Friday, September 28, 2012

Google Sitelinks

Google is changing it's policy on Sitelinks...


Sitelinks make your ads more valuable by showing additional direct links to specific web pages that you want to promote. Users get to specific destinations on your web site more quickly. And, on average, you'll see a higher clickthrough rate for your ads. That makes sitelinks a great way to improve your campaign performance. To see images or learn more about sitelinks, please see this AdWords Help Center article (


To ensure that users have a good experience with ad sitelinks, our existing policy requires each sitelink in a campaign to link to a different landing page URL with unique content on the landing page. That means a user can expect a meaningfully different landing page experience for each sitelink.


Recently, we've noticed an increase in the number of sitelinks created with the same landing pages or the same content. So in the coming month, we will begin more proactive enforcement of our existing policy. Initially, we'll focus on new and recently changed sitelinks. As your ads are being served, our systems will verify that your sitelinks meet the policy standards. Sitelinks that don't meet the standards will be restricted from appearing.


Having fewer eligible sitelinks could keep your ad from showing in the larger 2-line and 3-line formats, where more eligible sitelinks are required. Remember, larger formats are more visible and typically have higher average clickthrough rates (CTR). And if you don't have enough eligible sitelinks in your campaign, then your ads may not display sitelinks at all.


We realize that manually checking and fixing duplicates for your existing sitelinks and landing pages might take some time and coordination. So we're delaying more proactive enforcement with existing sitelinks for a few months. But don't wait until the last minute. And remember, any sitelink that you add or change will be subject to proactive enforcement right away.


To increase the chances of having more sitelinks shown with your ads, we recommend having 6-10 unique sitelinks in each of your campaigns.

If you already have campaigns with sitelinks, we'd suggest reviewing each campaign to verify that it has 6-10 unique sitelinks. You'd probably want to start with the campaigns that show sitelinks most often. Usually, this would be a campaign with keywords like your business name and its best-known products and services.

Here's how you can work through this using the AdWords interface.
1. Log into the AdWords interface and click on the "Ad Extensions" tab.
2. Select "Sitelinks Extensions" from the drop down menu.
3. Sort your sitelink extensions by impressions or clicks by clicking on the column header.
4. Click on each sitelink in the top campaign and follow it through to its landing page (there's no charge for these clicks).
5. Fix any duplicates you find in each campaign by hovering over the extension area and clicking the pencil icon.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tips You Should Know In Order To Make Your Blog Grow

Try practicing these tips for better blogging:

Write blog posts that are interesting to your readers. Everyone has general day-to-day chores, such as washing the dishes or vacuuming. Unless you have a unique way of presenting such common information, your readers really aren’t going to care. Select a subject that is sure to appeal to a large group of people. The main goal in blogging should be to get as many readers to your site as you can.

Do not post to your blog unless you have something genuinely useful to say. You don’t want to stuff your blog with filler information. Readers are able to tell the difference between real content and filler, and they won’t want to return to your blog if your content isn’t good.

Since many internet users do not wish to spend lots of time looking for good content to read, make sure your articles stand out. You can do this and get readers’ attention if you make good headlines and bold keywords. You can also use bullet points to catch readers’ attention.

Pepper the Internet with your blog articles. This way you will attract as many readers as you can. Be sure you don’t limit your avenues to success. Go after readers in a methodical and effective manner. Use every outlet available on the internet to draw more attention to your blog.

Strive to add some new content to your blog every day. In order to increase your site traffic and maintain it properly, you must always post new content. Visitors won’t return if they aren’t getting updated content that isn’t available elsewhere. Write at least one post per day.

Incorporate SEO into your blog. Since your goal is for individuals to visit your blog, you need to be sure it ranks high in search results. Choose keywords relevant to your topic, and use them throughout blog posts and titles to boost readership.

Keep an eye on your blog stats so you can determine the effectiveness of your overall approach. Try out different ideas and see what the statistics are for them. Throw out the stuff that doesn’t work and keep what does.

Try to keep your blog posts focused to one topic. By attempting to cover many topics within a single blog, you will lose focus and begin to confuse readers. This technique for simplistic writing is easy to implement and will immediately improve the quality of your content.

Be real. Avoid the appearance of arrogance. Portray yourself as forthcoming, candid and giving. Be that way all the time. Blogging is about expression and uniqueness. Don’t try to prove your perfection in your blogs; your readers are more likely to respond to you if you feel vulnerable and human. Never be afraid to admit that you have made a mistake, and never be afraid to reply to a reader who might have authoritative information to share with your other readers. The best characteristic you provide to your blog is your unique point of view, so flaunt it!

Make sure you proofread! Despite what some like to believe, grammar and spelling are important in blogging. Be especially careful to avoid common mistakes like using the wrong form of homophones like you’re/your and there/they’re/their, as a spell-check will not detect such errors.

Blogging can be a hobby or a job, depending on your preference. By searching the Internet, you can find numerous sites where you can begin your own blog. Remember the suggestions listed in the article so you can blog successfully. The most important thing is that you have fun doing it!

Happy to share this with you all!


The Guido Guru

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Blog Smarter With These Common Sense Tips

Surely, you have heard the buzz about blogging. A blog, short for “web log”, is a serialized webpage on which the author puts up frequent posts on their daily life or other interesting topic. Blogs tend to be more personally oriented than many websites, and are part of the expanding field of social media. If you are thinking about starting a blog, or just want to make the one you have more interesting, continue on for some great blogging tips.

When beginning a blog, start with quality posts that not only introduce your subject, but yourself as well. This is key for showing people what your blog is all about. Include pictures of your subject, as well as images that showcase your blogging philosophy. You do not need to put up a personal picture, but you do want to include visuals that are relevant to your subject and are reflective of your own personal vision for the site.

Post on a regular schedule. If viewers know what days you will post new content, they will be able to anticipate it. Your blog’s readers will appreciate the regular posting and will also enjoy all of the new content that you post. Posting about diverse topics still relevant to your niche will keep content fresh and interesting.

Posting regularly is key to having a good blog. People are starting blogs all the time, and if you don’t post new content on a regular basis, readers will seek out bloggers who do. Holidays may provide some leeway, but you really need to be consistent with blog posting.

Keep blog posts short, sweet and relevant. Long wordy blogs will turn off readers. The average blog reader isn’t looking for Shakespearean type descriptions or laureate material. They are interested in the meat and bones of a subject and not a lot of fluffy garnishment!

Give your readers the ability to comment on your posts and then take the time to reply to each. This allows the reader to become an active part of your site and provides you the opportunity to develop a relationship with your readers. Readers will return to your site often to check for your responses to what they said.

All the best blogs and those that are most popular draw the attention of readers. By applying the tips laid out here, you will learn to be a conscientious, interesting blogger who can attract more readers. It’s common for people to make a blog just for fun, but a well done blog can make a significant amount of money. Regardless of why you choose to blog, this advice can help you to get more from the process.

Money should not be the main focus or goal of your blog. Making money through blogging is indeed possible; however, blogging with nothing but profit in mind will lead to failure. Building up a reader base takes a lot of time and effort, and if you’re not passionate about what you’re writing about, it’ll show in your posts. Begin blogging on a topic you love, and your enthusiasm will be apparent to readers.

Finally,  don’t let feedback faze you. Simply use it as a way to improve your blog. Regardless of the topic or your thoughts, there is always someone who will see it differently. Those that are constructive can be used to improve your blog. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, you should politely respond to flames and trolls, as well, but don’t dwell on them. This will display a greater sense of professionalism, and will impress your readers.

Hope this helps...

To your blogging success,

The Guido Guru

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Pay-per-click Advantages on Bing

In the pay-per-click advertising world, it often feels like Google is the only player. In many cases, that’s true. Google holds a significant market share, and many advertisers limit their PPC experience to Google AdWords.
But there are many alternatives to Google for advertisers. One alternative is Microsoft’s Bing.
The Microsoft PPC empire is much more than Bing, actually. By using Microsoft adCenter, advertisers can reach users on both Bing and Yahoo!.
While Yahoo! once had its own PPC platform, in 2008 it joined with Microsoft to form the Search Alliance. Now all PPC ads run through one platform, enabling advertisers to appear on both Bing and Yahoo! via one interface.

Advantages of Using Bing

If your PPC campaigns aren’t currently running on Bing, it’s time to reconsider. Although traffic from Bing PPC is lower than traffic from Google, it almost always has a higher conversion rate and a lower cost per conversion. You’ll find fewer competitors using Bing, so it’s easier and less expensive to make your ad stand out.
Bing also offers all the ad distribution controls you’re accustomed to with AdWords: Bing/Yahoo! only, search partners, content network, dayparting, geo-targeting, and more.  I’ve addressed dayparting and geo-targeting here previously, in “PPC Basics: Part 9. Dayparting” and “PPC Basics: Part 10. Geo-Targeting.”
In fact, one of the advantages of Bing is that many of these features are available not only at the campaign level, but also at the ad group level. For example, dayparting can be set at the ad group level in Bing — meaning you can have one ad group running during business hours and another during off-hours, potentially with different offers and/or calls to action. You can also geo-target at the ad group level. Finally, Bing’s new ad rotation settings are applied at the ad group level. These are all huge advantages over Google.
Microsoft is also known for fantastic customer service — many say it’s far better than Google’s. Microsoft’s customer service representatives are always looking for feedback from the community, and they actively participate in social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
They’re highly responsive to feature requests from advertisers, too — something Google is not known for in recent history.

Comparisons to AdWords

If you’re used to using AdWords Editor, adCenter also has a desktop editor, called adCenter Desktop. This tool was significantly upgraded in March, with several usability improvements. Desktop also gives you the ability to directly import campaigns from AdWords, right in the tool. This is a huge leap over AdWords, where PPC managers have to take several intermediary steps in Excel to import campaigns from other PPC platforms.
All you need is your AdWords user name, password, and account number. Follow the steps outlined in the Desktop tool, and in minutes, you’ll be ready to upload your campaigns.

PPC opportunities on Bing aren’t limited to search. If you’re an ecommerce retailer, check out Bing Shopping. It’s a shopping feed program where your products can be featured in shopping searches on Bing and Yahoo!. Product feeds can be a great addition to your online retail commerce platform, so check that out.

Display Advertising

For advertisers looking for reach, frequency, and branding, there are a couple options available in Bing’s display network. For smaller advertisers, you can set up display campaigns right in your Bing adCenter account. These campaigns will run across the Microsoft and Yahoo! display networks.
For larger advertisers, display ads can also be purchased through Microsoft Advertising. Microsoft has “performance offerings” within its display network that can be purchased on a cost per click, rather than cost per impression, basis — an uncommon occurrence in the world of display.
If you’re into real-time bidding, Microsoft also has an ad exchange. Learn more about real time bidding here.
Using Microsoft Advertising, you can also reach audiences on MSN’s television networks, Xbox Live gaming platform, and other display network sites. Be aware, though, that these engagements will probably not include a pay-per-click option. If you want to pay only when someone clicks, be sure to mention that to the salesperson up front.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Social Media Marketing Cheat Sheet

Before you launch a social media program, consider your time and resources. Social media marketing is a hungry animal; it needs to be continually fed. It demands substantial time in planning and everyday engagement to gain traction and momentum. As a small business owner, time is a valuable resource and if you cannot take this on, you will likely have to hire someone (full or part time), or outsource this. Spending 10 minutes a day will likely not cut it, no matter what anybody tells you.
Here’s a skeleton plan to prepare you to launch your social media presence.

1. Determine Your Ideal Customer

  • Describe your target customer. Age, gender, location, education, income — anything that applies. You would be surprised how many companies have not done this.
  • Find your target customer online. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or specific online communities.

2. Identify Your Competitors

  • List out your competitors.
  • Check out your competitors’ social media profiles and what they are doing with them.

3. Find the Best Social Media Channel for your Business

  • Determine the top channels for your business from the information gathered above. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, SlideShare, Yelp.
  • Do not spread yourself too thin. It’s better to have a strong consistent presence on one channel than a weak, inconsistent presence on two or more.

4. Choose Appropriate Keywords

  • Your keywords and keywords phrases are vital to keep you focused on your business.
  • Pick 5 to 7 keywords or keyword phrases that best describe your business, services, and products.
  • Pick 5 to 7 primary keywords or keyword phrases that people are searching on in your industry. To do this, start typing in the Google search bar in your browser and see the suggestions from those searches.
  • Check keyword volume on these keywords at the Google AdWords tool. It’s free.
Optimize your website and your social media profiles — including your tweets, Facebook posts, blogs — by using these keywords. This will greatly help your search engine optimization efforts.

5. Use Compelling Content

Generating consistently compelling content is key to your social media presence and gaining Fans and followers. It takes time, effort, and requires tapping into your expertise and resources. Develop a content calendar to help you achieve this.

6. Listen Carefully

Tap into online conversations to find out who’s talking about you, what they are saying about you, your company, and your industry. This will help determine what people are interested in. Here are some free sites I use for this.

7. Establish Social Media Profiles

Set up your social media profiles on your targeted channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest or Yelp. Make sure your profiles are filled in entirely — and to the maximum. Use your keywords. Make sure people can contact you easily with an email address and phone numbers.

8. Track Results

Make time in your social media marketing to track progress and see what is working.  Monitor the following key metrics.
  • Number of followers and user engagement. This includes comments, emails, phone calls, and sales.
  • Comments from consumers. Analyze content and sentiment of consumer feedback to determine how customers feel about your products and company.
  • Time spent. Measuring the amount of time users are engaged with your social media efforts. This equates to attention.
  • Website analytics. Track the traffic increase to your website.


Let people know that you are listening, engaging, helping, and offering solutions. Authenticity and transparency are huge aspects of social media. Be yourself.
This plan may seem like a lot. But the more you can accomplish from this list, the better your results will be.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Get More Visitors to Your Website

How can you get more visitors to your website? What can you do to stimulate traffic? Here’s a checklist of 37 items you need to consider. Many of these may be doing already; others you meant to do and forgot about; still others you’ve never heard of. Of course, a great deal has been written about this. You’ll find links to thousands of articles about website promotion on our website.
While I’m not breaking any new ground here, I’ve tried to summarize some of the most important techniques.

Search Engine Strategies

Perhaps the most important — and inexpensive — strategy is to rank high for your preferred keywords on the main search engines in “organic” or “natural” searches (as opposed to paid ads). Search engines send robot “spiders” to index the content of your webpage, so let’s begin with steps to prepare your webpages for optimal indexing. The idea here is not to trick the search engines, but to leave them abundant clues as to what your webpage is about. This approach is called “search engine optimization,” abbreviated as SEO.

1. Write a Keyword-Rich Page Title. Write a descriptive title for each page — rich in keywords you want people to find you with — using 5 to 8 words. Remove as many “filler” words from the title (such as “the,” “and,” etc.) as possible, while still making it readable. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page is found. Entice searchers to click on the title by making it a bit provocative. Place this at the top of the webpage between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags, in this format: <TITLE>Web Marketing Checklist — 37 Ways to Promote Your Website</TITLE>. (It also shows on the blue bar at the top of your web browser.)
Plan to use some descriptive keywords along with your business name on your home page. If you specialize in silver bullets and that’s what people will be searching for, don’t just use your company name “Acme Ammunition, Inc.,” use “Silver and Platinum Bullets — Acme Ammunition, Inc.” The words people are most likely to search on should appear first in the title (called “keyword prominence”). Remember, this title is your identity on the search engines. The more people see that interests them in the blue hyperlinked words on the search engine, the more likely they are to click on the link.

2. Write a Description META Tag. Some search engines include this description below your hyperlinked title in the search results. The description should be a sentence or two describing the content of the webpage, using the main keywords and key phrases on this page. Don’t include keywords that don’t appear on the webpage. Place the Description META Tag at the top of the webpage, between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags, in this format:
<META NAME=”DESCRIPTION” CONTENT=”Increase visitor hits, attract traffic through submitting URLs, META tags, news releases, banner ads, and reciprocal links.”>
The maximum number of characters should be about 255; just be aware that only the first 60 or so are visible on Google, though more may be indexed.
When I prepare a webpage, I write the article first, and then develop a keyword-rich title (#1 above). Then I write a description of the content in that article in a sentence or two, using each of the important keywords and key phrases included in the article. This goes into the description META tag.
Next, I strip out the common words, leaving just the meaty keywords and phrases and insert those into the keywords META tag. It’s no longer used much for ranking, but I’m leaving it in anyway. I think it may have some minor value. So to summarize so far, every webpage in your site should have a distinct title and META description tag. If you implement these two points, you’re well on your way to better search engine ranking. But there’s more that will help your ranking….

3. Include Your Keywords in Headers (H1, H2, H3). Search engines consider keywords that appear in the page headline and sub heads to be important to the page, so make sure your desired keywords and phrases appear in one or two header tags. Don’t expect the search engine to parse your Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to figure out which are the headlines — it won’t. Instead, use keywords in the H1, H2, and H3 tags to provide clues to the search engine. (Note: Some designers no longer use the H1, H2 tags. That’s a big mistake. Make sure your designer defines these tags in the CSS rather than creating headline tags with other names.)

4. Position Your Keywords in the First Paragraph of Your Body Text. Search engines expect that your first paragraph will contain the important keywords for the document — where most people write an introduction to the content of the page. You don’t want to just artificially stuff keywords here, however. More is not better. Google might expect a keyword density in the entire body text area of maybe 1.5% to 2% for a word that should rank high, so don’t overdo it.

5. Include Descriptive Keywords in the ALT Attribute of Image Tags. This helps your site be more accessible to site-impaired visitors and gives additional clues to the search engines. The ALT attributes dohelp get your images ranked higher for image search (see #12 below).

6. Use Keywords in Hyperlinks. Search engines are looking for clues to the focus of your webpage. When they see words hyperlinked in your body text, they consider these potentially important, so hyperlink your important keywords and key phrases. To emphasize it even more, the webpage you are linking to could have a page name with the keyword or key phrase, such as blue-widget.htm– another clue for the search engine.

7. Make Your Navigation System Search Engine Friendly. You want search engine robots to find all the pages in your site. JavaScript and Flash navigation menus that appear when you hover are great for humans, but search engines don’t read JavaScript and Flash very well. Therefore, supplement JavaScript and Flash menus with regular HTML links at the bottom of the page, ensuring that a chain of hyperlinks exists that take a search engine spider from your home page to every page in your site. Don’t set up your navigation system using HTML frames (an old, outdated approach); they can cause severe indexing problems.
Some content management systems and e-commerce catalogs produce dynamic, made-on-the-fly webpages, often recognizable by question marks in the URLs followed by long strings of numbers or letters. Overworked search engines sometimes have trouble parsing long URLs and may stop at the question mark, refusing to go farther. If you find the search engines aren’t indexing your interior pages, you might consider URL rewriting, a site map, or commercial solutions.

8. Create a Site Map. A site map page with links to all your pages can help search engines (and visitors) find all your pages, particularly if you have a larger site. You can use free tools, to create XML sitemaps that are used by the major search engines to index your webpages accurately. Upload your sitemap to your website. Then submit your XML sitemap to Google, Yahoo!, and Bing (formerly MSN), following instructions on their sites. By the way,  Google Webmaster Central  has lots of tools to help you get ranked higher. Be sure to set up a free account and explore what they have to offer.

9. Develop Webpages Focused on Each Your Target Keywords. SEO specialists no longer recommend using external doorway or gateway pages, since nearly duplicate webpages might get you penalized. Rather, develop several webpages on your site, each of which is focused on a target keyword or key phrase for which you would like a high ranking. Let’s say you sell teddy bears. Use Google Insights for Search or the free keyword suggestion tool on Wordtracker to find the related keywords people search on. In this case: write a separate webpage featuring the keyword “teddy bear,” “teddy bears,” “vermont teddy bears,” “vermont bears,” “the teddy bears,” teddy bears picnic,” “teddy bears pictures,” etc. You’ll write a completely different article on each topic. You can’t fully optimize all the webpages in your site, but for each of these focused-content webpages, spend lots of time tweaking to improve its ranking, as described in point #10.

10. Fine-tune with Careful Search Engine Optimization. Now fine-tune your focused-content pages and perhaps your home page, by making a series of minor adjustments to help them rank higher. Software such as WebPosition allows you to check your current ranking and compare your webpages against your top keyword competitors. I use it regularly. WebPosition’s Page Critic tool provides analysis of a search engine’s preferred statistics for each part of your webpage, with specific recommendations of what minor changes to make. The best set of SEO tools is Bruce Clay’s SEOToolSet. You can find links to many SEO articles on this site.
Frankly, this kind of SEO fine-tuning is time-consuming, painstaking work that takes a lot of specialized knowledge. For this reason, many small and large businesses outsource search engine optimization. If you’ll explain your needs to me on my online form, I can refer you to appropriate SEO firms that I know and trust.

11. Promote Your Local Business on the Internet. These days many people search for local businesses on the Internet. To make sure they find you, include on every page of your website the street address, zip code, phone number, and the five or 10 other local community place names your business serves. If you can, include place names in the title tag, too. When you seek links to your site (see #15 below), you should request links from local businesses with place names in the communities you serve and complementary businesses in your industry nationwide.
Also create a free listing for your local business on Google Places for BusinessYahoo! Local, and Bing Local Listing Center. That way your business can show up on a map when people do a local search. For more information, see articles on local marketing on my site.

12. Promote Your Video, Images, and Audio Content. Google’s “universal search” displays not only webpage content, but also often displays near the top of the page relevant listings for images, videos, local businesses (see #11 above), and audio clips.  Therefore, consider creating such content appropriate to your business and then optimizing it so it can be ranked high enough to help you. For example, if you were to get a top-ranking, informative video on YouTube that mentions your site, it could drive a lot of traffic to your site. For more information, search on “optimizing images” or “optimizing videos.”

Linking Strategies

Links to your site from other sites drive additional traffic. But since Google and other major search engines consider the number of incoming links to your website (“link popularity”) as an important indicator of relevance, more links will help you rank higher in the search engines. Google has a measure called PageRank that reflects the quantity and quality of incoming links. All links aren’t all equal. Links from trusted, popular sites help your site rank higher than links from lower traffic sites. You’ll find articles on linking strategies on our site.

13. Submit Your Site to Key Directories, since a link from a directory will help your ranking — and get you traffic. A directory is not a search engine. Rather, it is a hierarchical listing of sites sorted according to category and subcategory. Be sure to list your site in the free Open Directory Project, overseen by overworked volunteer editors. But if you don’t get listed right away, don’t be impatient and resubmit, or you’ll go to the end of the queue. A link in this directory will help you a lot.
Yahoo! Directory is another important directory. Real humans read submissions; so be careful to follow the instruction given. Hint: Use somewhat less than the maximum number of characters allowable, so you don’t have wordy text that will tempt the Yahoo! editor to begin chopping. Yahoo! Directory Submit requires a $299 annual recurring fee to have your site considered for inclusion within seven business days. Other paid business directories that might help are and

14. Submit Your Site to Trade Organization Sites and Specialized Directories. Some directories focused on particular industries, such as education or finance. You probably belong to various trade associations that feature member directories. Ask for a link. Even if you have to pay something for a link from the organization, it may help boost your PageRank.
Marginal directories, however, come and go very quickly, making it hard to keep up, so don’t try to be exhaustive here. Beware of directories that solicit you for “upgraded listings.” Unless a directory is widely used in your field, a premium ad is a waste of money — but the (free) link itself will help boost your PageRank and hence your search engine ranking.
SubmitWolf is a directory submission tool I’ve used with good success. You complete a listing form in the software interface. Then they submit your listing to all the appropriate directories they know of, plus links to sites that require manual submission. It’s a timesaver and works well. Just be careful to submit only to actual directories, not “linking sites.”

15. Request Reciprocal Links. Find websites in your general niche and request a reciprocal link to your site (especially to your free service, if you offer one, see #24 below). Develop an out-of-the way page where you put links to other sites — so you don’t send people out the back door as fast as you bring them in the front door. Your best results will be from sites that generate a similar amount of traffic as your own site. High-traffic site webmasters are too busy to answer your requests for a link and don’t have anything to gain. Look for smaller sites that may have linking pages.
Check out Ken Evoy’s free SiteSell Value Exchange. It (1) registers your site as willing to exchange links with other sites that have a similar theme/topic content and (2) searches for sites with similar topical content. Additionally, two automated link-building software programs stand out — Zeus and IBP Link Builder. Both of these search the web for complementary sites, help you maintain a link directory, and manage reciprocal links. However, use these programs to identify the complementary sites, not to send impersonal automated email spam to site owners.
When you locate sites, send a personal email using the contact email on the site or to the administrative contact listed in a Whois Directory. If email doesn’t get a response, try a phone call. As a warning, only link to complementary sites, no matter how often you are bombarded with requests to exchange links with a mortgage site that has nothing to do with your teddy bear store. One way Google determines what your site is about is who you link to and who links to you. It’s not just links, but quality links you seek. Reciprocal linking as hard, tedious work, but it doesn’t cost you a dime out of pocket! Keep working at this continuously, a little bit at a time. Patience and persistence will get you some good links, so keep at it.

16. Write Articles for Others to Use in Websites and Newsletters. You can dramatically increase your visibility when you write articles in your area of expertise and distribute them to editors as free content for their email newsletters or their websites. Just ask that a link to your website and a one-line description of what you offer be included with the article. This is an effective “viral” approach that can produce hundreds of links to your site over time. You’ll find lots of information on how to do this from the most popular article-marketing site, When you create a free membership account, they begin sending you instructions and ideas each week.

17. Issue News Releases. Find newsworthy events and send news releases to print and Web periodicals in your industry. The links to your site in online news databases may remain for several months and will temporarily improve traffic to your site and increase link popularity. Use an online news release service such as PR Web. Placing your website URL in online copies of your press release may increase link popularity temporarily.
Two additional linking strategies, discussed below, are to ask visitors to bookmark your webpage (#20) and to develop a free service (#23), which will greatly stimulate links to your site.

Social Media

Our next type of website promotion comes from the mushrooming field of social media, in which people are encouraged to interact with each other, and respond to each other’s blog postings and comments. You should be aware of four types of social media: (1) blogs, (2) social networking sites, (3) social bookmarking sites, and (4) forums. Don’t be upset if the distinctions between types of social media tend to blur. Social media help promote your site by sending direct traffic, producing links to your site, and generating awareness. The subject is too diverse to go into detail here. You can learn more in our social media articles on this site.

18. Begin a Business Blog. Want links to your site? Begin a business blog on your website, hosted on your own domain. If you offer excellent content and regular industry comment, people are likely to link to it, increasing your site’s PageRank. Consistency and having something to say are key. If you have a blog on a third-party blog site, occasionally find reasons to talk about and link to your own domain.

19. Become Part of a Social Media Community. Some of the best online communities for business include FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter. In addition, you may want to participate in a social bookmarking community in which members share with each other information about websites, articles, or news items that they like (or don’t like). These include Digg, DeliciousStumbleUpon, and Google Bookmarks. Search engine spiders troll these sites looking for links to something new and relevant. You can usually place a link to your website in your profile, but the biggest gain comes when other people mention you (which generates traffic to your site), link to you (which increases your PageRank and brings traffic), or bookmark you (which increases your PageRank and brings traffic, see #21 below).
One important reminder, don’t join a community to spam them or talk incessantly about your business. Like any community you must listen, comment, and make a genuine contribution for the good of others. Don’t hog the conversation. Otherwise, your self-serving links and comments will hurt your reputation.
Don’t bother with groups consisting of pure spam. Instead, find groups where a serious dialog is taking place. Don’t use aggressive marketing and overtly plug your product or service. Rather, add to the discussion in a helpful way and let the “signature” at the end of your email message do your marketing for you. People will gradually get to know and trust you, visit your site, and do business with you.

20. Promote Your Site in Online Forums and Discussion Lists — “old school” social media. The Internet offers thousands of very targeted email based discussion lists, online forums, and groups made up of people with very specialized interests. Use Google Groups to find appropriate groups. Search online for blogs or other forums.

21. Ask Visitors to Bookmark Your Site. It seems simple, but ask visitors to bookmark your site or save it in their Favorites list. I use a widget called AddThis. When you put the AddThis JavaScript on your webpage, it automatically determines the title and URL of that page. When visitors click the button on your page, they are automatically taken to a page that allows them to choose which bookmarking service they prefer, and then pre-populates the appropriate form with the title and URL of your webpage. I use AddThis throughout my website, as well as in my newsletters. If you have good content that people want to bookmark, this can generate hundreds of links to your site and significantly raise your rankings.

Traditional Strategies

Just because “old media” strategies aren’t on the Internet doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. A mixed media approach can be very effective.

22. Include Your URL on Stationery, Cards, and Literature. Make sure that all business cards, stationery, brochures, and literature contain your company’s URL. And see that your printer gets the URL syntax correct. In print, I recommend leaving off the “http://” part and including only the portion.

23. Promote using traditional media. Don’t discontinue print advertising that you’ve found effective. But be sure to include your URL in any display or classified ads you purchase in trade journals, newspapers, yellow pages, etc. View your website as an information adjunct to the ad. Use a two-step approach: (1) capture readers’ attention with the ad, (2) then refer them to a URL where they can obtain more information and perhaps place an order. Look carefully at small display or classified ads in the back of narrowly targeted magazines or trade periodicals. Sometimes these ads are more targeted, more effective, and less expensive than online advertising. Consider other traditional media to drive people to your site, such as direct mail, classifieds, post cards, etc. TV can be used to promote websites, especially in a local market.

24. Develop a Free Service. It’s boring to invite people, “Come to our site and learn about our business.” It’s quite another to say “Use the free kitchen remodeling calculator available exclusively on our site.” Make no mistake, it’s expensive in time and energy to develop free resources, but it is very rewarding in increased traffic to your site — and a motivation to link to the site! Make sure that your free service is closely related to what you are selling so the visitors you attract will be good prospects for your business. Give visitors multiple opportunities and links to cross over to the sales portion of your site.

Email Strategies

Don’t neglect email as an important way to bring people to your website. Just don’t spam, that is, don’t send bulk unsolicited emails without permission to people with whom you have no relationship. Many countries have anti-spam laws.
I’ll mention just a few important elements here. You can learn more from our articles on email marketing.

25. Install a “Signature” in your Email Program to help potential customers get in touch with you. Most email programs allow you to designate a “signature” to appear at the end of each message you send. Limit it to 6 to 8 lines: Company name, address, phone number, URL, email address, and a one-phrase description of your unique business offering. Look for examples on email messages sent to you.

26. Publish an Email Newsletter. While it requires a commitment of time, creating a monthly email publication is one of the most important promotion techniques. It could be a newsletter (“ezine”), list of tips, industry updates, or new product information — whatever you believe your customers will appreciate. This is a great way to keep in touch with your prospects, generate trust, develop brand awareness, and build future business. It also helps you collect email addresses from those who visit your site, but aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. You distribute your newsletter inexpensively using email marketing services such as: iContact, ConstantContact, and AWeber. If you have a very small list, some of these services let you use their services free until you grow larger. Blogs are very popular, but don’t really replace email newsletters. You have to go to a blog to read it, while an email newsletter appears in your inbox asking to be read.

27. Aggressively Ask for Email Sign-upsIf you want to get subscribers to your email newsletter, you’ll need to work hard at it. Include a subscription form on every page of your website. Promote sign-ups through free whitepapers, e-books, or other products. If you have a local business, ask customers to sign up for your email list to get “special Internet only offers.” Also ask other businesspeople when they give you a business card if you can send them your email newsletter. While only the email address itself is necessary, I always ask for a first name also, so I can personalize the newsletter and the email subject line with the recipient’s name.

28. Send Transactional and Reminder Emails. A transactional email is sent to an existing customer to initiate, remind, confirm, or thank the person. Be creative. If you keep careful records, you can send emails to customers on their birthday to remind them to return to your site. Subscription confirmation emails can also mention several popular products. You might remind customers that it has been three months since their last order and ask if it’s time for a refill. Thank you for your purchase emails can offer a coupon to bring your customer back for a future sale. Use your imagination, but don’t pester your customers. You’re there to serve them, not the other way around.

29. Send Offers to Your Visitors and Customers. Your own list of customers and site visitors who have given you permission to contact them will be your most productive list. Send special offers, coupon specials, product updates, etc. They often initiate another visit to your site. If you have a regular newsletter, you can include many of these in your regular emailing.

30. Exchange Email Mentions with Complementary Businesses. You might consider exchanging email newsletter mentions with complementary businesses to reach new audiences. Just be sure that your partners are careful where they get their mailing list so you don’t get in trouble with the anti-spam laws in your country.
I’ll mention renting email lists in #37 below under Paid Advertising approaches.

Miscellaneous Strategies

Here are a couple of strategies that don’t fit elsewhere.

31. Announce a Contest. People like getting something free. If you publicize a contest or drawing available on your site, you’ll generate more traffic than normal. Make sure your sweepstakes rules are legal in all states and countries you are targeting. Prizes should be designed to attract individuals who fit a demographic profile describing your best customers.

32. Devise Viral Marketing Promotion Techniques. So-called viral marketing uses existing communication networks to spread the word exponentially. Word-of-mouth, PR, creating “buzz,” and network marketing are offline models. Promotion strategy #16 above, “Write Articles for Others to Use for Website and Newsletter Content,” is a kind of viral approach.
The key to the best viral marketing, however, is create something that generates buzz and is so cute / fascinating / fun / bizarre that it gets passed by viewers to their friends via email and social networks — thousands of times — so that it propels more and more people to your website, and, hopefully, helps enhance your brand, produce sales, and ultimately boost profits. Internet marketers often seek to launch viral campaigns on Digg or YouTube. Digg is a social bookmarking site with such power, that if enough people “Digg” you, you appear on the Digg front page and receive a huge number of visitors in a few hours. If your video goes viral on YouTube, you could get tens of thousands of visits to the site you promote in the video. However, viral marketing is difficult to do well.

Paid Advertising Strategies

None of the approaches described above is “free,” since each takes time and energy. But if you want to grow your business more rapidly, there comes a point when you need to pay for increased traffic. Advertising is sold in one of three ways: (1) traditional CPM (cost per thousand views), (2) pay per click (PPC), and (3) pay per action (PPA) or cost per action (CPA) approaches. Examples of the latter are affiliate program and lead generation programs. Banner ads get such a low click-through rate (0.2%) that I don’t recommend paying much for them. Banner ads typically cost about 50 to $1 per thousand page views, except on targeted sites.  Do some small tests first to determine response. Then calculate your return on investment (ROI) before spending large amounts. Here are some methods to explore:

33. Advertise in an Email Newsletter. Some of the best buys are small text ads in email newsletters targeted at audiences likely to be interested in your products or services. Many small publishers aren’t sophisticated about advertising and offer very attractive rates.
More effective (and more expensive) is to send out an appropriate solo email to the targeted list’s subscribers. These often get a good response.

34. Begin an Affiliate Program. Essentially, a retailer’s affiliate program is a CPA program that pays a commission to other site owners whose links to the retailer’s products result in an actual sale. The goal is to build a network of affiliates who have a financial stake in promoting your site. If you’re a merchant, you need to (1) determine the commission you are willing to pay (consider it your advertising cost), (2) select a company to set up the technical details of your program, and (3) promote your program to get the right kind of affiliates who will link to your site. Software and service companies are available to facilitate the process. The problem is getting enough affiliates who will actually work hard to promote your products or services. These “super affiliates” will probably consist of only 1% to 3% of your total number of affiliates.

35. Purchase Pay Per Click (PPC) ads with Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, or Microsoft adCenter. This strategy is way down the list, but it is vitally important. Most Internet businesses will want to explore using Google AdWords to drive targeted traffic to their websites.
These PPC ads appear on the search engine results page, typically both above and to the right of the organic or natural search engine results. Since they are keyword-driven, they can be quite relevant to what a searcher is trying to find. Your ranking in this list of paid text ads is determined by (1) how much you have bid for a particular search word compared to other businesses, (2) the click-through rate on your ad, and (3) your Quality Score, which reflects the relevancy and quality of your ad and the landing page it points to.
PPC ads can be a cost-effective way to get targeted traffic, since you only pay when someone actually clicks on the link. But I strongly recommend that you study this carefully and expect a learning curve before you invest large sums of money in PPC advertising. You can find articles on Paid Search on our site.

36. List Your Products with Shopping Comparison Bots and Auction Sites. If you’re an online merchant, you’ll want to consider this. Shopping bots compare your products and prices to others. Some work on a PPC (Pay Per Click) basis, others on a CPA (Cost Per Action) basis, perhaps with a listing fee. Bots to consider include mySimon, BizRate, PriceGrabber, and Shopping sites that include comparison features include: eBay, Yahoo! Shopping, and Amazon Marketplace. You pay to acquire first-time customers, but hopefully you can sell to them a second, third, and fourth time, later on.

37. Rent targeted, commercial email lists. The last website promotion technique I’ll mention is renting targeted email lists. We abhor “spam,” bulk untargeted, unsolicited email, and you’ll pay a very stiff price in a ruined reputation and cancelled services if you yield to temptation here. But the direct marketing industry has developed targeted email lists you can rent — lists consisting of people who have agreed to receive commercial email messages. These lists cost $40 to $400 per thousand or 4 to 40 per name. Do a smaller test first to determine the quality of the list. Your best bet is to find an email list broker  to help you with this project. You’ll save money and get experienced help for no additional cost. Realize, however, that due to the high cost of renting lists, many businesses won’t generate enough businesses to justify the cost. Run the numbers before you invest.


Whew! That’s it. We certainly haven’t exhausted ways to promote your site, but these will get you started. To effectively market your site, you need to spend time adapting these strategies to your own market and capacity. Right now, why don’t you make an appointment to go over this checklist with someone in your organization? Make this Checklist jump-start for your new Internet marketing strategy.

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Understanding Google Analytics, Traffic Sources

Traffic Sources, Marketing Channels

At the “Traffic Sources” section in your Google Analytics account, you can see how people found your site. By default, you will see three sources: Search, Referral, and Direct. You can evaluate the effectiveness of each source.

  • Search. This is traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. This report also lets you see the breakout between organic and paid search traffic, including AdWords, keywords and campaigns.
  • Referral. This source lets you see which domains and pages are referring traffic to your site. For example, if you are an automotive service company and one of your suppliers links to your website as a dealer, it’s likely one of your referral sources will be that supplier’s website.
  • Direct. These visitors are those directly typing in your URL or coming to you from a bookmarked page. For example, when you come to Web Marketing Today by typing “” in your browser, you have become a “direct” source in our Google Analytics account.
Knowing the difference between sources, you can benefit from that information by investing some time and effort. It will pay off.
Most business owners and marketers are driving traffic to their websites through various sources, including:
  • Email;
  • Paid search;
  • Display ads;
  • Social media;
  • Offline — i.e., radio, newspaper, television.
Utilizing what you see in the different traffic sources can be beneficial to your bottom line. By being proactive you can gain full visibility for these campaigns and channels.  I’ll focus on key points to help you capture clean and comprehensive data to make better marketing and business decisions.

Know Your Channels

Whether your traffic is coming from email, paid search, social media, or elsewhere, it’s important to know where visitors are coming from and why. Often your marketing campaigns provide your visitors with several different ways of coming to you site. By monitoring each of these sources, you’re able to see what is working, and what’s not.
You can track offline-marketing efforts by using vanity URLs, promo codes, or some other unique identifier. It is important in these cases to add parameters to your URL so it can be tracked through Google Analytics.

What to Avoid

The list of potential traffic sources is extensive. The basic premise here is to plan in advance to track your campaign performance. Don’t wait until afterwards, otherwise you’ll have some aggregate — and mostly useless — metrics.
When naming your campaigns and sources, stay away from generic names such as “Campaign 1,” “Campaign 2.” Create a meaningful name for each traffic source and campaign. That way you’re able to refer back to it when monitoring, and easily remember which campaign you’re tracking. For example, you could use “Promo Code: 0512″ for the discount coupon campaign running during the month of May 2012.

Multi-Channel Funnels

In analytics, the last traffic source used is the one that typically gets credited for the conversion. But oftentimes, the visitor has had other interactions with your brand and website. So how do you know which marketing sources were utilized? The “Multi-Channel Funnels” reports in Google Analytics can give you the information on how your marketing channels work together to create sales and conversions. This report tracks the sequences of interactions — including paid and organic search, social networks, email newsletters, custom campaigns and more — within the 30 days leading up to each conversion. To learn more about how to set this up, read “Setting Up Multi-Channel Functions” on the Google Analytics website.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SEO: 12 Quality Signals that Improve Rankings

Google’s algorithms use numerous signals to determine the relative quality of sites and to fight spam in search results. Unfortunately, companies often unwittingly mimic the characteristics of low quality sites, sabotaging their chances of rankings. Read on to see if you’ve damaged your quality ratings and eroded your ranking potential.

How to Determine ‘Quality’?

Google looks for ways to identify the relative quality of sites, and to quantify those quality elements. This approach derived from its algorithmic history, combined with its long-term dedication to positive user-experience. Each element of user-experience involving conducting searches, using search results, and visiting websites are things that Google attempts to automatically detect and measure. Any quantifiable criteria can be used in composing a quality score for a website.
For instance, website visitors get irked when arriving on a website only to have to wait for pages to compose and display in their browsers. Knowing this, Google added Site Speed as a ranking factor — see Google’s blog post on that topic — in 2010. This enabled Google to use the average page delivery speed on a site to influence rankings — two otherwise equivalent web pages matching a search query might be ranked according to which site is quicker.

Panda and Penguin

During the last twelve months, Google has made strikingly aggressive moves against low-quality sites. These algorithm changes are called the “Panda Updates” and “Penguin Updates.” Panda and Penguin were based upon content analysis and link analysis, although we don’t know all the details of what went into it. Even so, we could see some hints in a very telling post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, entitled “More guidance on building high-quality sites.” The post provides indications of the sorts of stuff that Google is paying attention to, even though it doesn’t cover the full scope of factors that go into its recent algorithm changes.
I’ve personally reviewed thousands of the types of sites that Google deems “low-quality,” and there are a number of measurable factors that come up again and again — the sorts of factors that Google would almost certainly be using in composing quality scores.

The unfortunate thing is that companies every day are building valid business sites that mimic many of the bad characteristics of low-quality sites for which Google is policing. This is a very bad situation — particularly for newer sites — since having some negative dings against your quality score can impede your ability to rank as high or higher than your competition. It can even result in outright penalization where your site simply doesn’t appear for the searches you need visibility in most.
In this article, I’m supplying you with a list of some of the elements that are frequently signs of good-quality sites when present, or indications of bad-quality sites when missing. Businesses often have reasons for leaving out content on their sites, and since the quality score is a scale of values, having some elements missing might not harm your rankings discernibly, or it could have a minor effect. If all your competitor sites are similarly badly designed, you might all be equally impeded in the search results — in which case, improving your quality score could enable you to suddenly rise further above the crowd.

12 Characteristics of Poor-Quality Sites

  • Missing a human face. Internet users often look to see who’s behind an unfamiliar site, since there are valid fears of the cheapie sites that are set up as mere facades to cheat consumers. Actually being able to see that a site has a real human behind the business makes it immediately more trustworthy, and very likely makes it a site with a better conversion rate. So, at least list the names of the owners or main executives that oversee the business on the information pages. Even better, provide a profile page for each major owner, executive, and employee — connected up with LinkedIn profiles, blogs if they have them, Google+, and Twitter pages.
  • Missing “About Us” pages. Quite similar to the first element of missing a human face, poor-quality sites often don’t put up an “About” page to tell how the company came to be, what the company does, and who is behind the company. Bona fide company websites sometimes leave this out, assuming they only need to focus on the main meat of what they’re doing and selling. But this is a critical mistake. Your company site should have an About page, and it should clearly convince readers that your company is real, has a history, and has good trustworthy people behind it.
  • Missing or malfunctioning “Contact Us” pages. Business sites with no Contact page are often shams, assembled to manipulate Google or to cheat consumers in some way. However, you wouldn’t believe the numbers of real businesses that (a) forget to put up a Contact page, (b) don’t realize a site change moved the Contact page so it now just displays an error page, or (c) they don’t realize that their Contact submission forms are broken. Any of these situations could make your site look like one of the bad guys. Make sure you have a Contact page, label it “Contact — not some other weird or funny name — and make sure it works by testing it periodically.
  • Declining to display a street address. Even sites that opt to display a Contact page often will only post a submission form and won’t offer alternate means of contacting the company. Consumers fear sending money to a fly-by-night outfit that might disappear tomorrow, leaving them with no recourse. If you’re a real company, consider placing a real address on your site in at least one place — mainly on the “Contact Us” page. It’s fine to state it’s for mail inquiries only. If you leave it off, it makes consumers wonder what it is you have to hide.
  • No “Terms & Conditions” page. This is really for larger companies and larger websites, but all sites should include one. Spammer sites don’t have this, because they’re often breaking laws and subconsciously expect people visiting their sites to be breaking laws as well. They just don’t care. But, Google’s algorithms do care, if you’re a large site with hundreds of pages, so include one to fit in with the respectable sites.
  • Nonexistent “Privacy Policy” page. This is the same deal as with the lack of Terms & Conditions pages. But, it’s perhaps even more important since consumers want to know what you’re doing with their data when they land on your site or attempt to contact you. Don’t make them guess.
  • Hidden domain registration information associated with the URL. If you want to go for a trifecta of worst practices for appearing open, transparent and trustworthy, decline to (a) provide a phone and address, (b) Contact page, and (c) make your domain registration information private. There are many valid reasons why you might not show one of those elements. But if you do all three at once, you just smack of being an untrustworthy site, and you nearly deserve to be smacked by Google for it.
  • Offering or encouraging link exchanges. It used to be more common for sites to include a “Link To Us” page, but, depending on the text you have on such a page, having one could get you penalized. Never offer to link if someone else gives you a link, never offer to sell links on your page, and never mention manipulating Google, ranking in search results, or SEO if you have a “Link To Us” page. Thousands and perhaps millions of the spam websites have variations on this, and it’s easy to detect if you have text on your pages that propose using links for manipulating search results.
  • Posting radically unrelated content on the site. Did someone talk you into trying to be a lot more than your site or company was meant to be? Some sites drag in news headlines and syndicated articles willy-nilly, regardless of how inappropriate the topic might be. If your site is displaying a lot of off-topic content, you’ve gone too far and need to chop it down to focus on reasonable content.
  • Failure to post a phone number. Just as with the failure to provide a Contact page or address, leaving the phone number off is a major mistake. Why be afraid of letting people speak to you? Again, leaving this off will raise a red flag in consumers’ minds, leaving them to ask, “What might this site or company be hiding?”
  • Bad spelling and grammar. Many do-it-yourselfers are saving money by building their own websites. Unfortunately, this can result in mistakes that impact the impression the site may have on visitors. I’ve written about this a few times, such as in my blog post, “Will Google Use Spelling & Grammar As Ranking Factors?” Google’s guidance on building high-quality sites underscored this very thing, proving that Google is interested in these criteria. It makes sense if you’ve seen many of the low-quality sites — a great many of them have been built by non-English speakers that often has text and grammar deficiencies. Even beyond the poor impression it can make, I’ve audited client sites with misspelled product or service names, causing them to lose out on significant amounts of internet traffic as their pages were not exact-match relevant to the majority of searches. So, if you’re writing your own text, ask someone to proof it for you to catch stuff that you might otherwise miss.
  • Copyright statements. Scraper sites are often stealing content from upstanding sites, so they don’t have any respect for copyright laws. As such, they typically leave such niceties off of their page footers. However, almost no authoritative sites leave this off. Even if you are casual about whether people take and use content from your site, you might consider adding on a copyright statement on all of your site’s pages, just to make it clear that you consider your site to be high quality, worthwhile content.
These elements are all things that Google’s spiders can see, and they’re easily items that indicate that a site might be suspect, or a bad player.


Make sure your site doesn’t accidentally send the wrong signals to Google — follow best practices in providing information that consumers look for when determining the trustworthiness of a website and the company behind it. This not only will reassure potential customers, improving your conversion rate once people discover your website, but it might also help you in your search engine rankings.

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