full-time online marketer I wanted to know the answers to those questions. Moreover, I wanted to discover how or if I could use these sites from an online marketer’s advantage; i.e. how can they help me create more online income.

Recently, the Digg listing gave me a first-hand opportuníty to really study these sites.

Of course, nothing happens without a reason… I did actually court these social bookmark sites by placing the free Addthis.com bookmark on all my pages. You can do the same. Just use this simple bookmark to attract these sites.

But be careful; getting your site featured on the front page of these sites can drive 100,000′s of visitors to your site immediately, so much traffic that it may overtax your server and crash it.

So be warned; if you’re actively promoting to these social bookmark sites just make sure your servers or web hosting is up to the demanding task of handling all these sudden visitors.

In my case, it didn’t crash my servers but unfortunately, the page/link in question featured an old poorly written article I did on the history of the Internet. Why it was even featured on Digg is a puzzle and beyond me.

But still I am not one to waste an opportuníty, so I put my Google Analytics into overdrive and starting analyzing these visitors and social bookmark traffic. It pointed out some very interesting factors about this bookmark traffic.

Most of this traffic will:

simply bounce back
very few visitors will spend much time on your site
very few visitors will even venture into your site
very few will sign-up to your newsletter
very few will enter your marketing follow-ups/funnels
(The unknown variable here being the content on your site, how good it is? How well does it perform?)

Regardless, one common problem with traffic from these sites is that it’s very temporary traffic. The high volume will only last a few days… until your item is moved back from the front page.

These visitors will not stay on your site long and most are gone within seconds, not to be seen again. A few may sign up to your newsletter or venture to other areas of your site but not many.

Social bookmark traffic is very fleeting, like customers in the drive-thru section in a fast food restaurant. They grab the content and surf back to the major linking site very quickly and surf on to the next item.

This traffic will behave very differently than organic traffic from the search engines, or from your newsletter traffic or from traffic in your marketing funnels. Much different.

It was unlike getting one of my articles featured in Addme or SiteProNews, where I can easily get 200 or 300 new subscribers in a day. Plus, these visitors are interested in my information and have been exposed to my content (article) before coming to my site.

So there was no comparison; I would take the traffic from these sites any day over traffic from the social bookmark sites. And I would take free organic traffic from the search engines over any other source of traffic.

So the question remains – is social bookmark traffic useless? First, as I mentioned before, you must realize no traffic is useless; any visitors to your site is a good thing. Without traffic your site is worthless, just a few files sitting on a server in the middle of nowhere. Obtaining visitors is one of your first objectives as a webmaster. You must get visitors to your site or it’s game over.

The best kind of traffic is traffic coming from organic search, visitors who come from the search engines seeking exactly what you’re offering on your site. These are targeted visitors who will consider your pitch, read your information, maybe buy a product or sign-up to your newsletter or follow-up system. They often become repeat visitors to your site. These are your ideal visitors. This is the kind of traffic you want.

Social bookmark/media traffic is different but it does have some saving graces.

Mainly it can help expose your site to millions and help brand your site or business. It can get the word out about your site. Start a buzz.

If you have a site that appeals to the mass market, then these social sites could be an excellent recruiting ground for visitors and traffic.

These social sites are good for another reason; getting your links on all these high traffic, high PR7 and PR8 sites can’t hurt your search engine rankings. Once featured on a site like Digg, your link will appear on many secondary sites around the web, so far 500+ and counting. Monkey see, monkey do. Although it hasn’t been my main ambition to get featured on Fark.com, all these sites do have high PR ranks so from a SEO standpoint it is not necessarily a bad thing.

Since many of these visitors will be using the Firefox browser which has the Alexa toolbar embedded – your site’s traffic rank will improve. Over 50% of the bookmark traffic coming to my site were using the Firefox browser. Alexa’s traffic rankings are not a true picture of the web’s traffic, but it’s a good measuring stick, nonetheless.

Google might even consider it when ranking your site. Google basically considers their whole indexing system as a democratic voting structure… sites give a vote by linking to your content; wouldn’t it also be reasonable to assume more traffíc means more votes. So wouldn’t getting a lot of traffic or being featured on a site like Digg where the users vote to propel the best content to the front be the ultimate vote.

One strange thing I did notice, for some reason the traffic from Stumbleupon was different. These visitors stayed longer on my site and reacted more like organic traffic. Maybe the Stumbleupon site is of a higher quality and this may have been reflected in the quality of the visitors coming from there. It also reminded me, all traffic from these social media sites can’t be judged with the one brush.

This whole experience also pointed out another important factor; it made me realize how unsuited my content is for the general web surfer or the mainstream web. All my sites and content were planned and organized to first draw in targeted (warmed up) visitors from free organic search and from my online articles.

If I, or anyone, wanted to take advantage of this social media traffic, they would have to create site/content to appeal to these surfers and then somehow draw them into their marketing funnels. I don’t know if the majority of the users of these bookmark sites would make good prospects, but my guess is not very likely – the nature of the beast. But it would largely depend on what you’re offering on your site and how well it is suited to these users. So I am not drawing any conclusions yet.

Hopefully, I will have further chances to study traffic from these social sites and get the long-term effects, especially in regards to my keyword rankings in the search engines before making any final judgments.

For now I will keep an open mind but the jury is still way out whether or not social bookmark traffic is worth the interruption to the daily marketing tasks of your site. Just seems like much ado about nothing.

About The Author
The author is a full-time online marketer who has numerous websites, including two sites on Internet marketing. For the latest web marketing tools try: BizwareMagic.com . For the latest Internet Marketing Strategies Go to: MarketingToolGuide.com . 2007 Titus Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.

Where’s Your Social Responsibility Google?

Unless you’ve been living on a desert island with no Internet access, you’ve probably seen the recent blog fallout from Google’s latest crack down on alleged link brokers.

This week it seems that Google made some type of manual Toolbar PageRank reduction on a handful of major blogs and portal sites like the Washington Post, ProBlogger, CopyBlogger and Forbes.com. Some of these sites had PageRank scores of 7 which have now dropped to 5, scores of 6 which have now dropped to 4 and so on. The blog buzz is that the sites have been singled out by Google as using their high PageRank scores to sell links and have been punished by the world’s most popular search engine as a result. There is currently no proof of this and no public statement by Google acknowledging or denying the situation.

A lot of bloggers have weighed in with commentary, observations and opinions. Every time I read a new post about the so called smack-down I imagine some Googlers at Mountain View laughing hysterically and high-fiving each other for turning the tables on the SEO industry yet again.

The situation has even got the SEOs turning on each other. One of the world’s best known SEOs, Jill Whalen, made a post in response to the situation that included a comment about one of the affected sites, Search Engine Guide. Jill’s post has been interpreted in some circles as a type of attack. Here’s the comment Jill made in her post:

“Even my very good friends at Search Engine Guide were smacked down. I hadn’t been to their home page in ages since I usually visit through direct article links, but when I looked at their home page today and scrolled down to the bottom, I was taken aback to see what looks more like a link farm than anything else!”

I’ve known Jill a long time and I read her remark about Search Engine Guide as a quick off the cuff comment, not a deliberate attack. Without putting words in her mouth, I think it sounded more shocking than she meant it, probably because she was typing as a response to first impressions of Search Engine Guide after not seeing it for so long and because (being ridiculously busy) she was probably in a hurry. So the comment itself didn’t raise an eyebrow for me. But I WAS concerned about how the general webmaster community would interpret the comment.

Yes, she has every right to her opinion. But being who she is and the industry reputation she’s built up, Jill has incredible influence over a large number of webmasters and SEOs who absorb her material. Persons reading her article that are unfamiliar with Search Engine Guide may permanently associate the site with the term “link farm” and all the negative connotations that brings. No matter her intent, her remark definitely has the power to hurt Search Engine Guide and their reputation. The site’s publisher Robert Clough obviously thought so, as he was prompted to make an uncharacteristic post in response.

Personally, I think Jill should have considered the possible backlash from her casual comment and worded her post much more carefully. After all, with industry influence comes responsibility. Which brings me to the main point of this article. Google now has extreme influence and power over the Internet. When they make changes to their algorithm or the way they cache and filter web sites, it has a dramatic impact on not just web site owners, but business and life in general. Millíons of people rely on Google to survive, literally. In that respect, this attempt at link bait humor is a little too close to reality to be funny.

With such powerful social influence, I think it’s about time Google started taking more responsibility by being more transparent with their activities. If too many webmasters are doing the wrong thing with regard to linking, or an algorithm change has occurred, why not launch a media release to set the facts straight? Not everyone knows about Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, or has a Webmaster Tools account. But a lot of people read the newspaper. If they want webmasters to co-operate, Google has to recognize it’s a two way street.

By slapping on this latest penalty, (if it is indeed a penalty), Google seems to be claiming to *know* the intent of these sites. But what if they’re wrong? What if, as Jennifer Laycock claims, they are merely selling advertising space without Google being a consideration? There’s nothing in Search Engine Guide’s advertising material relating to PageRank OR Google. To assume they are trying to use their site’s high PageRank as a selling point is pretty arrogant and irresponsible of Google, in my opinion.

Without some type of public acknowledgement from them, we can only assume Google’s latest move is an attempt to control how webmasters use their own web site space. That’s a huge line in the sand they’ve crossed and I don’t know about you, but it makes me nervous.

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 her own SEO business, Kalena is Director of Studies at 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.

How to Use SEO or Search Engine Optimization for High Google Listings

If you know how to use SEO to get a high listing in search engines, or are an expert in search engine optimization for high Google listings, then you need read no more of this article. Your website obviously has at least one page in the top 10 of Google, MSN and Yahoo, and you have as much traffíc as you need for your success.

However, if not, then you need some advice. You need to understand the basics of search engine optimization. Incidentally, what the basics are to you may not be basics to others. Basics to some are the correct use of LSI (latent semantic indexing), of internal linking strategies and of other techniques designed to lead search engine spiders by the hand and convince them that their site is the tops. Can you do that?

If not, then here are one or two tips. Good SEO is a lot more than just having your page title in title tags and your heading in H1 tags. It is more that just having the correct keyword density – do you know what that is? The vast majority of people don’t have the slightest clue about keyword density or what it means. Formulae said to relate to keyword density and the number of words in the key phrase as a function of the number of times the phrase should appear in a web page are mediaeval in internet time.

Do you know what? Google doesn’t give a toss about your calculations. Google cares about the service you are providing to Google customers and how relevant the content of your web page is to their needs. To find that out, Google applies a statistical mathematical equation based on statistical analysis of semantics as related to the specific keyword being used by the searcher, and the semantic content of your web page.

Google doesn’t care if you have exactly 15 incidences of your keyword every 500 words – in fact if you do, you have no chance because that is now excessive. Keyword stuffing or keyword spamming they call it! Yet people still write articles packed full of keywords in the mistaken belief that it will be good for them. Who is still telling them that?

So let’s forget keyword density. It’s old SEO and no longer relates to Google’s needs. Internal linking: now there’s a new thing to most people, even though it has been relevant for the past few years. By intelligent use of internal linking you can lead your friendly neighbourhood spider down any web you can weave for it. And you will benefit greatly by doing so, if you know where you should be leading it.

Internal linking strategy is a different concept entirely to an external linking strategy involving one way or two way reciprocal links back to your web page from that of another website. Most people are involved in that, but also most don’t know how to do it properly, and therefore don’t benefit. Let me give you a simple example.

You have a website with a page rank of 4 for your home page. Note that it is not your whole site that gets a Google PageRank, as it is properly written, but each individual page in your site is individually ranked. When you come across a website with a PR of 4 or even 8, it is the page you are looking at that has that PageRank. That will generally be the home page, and when you agree to a reciprocal link, guess what! Your link will be placed on a ‘links page’ in that site with a PR of zero. That’s right, a Google PageRank of zilch: and that’s the benefit you will get. Zilch!

If you place their link on your home page, or any other page with a PR of greater than zero, you löse out. Even if your page has a Google PageRank of only 1, Then You Löse Out! They get a share of your PR of 1, and you get a share of their PR of zero!

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, and then tell me I don’t know what I am talking about as many have. Some of these many are so-called internet gurus and SEO experts that fleece you by promising you a Google Page 1 position for your site, when they can’t even get one for themselves.

If a site offers you a top 10 position, checkout their position by using their URL. If they were so good, wouldn’t they be in the top 10 for their URL? I would have thought so! But NO.

So, do what you can to understand what Search Engine Optimization is. What it really is – not what some would want you to believe what it is. Checkout the source code of successful sites and compare it to the unsuccessful sites and try to spot differences. If you cannot, then it is the linking strategies that make the difference. Whatever strategy you use, however, make sure that you fully understand it and that you are using it as it should be used. There are links and links – some better than others. Some can give you positive results, and some of your links can be very bad for you.

Do you know how to tell the difference? Most can’t, and so are led by what they read online. The problem is that since ‘most can’t', most of what is written online is garbage. It is difficult to spot the truth from the opinion. It is truth that gets you a good Google or Yahoo listing, not opinion. The problem is that more people believe opinion than truth since they don’t know what truth is, and most of what they read is false opinion.

The best advice you can have is to checkout the websites that have succeeded and copy what they do. However, that is not as easy as you think since the off-site linking strategy that you cannot see is as important as the on-site SEO that you can see.

About The Author
If you want screenshots of a website that succeeds, then checkout Pete’s site Article-Services that varies from Number 1 and Number 4 on Google for the keyword ‘article services’, and then find the screenshots and explanation of how he does it on Improved Search Engine Rank That is how to learn from successful sites.

Deciphering Web Analytics

Want to optimize your online sales? Improve your understanding of your target market demographics? Need to improve your marketing ROI? What right minded webmaster or online entrepreneur doesn’t, right?

Your web analytics are your gateway to measurable success and provide a lot more information than most people give them acknowledgment for. Yes, they track the number of visitors you receive and indicate your most and least popular pages. However, they also guide you towards your best performing keywords, the countries that provide you with the most active visitors, and essentially provide you with a blueprint of the exact steps each visitor takes on your website.

Armed with this kind of information you should be able to improve the overall perförmance of your website and your online business. You can also improve your marketing efforts, enabling you to concentrate on the more effective, and ignore the least effective.

Keywords, Search Engines, And Popular Landing Pages

For many sites, the search engine is the leading producer of traffíc. An SEO campaign can produce excellent levels of highly qualified leads with comparatively little spend. The key to a good SEO campaign, though, is to continue the optimization process.

Good analytics packages provide detailed information that is vital to your SEO campaign. You can view a líst of the keywords that visitors have used in order to find your site. This information can be used to identify those keywords that are providing the most traffíc and any that can be improved upon.

By reading the referrer of each visitor it is also possible for most analytic programs to determine the search engine that directed visitors to your site. Again, it is possible to use this information in order to improve your optimization efforts, with a little online research.

Landing Pages And Referrer Pages

A good avenue of pertinent information is the líst of landing pages and referrer pages. The landing page is simply the page that a visitor first lands on when they reach your site, while the referrer is the page that directed them to your site.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that all of your traffíc emerges on your home page. At least, for most websites this shouldn’t be the case. Each page on your site is a potential source of search engine traffíc, and if you have well categorized pages then PPC campaigns should also be page dependent.

Alternatively, if you use any kind of advertising, it will pay to keep track of how each campaign performs. The referrer statistics will help you determine this very fact. If you have links all over the Internet, then this can point you to the more beneficial of those links so that you can attempt to gain more, similar ones.

Visitor Experience

How your visitors reach your site shouldn’t be your sole fascination. Once a person reaches the fold of your domain, you should attempt to learn whether they had a positive experience, and, if not, then why not. Fortunately, web analytics typically provide some very good statistics to help you with this.

Visitor and page load statistics. Whenever a page is loaded in a browser it is logged as a page load. However, any single individual can open numerous pages or may even open the same page numerous times. The unique visitor figure is the number of individual people that have accessed your site.

Visitor paths. You can track the actions of a visitor from the landing page to the exit page. This includes every page they visit in between, the amount of time they spend on each page, whether they make a purchase or click any links while on those pages, and more. This information is crucial to determining any problem areas on your site. If a particular page is leading to a lot of people exiting your site, then address it immediately. These statistics can also provide you with hot spots you weren’t previously aware of.

Translating The Results

Translating the results need not be any more complicated than actually reading them. Doing so, though, can seriously improve your profits. Here are a few guidelines that can be used when next viewing your analytics.

Lots of Visitors But No Conversions

A lot of people place too much emphasis on driving traffíc to their site, and not enough emphasis on actually converting those visitors to customers. If you find that the pages of your site are frequently being visited, but surfers are leaving without becoming customers then you need to take action quickly. Typically, your site content may need improvement or the traffíc you are gaining is not targeted to the topic of your website. Look at visit lengths and paths to determine which is the case for you.

Visitors are Leaving From a Specific Page

Again, this can usually be combated with improved content on that page. If the content of an individual page is poor, but the rest of your site is good, then you will usually see that your visitors are navigating happily around your site until they reach this one page. Look for broken links, inappropriate content, or just poorly written content.

Traffic From a Specific Source is Particularly Inactive

If you look at your referrer statistics and note that one source of traffíc is sending a lot of inactive visitors to your site there may be one or more explanations. Review where the visitors are being directed to and ensure that this page is well optimized for conversions. Also do some digging on the referrer’s end. A banner or link placed on an irrelevant page is unlikely to yield the positive results you are looking for.

These are just some of the ways that analytics can help you and your website. Experiment and look for trends. Question anything that you notice until you find the most reasonable answer, and then take action accordingly.

About The Author
Article by Matt Jackson. WebWiseWords, website content that sells.