Archives for February 2006

Are You Forgetting To Backup? The Backup Checklist

I woke up this morning to something a bit alarming. My other blog, Entrepreneur’s Journey was replaced with a completely different site. My blog had been hacked!

My websites have been hacked before and usually when it happens they replace the index page with a rude comment or something similar. This time my domain name appeared to be pointing to a completely different site.

I went in with and checked my files and it appeared as if nothing had changed so I was puzzled how the hackers had manipulated my site. Then it dawned on me, I probably had left my .htaccess file open and they had placed some code in it to redirect my domain to another website. I quickly tested my theory and I was right. I replaced the file, made sure it was locked this time so it couldn’t happen again and everything was back to how it should be.

How Often Do You backup?

When something like this happens I immediately think about worse case scenarios which usually means restoring my site from whatever backups I have available. I’m fairly regular with my backing up habits and I have duplicate copies of everything vital. I tend to back up my files once every week or two so it could still mean loosing a week or more worth of content if something forced me to restore from backups. Not a bad situation but not great either.

Of course the more often you backup the better but for me it’s quite a time consuming activity to back up everything I do.

The backup Checklist

When first creating a backup procedure I imagine a few different scenarios. I run Internet businesses so consequently I think in technology terms when I do this, but for your business you can include other things as well, like shop fittings, stock, tax records, equipment – any assets or intellectual property that is vital to the day-to-day operations of your business.

In my case I think about files on computers and in particular websites. I consider two scenarios –

  1. My online content is lost (website erased)
  2. My offline content is lost (computer crash)

If you think through an average week in your business life you can map out all the resources you use and which you should have backup procedures for. Add to this your yearly activities like tax records and you should be able to come up with a comprehensive list of your vital resources.

In my case I backup the following files:

  • My personal files and folders on my computer
  • Every single website I manage – I have a folder with all the content for each website
  • All the live website databases (mySQL) for my blogs, forums, and software scripts
  • My email in-boxes – both personal and business (I backup full profiles, not just individual emails so you can restore or transfer things a lot easier)
  • My AWeber email mailing lists – VITAL! Don’t lose your mailing lists
  • All the active files that I’m currently working with on my desktop that haven’t been filed away in folders yet.
  • My address books, browser favorites, cookies and RSS subscriptions
  • Installation executable files for any really important software I don’t have on disk or can’t download from the web.
  • All my tax record keeping files
  • Client records – all the files telling me about clients I need to bill etc

That covers most of my vital files. I back these up on to a portable MP3 player hard drive and also my laptop. It would take a lot of things going wrong at once for me to loose anything permanently. You should be certain you can say the same about your small business.

Automatic Update Procedures

A lot of people that work in the IT field have automatic backup procedures that each day will transfer the content of folders to offsite backups or similar. This is a great time saving facility. My advice to people that have access to this is to be certain everything that is important is backed up. It’s helpful to be efficient at backing up but it’s more important to be comprehensive.

Yaro Starak
Back-er-Upper-er

How To Beat Technical Barriers

It’s Too Difficult – I Hate Computers!

World Wide Web

Undoubtedly some of you have cringed as you’ve read through this Internet Marketing course and feel that the technical requirements just make it too hard for you to make use of online marketing. I commend you for getting this far through the course. I have no doubt with your new knowledge about online marketing you will at least have a better understanding of how the web can work for your business if you can get all the technical things set up, including a website, a blog, autoresponders and pay per click advertising campaigns.

You Have Options

To put it simply there are two ways you can approach technical barriers –

1. Knuckle down and learn how to do it yourself.

Teach yourself everything as you go, build your website, publish your blog, set-up your autoresponders, write all your content, manage your advertising campaigns – everything. If you already use computers and the Internet, trust them, love them and respect them, then I have no doubt this option is the best way to go for you. Somehow I expect if you are reading this course this probably isn’t the case.

2. Pay others to do it for you.

There are hundreds of people very willing to take your money in exchange for helping you with your online marketing. The trick of course is finding good people and clearly communicating your needs and objectives.

The Smart Way Is Balance – Know Your Strengths

I recommend a combination of both option 1 and 2. Do as much as you can efficiently and effectively yourself and hire help to do the rest. Study and learn how to use software, maintain websites and how the web works but every time you face something that requires skills that you will never be great at or don’t have time to learn, outsource.

Running a business is about leveraging your strengths at all times and it’s smarter to pay someone else to do something you are not good at. Then you can devote your time to the activities that you are good at and produce income for you.

Personally web design is not my strong point so I hire people to design websites for me. I’m also not good at programming so I hire people to develop software for me on the rare occasion I need something. The basics I can do all myself so on a day-to-day basis I have no problems steering the ship.

The real secret in my case is how I leverage my strongest skills to maximum effect. Writing and teaching are my passions and that is how I make my income. I deliberately devote my time to those two tasks. Whenever something comes up that I can’t efficiently do myself or quickly learn I have no hesitation to hire someone to do it for me. I’m not afraid to pay thousands of dollars for good work either, I’ve learnt too many hard lessons trying to “get a bargain” and I know quality is worth the price.

Outsourcing

Finding talented people is not easy and often when you do find the best they are not cheap. When you find the holy grail – affordable talent – nurture that relationship, it will be a powerful asset for your business.

Never go for the cheapest because in the web industry the old adage “You get what you pay for” holds true. Better to pay a little more to get good results rather than throw money away because you try and cut corners. I once wasted $500 on one of the first programming jobs I outsourced because I hired two very inexperienced students who were not capable of producing what I required.

Checklist For Selecting Contractors And Freelancers

When it comes time to hire talent go through the following checklist –

  1. Ask your friends and contacts if they have a reliable person with the skills you are after. You can’t always be 100% certain a personal referral will lead to the right person but it’s by far the most reliable way to find talented and honest people.
  2. If that doesn’t work check with contacts that work in a similar industry to you. In my case I have met a lot of other bloggers so I often go to them for referrals. Most people that do online marketing will have hired a programmer or designer at some point and you can draw from their experiences by emailing them for a referral recommendation when you need some work done.
  3. If you know no one online the blogosphere is a fantastic place to recruit talent. For example if I’m looking for a blog design I surf around blogs and find a design I like and ask the owner who created it. Just look around and send a few emails, you will get results quickly because there are always people looking for work in IT.
  4. Try online forums and communities where web designers hang out. Good examples include Webhostingtalk, Sitepoint and DigitalPoint. Many professional IT people frequent these forums so usually all it takes is a post that you have a contract job available to get a list of applicants. Always ask for credentials and examples of past work before agreeing to a contract.

    The most common error in outsourcing projects is poor communication so be certain to very carefully explain your needs and then double check with your contractor to make sure they know what you want. Use an official contract if it’s a big project, but don’t waste time with contracts if your job is under $5000. If it is a big project, break it down into milestones so you aren’t committed to spending all the money at once.

  5. The web is full of opportunities to “try before you buy” so try out all the free courses, ebooks and articles given away as samples before deciding to buy.

    Let’s say you want to hire someone to handle your Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign on Google AdWords – if you do a search for “AdWords Course” or similar you should locate plenty of people offering free advice. You may find after educating yourself you can now do the work yourself, if not, ask the author of the course/book/website if they are willing to handle your campaign or know a good person for the job. This way you can experience the quality before paying for the skills.

  6. As a last resort you can try freelance sites like RentACoder.com, Elance.com or do a search for a freelancer in Google. It’s not hard to find people but gauging how good they are is difficult. Elance provides a feedback reputation meter that allows you to review testimonials from other people that have hired the freelancer.

    One word of warning with outsourcing from freelance websites – beware the lure of bargain prices from cheap overseas labor from places like India, Pakistan, Russia and other eastern European locations. While you certainly can find great talent from these areas at a fraction of the costs of local talent, it can be difficult to communicate your needs due to language barriers and time differences. If you have a complex requirement, or you prefer to work face-to-face look for suppliers near you.

  7. You can ask me. I know quite a few talented people that do work for me that I would be happy to recommend to you. They aren’t necessarily the cheapest in the business but they are reliable and produce good output, by far the most important qualities. Feel free to contact me.

How To Build A Website

So you have decided to build a website and start marketing online, congratulations! Here are your best alternatives to get started if you aren’t already technically proficient yourself.

  1. Go through the steps above and find someone talented to do it for you. As I mentioned above I’m happy to provide assistance if you are stuck.
  2. Use SiteBuildIt. You may not have heard of SiteBuildIt. It’s the brainchild of Ken Evoy and the most widely used website hosting and building tool available to the average, non-technical webmaster. SiteBuildIt is a “do it yourself” website kit that doesn’t require any coding or technical knowledge. If you can browse the web and email then you can use SiteBuildIt.

    The best thing about the SiteBuildIt system compared to other standard website hosting packages is that it’s designed for building traffic. Ken has a principle he calls the
    C Red Arrow T Red Arrow P Red Arrow M (Content -> Traffic -> Presell -> Monetize) system that is the fundamental key to online marketing.

    SiteBuildIt provides everything you need to host and create your website provided you are prepared to create content. If you don’t have content then you don’t have an online marketing strategy.

    The only discouraging issue about SiteBuildIt is the price. Remember how I said you get what you pay for? This is a prime example. You pay for quality, resources, tool and advice with SiteBuildIt, but it’s definitely more expensive than just buying space to host a website. In exchange for your cash you get a system that “holds your hand” as you create and popularize your website.

    To find out more about SiteBuildIt visit – http://www.sitebuildit.com

  3. Start a Blog. More on this below.

Blog Software

Blogging services are abundant and targeted at different levels of user. Here are my top picks to consider –

Blogger.com – http://www.blogger.com/
If you are technically deficient then a blog on a free host such as blogger.com is a good start, but only a start. I would use this as a test to see if you can produce content. It’s free and will teach you the blogging basics, but it really is a beginner tool more for fan-blogs and hobby sites. If you run a small business I wouldn’t recommend it.

Typepad.com – http://www.typepad.com/
Typepad is a more professional blogging tool that keeps things very easy to use. You have to pay for Typepad with the prices between $5 USD and $15 USD a month. This includes hosting so that’s all you will need to pay. There are quite a few good templates and shortcuts within the Typepad system making it a popular choice as a one-stop-solution to host a business blog.

WordPress.org – http://wordpress.org/
WordPress is my favourite blogging software. It’s a robust tool, completely free (you need to host and install it yourself though) and there are hundreds of templates and plugins available for free that increase the functionality of your blog. I recommend you aim to be on WordPress eventually, even though the technical barriers may stop you initially. If you are serious about blogging get someone to install WordPress for you and then learn how to use it, you won’t regret it.

Website Hosting And Domain Names

Website hosting involves a few different elements, including selecting a domain name (URL) and determining how much space and bandwidth (traffic) you will consume. These are reasonably technical issues that people can often become confused and frustrated with.

If you are planning a small business website with text and images nearly all hosting packages will provide more than you need and offer room to grow. Hosting should cost you between $10 and $100 per month, anything more than that and you are definitely being overcharged. Try not to pay less than $10 a month either – you get what you pay for remember!

Domains names should cost between $8 and $50 for a year depending on what type of domain you select. Try and get a .com domain, but chances are you won’t find anything suitable because most .com domains are taken. If you are an Australian business targeting Australia the next best thing to a .com is a .com.au. My current domain name supplier of choice is Yahoo Small Business.

I Am Happy To Help

A lot of the topics covered in this last part of the course regarding hosting, domain names, blog software packages, website building packages and outsourcing are complicated enough that you need a course for each topic. Obviously that’s way beyond the scope of this course and I only want to introduce you to the basics and help you break through any technical barriers that are holding you back now.

As I’ve mentioned I’m happy to help through email and possibly phone or Skype if required. Obviously all my time can’t be devoted to helping everyone that reads my courses and articles but I do my best to provide answers or at least forward people on to resources where you can find answers yourself. I also often refer to my own personal network of talented web designers, hosts, programmers and consultants if I think they would be a good fit for you. In a worst case scenario where I can’t help or I can’t provide a proper answer I’ll simply say so, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

My Blogs

There is a lot of additional resources covering all the topics in this course available from my blogs. I suggest you visit and bookmark them –

Entrepreneur’s Journey – http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com
Small Business Branding – http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com

I wish you good luck in your online marketing endeavours and I hope your small business prospers and benefits many people.

I’ll see you online,

Yaro Starak

Work Smarter, Not Harder

A couple years ago I read a rather depressing book called “Nickeled and Dimed.” In this book, the author sets aside her white collar credentials and gets a low-wage job (Wal-Mart, hotel maid, waitress etc.) in 3 different cities and attempts to survive.

She basically fails each time, and her book is an interesting but somewhat aimless gripe about how it’s impossible for anyone in America to get ahead.

Why? The answer is VERY interesting.

Back in 1800, American wages were 3X higher than Britain and just about everywhere else in the world.

Rodney Stark explains it like this: “In the 1820’s the federal government sold good land for $1.25 an acre while wages for skilled labor were $1.25 to $2.00 a day. It didn’t take long to save enough for a farm sufficiently large to raise cash crops yielding solid returns.”

In other words if people could go into farming fairly easily, you had to pay them well or you wouldn’t get any employees.

So how come US companies could afford to pay workers 3X as much as British companies?

Because US companies used technology to make their workers more productive. You can afford to pay people 3X as much if they produce 6X. And that’s exactly what was happening.

Last week in my Roundtable coaching group, we discussed how one of the members needs to do less of an activity that earns him $2,000 an hour and focus it on something even more productive. (He’s using technology rather effectively, I think.)

Sound outrageous? It’s not. Because it doesn’t matter whether you make ten bucks an hour or a thousand, there’s always a better use of your brains, your resources and your technology. The fact that some guy in China will work for five cents an hour is totally irrelevant. You’re in a game of working smarter, not harder.

Fact is, the government can try to raise the minimum wage or whatever they conjure up, but the ONLY thing that helps anybody is when we use our brains to get more from our time. In the 1800’s it was farms that provided people with an alternative to the Dilbert Cube, today it’s the Internet. And the smarter we work, the bigger a tip we can leave at the restaurant or at the hotel room. The more of us there are creating new products and selling more effectively, the more Wal-Mart has to pay the greeters. And that’s good for all of us.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Don’t work harder. Work smarter. Do less of the low-value stuff (hire someone else to do that for you – they can use the work) and more of the high value stuff (marketing, advertising strategy, writing copy, finding out what your customers want) and you might someday find yourself figuring out how to do less of that $2000 an hour work.

Come to Chicago in April where some of my best and highest-earning students will roll up their sleeves and personally help you with your marketing, advertising strategy and copywriting – and help you find out even better what your customers want:

www.AdwordsSeminar.com/mastermind.htm

Perry Marshall

Blogs

What Is A Blog?

Blogging on my computer

Essentially a blog is a website but what makes it different to a normal website is how much more “human” it is. You can loosely categorize most websites as online magazines or brochures, used for entertainment, research, business or education. A blog is closer to a diary. The term blog is derived from “weblog” otherwise known as web diary. Blogs are generally operated by one individual and clearly branded with the personality of the author, often with a photo of the author prominently displayed.

If you are reading this article at Small Business Branding then you are in fact reading a blog.

Blogs contain articles that are called “posts”, which are categorized and typically listed in chronological order. While blogs may have started as online diaries nowadays there are blogs on any topic imaginable and command a lot of attention from the mainstream media, allowing any person anywhere to establish a following as a writer. For our purposes we are interested in blogging for business and marketing, and in my opinion no independent professional or small business should be without a blog.

Blogs Are Not Technical

From a technical standpoint blogs have succeeded because of how easy they are to maintain. If you know how to use email and surf the web then you can learn how to blog in a matter of hours. You write an article in a web form the same way you would type an email into Hotmail. Choose which category the article should be in, click publish and your article goes live on your blog. There is of course a lot more to it, but essentially that process forms the basics of what blogging is – a really easy method for the average web surfer to publish content online.

As already discussed in previous parts of this course, relationship building with potential customers is very important. When a customer establishes trust with you they are more likely to buy something from your business. A blog is the perfect conduit for establishing trust and is the ideal online communications tool for an independent professional to reach their audience online. It’s easy enough for a non-technical individual to make use of and the benefits can be significant at very low cost. That formula has seen an explosion of blog usage with an estimated 70 million blogs in existence as at July 2005 (source: http://www.blogherald.com/2005/07/19/blog-count-for-july-70-million-blogs/).

For updated blog statistics, including 2006 data read – State of the Blogosphere, February 2006

What Content Do You Publish To A Blog?

Today you can publish virtually anything on your blog, including audio, video and software, but of course the basic foundation is the written word and that’s where you should start. Once you know your target market and are clear on what you offer to them you need to produce content that meets the needs and interests of the market and provides a sample of what you do.

As was previously mentioned in chapter 3: Email Autoresponders of this course, you should demonstrate your skills and provide value to your potential customers by teaching or giving away a part of what you offer, a tempting sample of what your full service or product can do. This could be as simple as the first chapter of your book, a limited use version of your software, a collection of articles discussing hot topics in your industry, a short course teaching the basics of you full seminar series or just advice directly from you.

The options are truly limitless but the important considerations for small business blogging are to keep on topic, stay relevant, provide value and target your audience. The target audience is where your customers will come from so if you do intend to make sales make sure you discuss topics relevant to your industry.

Example – Targeting A Market With A Blog

Let’s stick with the Sydney plumber example from previous articles in this Internet marketing series. If a plumber from Sydney created a blog and the purpose of the blog was to get new customers, then getting the blog high into search engine results for terms like “Sydney plumber” would be an important goal. The plumber should write lots of how-to articles on plumbing topics such as:

  • How to fix a toilet
  • How to seal a bathtub
  • New technologies in the plumbing industry
  • How to fix a leaking faucet
  • Where to buy cheap plumbing supplies in Sydney

Now you might argue that the plumber is giving away all of his best secrets. This is exactly the right thing to do. Most people that read the articles won’t go and fix their toilet themselves, all they want to know is that they are hiring someone that knows what they are talking about. The better the quality of the articles the more convinced they will be of the value of the plumber. These topics promote the expertise and credibility of the plumber.

From a web marketing point of view articles like these would bring in lots of links from other sites raising the search engine ranking of the blog for terms like “Sydney plumber”. Chances are there is not much competition for that term and the first plumber that devotes himself to blogging about his plumbing business is going to very quickly come to dominate Google results for plumbing related terms.

Blog Search Engine Marketing

Another fantastic benefit of blogs is that right out-of-the-box they are very well optimised for search engines (chapter 5: Search Engine Optimization). As long as you write good content your blog will present it for you in a well optimized format. There is of course a lot more you can do to further enhance your blogs performance in search engines but you will be off to a great start if you choose good blog software (incidentally I use and recommend WordPress, which is completely free).

Why Is Blogging Taking Off?

Blog usage is exploding because blogs foster great content and collaboration. Blogs are built to communicate with other blogs and no doubt if you do become a blogger you will find yourself meeting many other bloggers (meeting through the Internet however because quite often you will live in different countries). Not only will you form relationships with your customers but you will also meet people working in your industry, opening up opportunities for joint ventures, cross promotions, business collaboration and even friendships.

The real power in blogging comes from leveraging the blog network (called the blogosphere – yes it is cheesy!) to reach hundreds and even thousands of people. One popular article can be picked up (linked to) by hundreds of other blogs filtering your name and blog around the web like a virus. You couldn’t buy viral marketing of this magnitude, which penetrates so far so quickly at no cost, in the real world. If you blog consistently it can happen on a regular basis.

Blogging For Business

I’ve only touched on the basics of blogging and there is an endless amount of information to digest and things you can do if you choose this path, however the first steps are the most important. Get yourself set up with a blog with a standard basic template and make an effort to start producing content.

Yaro Starak

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine OptimizationSearch engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing is the practice of developing your website so it appears high up in search engine result pages. This topic is by far one of the most frustrating issues for online marketers for one particular reason – it takes time. Patience is not a common trait among business people and coming to grips with the amount of time it takes to get good natural search engine results can be painful. I still have difficulty dealing with it myself.

Why is there such a long wait?

Because the search engines, especially Google, deliberately set things up to work in a manner that rewards long term growth and no matter how great your website is if it only launched last month you won’t be getting much search traffic.

Google doesn’t want brand new websites with no history at the top of the results. Instead Google rewards websites that are well established and grow over a long period of time. Long in Internet years is as little as 12 months but we are better off talking in years, not months.

Consequently everything I’m going to teach you is sound practice as a long term SEO plan, don’t expect big results tomorrow, or even next month, you are going to have to be patient. The upside if you keep working for many months is that eventually you will enjoy a steady stream of targeted visitors coming from search engines that you don’t have to pay for. It will also be hard for you to lose your top rankings because you have the advantage of time compared to all the new websites coming online.

Example

Once more I’ll direct you to one of my business websites – www.BetterEdit.com. This site enjoys a steady stream of around 400 visitors per day and those are targeted visitors, many of whom are looking for what my business offers. I optimized the site for phrases like “essay editing” and “thesis proofreading” and a lot of my traffic comes directly from searches on Google or Yahoo! using those terms.

I started the site back in the year 2000 and now it’s one of the oldest and most established sites in the student editing and proofreading industry and is on the first page of results for hundreds of different search phrases. A new site trying to replicate this success would take months, probably years to even get close to my results. That is definitely a competitive advantage.

How To Optimize A Brand New Website – Niche Phrases

Most website owners have two or three key phrases that they would love to be the first result for in the search engines. This simply won’t happen for a brand new website and likely will never happen for businesses operating in highly competitive industries. Unless you have very little competition online your best hope is to initially chase secondary key phrases, or drill down your key phrases to match your niche exactly.

Take for example the phrase “marketing consultant”. This is a highly competitive term that will be very hard for a new business consultant to rank competitively for in search engines. The solution is to break it down further into phrases that refine the niche.

“small business marketing consultant”

“Sydney marketing consultant”

“chiropractic marketing consultant”

“Sydney chiropractic marketing consultant”

Being the first result for “Sydney chiropractic marketing consultant” could easily be achieved in the first few months of launching a website because there are not many other websites that optimize for that niche phrase.

Targeted Traffic

The traffic coming from secondary search terms won’t be significant but if you choose your niches carefully the traffic will be targeted and therefore much easier to convert into customers. Over time as your website matures you will start to make inroads into the primary keywords that will bring in waves of traffic, but that traffic will likely not be as targeted as your refined niche traffic, so will have lower conversion rates (it will be harder to get customers from that traffic).

How To Generate Keyword Phrases

If you have trouble coming up with key phrases for your business website try some of these techniques –

  • Ask your friends and family what they would put into a Google search if they were looking for what you offer.
  • Use wordtracker, a tool that monitors keywords people use when they search the web. It’s not a free service but worth the $10 if you what some reliable empirical data.
  • The Overture/Yahoo! keyword selector tool can show you how many people are searching for certain phrases. It’s a free service but only shows what people are searching on the Yahoo! search network, not Google.
  • If you have a handful of phrases but you don’t know which are the best to target use the Overture tool to get the numbers for the past month’s worth of search and pick the best three. Remember don’t pick the really popular terms just because you are tempted by the hundreds of thousands of searches being done. You definitely won’t be the only one optimizing for that term if there is so much traffic available.
  • Use the Google keyword selector tool in AdWords. Your data from any AdWord Pay-Per-Click campaigns (see the previous part of this course on PPC advertising) is great for your SEO as well because any phrases performing well in AdWords Ads are worth targeting in your organic search marketing efforts too. If you pay for a phrase and it works well, getting it for nothing from free search traffic is even better.
  • Find a competitor’s site and see what keywords they are using. In particular check what is in their title tags (that’s the name of the site in the top bar in the browser window). Don’t copy them blindly however as they may not be having much success with their website either – just use the key words for inspiration and head to Overture, Google or Wordtracker to figure out which phrases are working the best.
  • If your site has been online for at least a few months check your website statistics. Most website hosting packages come with a statistics package (if you have no idea, ask your IT person or website hosting company) and in there you will find the keyword phrases that people have already used to search and find your site.

Search Engine Optimisation Techniques

Once you have selected the 2-3 key search phrases you want your website to target it’s time to start putting into place sound SEO techniques. SEO is a complicated process that no one can ever be 100% certain will provide the results sought after. The reason is that the search engines don’t reveal their inner workings. SEO experts know a lot because they have tested and tested and tested to compete their way to the top of the search engines. There are endless materials you can study online, but you should trust only those that have proven results. There are a lot of claims being made online by people without proof of results.

Top 8 Search Engine Marketing Techniques

Thankfully in a sea of unverified opinions there are a handful of tried and tested techniques that work. Below are the top 8 techniques you need to know in order to optimize your website for the search engines. These techniques have been proven to work time and time again and are recommended by virtually all the SEO experts.

These need to become part of your “inner knowledge” so they remain in your conscious whenever you build and market a website. They are not too complicated and if all you do is work tirelessly on these 8 methods each and every month your website will get results in search engines, I guarantee it.

Below I’ve listed the techniques in brief because it would take a new article (or two) to cover the techniques. However luckily for you I’ve already written a two-part article series that covers these techniques in more detail. Head over to my blog, Entrepreneur’s Journey, and read part one and two of the Top 8 Search Engine Marketing Techniques for more education.

Part 1: The Top SEO On-Page Techniques
Part 2: The Top SEO Off-Page Techniques

    On-Page Techniques – these are changes you make to your own website. You have 100% percent control of these elements.

  1. Title Tags
  2. Keyword Density
  3. Site Structure
  4. Internal Links
  5. Off-Page Techniques – these are things other websites do to your website. You can’t control these elements but you can manipulate and encourage them.

  6. Links and PageRank
  7. Page Reputation
  8. Anchor Text
  9. Link Popularity

The Complete Picture

You now have a complete picture of online marketing. You know why the web works for business and why you need to be online. You know your website must build relationships. You know autoresponders are vital to create these relationships and establish communication channels. And finally you know the two best ways to get people to visit your website – Pay-Per-Click advertising and the top 8 natural search engine optimization techniques that improve your organic search engine rankings.

Next Up – Blogs

In the second-last installment of this course I want to introduce you to a relatively new tool available to online marketers – blogs. Blogs and blogging have made it so easy for an independent small business person to create a dynamic website with little technical skill. Blogs are built for search engines, are one of the best communication tools available to “talk” naturally to your potential customers and build relationships like no “normal” website ever could. I love blogging and I expect once you read the next part of the series you will be very excited about it too.

Yaro Starak

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Click Here With PPC AdvertisingWhat is the most common complaint about online marketing?

Traffic, or lack of it – How do you get visitors to your website?

The web is not like the real world. You don’t set up shop and have an instant audience walking by your premises. Once your website is online the only way to get visitors is to actually do something proactive to attract them.

There are literally hundreds of ways to get traffic to a website. Some cost money, others take time and your results can vary dramatically. My guess is that you want your website generating sales from the day you launch it. The most effective way to meet this goal is to use Pay-Per-Click advertising.

What Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a method of online marketing where you buy traffic from other websites based on a per-click fee. A click is counted each time someone clicks a link that brings them to your website. It’s a good method because it’s trackable, you know how many clicks you get and how much money you spend per click.

PPC has been around for a long time but it wasn’t until Google implemented PPC and built an amazing system to support it that it became easy for any person to use it. The system is called Google AdWords and is all you need to get your business going.

Google AdWords

I’m not going to teach how to use Google AdWords – there’s a full course worth of information on that topic alone. Instead I’ll teach you why and how it works so you understand the basics and can decide if it’s right for you.

If you are eager to get using AdWords head over to the Google AdWords sign-up page (https://adwords.google.com/select/) and start exploring. There are many help files and online lessons that Google provide to learn the system so you won’t be lacking study materials. One word of warning though, especially for those not familiar with PPC –

Don’t spend any money on AdWords until you at least finish reading this article AND study techniques for successful PPC campaigns.

It’s very easy to spend lots of money quickly with AdWords, implementing poorly thought out campaigns and attracting the wrong kind of traffic. If you are ready to learn more about AdWords I recommend Perry Marshall’s free AdWords course as a great beginners guide. I took it myself after failing miserably with my first few campaigns. You can sign up for his free course here – http://perrymarshall.com/google/

Where Do Google Ads Appear?

Google AdWords For SearchGoogle AdWords allows you to place advertisements, usually as text boxes but also banners, on the Google search results pages and also on the Google content network. The search boxes you should be able to spot easily whenever you use Google to search. Down the right hand column and sometimes as the first two “sponsored results” you will see text boxes advertising websites. The content network is made up of websites that display Google AdWords on their website in exchange for payment from Google.

Google AdWords For Content

Contextual Advertising

Contextual matching is the real secret sauce when it comes to PPC advertising. AdWords uses a keyword system. You bid for words and phrases that match what your target market are searching for. When a person searches Google using your keywords your ad shows up. This is called contextual advertising because you can clearly refine your campaigns to match your exact target market using context sensitive keywords.

Here is a simple example –

Let’s take a plumber living in Sydney. He wants clients but they can’t be too far away, ideally within short driving distance. His target market is people searching for a plumber in the Sydney area.

To attract this market Google AdWords can be used to bid for keywords such as “Sydney Plumber” or “Plumber Sydney” etc. The AdWords system can be set up to target geographic areas so our plumber targets only Australian Internet users and ensures no overseas browsers see the ad. Whenever an Australian searches using those keyphrases his ad shows up making sure that any clicks come from targeted visitors – people that are searching for what he offers.

There are many further refinements available within the Google AdWords system, too many to go through within this article, but you can rest assured that any target market that is using the Internet can be reached with the AdWords system.

The Big Picture

Now you can put all the online marketing ingredients together. You have a website. You have autoresponders ready to capture website visitor information and build a reputation with your audience. You have a means to attract your target market. In a nutshell that basic formula is all you need to generate more customers than you can probably handle. There are skills to learn and certainly AdWords has a level of complexity that can only be mastered with practical experience, but even at the most basic level it can bring you substantial traffic for as little as $100 per month.

In the next chapter of this course I’m going to teach you about search engine optimisation. Specifically ways you can have your website appear higher up in search engines organically – not using PPC advertising or spending any money. This is a slower process that doesn’t bring results very quickly but is worthwhile studying if you intend to be marketing yourself online for the long term future, which is definitely a smart idea.

Yaro Starak

Email Autoresponders

Email Autoresponder ArticleI introduced you to the principle of relationship building in the previous part of this Internet marketing series. Now that you understand why a static website “brochure” is not enough and know that you need to build relationships with your customers let’s take a look at the most powerful tool you have available to accomplish this task, the email autoresponder.

What Is An Autoresponder?

There is a good chance you have experienced the most rudimentary email autoresponder, the “away from my office” message. When a person goes on holiday or is away from their office and work email for a period of time it’s quite common to switch on an autoresponse message that sends a reply to every email received. The message is a common courtesy, aimed at explaining why a personal reply email won’t be forthcoming until after the person returns to work. This is a good example of the most basic autoresponder. It demonstrates the principle of sending an email in response to an action, in this case an email received.

A fully fledged online marketing system uses a lot more powerful autoresponder that can send multiple emails during set time intervals and in response to different actions. They can also be used to handle newsletters, mailing lists and subscriptions. Integration is seamless using a sign-up form on your website or an email address that your visitors can email to join your list.

A Practical Example

At the top of this website (http://www.SmallBusinessBranding.com) you will find a subscription sign-up box requesting the name and email address of visitors to join my Blog Traffic School mailing list. Once a person submits their details they receive a confirmation email asking them to click a link to confirm their subscription (this is called double opt-in and stops me from being accused of sending SPAM). Once they are confirmed a welcome email is sent saying hello. A day later my email autoresponding system will send out another message that I programmed it to send. Another three days later another email is sent including an article and so on.

Each of these messages is personalized using the name of the subscriber and signing-off from me. All the messages are pre-set to come out at certain time intervals and create a natural dialogue with my subscribers. Even though the system is sending out every email automatically and handling all the communication it appears to be quite personal and consequently builds a relationship.

Autoresponders Are Not Too Technical

You might be worrying about how technically difficult it is to work with autoresponders. Thankfully if you choose a good system you should get the hang of it within a few hours and there are always lots of help files and customer support staff you can call on if you get stuck.

My autoresponder of choice is called AWeber and I recommend it to everyone. It costs between $15 USD and $20 USD per month depending on how much you prepay. AWeber has been around for over five years and has the backing of hundreds of online businesses, including all of mine.

However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look around yourself. There are many different autoresponder services available, some that are specialist services like AWeber, others that you can install on your webhost or on your own computer. I strongly recommend you choose one of the specialist external services because they are specifically set up to send lots of email. If you try and send out broadcast email messages to hundreds of people using your own computers you may be accused of spamming or your mail may be blocked. If you are in doubt, please feel free to email me, I’d be glad to help you make a choice.

E-Courses

One of the most common ways to utilize an autoresponder is to distribute an e-course. An e-course is a fantastic way to build a relationship with your website visitors by teaching them something of value.

The first step to establish an e-course is to write it. Five to seven short (500 words each should be enough) sequential lessons written in plain text is all you need. As you have probably guessed what you are reading right now is part of an e-course, although you may be reading it at a website or in a PDF and not through an email subscription. You take your lessons, put them into an autoresponder designed to send the lessons out once per day over a week and hey presto! – instant rapport building tool that demonstrates you know what you are talking about and provides real education to your eager students (potential customers).

Autoresponders + Website = Customer Relationships

Now you understand the basic formula for online marketing. You realize that the web presents an amazing opportunity to get customers. You understand that “just a website” is not good enough, you need to build a relationship and establish communication channels. Autoresponders are the tools you use to do this, providing an automated system that communicates with your website visitors automatically, selling value and creating rapport on your behalf.

The final ingredient necessary for successful online marketing is of course traffic. Without people visiting your website your online system can’t be put to use. In the next installment of this series I’ll teach you how to quickly get website visitors and not just any visitors, people that are actually looking for what you offer.

Yaro Starak

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