Sunday, December 31, 2006

Leverage your old site's content in your new blog

If you’ve embraced web 2.0 you’ve probably replaced link exchange requests with social bookmarking, requests to subscribe to your email newsletter with RSS feed subscription buttons, and your old, static site with a lively, interactive blog.

There are still, however, ways in which you can leverage your old site’s content to generate traffic and support for your new blog. For example, place an RSS feed button and social bookmarking links in the most popular pages of your old site, and set the RSS feed button to point to your blog.

You can also write blog posts that link to relevant content on your old site for support. You can also use the copy in the resource box or by-lines of articles you may have written to create your profile in sites like Amazon, Yahoo! Answers, and forums or discussion groups where you usually participate.

If your old site has a good ranking and is well regarded with the search engines, pass along some of that authority to your new blog by linking to it from your old site.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How to Choose and Register a Domain Name

Choosing your domain name is one of the most important decisions you will face when building your business. For years, the debate has centered around choosing either a Company Name Domain or a Keyword Domain.

Company Name Domain:

If we assume that, for example, you own a web design company located in Boston called Praxis Inc., you may want to register your company name as your domain name: One advantage is that your customers already know your company name and it will be easy for them to remember. Also, a company name domain looks professional when printed in collateral material.

The main disadvantage, especially if you are a small business, is that people won't be able to tell what you do based on your domain name, and it won’t help you very much with the search engines (since some of them use the domain name for cues on what the business does, and to determine its relevance to certain search terms).

Keyword Domain:

Keywords are generic terms related to your field that you believe search engine users will type in the search box to find a company like yours. Since a domain name is usually the anchor text used to link to a site, and anchor text was a very important factor in search engine placement until not so long ago, keyword domains were very popular for a while.

Search engines are evolving and now recognize that people have been abusing the use of keyword-only domains, so they have downgraded their importance in their search algorithms. Keyword domains, though, still have some advantages associated with the growing trend of web users typing a bunch of keywords in the address bar followed by “.com” in their efforts to find relevant websites.

The disadvantages of keyword domains from a branding perspective is that they tend to be long and hard to remember, and look awkward when printed in company collateral material. For example: may give you a slight edge over when it comes to search engine placement or getting direct traffic, however, its branding disadvantages are obvious.

A good compromise, and the solution that I recommend, is to combine your company name with a keyword. For example: That will give you the best of both worlds: brand recognition and keyword strength.

Final Tips:

  • If you are just opening a small business, choose your domain name before you choose your company name. Many times, people have registered their company and then found out that their company name is not available as a domain name.

  • By all means, secure a .com domain. It is the default extension and the first one that will come to mind to people trying to remember your domain name. You must try to register at least the three most common variations of your domain name: .com, .net and .org, to prevent unscrupulous competitors from benefiting from your brand equity.

  • Registering a domain doesn’t cost a lot of money. In fact, nowadays it is common to find domain names for less than $10 / year. I use Godaddy to register all my domains. (disclaimer: I am also a Godaddy affiliate). They have great prices and a very user-friendly interface.

  • Don’t register your domain name with your hosting company. Though it may be tempting to accept their “free” domain registration offer with your hosting package, if one day you want to change hosting companies they will make you jump through hoops to release your domain. Don’t play with your brand: register your domain in an accredited domain registrar and point it to your hosting company’s servers.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Is giving away articles still a relevant link building technique?

Writing articles and publishing them in article clearinghouses for others to use as free content was once the easiest way to get links and build up your reputation as an expert in your field . However, with the runaway popularity of blogs, social bookmarking and RSS, giving away articles to get links is not as important or as necessary as it once was. People are now finding it easier to get links by writing a remarkable piece, publishing it in their own blogs, bookmarking it in, digg or other social bookmarking service, and doing some promotion through comments in forums and other blogs.

If your blog is new and not very well known, I still recommend writing some articles and giving them away for others to publish in their own sites. Your articles will have your resource box or by-lines with a link to your blog’s main page, which will help you get some visibility both with search engines and people interested in your topic. As your blog gets more established, however, I recommend to give away articles only occasionally, and to keep your best content for exclusive publication in your blog. If your most remarkable articles are only available in your blog, other bloggers will have to deep link to them directly and not to other sites that may have published it. These spontaneous, deep links to your content have much greater search engine value than the links to your main page coming from free article sites or low value websites.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Top 20 Tips for Beginner Bloggers

  1. Choose a topic that you know, like, and are passionate about. This way you will never get bored and will keep your audience always interested and asking for more.

  2. Pick a topic where there is not a lot of competition. If your topic is too common, try addressing it from a particular angle or focus on a specific niche. For example, there are many sites that talk about cars, but few that specialize in only one brand, and even fewer that focus on only one model. The key to be successful is to find a specific enough topic with a large enough audience.

  3. Open a Blogger account. It is free and easy to use. That way, you won’t have to invest in costlier platforms like MovableType or TypePad before you have the chance of finding out if blogging is for you.

  4. Use a minimalist template, preferably one with a white background. This format is easier to read and pleasant to the eye when you combine it with color pictures.

  5. Use pictures to dress up your blog entries and give your blog a more professional appearance. You can find excellent pictures at a very low cost in, or even free in Flickr (don’t forget to ask the owner of the picture for permission before you use it).

  6. In one of your blog’s side columns, list six or seven links to authoritative sites related to your topic. When the search engine robots visit your blog, they will find these links and your blog will benefit by association.

  7. Write in simple language, short paragraphs and using bullet points. These are essential guidelines for writing on the web, and will make your posts easier to read and understand.

  8. Always link out to the sources you use to document your posts. This is not only good etiquette but also a way to promote your blog and get links: when the people you link to find out that they’ve been linked to, they will most likely link to your post from their site or blog.

  9. Check your posts for spelling and grammatical errors. This will make your blog look more professional and will increase the probability of other people linking to it.

  10. Use labels to categorize your posts and keep your blog neatly organized. Blogger recently modified its software to allow the use of labels.

  11. Participate actively in forums and discussion groups related to your topic. Find what are the most common questions and provide the answers in your blog. Then, direct forum readers to your blog. Try to also direct forum readers to other resources, or answer without necessarily linking to your blog, sometimes. If not, you may be perceived as self serving and only interested in promoting your blog.

  12. Use HitTail to research topics to write about. HitTail gives you a list of the search terms used by those who came to your blog through a search engine. This search term list will give you ideas for future blog posts.

  13. Allow your blog readers to email your posts to other people. Also, give them the option to bookmark your posts using, furl, or any other social bookmarking service. You can go to AddThis to download a smart button that makes it easy to bookmark your posts. You can find instructions on how to add the button to Blogger here. The easier you make it to share your blog posts, the more relevant traffic your blog will get.

  14. Use Technorati tags at the end of your blog posts. Technorati tags are a way of classifying your blog posts by topic and have them added to Technorati’s index (Technorati is the most important search engine for blogs). Use this automatic Technorati tag generator to avoid having to create the HTML code manually.

  15. Syndicate your blog allowing your visitors to subscribe to your feeds through their favorite aggregator. This way, they will be automatically notified every time you update your blog. You can use this tool to generate attractive syndication buttons, which you can then place in a side column of your blog.

  16. Post frequently. It is the only way to keep your audience interested and coming back. Two or three times a week is ideal. Once a week is the borderline minimum that I recommend to keep your audience engaged and maintain adequate visibility in the search engines.

  17. Keep a large number of posts in the main page of your blog. Search engine robots usually won’t crawl and index all your blog pages, however they will visit your main page frequently. The more content you keep in your main page, the bigger the chance of it popping up in the search engine results pages.

  18. Use Google Adsense to monetize your blog. Blogger lets you add Google Adsense easily and seamlessly in several locations within a page. The best locations are within the content, and on top of the page simulating a navigation bar.

  19. Don’t use Google Adsense excessively, at least at the beginning. Your initial focus should be not to monetize your blog, but to build your audience and establishing your blog's reputation as an authority within your topical community. A blog that is deep on content and lean on ads is more likely to attract the kind of links needed to become relevant to users and search engines.

  20. Once your blog is established and generates abundant, relevant traffic, you can monetize more aggressively, not only with Adsense but also with affiliate links and, why not, maybe even by selling your own products.

You can see a real example of all these tips at work in this blog ;)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Adding Videos to your Blog

You've probably seen blog posts that show a Youtube screen that allows you to play a video clip hosted in Youtube without having to go to the Youtube site. It is really very easy to place Youtube videos in your blog posts. Just go to the Youtube page of the video you want to include in your blog, and you will find a small profile form to the right of the screen with information about that particular video clip. There, you will find two pieces of code: one called "URL", which is the web address of the video clip, that you can use to link to it, and another one labeled "Embed", which shows you the code you have to cut and paste to actually see the screen in your blog.

Just remember that just because a video is in Youtube doesn't mean that it is not copyrighted. Make sure you have the right to use the material before you put it on your blog. Other than Youtube, you can also find videos in Google and Yahoo!.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Online Marketing in 2007

We're entering 2007 and, as search engines become more sophisticated, small sites with limited authority are finding it increasingly difficult to rank well. Gone are the days when link exchanges or anchor text was all you needed to worry about to increase your visibility and traffic. The web is becoming more social in nature, and sites need to be more interweaved in the community to be successful. There is a great article in Aviva Directory that is especially relavant to us, small internet business owners. Here it is:

Little Known Ways to Brand on the Cheap: 99 Tips for Poor Web Startups

It is about 10 pages long, but there is some great, must-read advice there, so I suggest that you print it, grab a yellow marker and a cup of coffee, sit in your favorite chair and go through it. Then, put it to practice. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Using Testimonials to Increase Sales

Testimonials are like referrals: they greatly increase the probability of converting prospects into customers. Bob Leduc, a sales consultant with over 30 years experience in marketing and sales, estimates that sales letters with testimonials perform up to 65% better than the same letters without the testimonials.

To get testimonials, he suggests to give customers a postcard asking them to tell you what did they like about your product or service, and then mail the postcard back to you (postage paid). Most of them will be glad to do that for you. You can then sift through the postcards, select the ones you like the most, and ask those customers for permission to use their feedback as testimonials in your marketing pieces.

Kevin Nunley, an experienced copywriter and web marketer suggests us to "get someone who is a recognized name in your field to say something good about what you sell. Let them mention their own interest in the testimonial. This is why blurbs on book covers go, "Best book I've ever read," Joe Blow, author of How to Get Rich. Joe lends his good opinion as a way to get a mention for HIS book".

Another good way to get testimonials, especially if you're just starting out, is to pay somebody to review your product, service, book, website, or whatever it is that you offer. There is a new service called ReviewMe that does just that... there is a caveat, though: ReviewMe reviews must be unbiased (you cannot pay for a positive review). However, if you practice rule #1 of getting testimonials: "always provide a great service and deliver what you promise", you will do OK.

Finally, here are some more testimonial basics:

  • Testimonials must describe a specific benefit, for example: "your product allowed me to accomplish three times as much in half the time", instead or "your product is great".

  • Always include the name, city and/or website address of the person giving the testimonial. You can omit the address, for privacy.

  • Send the person giving the testimonial a thank you note, or, even better, a small, symbolic gift like a gift certificate of a free sample. However, make sure you do this after you've received authorization to use the testimonial, or it will look like a bribe and may offend the customer, who most likely would have been glad to give you the testimonial with no expectations of receiving anything.

Tech Tags:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How To Write Effective Sales Letters

No matter what business we are in, we need to be able to produce marketing material that sells. David Frey, president of Marketing Best Practices Inc. reminds us that we don't have to be award-winning copywriters to create effective sales letters, that writing great sales letters is more of a science than an art, and that anybody can produce compelling sales pieces by following a 12-step template:

1) Get attention
2) Identify the problem
3) Provide the solution
4) Present your credentials
5) Show the benefits
6) Give social proof
7) Make your offer
8) Give a guarantee
9) Inject scarcity
10) Call to action
11) Give a warning
12) Close with a reminder

Read the full article here and learn more about the 12 steps to writing effective sales letters.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Useful Tool: Technorati Tag Generator

I've written before about the importance of including Technorati tags in blog posts. Until recently, I was crafting the HTML code of the tags by hand, by copying and pasting code of previously used tags and modifying them accordingly. Fortunately, I've found this automatic Technorati tag generator that makes creating Technorati tags a snap. Just type the name of the tags you want to use, press a button, and the tag generator gives you the HTML code to cut and past in your blog posts. Thanks to Fintan Darragh from Market West for this smart and useful tool.

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Top 10 Web Design Tips

Jim Kurkal, the author of Blog to Riches, has put together a handomely illustrated, 14 page PDF document with his top 10 web design tips. He covers timeless topics like how to use color effectively, how to create an attractive layout, why it is important not to forget the usability dimension, etc. Great information and a must read for small business owners who are planning to design a website or revamp an existing one. You can follow this link to pick up the document. Thanks to Jim Kurkal for sharing this valuable information with us.

Leverage: A Key to Success and Wealth

Here's a quote from Ron Pate, successful real estate investor and author of "Leverage: A Key to Success and Wealth":

"If you carefully study the actions of people that have achieved significant wealth, you will find that one of the key differentiators between them and the average individual is their use of leverage, usually in a variety of ways, while the majority of people tend to conduct themselves in most or all areas of life in generally non-leveraged fashion. Interestingly, the more a person learns to employ leverage successfully, the faster his or her financial growth tends to accelerate. Since people who successfully employ leverage accomplish exponentially more in the same amount of time then people who do not take advantage of this powerful tool, they tend to have more free time and not only greater financial resources, but more balanced and fulfilling lives."

Read this article to learn about the four critical types of leverage you must employ if you are to achieve maximum success in the shortest possible time.

Contributed by Ron Pate.

Technorati Tags:

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Use Technorati Tags in Your Blog Posts

Technorati is one of the largest search engines for blogs. They index content based on categories called tags. Blog posts labeled with a certain tag appear in a specific section of Technorati's site dedicated to that tag, usually hours after being posted. The fact that search engines regularly crawl Technorati's site, and many web surfers discover and subscribe to blogs they find in Technorati, should be reason enough for any blogger to tag their posts.

You can use this Technorati Tag Generator to automatically create the HTML code for the different tags you want to apply to your post.

After you've finished posting and have added tags to your post, you must notify Technorati that you've updated your blog. You do this by going to Technorati's Ping Form and typing the URL of your blog in the input box. Technorati will then crawl your blog and add your new post to its index. You can see my Technorati tags for this post here:

Technorati Tags: , ,


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