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?


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...


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 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?


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.


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.


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.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


"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...

"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 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."


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.


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.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Memory of Tragedy

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “ ~ President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001
I felt compelled to write something, but I don't know...

It's six years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Today all over the U.S. there are public memorials and private remembrances. For some, the grief will be raw. For others, it is time to move on.

I will always remember that day, and the shock that Michelle N. and I had from our joint offices at 808 St. Paul Street.

Disbelief, confusion, fear, anger... it was a very emotional day.

So much so that by 11:30am (EST) I let my office staff go home. No reason to keep working since our little Internet publishing effort in Baltimore was irrelevant after such events.

And now it's six years later...

Any global goodwill that America engendered after Sept. 11 has been tarnished by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Osama bin Laden, who released a video message Friday for the first time in three years, remains at large.

At"ground zero", the Freedom Tower is beginning to emerge where the twin towers stood in lower Manhattan. Is America is trying to move forward?

I think most of us are trying... yet America is still at war. A war that the public doesn't support, and the government is escalating.

So is American moving forward, or hanging on to it's pain as a justification for war?

Like I said, I don't know...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Need Video help?

"The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.” ~ Dave Barry, American Writer and Humorist
And we're back!

Today, a "quick one" re video... if you do it, add value, and don't forget to optimize it.

Don't forget to add tags and meta data for better ranking. I also include a transcript below so your page can get ranked in both the content and video engines.

Most folks are looking to get into video because they want more traffic. They think video will be in more eyes to their site. Good theory, but not easy to do.

But here's a tip:

Take a look at

It claims to be a one stop video shop for the distribution of online video. It's a free service that uploads video to YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe, Yahoo!, MySpace, AOL Video and others. Sounds cool, eh?

But what really interested me was the free access to metrics, comment tracking and the ability to add tags and metadata to the video you upload. It sounds like the perfect place to test your first video effort before spending an arm and a leg.

I haven't had time to test this yet, but I hope to this month. I'll let you know how it goes.

One last point re video.

Video for the sake of video won't create value for your site... just like content for the sake of content. Bad writing is bad for your site and the same logic applies to video. Most video that I've seen on sites doesn't add value. That's the key... if you can create a video that fills a hole that is currently missing in your business - go for it.

Otherwise... please don't start spending money on video because some blow hard says "We need to have video!"

It's probably the same "genius" who says your site needs to be a portal or the next yahoo... am I right?

If that is the case... walk away. Please. Don't waste your time and money.

Bottom line: Improve your content always... add value at every cost... the time spent improving your editorial will bring in more money than any video idea you can think of.

Trust me on this.


PS - Good to be home, and I look forward to start posting more regular.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Last Stop: London

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” ~ Samuel Johnson, English Poet & Writer, 1709-1784
This is the final episode the CVoD travel diary... I promise we'll get back to web marketing soon. Just some final comments on our trip.

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to drive from Binz to Hamburg, and catch a plane to London all in one day. Sounds easy... in theory.

In reality... no.

It's not something you want to do. On a rainy windy day... it was too long in the car, too hard to navigate through Hamburg to drop off the rental, too many bags to lug to the airport and too many cranky family members, i.e., son, daughter, wife, and yours truly.

Nonetheless, we made it to the airport on time but of course then, our plane was late... but that was good news for me as it allowed one more Bier.

As they say, "When in Hamburg..."

When all is said and done... we did have a great time in Germany, and we look forward to coming back.

We arrived in London without complication. Ah, London.

London... is a great city. It has everything I want in a city... business, culture, history... you name it. I've been to London many times over the last 20 years and each time I find something new and interesting.

But this time we have the CVoD family caravan.... So what do you think we did first off?

You guessed it, we bought another piece of luggage.

Yep... We have too much stuff and what's another bag when you already have 6? (sic)

Plus, my wife wanted to go shopping for clothes for the the kids... so it's better to get one more bag than further stuff the over-stuffed bags we're traveling with.

The clothes she bought were indeed cool, every boy needs to look his best on his first day of school.... don't you think?

Sure it would be better if the dollar wasn't an embarrassment against the British Sterling, but sometimes a Dad just has to suck it up and pay a little more for family peace.

Or I'm just too tired to fight, I'm not sure which.

I can justify buying clothes, but the $150 US dollar (converted) airport to hotel taxi ride is hard to swallow. But again with all our luggage it not like we can take the Tube.

My son loves London, and the Tower Bridge. This is his second trip and I'm sure it won't be the last.

What did we do?

We had a couple pints, some good Greek food, and nice dinner sitting outside next to my son's bridge, (it's now his bridge, yes). Nothing too exciting, as such I'll end this travel talk.

Was it restful vacation... hell no.

As is par for the course, my wife and I have a tendency to bite off more than we can chew, and this trip is no different. We survived. But sometimes surviving is enough... would I do it again?

Yeah, we are both crazy that way. (I guess that's why we got married) We enjoy living our lives rather than letting life live us.

If that makes no sense to you... then you must not have kids. AND you probably don't get CVoD. But I'm too tired to explain it any further.

Now, go get some names!