Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Best Place To Buy New Plants Online

“Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That's all it was: curiosity.” ~ Jim Morrison, American Poet, 1943-1971
What is... The Best Place To Buy Plants Online?

We asked Angela Palmer of Plants Nouveau about her innovative approach to plant introduction and the best place to buy new plants online and she sent us the following response:

Years of tedious work or simply luck, the discovery of an new or improved variety is every professional and back yard plant breeder's dream. Once you’ve found a new plant, where do you turn?

Traditionally, large wholesale nurseries and plant introduction companies have spent countless hours and lots of money courting potential originators of new plants. Unfortunately, reputations have been tarnished and cooperative efforts are now defunct due to lack of royalty payments and an incredibly long, drawn out process for market saturation. In other words, it takes too long to get the plant to market and they aren't delivering the royalty shares they promised the originator. Today, smaller nurseries and new breeders are in search of 3 things; honesty, original marketing concepts and professionalism.

Another draw-back to the traditional plant introduction route is that only the largest nurseries get the new, exciting selections. Smaller growers must wait out exclusive deals and wade through production problems while the big nurseries make a lot of money on their exclusive rights to a new introduction. Many new plant originators have decided to look for innovative ways to get their discoveries into the hands of American consumers.

Along comes Plants Nouveau

An innovative, new plant introduction company. Originally a dream, now a reality; Plants Nouveau has the expertise and worldwide contacts to successfully introduce your new introductions to the World! The company's principal managed two very successful plant introduction companies where introducing superior, new plants, royalty revenue and high market visibility where the only goals. Our experience, gleaned from experience managing the successful, worldwide introductions of both the Knock Out(R) Rose and the Meadowbrite(TM) series of Echinacea, affords us the ability to do everything right.

We've been there, we've done that. Let Plants Nouveau show you what we've learned!

To learn more about the Plants Nouveau mission, experience, and international presence and worldwide reputation visit the Plants Nouveau website or contact Angela via email at info@plantsnouveau.com

Angela's choices for The Best Place To Buy New Plants Online are as follows:

White Flower Farm
Great Garden Plants
Dutch Gardens
Plant Delights
Klehm's Songsparrow

Please visit these retail mail order nurseries.

Now the question is... can this page rank under the phrase "The Best Place To Buy New Plants Online" ... it's a test.

Now let's be honest... there are thousands of sites to buy plants online and these are just a few... but whose to say, right?

My point is... let's test some SEM on Google by pushing the envelope or as Jim would say “I'm curious to see what would happen. That's all... curiosity.”

Let's see...

AP

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stinson, Rest In Peace

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
~ Robert Benchley, an American humorist
On this cold and gray day a member of our family passed.

Stinson, a 155 lbs Labrador Rottweiler mix, ended his spectacular life on this earth.

If you ever met him, you fell in love with him. He was Clifford... big, goofy, all love and kisses.

His bark was from deep down and it would rattle the entire house. A good watch dog?

Are you kidding?

We always said if a burglar came in the house "stinky", as I would come to call him, would probably lick him the whole time he was robbing us and then leave with the guy.

He was all personality and will be missed. Words will never describe him well enough... as such, I'll just stop now.

We have him forever in our memories... we are lucky he chose to love us.

AP
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


W.H. Auden

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Google Seeks Knowledge

"It's good to be the King"
~ From the movie, History of the World: Part I (1981)
Must be fun to be Google, eh?

With money being no object and the entire world at your fingers tips you can do anything. Buy a country... save the declining dollar... or invent the next Wikipedia.

What's that?

Yep, Google is creating a new service called "Knol" that is being positioned to be the next social encyclopedia. Going after the Wikipedia Internet space.

Knol?

Sounds weird, but so did a Wiki back when it was launched. The knol is meant to be a "unit of knowledge."

The project is in closed trials right now with no word on when it will be open to the public.

According to the Google blog:
"The web contains an enormous amount of information, and Google has helped to make that information more easily accessible by providing pretty good search facilities. But not everything is written nor is everything well organized to make it easily discoverable. There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that."
And that is where the knol comes in... a new and simple way to share knowledge online.

Knol won't be a community effort like Wiki but will highlight authors. So if Joe Marketer is an expert on paid search he can set up a Knol page on Google and share that knowledge to online readers.

We'll see...

There is so much content online now that is crap, the question is... will YOUR be Knol worthy?

And what type of filter will Google create to stop it from being a commercial marketplace?

...can't wait to see it in action.

Bottom line is... this makes a whole lot of sense... as this will help Google reach its goal of answering every query. And, of course, it will always end up in the top ten results.

Is the fact that Google is now not just presenting the content but also now creating it bother anyone? Does it throw up a red flag to any of you?

Hmmm...

For more info, see the original blog post announcing the project:
Encouraging people to contribute knowledge

Friday, December 14, 2007

No Fear In Holiday Cheer

“I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me.” ~ Dave Barry, American Writer and Humorist
It's the Christmas party season. Some enjoy it.. some dread it. I like going to these parties. I always end up seeing folks I haven't run into for some time.

Here's an example... I went to a party tonight... met some new folks, saw some old friends, and some colleagues from the past that I haven't seen for some time. But the take away from this party is not a new contact, or an old laugh with friends but the following exchange.

J walks over to S and says, "That's Andrew Palmer over there.... what's he doing here.. God, I hate him!"

Good times, eh?

Merry Christmas - I take no offense to this, in fact is think it's funny. That's right.

Funny.

Not only funny because I think the person was so drunk that I heard it from five feet away, but funny because after X amount of years working with this person, and after leaving for greener pastures, that I could still illicit such a response.

You must know by now, dear reader, that I pull no punches. I tell people the truth. Now some ego's can't take that. Some never forget being told "no" by a confident marketer such as myself.

I write this because you must keep going forward. Don't let people who dislike you stop you from accomplishing your goals. You'll never please everyone.... and don't try.

Do what is best for your business and let the chips fall as they may. I've always said, "...it's not personal, it's only business." Some may not understand this... but the fact is you may not always like the people you need to work with. Life is not that convenient. (If it happens, you're lucky.)

My advice - get over it.

Do what is right for your business and party like it's 1999. My spin... after so many years hatred is a sign of respect. Yep, I'm good with that.

AP

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How Are Your Link Neighbors?

“Go with your Gut” ~ Matt Cutts, head of Google's Webspam team, at PubCon 2007
I like that quote. It can apply to virtually anything in business and usually defaults to the correct answer. In this case, Matt was talking about link building, and specifically not linking to a bad neighborhood.

How do you know if you're linking to a bad place?

Well... how did you come about the links... naturally or artificially?

Google wants you to build a web of links organically. Over the normal course of events other sites just found you. They liked what they saw and thus, linked to your site. They don't want pure manipulation of links.

They want links that would happen in the normal course of business between companies. Linking between sites that makes "business" sense. It all goes back to relevance. Even reciprocal links are ok... IF... they are relevant, limited in scope and make normal business sense.

So, if that's you... great. You are clean.

Hi neighbor... "It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor..."

On the other hand if you did a deal with a link broker and overnight you got 1000 links, in other words, from 1 link to 1001 between visits of the Google bot... or all your links are reciprocal and incorporate every non-relevant business sector.. Yikes!

My gut says that's artificial and abnormal... and you live in a bad place, man.

It's really common sense... if all your links are reciprocal and not relevant to your business that's not natural. Spin how you want, but it not commonplace. AND Google knows this!

You want with your search strategy to accelerate what happens in nature but not to mutate or bastardized it. You don't want to live in this neighborhood.

So if you get an out of the blue email or a "dear site owner" letter asking to swap links... what does your "gut" tell you?

My big gut tells me to hit the delete button. For some the answer is not that easy. They don't want to give up any potential links. Ok, but you have been warned...

In the alternative, for you aggressive types... post the link but don’t pass page rank - use your no follow tag on the link. For more on this tag, read the CVoD issue: Do You Follow or No Follow?

What does Google officially say about this?

Check out the Webmaster Help Center. In the Quality guidelines it states:
* Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."

* Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"

* Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

* Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.
As I've always said, good business doesn't fight the power, it uses the power to it's advantage. You know what Google wants, now go with your gut!

AP

PS - OK, I can't help myself... everyone sign along:

Won't You be My Neighbor
By Fred Rogers

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

PubCon Equals Knowledge

“Why bother bringing in more visitors to a site that converts poorly” ~ Tom Leung, Product Manager, Google, at PubCon 2007
Today's take away is about your site, your products, your brand. Do you know what others are saying about you?

If not, you need to.

Any and all negative comments can damage your business. A simple way to keep track of who is posting about you online is Goolge Alerts. Sign up and Google will tell you every time your site, brand or keywords are indexed.

This allows you to be on top of any negativity that may need to be addressed. It's the difference between being proactive vs. reactive... or the difference between making money or not.

More later - gotta catch a plane back home.

AP

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

PubCon Equals Content

"Content is marketing" ~ Richard Rosenblatt, CEO Demand Media, at PubCon 2007
Today... two take aways:

(1) Go buy every variation of your business domain.

Everything... .biz, .info, .tv, etc. Get every variation that is available not just the marketable ones. They are ALL seen the same in the eyes of Google and the other engines.

No better or worse than .com and/or .net.

Buy 'em and 301 redirect 'em to your site. Do it now before someone else does.

This is nothing new nor earth shattering, but it's one of those things that we often forget as we're marketing at 100 miles per hour.

(2) A great way to build your business is to empower your community to create content for your site. But don't stop there... go so far as to let them virtually manage the day to day operation of your site. If you can do that your online business will grow exponentially.

Can't be done you say? Have I gone mad?

Au contraire mon frère!

Think youtube.com... digg.com... there are numerous examples to learn from, eh?

That being said, your homework assignment is to figure out how you can apply that to your current online business.

Go fight win!

AP

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

PubCon Equals CVoD

"Google plus Digg equals Love" ~ Chris Winfield, President and Co-Founder of 10e20.com, at PubCon 2007
Welcome to Las Vegas and PubCon. The first day was quick and before you knew it we were sipping suds at the Didit Cocktail reception.

The best part came at the end of the day special Search Forum.

The question posed by moderator Guy Kawasaki was a hypothetical. It went something like this... "if you decided to leave your current position and start you own web business what would you do to conqueror your current employers listings? In other words, how would you own the top rankings?"

The question was posed to Google's Matt Cutts, Yahoo!'s Tim Mayer & Daniel Boberg, Rahul Lahiri of Ask.com, and Eytan Seidman of Microsoft's Live Search.

The answer?

All came to the same conclusion after first dodging a direct answer. Simply put... create valuable content for your audience and create an interactive community, not just a business.

Nice to hear the search world is in agreement - Create value or die!

AP

PS - much more to come from DAY ONE later... must sleep.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Excuse Me Time To Fly

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ~ George Washington, the 1st U.S. President (1732-1799)
WebmasterWorld's PubCon starts Monday...So I'm not posting this weekend. Have to get my ducks in a row before flying to Vegas.

I'll be reporting from the conference daily... I hope to share some tidbits.

For more information go to http://www.pubcon.com

AP

PS - Google's Susan Moskwa stopped by CVoD just the other day to say hey... and she had this to say about our our online philosophy:
"Glad to see you're evangelizing value-adding content; we can't stress enough how important original and compelling content is!"
Thanks Susan... Create value or die!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More on Keyword Tags

"There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know." ~ Ambrose Bierce, American journalist (1842–1914)
Straight from the lips of Google... from Susan Moskwa of Google Webmaster Help:

Q: How many keywords should I put in the meta keywords tag? I heard the limit was 25, but then my web guy told me you should only put 3 - 5.
A: Not all search engines take the meta keywords tag seriously these days, since its potential for abuse is so great. If you're using it because you think it's a great way to send Google a signal about your site's topic, your time would probably be better-spent creating great content rather than carefully tailoring your meta keywords (since site content is one of the signals we use to determine what a site is about).

Filling the meta keywords tag with hundreds of keywords tends to look like spam, so I'd keep the numbers reasonable; but if you want to use keywords, there's no exact limit on how many you're "allowed". I've heard several people say they use the meta keywords tag as a reference for themselves, so that when they come back to a page they can remember which keywords they were targeting or what the main focus of the page was (this is particularly helpful if you're managing a large site with many pages). Using the number and type of keywords that would be useful for *you* is a pretty good rule of thumb for the meta keywords tag.
So Google says time is best spent creating great content... creating value for your readers creates value for Google.

Amen sister!!

I'm still using my Keywords Tag, (Description tag as well), considering what Google says publicly and what Google actually does is not always the same.

Yes I'm a cynic, but again, inserting these tags takes no time at all and I'd rather be safe than sorry - until Google says using these tags will penalize you.

AP

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tonsils & The Death of Tags

"The report of my death was an exaggeration." ~ Mark Twain, American Humorist & Writer, (1835-1910)
Mega tags are bits of information inserted into the HEAD area of your web pages. We talked about probably the most important tag just last week. All these tags are for search engines and have an impact on your rankings.

Or do they?

Many pundits, bloggers and search gurus have been calling meta tags dead for years. Claiming all engines, specifically Google ignores them. Of course, everyone loves a good controversial post... right?

Is it true?

Ummm... I'll get to that, but before I bloviate let's first review the most used meta tags:
Title Tag - "Tonsils & The Death of Tags - CVoD" /TITLE
For more on this tag read the CVod issue "Name This Plant Page" The title tag is what the engines use for the clickable title of your page in your listing. It's also the text that appears in the reverse bar of someones browser when they view the web page.
Keywords Tag - "meta tags, death of meta tags, keywords"/META
These are only seen by the engines. When creating them focus on just a handful of relevant phrases, and don't repeat them - that's considered web spam. Think of the phrase that best describes your pages theme or subject matter. Remember... this is the phrase you want your page listed under. Here's the rub... only a few search engines actually rely on these. (I'll get to this later)
Description Tag - "Meta tags... once powerful now useless... or so they say. I say they are not dead yet."/META
This tells the engines a description of your page. I suggest no more than 200 words in a compelling sentence and please include your keyword phrases.

Ideally, Google will use this description in the listing of the search engines results... but that's no longer a given. Some engines use a keyword rich sentence in the body copy, while others only use the first sentence or so. The way I look at it... if it gets used, good. If not, so be it. Either way the writing of the description helps me reaffirm whether I chose the proper keyword phrase.
Robots Tag - "index,follow" /META
For more on this tag read the CVod issue
Do You Follow or No Follow?
In short this tag lets you specify to the engines whether a particular page should be indexed or NOT be indexed. The INDEX directive specifies if an indexing robot should index the page - or not, and the FOLLOW directive specifies if a robot is to follow links on the page - or not.

Now for the postmortem... are these aforementioned tags dead?

Of course not. The Robots tag is essential and the Title tag could be the most important factor in being ranked under your chosen keyword phrase.

But the Keyword and Description tags?

Ummm, let's just say that if they were seen as body parts... they'd be described in today's SEO landscape as the appendix and the tonsils. Still a part of the body, but not indispensable.

I don't believe the gurus that say they are useless, no longer relevant and they should be forgotten. While it’s true that the engines are concentrating more on other page and code criteria making these meta tags less essential, by no means does it mean they are irrelevant.

Truth be told, well-written, optimized, formatted content IS more important than your Keywords tag. But so what? Do both.

Do you take out a healthy appendix?

Heck no. Actually, the tonsils AND appendix are important parts of the immune system that protect the body from dangerous microbes in our food. They are perceived as useless but they are indeed a functional part of your overall immune system.

In other words, the sum is greater than the component parts, eh?

Keep including your tags.

In my world the well-crafted and unique Description and Keywords meta tags should still be a part of your overall organic search strategy... AND should continue to be until Google says they are seen as a negative.

The bloggers will still opine their demise... however, this death is just another exaggeration.

AP

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Solution to Social

"More time is wasted in front of computers than on highways." ~ Ben Shneiderman, American author and computer scientist.
Tired of being social?

Had enough of the web 2.0 buzz about networking?

If you are, you’re not alone. It’s time to refuse to be dragged along by the social networking frenzy join NOSO.

NOSO is an online organization which offers a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.

That's right no IMing, friending, texting, poking, skyping and podcasting – or worse, no crackberry.

Just peace and quiet.

It is analogous to the This Page Intentionally Left Blank Project from several years back when we would post a page on our web site without content but for the remark “this page intentionally left blank”.

It was a tribute to former times when printed books and manuals printed several blank pages. The movement offered Internet wanderers a place of quietness and simplicity on the overcrowded World Wide Web—a blank page for relaxing the restless mind.

Ah….

I digress.

NOSO protests against social conformity, dwindling privacy, and corporate influence. It’s an anti-social networking movement. Check out the NOSO site.

Be no social!

AP

PS - NOSO offers a moment of relief to the technology wearied… but, ironically, being predominantly a web-based project, it is still tech-centric. Not to mention that it asks you to set up a user profile AND choose a trendy silhouette reminiscent of those made popular by the ipod commercials to represent your online personality.

hmmm...

Part of NOSO also involves anti-socializing meetings, which consist of a get together of registered users, snapping a few photos and posting them online. Well, now...

If this isn't social networking, I don't know what is.

Suddenly I feel used…

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Tradition Of Thanks

"Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments." ~ Mark Twain, American Humorist & Writer, (1835-1910)
Today, on the American Thanksgiving Holiday, I'd like to give thanks as this may have been the best year of my life. Why do I say that?

This past year I saw the birth of my daughter, and my family is healthy, supportive & actually loves me. Sounds crazy to say that... but I think that's rare these days ...said the cynic. I have the perfect little family, and I wish everyone could have the loving home that we have.

Ok, it's not perfect... nothing is, right?

After all I am a lawyer and living with a lawyer can be hell. Not to mention that I'm online ALL the time. But we're committed to make it work.

So, it works.

Professionally I've got a bit of a crazy life but I've never been happier. I really like the people I work with, the sense of freedom I have each day and the fact that we're building a new business. I really love that.

Lastly, I'm thankful to share an office with my wife and the best man from our wedding. Come on, what could be better than to spend the "working" day with two of your best friends?

Thanks to everyone who has made this incredible year possible, there are really too many of you to mention... but I do indeed appreciate your support. As I've said in a previous post, I'm one lucky bastard!

Enjoy the day with your family, and stay off the Internet today... if you can.

AP

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Name This Plant Page

“Originally we were going to title it "The Daily Show With Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays Off," but it was too long.” ~ Jon Stewart, American Comedian
Today we are going to talk about the “title tag.”

Ok, it's not a sexy topic… but an important part of your optimization efforts.

Having a proper title tag can make a big difference to your rankings. They are equally as important as your visible text copy and the links pointing to your pages — perhaps even more so.

What is it?

The HTML title tag is what the engines use for the clickable title of your page in your listing. It's also the text that appears in the reverse bar of someone's browser when they view the web page. You place this text between the TITLE and /TITLE codes.

This text… how your listing appears should be a critical aspect of your SEO campaign. After all, if you have high search engine rankings you still must convince searchers to click through to your page, right?

So, what are the best words to use?

a. The name of your business?
b. The purpose of the page?
c. Your sites relevant keywords?
d. All of the above?

It’s best to choose the most relevant keyword phrases from your page and incorporate them in your branding. Combine them as a compelling phrase.

If you can’t think of the right phrase, you might have a copy problem.

Here is an example, if your company is "Plants Nouveau" a company that markets new plants, you shouldn’t place only the words "Plants Nouveau" in your home page title tag, but instead use something like "Plants Nouveau - Introducing New Plants to the World.”

This allows your company name to be searchable as well as the keyword phrases “New Plants” and “Introducing New Plants.”

I use a hyphen between the phases. The bottom line is to convince the searcher to click on your listing. And the added descriptive keywords increase the odds of acquiring that click.

What is Plants Nouveau?

Beats me. I don't know from that title.

Ah, ...but using "Plants Nouveau - Introducing New Plants to the World” tells you in the title, right?

Well kinda of... ah heck, I'm still not sure but it sure sounds interesting... I'm going to click through and check it out.

B-7.... BINGO!

A much more engaging... appealing ...and influential title.

Keep in mind... you might what to test different text to see what ranks higher and converts better. You might just find that your non-high ranking title actually gets your page more clicks/page views/conversions.

Please note that some content management systems (CMS) and blog software such as WordPress automatically generate the title tag for you using the blog name, and the name of the page.

If this happens… it probably also uses the same text for the headline, navigational link, and the URL. You don’t want this redundancy,

You want your page listing, for it's the first look at your business, to be more compelling than that.

It needs to compell them to click. No pressure, eh?

AP

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fast-Acting Relief

“As fast as each opportunity presents itself, use it! No matter how tiny an opportunity it may be, use it!” ~ Robert Collier, American motivational author, (1885-1950)
Having trouble getting your pages indexed, or ranked high?

Here is a quick check list of things to look for before throwing your computer out the window:
Has your site been updated since creation?
Is the design Google friendly?
Easy to navigate?
Are you selling stuff?
Is there a call to action on every page?
Posting new content?
Are you using independent Meta Tags for each page?
Are your pages optimized for single keyword phrases?
These are the basics... if you have answered "no" to any of these questions you need to take action.

Don't know what to do?

Don't worry, I'll be discussing these points in CVOD over the coming weeks.

AP

Monday, November 12, 2007

Top 10 Marketing Blogs

"A business exists because the consumer is willing to pay you his money. You run a business to satisfy the consumer. That isn't marketing. That goes way beyond marketing." ~ Peter F. Drucker, American managment guru, (1909 - 2005)
In his book, Writing White Papers, Michael Stelzner reveals his secrets for creating compelling white papers that attract readers in droves. He has written more than 100 white papers for recognized companies, including Microsoft, FedEx, Motorola, Monster, HP and SAP.

In his Writing White Papers Blog Micheal recently asked readers to submit nominations for the Top 10 Marketing Blogs.

Judging by his staff is now complete and here are the results:
1. Seth Godin’s Blog: Seth Godin finds marketing insight everywhere – make him a daily read.
2. MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog: Many of the marketing world’s greatest minds share their wisdom here.
3. Duct Tape Marketing Blog: This blog is a gold mine for small businesses and includes regular insights that are easy to implement.
4. Techno//Marketer: A very good blog on leveraging online tools for marketing (and includes helpful videos).
5. Buzz Marketing for Technology: This excellent blog, by BearingPoint’s Paul Dunay, helps businesses learn how to stand out in a noisy world.
6. Create Value or Die: The title of this blog says it all. Learn how to create value for visitors.
7. Web Ink Now: The ultimate stop for learning how to generate publicity for your business, from author David Meerman Scott.
8. Web Strategy by Jeremiah: Great social networking blog with embedded podcasts (for those of us who are reading-challenged) by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang.
9. The Buzz Bin: Excellent social media and PR blog by author Geoff Livingston.
10. Diva Marketing Blog: A cornucopia of marketing insight comes from marketing diva Toby Bloomberg.
All these folks excel at sharing their insight and craft with the world. Check these additional blogs out.

Read the ones that pertain to your marketing and you will greatly advance your knowledge. There is some really good stuff here.


AP

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Buyers At Your Disposal

“I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.” ~ Erma Bombeck, U.S. humorist, (1927-1996)
What do the polls say...?

It's not too late to start marketing online. Why do I say that?

Besides the fact that the Web is filled with thousands of websites... very bad websites. AND that the e-letters associated with these sites are little more than advertisements, if not actual advertisements.... besides that.

The fact is that the audience which we call the "Internet Marketplace" is indeed getter bigger.

Are you serious?

Yep...

According to a new Harris Poll, 79% of adults -- about 178 million -- spend an average of 11 hours a week on the Internet. That's a 10% increase over last year.

The Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States in July 2007 (July 10 and 16, 2007) and October 2007 (October 16 and 22, 2007) among 2,062 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, size of place (urbanicity) and number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

The results reflect a steady rise since 2000 when 57 percent of adults went online, and 2006 when the figure rose to 77 percent.

Only 9% were online in 1995, were you? (I was)

The amount of time people are spending online has also increased. The average number of hours per week that people are spending online has risen to 11 hours, up from 9 hours in 2006 and 8 hours in 2005.

So if more people are online spending more of their valuable time... you'd be crazy not to tap into this market, eh?

Loyal CVoD reader now this, but for you newbies... why leave money on the table, or rather on the Internet?

Get you business online today. Are you late... yes. Too late?

Hell no!

Join the party... just don't forget to create value or die.

AP

Come join the party, or as Dave Barry says:

“The Internet is a giant international network of intelligent, informed computer enthusiasts, by which I mean, "people without lives." We don't care. We have each other...”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Newbies, Spam & Vikings

“If you want to receive e-mails about my upcoming shows, then please give me money so I can buy a computer.” ~ Phoebe from the television show - Friends
Friend's don't let friends... spam.

If you know a friend is spamming please stop them. In the end spam hurts all of us.

I know you have heard spam kills - an online business - but it's really true. And as obvious as it sounds I'm learning that as more and more people enter the online world they just don't get this.

They don't understand the basics of web marketing and they don't concern themselves with spam. They have little or no education in email and/or the best practices online and the newbies then come into the industry with shotguns... spreading spam emails like buckshot.

Run for your lives!

If we are not careful these late comers will ruin the landscape for all of us. As such, we must reach out as much as possible to education them.

There are a lot of great resources out there for the novice marketers. In fact if you Google "email marketing education" there are more than 93 million pages indexed.

The problem is people need to do that search... and I don't think they are looking to learn.

For example, I ran across a story about an advert that was posted on Craigslist from a person who wanted to find someone with software to spider the Internet and collect email addresses to send their ads to. In other words, they want to collect a list of spam names.

Ugh..

Some readers actually tried to dissuade the idea but the clueless newbie argued,

"It’s only spam if you go to an ISP, NOT Web sites. They invite people to email them. Big difference, and we only go to web sites in our profession, not general public.”

So what we have here is a newbie who thinks that if someone posts an email addresses online, that it's equal to giving ones permission to receive commercial email.

Yikes - that's a jump.

For those new to CVoD... what is the definition of Spam?

Glad you asked.

Spam has several definitions... but according to U.S. law spam is unsolicited bulk/commercial e-mail. It is also any email message that is pornographic, lewd, or fraudulent, or any email message where the sender’s identity is forged, or messages sent though unprotected SMTP servers.

(Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.)

It's all about permission. If you don't have permission to mail to someone than it's going to be seen as spam. The question is what is permission. Signing up for a e-letter is permission. Signing up for a paid product that has an email component is permission. But having a customer service email address posted on your site is not permission to receive email on how to satisfy your wife!

Lastly, please note that the sending of unsolicited bulk email is banned by all Internet service providers worldwide.

Spam is growing, more and more each day, with no signs of abating. Today there are approximately 90 billion spam emails sent out per day.

Frightening.

There is some debate about the source of the term, but the generally accepted version is that it comes from the Monty Python song, "Spam spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam…"

Like the song, spam is an endless repetition of worthless text. Another school of thought maintains that it comes from the computer group lab at the University of Southern California who gave it the name because it has many of the same characteristics as the lunch meat Spam:
- Nobody wants it or ever asks for it.
- No one ever eats it; it is the first item to be pushed to the side when eating the entree.
- Sometimes it is actually tasty, like 1% of junk mail that is really useful to some people.
Anyway you look at it... it's something you want to stay away from.

Multi-million dollar spamming operations that use multiple mail servers in numerous countries make big money. The small time newbie who spams makes money in the beginning and is then shut down by the ISPs, if not prosecuted.

Don't do it - it's not worth it.

If you are new to the web, and you think what you are doing is spam... ask someone. Email me, go to a discussion board, post a question on a blog... just let us teach you right from wrong.

But don't be a spammer... intentionally or unintentionally.

AP

P.S. - a now a treat - the Monty Python Spam Song

Scene: A cafe. One table is occupied by a group of Vikings wearing horned helmets. Whenever the word "spam" is repeated, they begin singing and/or chanting. A man and his wife enter. The man is played by Eric Idle, the wife is played by Graham Chapman (in drag), and the waitress is played by Terry Jones, also in drag.

Man: You sit here, dear.

Wife: All right.

Man: Morning!

Waitress: Morning!

Man: Well, what've you got?

Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...

Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...

Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!

Waitress: ...or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.

Wife: Have you got anything without spam?

Waitress: Well, there's spam egg sausage and spam, that's not got much spam in it.

Wife: I don't want ANY spam!

Man: Why can't she have egg bacon spam and sausage?

Wife: THAT'S got spam in it!

Man: Hasn't got as much spam in it as spam egg sausage and spam, has it?

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam... (Crescendo through next few lines...)

Wife: Could you do the egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam then?

Waitress: Urgghh!

Wife: What do you mean 'Urgghh'? I don't like spam!

Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up!

Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up! (Vikings stop) Bloody Vikings! You can't have egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam.

Wife: I don't like spam!

Man: Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Waitress: Shut up!! Baked beans are off.

Man: Well could I have her spam instead of the baked beans then?

Waitress: You mean spam spam spam spam spam spam... (but it is too late and the Vikings drown her words)

Vikings: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam. Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Spam spam spam spam!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The State of Search, Not!

"Trouble with a capital t that rhymes with p and that stands for pool." ~ Meredith Wilson's musical, The Music Man (1957)
A recent Kelton Research study examined the "The State of Search" and how shoppers interact with search engines in particular. The study was based on a representative sample of 1,0001 U.S. adults.

The big takeaway which is causing a buzz in the industry is that 7 out of 10 surveyed experience what the report describes as “search engine fatigue.” In other words, 72.3 percent experienced a high level of frustration when researching a topic on the Internet. It found that three out of four of those who experience such fatigue get up and physically leave their computer without the information they were seeking.

And 65.4 percent say they’ve spent two or more hours in a single sitting searching for specific information on search engines.

Does this mean that the days of search are over?

Will the revenues from AdSense continue to trend down further?

Is PPC is next?

And if the engines are in decline is organic optimization the next to fall the way of the the silver-tongued traveling anvil salesmen?

Ummm... no.

It means these idiots did not know how to search.

Seriously, when was the last time you searched two hours for something?

Heck, if I spent 15 minutes searching for something and came up blank, I’d come to one of two conclusions: either the information doesn’t exist or the search engine is garbage.

Does it mean I'll never use search engines again? No.

I don't care for this survey... it jumps to conclusions here that are not present.

The report also discussed user frustration with clutter and the content of search results.

When asked to name their #1 complaint about the process, 25 percent cited a deluge of results, 24 percent cited a predominance of commercial (paid) listings, 18.8 percent blamed the search engine’s inability to understand their keywords (forcing them to try again), and 18.6 percent were most frustrated by disorganized/random results.

There was also a desire among many users (78 percent) that search engines be able to "read their minds." I am not making this up.

That figure reached 86.2 percent of 18-34 year-olds and 85 percent of those under 18.

Yep... and then you lost me.

How can you take the answers to a survey seriously when the recipients wished that Google could read the minds. Ugh. Obviously the focus group is a bunch of dolts. It's true the survey only looked at 1000 users out of the billions online... but did it have to find a group of thoughtless lemmings?

The Online community is often so hard up for data that they will jump on any figures that come their way, and make conclusions out of smoke and mirrors.

This info is bunk. Get me a survey of people who know how to search and we'll get a good idea what the AVERAGE JOE really thinks about the future of search.

Time and time again, the conclusion is the same from one PhD thesis to the next, and the same applies here.... all we know is that more research needs to be done on this topic before any conclusions can be made.

Amen brother.

AP

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Google Divine?

“I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.”
~ Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist (1879-1955)
Well... there are people on the Internet making the argument that Google is the closest mankind has ever come to experiencing an actual Deity.

I'm not making this up...

In fact, they say, there is much more evidence in favor of Google's divinity than there is for the divinity of other more traditional gods.

You want proof?

Google is everywhere at once (Omnipresent). Virtually everywhere on earth at the same time.

Google answers prayers. One can pray to Google by doing a search for whatever question or problem is plaguing them. You ask Google.... and Google will show you the way, but showing you is all Google can do, for you must help yourself from that point on.

Google is potentially immortal. Google cannot be considered a physical being such as ourselves but her Algorithms are spread out across many servers; if any of which were taken down or damaged, another would undoubtedly take its place. Google can theoretically last forever.

Lasly, according to Google trends, the term "Google" is searched for more than the terms "God", "Jesus", "Allah", "Buddha", "Christianity", "Islam", "Buddhism" and "Judaism" combined.

Yikes... Want more proof?

Just look at this pic...

Isn't that enough?

For more on Googlism... visit the The Church Of Google web site.



AP

PS - What do you think... have they gone too far?

Is this link bait too offensive?

Always be careful about being too outrageous... you can go too far with a joke or parody thereby creating a backlash.

I know this site parody has received lots of hate mail, so one could say their audience is "engaged" ...mmmm but not in a positive way, eh?

To avoid this I'd follow the old saying "...never talk politics or religion at a cocktail party..." Know what I mean?

I'm not saying be boring... I want strong opinions... but mocking religion... yikes, too hot for me. How does that build trust, create a community or lead to sales?

It does not.

File this in the back of your mind as a example of link bait... Over The Edge! You can be successful on that edge just, please, weight the pros and cons before launching - thanks.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Serious Moment

“There are moments when you have to just walk away and cry.”
~ Lou Angeli, Filmmaker
Support wildfire relief in Southern California

The Southern California wildfires are under control, but for those who have been impacted by this disaster, the recovery has barely begun. Your donations to either of these organizations will help the victims of the fires and other disasters around the nation rebuild their communities, and their lives.

Here are some of the agencies collecting donations for fire victims, their phone numbers and Web sites:

American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: 800-HELP-NOW or 800-257-7575 for Spanish speakers, http://www.redcross.org/donate/donate.html

San Diego American Red Cross: 858-309-1200, http://www.sdarc.org/donate/ Designate option 2, San Diego/Imperial Counties Local Disaster Fund, to support the Harris/Witch Creek response operations.

Orange County American Red Cross: 714-481-5300, http://www.oc-redcross.org/ Businesses who are interested in making bulk donations of needed items may call 714-481-5370.

Los Angeles American Red Cross: 800-435-7669, http://www.redcrossla.org Corporations and businesses interested in making in-kind donations may call 800-746-5463.

San Diego Food Bank: 866-350-3663, http://www.sandiegofoodbank.org/

Goodwill Southern California: 888-4-GOODWILL, http://www.goodwillsocal.org/

Salvation Army Southern California: 213-896-9160, http://www.salvationarmysocal.org/

Governor's Office of Emergency Services: 800-750-2858, http://www.californiavolunteers.org/

Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: 888-SPCA-LA1, http://www.spcala.com/

Google also posted a page: http://www.google.com/checkout/wildfires.html

AP

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shave Your Yeti

“There is precious little in civilization to appeal to a Yeti.”
~Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountain climber and first to successfully climb Mount Everest
One more example of viral link bait. Or as the Python-heads say,

"Now for something completely different..."

The "Shave Your Yeti" page is ridiculous and stupid. I just love it.

It displays an electric razor and a yeti. Go ahead try it... Shave Your Yeti.

It's just a simple, fun page that does not even mention the company that created it. Not in the URL nor the flash programming. The company is Polartec and except for the small copyright at the bottom, you wouldn't have any idea what this is, or who is doing it.

However, once you shave the Yeti completely, you then dress your victim in Polartec clothes.

It then gets silly... as if it's not silly yet, eh?

But as you laugh... you learn about Polartec. It's pure genius.

It's a great example of a creative, interactive distraction that is more viral than link bait.... but nonetheless pushes the company in a positive way.

If I had launched this I may have done things different.... but you have love the creativity. Please do yourself and favor and go shave the yeti.

AP

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bait Your Hook

“There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” ~ Stephen Wright, American Actor and Writer
After posting Friday's CVoD article entitled, "Learning From The Old and Lame", I realized that I did not mention one very important fact. The mocking tone I used was intended to teach you, dear reader, that a viral opportunity exists when you create tools or attractive value for your site.

People will come to your site and other sites will want to link to you... this is what you want, right? (The answer is a resounding yes)

I think I conveyed that... but probably not strong enough. Plus, I forgot to give you the buzzword... after all how can we be Internet marketers without our buzzwords, eh?

The concept is called "Link Baiting." Let me explain a bit more...

Link baiting is a great way to get natural links to your site. Real organic links that Google loves to see. It means to create something that naturally attracts back links for your site by getting people to create a viral buzz about what you produced.

In other words, it is any content or feature within your site that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites. Google's own Matt Cutts defines link bait as anything "interesting enough to catch people's attention." Google is in support of it as it is based on natural relevant linking.

Such quality content is carried throughout the Internet by word of month, (remember this is considered viral marketing) and traditionally your increased links will come from forums, blogs, and the social bookmarks such as, del.icio.us, Furl, Digg to name just a few.

For new CVoD readers... why is this important?

The quantity and quality of inbound links are two of the most important metrics used by Google's algorithm to rank your pages. Link baiting trys to acquire those relevant links to your site.

As discuss previously, new links and more visitors, ... what's not to like?

What do you need?

And idea, or a hook. Something the will peak the interest of your niche. Keep in mind all of this baiting is free to your site visitors. Here some examples:
-Make a valuable resource report... (Here's a great one from my friends at International Living. It's called the "Quality Of Life Index" ...a list which ranks the world's best and worst places Live, Work, Vacation, or just be.)
-Build a useful tool (See Fridays article)
-Write an interesting article (Lessons from Project Management: 101 ways to organize your life)
-Run a contest
-Use humor, a funny story, picture or Joke. (Flying Spaghetti Monster)
-Write an outrageous theory or something controversial. (Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory)
-Become an expert in your niche and write valuable information
-And don't forget to mix and match. (Remember Monkey mail... it's a mixture... but diffenently viral. Heck, I was forwarded this one many times)
In other words, create value for your readers.... sound familiar?

I hope so. But don't think that this is easy. It's not. It's takes hard work and creativity to produce amazing, highly-linkable, high-quality content. But if you can do it... it's one of the best ways to target the engines naturally.

AND with the web 2.0 becoming more and more in play to acquire new eyes to your pages, it's a great way to use the social networks, blogs and news outlets of the web.

Why is it hard to do?

Outside of coming up with a great idea... it's the launch. Marketers forget it needs a launch and proper push. Otherwise, if you merely produce it, post it... odds are no one will see it.

So what you really need to do is to create a mini-PR campaign around it's release. Push eyes to it at the start. Make sure the bloggers and social media users can find it and help promote it.

It's definitely worth your time to try it... so, go create value.... or rather go bait your hook.

AP

Friday, October 19, 2007

Learning From The Old and Lame

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” ~ Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist (1879-1955)
Here's a free tool for you that might help you when you are optimizing your pages. On the other hand, it might not.

Either way, I think it's cool. Let me explain.

It's a keyword density tool.. you enter a URL and you'll receive a list of all the repeated phrases on the page and their frequency.

What is "keyword density" and why is this important?

That's the rub...

Keyword density is the percentage of words on a page that match a specified set of keywords. For organic optimization... making pages with a certain keyword density has been a goal by many in the industry to try and get their pages to rank high under a specific keyword or keyword phrase.

Some SEO consultants have been saying for years every page (article) must achieve a keyword density of 3 to 5 percent to be ranked high.

Notice I used the past tense...

Today, most smart marketers, myself included, don't believe that a certain percentage is required. The search engines use other measures to determine ranking, such as relevancy, traffic and back links.

Furthermore, keyword density has a terrible history of abuse.

For years it was easy pickins to the top of the rankings for webmasters that over used keywords in a pages. Not today. This multiple "unnatural" use of keywords with the intent to manipulate the rankings is known as search spam and/or keyword stuffing.

Please don't do it. The only result you will see is a negative one.

So... why am I giving you this tool?

I think it is still important to see the breakdown of the keywords on an optimized page. Whether or not you believe a page must meet a certain percentage of keyword density or not, the fact remains that an article which frequently mentions a keyword usually has a higher ranking than other content that does not, (holding all other factors constant).

And since this tool, in one click, will tell you how often the words on your page appear, it still might be useful.

And in the alternative... like I said, it's cool.

Take a look: http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/keyword-density

While you're on the site please take a look at the other free tools. Some are good, some are old, some are lame... but try and understand what they are doing. Can you see it?

They have created pages of viral interactive tools. Good source of traffic, eh?

Sure it is... heck you're there aren't you?

And I'm pushing my CVoD readers there. Good viral interaction works by creating an application on your site and then the Internet does the marketing for you.

Would you say that are creating value for visitors?

Engaging them?

Entertaining and educating?

Hmmm.. imagine that. CVoD baby!

AP

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Keep ‘em Coming Back

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister and author, (1874–1965)
Here's a review from Julie McManus about a recent presentation your CVoD editor did for my friends at Early to Rise.

For our regular readers I hope this is a review, for those new to this blog I offer this as a great overview of the CVoD web philosophy. I could not have said it better myself... Please enjoy.

-----

Create Value and Keep ‘em Coming Back

Dear Business Builder,

Happy Friday! Here we are, yet again, and another week bites the dust. Wow, one week closer to the holidays. Yikes! I spent the beginning of the week at the Early To Rise Information Marketing Bootcamp in Delray Beach, Fl. It was 3 jam-packed days of everything you ever wanted to know about info-marketing and then some.

The conference brought together an incredible collection of people from consultants (like myself), to current info business owners, to complete internet marketing novices. And the types of businesses were even more diverse from “secrets to living past 100”, to “saving the endangered bald eagle”, to “strategies for taking care of an elderly parent in your own home.”

Plus, the conference included some of the most well known internet marketing gurus in the business such as Alex Mandossian, Jeff Walker, Rich Schefren and Michael Masterson as well as a host of other really experienced “in the 'net trenches” professionals. There were many excellent presentations and the topics ranged from concept, to list building, to product launches. I think a good time was had by all! I must say, this old dog certainly learned a few new tricks.

But one presentation stuck with me most because it was on a topic that I feel so strongly about … and it’s a topic I think is so often overlooked on the web by most businesses … QUALITY CONTENT ROCKS!

The presenter was a gentleman by the name of Andrew Palmer. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Andrew, let me fill you in. Andrew founded the position of E-Commerce/Web Marketing Director for Agora Publishing in 2000. He was tapped to create an internet business for Bill Bonner’s initial online venture The Daily Reckoning. The incredible success of The Daily Reckoning and Agora’s other online publications was the catalyst for a tremendous change in the marketing of direct response information products. To his credit, he has acquired more than one million “opt-in” names and successfully monetized them online for millions. But most important in my book … he was a really entertaining speaker and all around nice guy.

Mr. Palmer’s mantra is Create Value or Die. And informative, well written, constantly updated content is the priceless value you must add to your website to be successful in your online business. And guess what else Andrew says … a good majority of that content should be easily accessible and free.

Andrew goes on to say there are two important factors when creating an online business:

1. Create a niche of like-minded thinkers – a smaller portion of a large market …
2. And build a community … not just a business!

And you do this by generating valuable content through an e-letter or blog that prospects connect with and look forward to reading on a regular basis. And by creating a content rich website that acts as a resource or wealth of information for your niche that encourages repeat traffic and word of mouth.

And if your editorial is written to benefit the reader (not just you), not only will it make you money, but it will keep your open rates, click through rates and retention rates high, and it will keep down your spam complaints.

Andrew’s Four Es for Creating Value

E-mail – List building should be the number one priority of your online business. E-mail is a cheap, quick and easy-to-use way to bring your content and your marketing messages to your prospects. If you send valuable content via e-mail to the people that have expressed an interest in your information, they’ll read your e-letter, they’ll read your ads and many will buy your products when you ask them to.

Engage – The internet is a constantly evolving medium. It is growing and changing by the second. So why would someone want to revisit a site that never changes? You must provide fresh content and new information on a regular basis to bring additional value to your site. You must give your prospects and customers a reason to visit you on a regular basis. Several ways to do this are through blogs, discussion boards, video and podcasts. But most of all your content needs to be a good read, it needs to be unique and it needs to be real.

Entertain – People love to be entertained. No one wants to repeatedly engage in a boring or tired conversation. Keep the tone of your content light, conversational and fresh. Talk to your prospects and customers like you might talk to a friend at a party, not like you’re conducting a college lecture. People love a good story and can relate to personal details. Besides that, music, games, contests and humor are another effective way in getting repeat visitors to your site.

Educate – The more information you can provide to your niche the better. By continuing to educate your prospects, you not only give then something of value, you also get something of value – their e-mail address -- that you can market to over and over again. By giving away something of value with every contact you make, your prospect will come back and stay a while, and then they’ll come back again and buy. If they continue to receive value, they’ll come back and buy again. And that’s where the rubber meets the road.

So think about it, why just build a business when you can build a community of like minded people that see you as an expert … when you can build a community in which readers can connect with you on a more personal level, where you can build trust, share ideas and of course …

… increase sales and revenue!

Thanks to Early To Rise for an excellent bootcamp. To learn more about Andrew Palmer visit his blog – Create Value or Die (CVoD).

Hope that helped and have a great weekend.

Until next week,

Julie McManus
Editor, In the 'Net Trenches
THE TOTAL PACKAGE™
And Web Media Goddess

P.S. Are you in the ‘net trenches? Do you need help? Send me an e-mail to AskJulie@MakepeaceTotalPackage.com and I just might answer your question in an upcoming issue.

-----

Thanks Julie. For more on Julie and copywriting legend Clayton Makepeace's "The Total Package" visit this link http://www.makepeacetotalpackage.com

AP

Monday, October 15, 2007

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

"If your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse"

~ Jack Johnson, American musician, "The 3 R's"
Yes this is CVoD... but today is Blog Action Day.

The world-wide blogging community is writing today about the environment. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future. The trick is for your CVoD editor to apply it to web marketing.

But that's easy.

A major part of my web marketing philosophy is based on one of the best buzz phrases in ecology - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is also known as the 3 R's.

That's right kids... For your online business to succeed, one MUST "reuse" your valuable content.

What do I mean by that?

Don't just create an e-letter article, and after broadcasting, just post the issue on your site to collect dust in an achieve section. No sir, that would be wasteful. It would be like using a styrofoam cup that you only use once and then throw away.

Don't throw away any valuable content. Put it to work for you... "reuse" your articles by optimizing them for the engines, and adding a call to action.

Rather than have your great content "reads" become a "one shot" posting that is never seen again... by optimizing the content and adding a call to action, these articles will now get ranked high enough to be found by searchers, and in turn, they will work for you to bring in names or sales.

It's a form of conserving your energy. Plus, you'll get more life out of the words you write.

Makes sense, huh?

Simple stuff but important nonetheless. Just like the 3 R's.

My family tries to practice this at home too. We try to reduce the amount of garbage we produce. We compost all of our food waste for use in our garden. I've also set up leaf compositors for the tress. Leaves are great plant food, don't you know?

I also recycle all our paper, plastic and glass. Lastly, we try to reuse everything from stone and concrete for the paths in our backyard, to clothes for the kids.

It's important to do what you can... just do something.

We do it for our kids and our families future generations. Not to go too earthy-crunchy on you... but I feel we need to teach this next generation about respecting the environment. I hope that it sinks in... and that one day they might actually teach their kids. And if that happens, I'll be happy.

A better gift for my kids I can't think of.

AP

PS - That's it for international "Blog Action Day" - if you have a blog please join us. More web marketing coming later in the week...

PPS - Here is the full Jack Johnson song...

"The 3 R's"

Three it's a magic number
Yes it is, it's a magic number
Because two times three is six
And three times six is eighteen
And the eighteenth letter in the alphabet is R
We've got three R's we're going to talk about today
We've got to learn to

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If you're going to the market to buy some juice
You've got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste
And if your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse
And if the first two R's don't work out
And if you've got to make some trash
Don't throw it out
Recycle, we've got to learn to recycle,
We've got to learn to

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Because three it's a magic number
Yes it is, it's a magic number
3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36
33, 30, 27, 24, 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, and
3, it's a magic number

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Can't Buy Love Or Links

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." ~ Charles Darwin, English naturalist, (1809–1882)
Let's talk link building.

To survive in the online business world, you must play the link building game. This is also called acquiring "back links" or "link popularity." Whatever you call it, it can literally make or break your site with the search engines.

What am I talking about?

All search engines value links as a measure of how influential and important a web site is online. Sites with many important, related sites linking to them are seen in the eyes of the engines to be industry resources, and therefore deserving of the highest ranking.

Bottom line... the more relevant sites that link to you the higher in the rankings your pages will be indexed and the greater amount of names or sales will you acquire.

However, did I mention this is one of the most difficult areas of SEO?

Every smart marketer wants numerous sites linking to them but they don't want to link back. Plus the engines don't want "artificially created" or paid for links going to your site. That type of manipulation is bad for the engines algorythm, and bad for their search results.

As such, the days of buying thousands of links and jumping to the top of the rankings are over. This so-called "link farming" is no longer profitable. Google will only recognize as a true "back link" a relavent link from a like minded site. Google will ingnore what it deems to be fake or purchased links.

Oh, and if Google finds that you are trying one of the old link farming strategies... they can de-list you. That's right... boot you right out of the engine. AND right out of business.

So to be clear what do the engines want?

Real natural and organic links going to your site. Links from authoritative sites, or links from sites that share the same focus as your site. So where to start?

How about just asking those like minded site to link to you?

Sounds simple, no?

Seriously, email or contact relevent sites and ask them to link to your site. Sell them on the benefits of linking to you... that they will give their readers access to your extremely valuabkle content.

But before contacting them look over their site, study it, make sure it's a good fit, and suggest where your link might be appropriate. And where do you find these like-minded sites?

Google.

Go to the major search engines for your research, and search for your target keywords. Look at the pages that appear in the top results. You want these links..
contact them.

Don't be disappointed if you get rejected. The majority of the time you will be turned down, especially sites that are extremely competitive with you.

However, don't give up... there will be non-competitive sites that will link to you -- especially if you offer them content, products, revenue shares, etc.

So what are you waiting for?

AP

PS - more link building ideas to come...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Power Of The Internet

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist, (1901-1978)
What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day?

One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.

Talk about building a community, eh?

Well, it's happening... on October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic.

The aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

This international initiative of bloggers is known as "Blog Action Day"

So if you have a blog please join us.

Can we change the world? Will anyone notice?

Does that really matter?

AP

PS - Sorry for the lack of posts in October but sometimes...

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
~ John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Build Online and Off

"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila." ~ Mitch Radcliffe, American Writer
Remember list building?

hehehe...

Ah yes... the reason we are here, right?

I've been having such great success with Google AdWords, 8,000 new subs this month at $3.20 per name, that I noticed I haven't talked about some of the other successful methoods for bringing in names.

There is a world of interested and productive names outside of the search engines... online and offline. We cannot forget them or we'll be leaving money on the table.

That being said, here are two quick tips for you.

First off, as you redesign your web site don't forget the importance of name collection. Remember to place the sign-up form prominently "above the fold." This should be non negotiable.

I realize some designers will hate this... but I don't care. The purpose of your site is not to get a design award but to acquire as many names as possible. As such, the sign up form must be foremost in your design.

You can always use graphics to draw the eye, but don't forget it's sign-up copy that will convert them. You just can't say "sign up for e-letter". You need to discuss the benefits of the e-letter and why the visitior needs to subscribe.

Oh, and don't stop at the home page... put a subscription form on every page in your site. No dead ends. Make sure every page leads to your goal. Be it free names, or paid sales.

In my mind this is very simple... it's just marketing. We take our visitors by the hand... show them what we want to show them... and on every page lead them to our offer. At that point, it's copy time!

If it's good, and been tested, you now have another new sub.

Secondly, if you have the kind of business where you contact your customers on the phone or face-to-face don't forgot to get these names too!

Always ask all your customers to subscribe to your e-letter when they contact you by phone or in person. Never pass up this opportuntiy for a name. Send free reports in exchange for the names in this situation just as you would with Goolge AdWords. Same goes for conferences and trade shows.

To make it easier, don't forget to display your URL on all printed materials with the benefits of your newsletter -- on sales material, fliers, bags, business cards, advertising, etc. Everything.

Hard to believe that this is a tip, but I see marketing material all the time with no sign of URL. Drives me nuts.

Stay in the game...

AP

Friday, September 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Google

“Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang Happy Birthday.” ~ Stephen Wright, American Actor and Writer
Darn... it was yesterday and I missed it.

Google turned 9 years old yesterday. Wow... can you believe it's been nine years already?

Some claim it's actually 10 years old since Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the google.com domain in 1997, however, the company was officially launched one year later.

According to the Google Help Center, "Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake." In the recent years, Google's birthday has been celebrated on September 27th with a doodle displayed on the homepage.There has also been questions as to the name... fact is Google is a play on the word "googol", which was coined by Milton Sirotta, and was popularized in the book, Mathematics and the Imagination by American mathematicians Edward Kasner and James Newman. It refers to the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

That is clear...but why is Google called Google?

Google's use of the term reflects the company's mission to organize the immense, seemingly infinite amount of information available on the web. And damn if they didn't do it, eh?

How did it start?

According to Google lore...
"company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were not terribly fond of each other when they first met as Stanford University graduate students in computer science in 1995. Larry was a 24-year-old University of Michigan alumnus on a weekend visit; Sergey, 23, was among a group of students assigned to show him around. They argued about every topic they discussed. Their strong opinions and divergent viewpoints would eventually find common ground in a unique approach to solving one of computing's biggest challenges: retrieving relevant information from a massive set of data.

By January of 1996, Larry and Sergey had begun collaboration on a search engine called BackRub, named for its unique ability to analyze the "back links" pointing to a given website. Larry, who had always enjoyed tinkering with machinery and had gained some notoriety for building a working printer out of Lego™ bricks, took on the task of creating a new kind of server environment that used low-end PCs instead of big expensive machines. Afflicted by the perennial shortage of cash common to graduate students everywhere, the pair took to haunting the department's loading docks in hopes of tracking down newly arrived computers that they could borrow for their network.

A year later, their unique approach to link analysis was earning BackRub a growing reputation among those who had seen it. Buzz about the new search technology began to build as word spread around campus.

Larry and Sergey continued working to perfect their technology through the first half of 1998. Following a path that would become a key tenet of the Google way, they bought a terabyte of disks at bargain prices and built their own computer housings in Larry's dorm room, which became Google's first data center. Meanwhile Sergey set up a business office, and the two began calling on potential partners who might want to license a search technology better than any then available. Despite the dotcom fever of the day, they had little interest in building a company of their own around the technology they had developed.

Among those they called on was friend and Yahoo! founder David Filo. Filo agreed that their technology was solid, but encouraged Larry and Sergey to grow the service themselves by starting a search engine company. "When it's fully developed and scalable," he told them, "let's talk again." Others were less interested in Google, as it was now known. One portal CEO told them, "As long as we're 80 percent as good as our competitors, that's good enough. Our users don't really care about search."
Great story, eh?

Nine years later... Google is Everything.

They changed the way the world acts when they go online, and they continue to be as innovative in year nine as they were in the early days.

I think the best description is that Google has grown into the electronic center of human knowledge.

That's cool.

Happy Birthday Google. Sorry, I didn't get you anything... but what do you get the search engine that has and is everything?

AP

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vegas 2007

"Las Vegas is Everyman's cut-rate Babylon. Not far away there is, or was, a roadside lunch counter and over it a sign proclaiming in three words that a Roman emperor's orgy is now a democratic institution. "Topless Pizza Lunch." ~ Alistair Cooke, British-American journalist and broadcaster,(1908–2004)
I just got my tickets to Vegas.

Yes, PubCon returns to the city sin, energy and excitement.

WebmasterWorld's Search & Internet Marketing Conference (PubCon) will be held Dec 4-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I'll be there.

PubCon is one of the few conferences I recommend highly. If you're a
search engine marketer, optimizer, marketing executive, webmaster, affiliate manager, or program and channel manager I know you'll learn something valuable by attending.

Or if you just need to get out of the December snows - Vegas will be sunny and warm - so here is an excuse to get out of town and learn some web marketing.

Craig Newmark the founder of Craig's List and Matt Cutts of Google will be speaking... isn't that enough?

Check it out if you can.

AP

http://www.pubcon.com

Saturday, September 22, 2007

You Better Think

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." ~ Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist (1879-1955)
OK... so what I am about to say is obvious. Maybe even stupid. But it's a lack of common sense so it has to be said.

Ready?

When sending email... check all links. Click them. If they are order forms, test a order. Then go to your unsubscribe link, click to the interface, and test it too!

Don't send out broken links.

(Sigh) I feel better now.

I can't tell you how many times I've run across situations where someone forgot the simple act of clicking through a link.

It's absurd... nonsensical... and sad.

But I'd guess that every day someone... somewhere... is sending out a broken link in an email. And that person is either losing money or causing someone to hit the "This Is Spam" button.

I had an employee once tell me the that I gave her the worse insult she had ever heard.... you know what I told her?

I told her to think. THINK.

I kid you not... she sent out an email without checking the order form link and based on past performance we lost $250,000!

So... if that's mean, than yes I am.

But if you send out an email without checking your links... if you ask me, you deserve whole alot worse than to be told to think.

So make it a rule... nothing is broadcast until all links are checked.

AP

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yo-Ho-Ho!

"Life's pretty good, and why wouldn't it be? I'm a pirate, after all." ~ Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, (2003)
Put a parrot on your shoulder and take a grog o' rum - today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Drink up, me hearties!

Join the fun and start your conversations with an "Arrrr!" Just don't make the mistake of referring to your wife as a scurvy bilge rat while ordering her back into the galley.

Find a way to insert these into your daily conversation...

"Ahoy!"
"Bring me one noggin of rum, now, won't you, matey."
“C’mere, me buxom beauty”
"Avast, there!"
"Dead men don't bite."
"Shiver me timbers!"
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest -- Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
"Drink up, me hearties!"
"Land Lubber"
"Davy Jones' locker"
“Smartly, me lass,”

And from http://www.talklikeapirate.com the top ten pirate "pick up" lines.

10. Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?
9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?
8. Come on up and see me urchins.
7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.
6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.
5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?
4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?
3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.
2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is...

1. Prepare to be boarded.

"Oy... worry about your own fortunes gentlemen. The deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and mutineers."

AP

PS - Did you know, according to our friends a Wikipedia, the archetypal pirate grunt "Arrr!" (alternatively "Rrrr!" or "Yarrr!") first appeared in the classic 1950 Disney film Treasure Island. But I don't believe that.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blink Don't Bloat

"There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis." ~ Malcolm Gladwell, American Author
How long do the pages take to load on your web site?

Seconds? Minutes? Hours?

Seriously, we’ve all encountered pages that take a long time to load, but did you know it's not just annoying but bad for your business?

And in more ways that one.

I'm talking about poorly coded pages on your web site. Pages with bloated or redundant HTML code. It's actually very common when using a WYSIWYG editor, or a program such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver, but very troublesome for your marketing.

WYSIWYG editors, which mean “What You See Is What You Get”, have a tendency to add a ridiculous amount of un-needed code. But keep in mind these programs were not meant to build fully functional web sites. They should only be used as a starting point. In other words, use them to start your page, but you then MUST go into the code and take out the unnecessary and redundant code.

Of course the best-case scenario is to code your site by hand. It's by far supeiror. For example, if you test a page coded by hand versus a page created by a WYSIWYG... the hand coded page will load quicker every time. It's fast, clean and concise, vs. being slow, dirty and bloated.

Why is this bloat bad?

Obviously, slow page loads ruins user experience. Site visitors want to accomplish their task and move on as quickly as they can. They want information now… without waiting. (Do you hear this video marketers? Online video may be turning off your readers if it takes too long to load.)

I always go back to the blink test… web surfers will make an evaluation of a page in seconds. Five seconds after they click - tops - and if the page doesn’t load, they're gone.

If the site is really good… worth the wait… let’s say 50% stick around and wait for the page to load. But that’s a 50% loss of readers. Yikes, that’s bad business.

Oh… and one of those readers that left instead of waiting for your page to load… he may have been a potential back link. Ahh!

This is something you can't ignore.

In addition to caring about how users perceive your site, bloated HTML can also affect your search engine indexing, ranking and linking.

Uh oh…

Did you ever do a Google search, go into the "Cache" and see a blank page… do you know why?

It's dirty html, excess JavaScript, or CSS embedded on the page. In other words, the code is not “clean” it’s bloated and/or dirty to the extent that the Google bot came to the page, read the source and but stopped and left before it ever got to the text.

Ugh…

That’s not going to help your ranking, eh?

I’ve seen it happen… a page with 3,000 lines of code with all types of JavaScript over it. CSS is embedded on the page, and the page’s actual unique text is way down in the file past line 2,000. Ouch…

It may look beautiful to the eye, but not to the Google Bot.

You can't afford to let this happen. So what do you do?

For better crawling clean up the code and move the unique text toward the top of the page. Streamline the HTML, and move the JavaScript and CSS definitions to external files.

So do yourself a favor… no. Do your readers and the engines a favor... clean up your code and lower the size of your page. You’ll create a better user experience, and improve your search engine rankings.

Don't let first impression of your sight to be negative. Let your content sing in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Character, Moneybags & Blogs

“It takes a long time to educate a community and it can't be done by spellbinders, moneybags, hypnotizers or magicians or Aladdin's lamp. Character is what matters on a paper.”~ Harry J. Grant, American Author & Publisher
I hear this alot.

"Cool blog, does it make any money?"

Everyone seems to want to make money with a blog... but not me. CVoD is a resource, a place for discussion and sharing... it's not a commercial marketplace.

Oh sure one day I may test selling a product, (he said in a foreshadowing manner - hehehe), but that is not the purpose of this site.

Then why have a blog?

Ah ha, well...

From a business point of view, there are two reasons to publish a blog.

One is as a marketing tool to bring exposure, credibility and clientele to an existing business, service, or product. For instance, blogging about gardening to promote a local plant nursery, or better yet blogging about your web marketing philosophy which states that one must create value for their Internet business or, in the blink of an eye, it will soon perish from the medium.

CVoD baby!

The other reason is to generate money through the blog itself. Rather than promoting a person or a business, the blog is the business.

There are some doing this such as "The Daily Kos" which can attract millions of readers and via an advertising business model sell thousands of dollars of ad space.

But this is an exception. Most blogs CANNOT get the traffic to use an advertising model. Most try and fail. Some may have garnered some traffic years ago using Google's AdSense and black hat techniques, but those days are gone mostly. And so are those businesses.

According to Technorati, there are 103 million blogs in existence and 175,000 new ones created every day. Yikes.

And to me... most of them are for crap, eh?

They are mostly Ma-and-Pa descriptions of daily life that don't even try to sell ads. Many of them do try to monetize via Google's AdSense program and fail. Do they make some money?

Yes, each month money comes in but in unspectacular fashion. And often the margin is so ridiculously low that the time would be better spent doing some real marketing for the blog.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. A few blogs make $10,000 per month, but that is less than 1% of the total. In a word:
Atypical, a·typ·i·cal, adj. - Not conforming to type; unusual or irregular.
I think a blog should follow the CVoD 4 E's:

Entertain, educate and engage.

The motivation should be the personal satisfaction of writing... and sharing with others experiences gained. A blog should create a niche community of like minded thinkers. Organically...

It should become a community that can be supplemented with advertising down the road, but if you try to monetize the blog from day one... without giving care to the community first, then you'll never see a dime from the advertising.

Making a few extra bucks never hurts... but let me shout it from the tallest mountain:
"Build a Community... not just a business"
So what to do?

Work on your editorial, build your community and then test some of these...

Google's AdSense, blog ad networks, selling ad space yourself, selling your own merchandise, or setting up affiliate relationships with online stores such as Amazon so you receive a percentage of sales that come through your site.

Heck... you can even ask readers for donations. You'd be surprised how successful that can be, that is, if you're creating value for the members of your community.


AP