SEO Articles & Newsletters
Articles on SEO, internet marketing, and other related areas for Search Engine Positioning.

By Amy Armitage (c) 2008


The Web hosting firm you choose can make or break your small business. Good ones can run things smoothly, are easy to reach, and fix problems efficiently. But bad ones can have more problems than they are worth, be unreachable at critical times, and bring your business to a screeching halt. Finding a good one is crucial to your success.



Here are some tried and true ideas for how to select a host that will save you money, avoid technical snafus, and build your online platform for the future.



1. Choose a Service that Primarily Does Hosting



Although it might be tempting to sign-up with a firm that provides an umbrella of services in addition to website hosting, a good rule of thumb is that if a company overly-diversifies its services, it won't deliver top quality in any of them (e.g. tech support, updates, maintenance, etc.)



2. Choose a Host with a Great Record for Online Security



Most secure hosts will provide SSL Certificates to guarantee your security. Without an SSL Certificate on your site, visitors may come and go without identifying themselves, and this could put your site at risk. Make sure your host implements best practices when it comes to maintaining security architecture, updating security software, and responding effectively to breaches if and when they do occur.



3.Excellent Technical and Customer Service Support via Phone



Does the host provide phone support around the clock? Or can you only email for help during non-business hours? You definitely want the option to call a staffer. Studies show that over-the-phone tech and customer support systems are vastly more efficient than e-mail support centers, on average.



4. Solid Add-On Services



A number of great web hosting companies provide little extras to make sites more effective and user-friendly. These can include image upload galleries, blogs, control panels, order forms, support scripts, databases, and embedded video features. When evaluating various firms, examine sample sites and note what value add-ons you like and what value add-ons you feel are missing in each sample.



5. Don't Rely on Numbers Alone to Make the Decision



Many hosts promise uptime approaching 100%. But there's no way of verifying that kind of claim. If your website goes down, for instance, the company can easily explain it away as a statistically insignificant outlier. Similarly, a potential host may brag about oodles of bandwidth and space on servers, but if your online small-business needs are modest, these numbers shouldn't be your incentive. Finally, be wary of online rating systems. These figures can be jiggered and rejiggered to make a web host look better (or worse) than it actually is.



6. The Right Price for Your Needs



Sure, you can find a service for practically nothing. But there is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to web hosting. If you're paying a dirt-cheap rate, chances are that the host is watering down services in some respect. Perhaps the host offers minimal security protections or charges clients "pay per play" for technical support. Or maybe the site charges a sky-high maintenance fee or other monthly fee. The point is, you need to read the fine print and to price-compare before making a decision.



7. Flexible Features and Enough Elbow-Room



You have no idea how your online platform might evolve. That's why you need a hosting company that boasts flexible features, supports many different languages, offers linux and Windows options, and supports an array of scripts (PHP, Pearl, Java, etc.) A good rule of thumb for determining space is to "buy big". In other words, even if you don't have tens of thousands of files to upload and store, leave yourself some wiggle room to anticipate future growth.



8. An Easy-To-Use and Safe Shopping Cart



According to numerous estimates, U.S. and U.K. consumers will be spending nearly $150 billion per year online by the year 2010. Your site's e-commerce options should be simple, safe, battle-tested, and easy-to-use.



9. Protection Against Spam, Viruses, Trojan Horses, and the Like



Most creditable web hosting sites provide solid e-mail protection. Make sure to check for compatibility, however. For instance, if you use Microsoft Outlook, make sure that the host has the tools and services to shield your Outlook e-mail effectively -- without blocking key notifications from clients or suppliers.



10.Important Questions to Consider:






  • Does the host provide good references and testimonials?
  • Does the company employ best-of-breed firewalls and routers?
  • Has anyone filed complaints against the company through the Better Business Bureau or other organization?
  • What services do small businesses similar to yours use for web hosting?
  • Can the company provide any statistics to back up claims regarding reliability and technical support?
  • Can you use the host for a trial period before paying full price?
  • How expensive is it to upgrade or downgrade plans?
  • How do blogs and customer forums rate your candidate hosting services?




About The Author

Amy Armitage is the head of Business Development for Lunarpages. Lunarpages provides quality web hosting from their US-based hosting facility. They provide a wide-range of services from linux Virtual Private Servers and managed solutions to shared and reseller hosting plans.
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Useful Tips for User - Friendly Web Designing

Posted In: . By dr.emi creative design

A website is a handy and trendy marketing tool for business. For a good website, the visual web design must be attractive and must be able to grab the attention of a large number of visitors.


Web designing is an art and has to be done with interest and involvement. When done with involvement, the user-friendly feature will automatically get incorporated in the design. Stunning web design with good programming and marketing strategies will greatly increase the visibility of the website to the Internet browsers.


From this introduction it can be easily understood that web design is the key aspect of a website. For designing a user-friendly website here are a few tips which I gained through my experience in web designing. These useful tips, when implemented, will yield good user-friendly web designs.


Here we go.





1). What does the website convey?


Your answer to the question will lead you all the way to a good and meaningful web design. For designing a website, one should have a theme. On getting to know more of what the website is about, as a designer or as a Webmaster, it will be easy for you to design accordingly.


2). Planning for the web design


Planning makes work proceed smoothly. The first step in planning is research. Surf through the web to find sites similar to yours. Do a simple yet meaningful research to understand the pulse of the visitors. On doing so, your first impression will always be the best one.


3). Setting theme and layout


After your research and planning, the vital part of your web design is the collection of assets. The first step will be theme selection and webpage layout. There are personal websites, informational websites, ecommerce websites and service providing websites. It is all in the hands of a designer to select a matching theme to satisfy the need and implement it attractively.


4). Web Page Design


Neat and informative web pages are the most visited pages on the net. To design such a web page, the important elements to be taken note of are the header, footer, text area and the navigational area. Avoid using animated/flashy headers and navigational icons. Use a uniform header and footer to give a professional look to the website. These, when designed with care and when followed, will result in good web design.








5). Site Map and Navigation


In web designing, the term navigation is very much apropos with user-friendly. Navigation within the website should be very clear and easy. Always try to implement normal links for moving around, and avoid animated buttons. The column to the right of the webpage should have good navigational links. The site map is another important and easy way for finding web pages in the website. So, never forget these as these are the principal tips to be remembered while designing.


6). Usage of images and text


Web designing is all about expressing the ideas of the business to people. For it to be a success, use of correct images for communicating the content of the website to the visitors is a must. The text in the webpage must be search engine optimized and must convey the message clearly.


7). Page Size and Download Time


After placing the images, links and the text, the complete page should not exceed 30 KB. This size will ensure that the page is downloaded quickly, within 5 to 6 seconds. This time is crucial time because either it may bring visitors or divert them to another website of the same type.


The above are a few important tips to be considered while designing a website. You can follow them or modify them to suit your need. But the fact is that designing is about presenting the information in an elegant, decorative and user-friendly way.





About the Author:

John Williams - Dot Com Infoway Ltd., a professional Web Development Services company delivers web design services for all your needs. They specialize in complete website development solutions with expertise in Web Application Development services to global clientele.

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Want A Sticky Site? Forget Content!

Posted In: . By dr.emi creative design

By Michel Fortin (c) 2008


An interesting debate is raging among copy writers, web designers and content developers about the differences, if any, between writing copy for the web versus writing content.



According to prolific copywriter Nick Usborne of Excess Voice, a recent survey conducted among the readers of his newsletter of the same name offers some interesting results. They seem to be split almost three ways: one-third consists of copywriters, another content writers and the final third both.



But it's wrong.



This is an important debate, I believe, since all online copy is content but not all content is copy. And that's a real problem.



Most web designers, webmasters and content writers develop text for websites in a way to educate visitors. They also write it with the notion that "content is king," "content increases search engine rankings," "content makes a website sticky" and so on. That's all fine and good.



But I believe content fails when it strives only at informing the reader, and thus lacks important elements that take her "by the hand" and compels her to do something - anything, including the simple act of reading.



In other words, while some websites may compel our attention, others fail to propel our actions, too. And their owners often end up screaming, "Why is my website not producing any sales," "why am I getting a lot of traffic but such a poor response" or "why are people leaving so quickly?" Well, if content is king, copy is the castle.



The Internet is not a traditional medium — at least not in the broadcast sense. It is intimate, dynamic and interactive. People are more involved when reading the content of a website than reading a conventional print publication, watching a show on TV or listening to a program on the radio.



And with the Internet, people have a powerful weapon that they don't have with other types of media, and they usually don't think twice about using it when the need confronts them: their mouse.



So, the idea is this: forget about writing content, at least in the traditional sense. Think copy. Think words and expressions that compel the reader to do something, even if it's just to continue reading.



According to online dictionary Answers.com, "copy" is defined as "the words to be printed or spoken in an advertisement." (And "advertisement" is defined as "a notice or announcement designed to attract public patronage." It's calling for some kind of action. It's selling something, in other words.)



But the word "content," on the other hand, is defined as "the subject matter of a written work, such as a book or magazine." And keep in mind that there's no mention of the Internet, here.



Nevertheless, this is why I submit that, with its multitude of links, scripts and hypertexts, the Internet transforms the passive reader into an active, responsive participant. (Or make that "response-able.") And she must therefore be treated as such - as a participant, not a reader.



Look at it this way: a book is limited by its front and back covers. When the book is done, it's done. The web, however, is not.



If your content does not strive at getting the reader to do something, whether it's to buy, subscribe, join, download, call, email, fíll out a form, clíck or whatever, then you need to seriously rethink your content and the words you use.



Here's my explanation of the difference between content and copy. Content informs. Copy invites. Even if content invites a reader to keep reading, it's still selling an idea. It's still calling for action. And it's still copy.



If your web page is only meant to inform people like some kind of book, then it's content. (And like closing a book once it's read, the only action left is to exit the website or close the browser.) But if it contains links or more content, then it's copy. And you need to write content with that mindset.



Ultimately, incorporate within your content a direct response formula that compels your readers to do something. Don't leave them hanging. Take them by the hand. Integrate a call for some kind of action, in other words. Ask your reader to "buy now," "join today," "get this," "download that, or ...



... Better yet, simply "clíck here."




About The Author

Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter, marketing strategy consultant, and instrumental in some of the most lucrative online businesses and wildly successful marketing campaigns to ever hit the web. For more articles like this one, please visit his blog at michelfortin.com and subscribe to his RSS feed.



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Break Through the Frustration of Optimization

Posted In: , . By dr.emi creative design

"I am an artist," the man proudly proclaimed. "I don't care," the critic proudly responded. "The frame is too large, the colors are dark and it will not match my furniture," the critic further explained.


Many times web developers experience a similar scorn but not always from humans. A site has been designed with an interface that pops with beautiful GIFs and JPEGs, dazzles with Flash and functions like a charm with JavaScript. The search engines do not care. The content, the keywords and the tags do not correspond with the criteria of the search engines. Therefore, you are ignored.


It is a struggle between art and science that frustrates many. The responsibilities of web developing -- the art -- clash with the role of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -- the science. That is why some companies and development firms are designating web developer and optimizer as two distinctive jobs.


Yet many smaller companies and shops still have the web developer fulfilling both roles. The problem is that optimization is becoming challenging and competitive. So here is some information to help start the optimization before, after or during the developing.





Content


It's all about the text.


Remember that optimization is all about the text. Search engines are text driven but there are still some basic HTML tags to keep in mind (i.e., h1, h2, meta tags, title tag). SEO helps improve search engine results but does not guarantee top ratings.


Patience and realistic goals will keep the frustrations low. Search engines have to crawl a site to determine what a site is about. This takes time, usually about a month, before crawls and indexing are completed by the various search engine spiders.


Take time to think (a lot) about the purpose of the website. Write down a lot of stuff in a word processing program even if it sounds silly at first. Then edit what you wrote. Edit some more, get some feedback and then start working on the keywords and keyphrases that identify the unique quality of your website.


Keywords and Keyphrases


Keywords used to be easy. Those days are gone. Keywords are highly competitive. Using two-word or three-word, maybe even four-word, phrases makes optimization less frustrating. A keyword phrase (keyphrase) helps identify the uniqueness of a website.


The keyword "game" will generate about 1 billion(!) results. The keyphrase "card game" will generate about 50 million results. That is a difference of approximately 950 million. The keyphrase "magic card game" will generate about four-million results. Time will need to be spent finding unique keyphrases but the benefits of narrowing the results, with multi-word phrases, provides a better chance of being noticed.


Keyword Density


The density formula is D = WC/KC (D = density; WC = word count; KC = keyword count)


For major keywords target 3-7% density

For minor keywords target 1-2% density


Keyword density measures how relevant keywords are in a page. The formula density = word count divided by keyword count will provide a general idea of the density percentage. For major keywords try to keep the density between three and seven percent. For minor keywords keep density between one and two percent. Try to optimize between five to ten keywords per web page.


Avoid the unethical practice of keyword stuffing. You will be penalized and possibly banned from the search engines which is worse than doing no optimization at all. Keyword stuffing uses various techniques but it is basically stuffing a page and/or meta tag with several occurrences of a keyword or keyphrase.


Keyword stuffing will result in being banned from the search engines.





Meta Tags


The meta tags are important although some will disagree. Meta tags have fallen out of favor because these tags used to be the magic solution to optimization. Not anymore. Keywords and content are more beneficial in getting a web site in top rankings. However, meta tags are still important. Meta tags are a part of the HTML and are used by most search engines to find a description of your website.


Therefore, no question about it, use the meta tags for description and keywords. Place these meta tags below the title tag on your page.


<title>~</title>

<meta name ="description" content="~" />

<meta name="keywords" content="~" />


The keyword meta tag helps you keep track of the keywords and having these meta tags give a small boost to search engine ranking. While it is true that meta tags do not perform the magic they once did it is better to have the tags than to have none. Think of meta tags like vitamins. Vitamins are not necessary for being healthy but vitamins do provide a healthy boost.


Title Tag


The title tag should be unique for every page because every page will or should have different information regarding your website. Therefore, some pages will have some but not all of your total keyword list. For example, let's say that your web site provides information about card games; one page has data about magic card games and another discusses bridge card games.


The title tag of the page with information about magic card games could have a title like Magic Card Games available at ourwebsite.com. The bridge card games page would likely have a title of Bridge Card Games at ourwebsite.com.


The name of pages should also have keywords like magic_card_games.htm or bridge_card_games.htm.


Developing websites is fun. Optimization can be a chore. Yet by focusing on content, keywords and tags you have a good start to decreasing the frustration of optimization. Granted there is more to optimization than the items addressed in this article but these are the items that can be and should be tackled first.





About the Author:

Lawrence Roth in an independent web developer who owns and maintains rothline.com. Lawrence has worked on various e-commerce and website projects. Lawrence writes articles and stories to submit to online publications.

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By Jerry Bader (c) 2008


Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing to do in business is to get things done: so little time, so many obstacles. And when it comes to marketing it gets even worse, after all there are all those administrative details that need to be dealt with, emails, inquiries, suppliers, and on and on. Finding the time to devote to creating a sustained, focused marketing effort seems like it's near impossible. But the biggest obstacles of all are some of your trusted colleagues and advisors; you know the ones I'm talking about, the ones that are a royal pain-in-the-ass. So lets just call them on the proverbial carpet and fire their butts; but first let's check the files and find out who they are.



File One: Mr. Inertia

Everybody knows this guy. He's the one who hasn't had a new idea in five years. This is the fellow who thinks everything is just fine the way it is, so let's not rock-the-boat, everything is just hunky-dory, thank you very much.








Web CEO - A Revolutionary Answer to Your SEO Concerns!



You have to treat your business like it's a shark: no standing still, if you don't keep moving forward, you won't survive. It's a competitive world out there, and in the Web-centric marketing environment, you're not only competing with the shop down the street, you're competing with the whole world, so standing still is not an option. Mr. Inertia, you're fired!



File Two: Mr. Know-It-All

I love this guy, he knows everything, he's done everything, and if you ask him he'll tell you he invented it. It doesn't matter what it is or even if it relates to your business, he's done it all and seen it all, or so he says. This is Mr. Know-It-All; he stopped learning, stopped improving, and stopped listening years ago.



Despite all his self-proclaimed knowledge and insight, this guy hasn't contributed anything meaningful to the marketing effort since a Blackberry was something you ate. Mr. Know-It-All, you're fired!



File Three: Mr. My-Business-Is-Unique

We all like to feel that we have created something unique, something different, something that no one else does. The fact is business is business; it's very dangerous to think that your company is so unusual that it's irreplaceable, so different that you don't need to market, so special that branding isn't required, and so singular that positioning is a waste of time.



Don't be fooled, finding your 'mark of differentiation' is just as much an exercise in marketing as it is an exercise in product development. Mr. My-Business-Is-Unique, you're fired!



File Four: Mr. We-Always-Do-It-This-Way

At one point in my career I ran a company that manufactured photo albums. We had a large competitor who always undercut our price no matter what we sold our product for. In an effort to find out how they were gaining this advantage, we cut open one of their new albums and found that they were using cheap corrugated cardboard as a stiffener instead of the more expensive traditional 80-point board everybody in the industry used.



Our sales manager made an appointment with a major photo chain known for just buying quality. He made a dramatic presentation by cutting open our competition's product illustrating the superior nature of our product and demonstrating how they were being duped into buying the inferior junk our competitor was selling them. The buyer, who was also one of the owners looked at the products on his desk, uttered an expletive-deleted and laughed, "Yea," he said, "but they are cheaper."








Universal Log File Analyzer - Advanced Web Analytics!


Just because things were done the same way forever, doesn't mean that you can keep doing it that way. Keep innovating, experimenting, challenging the status quo. Mr. We-Always-Do-It-This Way, you're fired.



File Five: Mr. Everybody-Is-Stupid (But Me)

This clown's a real buzz-kill. In brainstorming sessions this is the guy who shoots down every idea that comes up without offering any alternatives. If some idea is actually adopted he immediately begins to try and change it. You'll usually find him with a coffee in one hand and a donut in the other, standing over someone who is actually trying to work, telling them to move it a pixel to the right or add a little blue or saying stuff like, "I think it needs a pony, ya add a pony." This jerk is like a dog going from hydrant to fencepost depositing his mark without any purpose or validity other than leaving his scent. Not only is this guy unproductive, he makes everybody around him less productive. Mr. Everybody-Is-Stupid (But Me), your fired!



File Six: Mr. I-Know-All-The-Customers-Worth-Knowing

Hard to believe but this guy does exist. I once called on a potential client who told me he didn't need a website because he knew all the customers worth knowing, all six of them. He was a manufacturer and he did sell to the six largest retail buyers of his merchandise but one thing I've learned over the years, you never have enough customers, and as soon as you think you've got them all sewed up, watch out, because every competitor is out to take them away from you. And as good as you are or as good as you think you are clients will eventually be pursued by a competitor offering something better or cheaper. Never stop prospecting, never stop looking for new business, and never be satisfied. Mr. I-Know-All-The-Customers-Worth-Knowing, you're fired.



File Seven: Mr. I-Know-All-The-Benefits

We all could be guilty of this marketing sin if we're not careful. Thinking you know everything that people do with your product or service is a risky mindset and speaks to a lack of vision. This guy goes to the appropriate conventions, listens to all his industry's experts and reads only stuff about his own established market. If it's about something else, he's just not interested, and he doesn't see or understand the relevance.








Forget Expensive PPC Advertising - There is an Alternative!


The fact is all your customers are people who have lives outside of business; they all have problems, insecurities, hobbies, and interests that have nothing to do with business. And they may have a totally different point-of-view as to what you provide and how they can use it. You must pay attention to what's going on in the world and how people think and react to events and situations. The market is an emotional and psychological minefield and you must pay attention to outside forces because if you don't you're limiting your potential. Mr. I-Know-All-The-Benefits, I'm sorry but you're fired!



File Eight: Mr. Everything-Is-Bulls@%t

This employee is not just useless, he's downright destructive; no matter what marketing plan you're considering implementing this guy thinks it's bull. He doesn't believe in branding, positioning, or any form of sophisticated marketing. He doesn't believe that psychology or emotion plays any part in the sales process and is probably the master of wining and dining clients resulting in the biggest expense account in the company but not much else. His clients were customers before he arrived and will probably be there after he leaves unless he pisses them off. This guy still doesn't see the benefit of a website and keeps repeating, 'it's just an electronic brochure.' His answer to a dip in sales is always the same, to cut prices. Mr. Everything-Is-Bulls@%t, you're fired!



File Nine: Mr. I'll-Get-Around-To-It

Nobody really knows what this guy does. He is pleasant, tells good jokes, and he most likely is the guy who brings coffee and cookies to the office for everybody once a week. His desk is always piled high with papers, files, and binders, and when you ask him for something he invariably starts to rummage through this heap of junk ultimately telling you that he'll bring it along as soon as he finds it, he's just been 'sooo' busy. It takes him three days to answer an email, a week to return a phone call, and at least two weeks to respond to a request for a quotation. This guy just has to go. Mr. I'll-Get-Around-To-It, you're fired!



File Ten: Mr. Automatic Pilot

This chap believes that the great benefit of having a Web-based business is that he doesn't have to work. This guy spent a considerable sum of money having a bunch of programmers, probably from one of those offshore sweatshops, develop a website system that automatically answers emails, fills orders, and processes inquiries. The only problem is that it doesn't matter if a customer has a question or complaint they all get the same email-response that says they can order even more stuff they can't figure out how to use. Mr. Automatic Pilot, you're fired!



File Eleven: Mr. I-Don't-Need-No-Stinking-Creativity

This guy doesn't believe in any kind of creativity, he thinks everything is based on rational dollar-and-cents decision-making. His website lists as many features and benefits in 48 point red Times Roman as he can think of; he highlights each point in yellow and underlines them in green with a big purple checkmark beside each one. He adds several royalty-free photographs of fake customers with quotations he made-up while sitting on the john. And just to enhance his specíal offer page, he tacks-on a bunch of extra bonus gifts like a useless free e-book. This guy's idea of marketing got stuck in the fifties; so Mr. I-Don't-Need-No-Stinking-Creativity, you're fired.



File Twelve: Mr. Get-Me-the-Coast

You run across these types every now and again. I once went to a meeting with this guy who was the Vice President of Whatever Mega Corporation. At first glance, he was very impressive, handsome and tall with a big office and lots of hair, and a voice made for AM radio. He talked faster than anyone I ever met. As we made our presentation, he slammed his hand down on the intercom and bellowed to his secretary to "Get me Johnny on the coast!" Before I knew what hit me, he's talking to his guy in California who's on his way to his dry cleaner to pick up his laundry. He asked him a couple of questions as fast as I ever heard without much reference to anything we were discussing and slammed down the phone with a thud. I had no idea what we were talking about or if this guy heard a single word we said. This guy was the master of taking meetings and impressing people, but with what I am still not sure. Mr. Get-Me-the-Coast, your fired!



A Final Thought

The single most important thing about managing good staff or contractors is that they will only be as good as you let them. So now that you've laid-waste to a staff of deadweight, what's next? You need to hire or outsource the right people; people who are creative, innovative, and talented; people who are interested in getting things done, whether it's filing or creating your next marketing campaign.




About The Author

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit MRPwebmedia.com, 136Words.com and SonicPersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.



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How Social Media is Killing CNN

Posted In: , . By dr.emi creative design

By Kalena Jordan (c) 2008


Anyone who spent time online the previous week could not have avoided being exposed to the horrific events of the Mumbai terrorist attack on Thursday.



Those plugged into social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook were privvy to a fascinating but terrible phenomenon. Online viewers the world over were inundated with live, up to the second footage and news items channeling the Mumbai carnage to their computer screens, literally as it unfolded.


I was logged into Twitter and glued to my laptop screen all day. Several bloggers residing in India's financial capital were live-blogging events as they happened and many others who couldn't get online were on the phone feeding updates to news agencies and social media sites.



To keep up to date, I relied on Twitter user @BreakingNewz, who was apparently in touch with several witnesses, hostages and even military personnel that were live at the scene. The updates I was seeing were minutes, and in some cases, hours ahead of news agencies such as CNN and Reuters.



In fact, the news was so instantaneous that Mumbai police had to step in and ask several live bloggers and Twitterers (including BreakingNewz) to stop the updates as they were undermining military operations underway to thwart the terrorists and rescue hostages. Apparently the terrorists were using the live Internet feeds to pinpoint the location of police determined to stop them.



Which brings up an interesting point: does the immediacy of social media have the ability to kill off traditional news agencies such as CNN and BBC?



According to Wikipedia, CNN airs to more than 1.5 billion people in over 212 countries and territories. Impressive, but the Internet has a wider reach and faster growth. So what about on-the-ground reporters? CNN is apparently second only to Britain's BBC News in terms of the number of employed news journalists and worldwide news bureaus. To that I say big deal. There are undoubtedly more people blogging the news in better and faster ways than CNN journalists.


More and more people are ditching their newspaper subscription, switching off the TV and turning to the Internet for their daily news fix. And why wouldn't they? It's faster, cheaper and interactive. They can subscribe to the feeds of digital journalists and bloggers they like, they can search news by region, category or timeline and thanks to social networking, can be informed the very instant news happens in the world.



So could the advent of social media signal the end of traditional news journalism? Yes, I think it could. We've already seen how the Internet has impacted newspaper publishing .



Perhaps topical specialization is one answer to the digital vs paper journalism dilemma. Maki explains it well in his blog post The Future of Content in an Age of Information Overload:



"If newspapers can't compete with blogs and online news sites in terms of speed and variety, perhaps they can trump them in terms of depth or trust. After all, feature-length content with solid, investigative reporting is not something you'll often find on most blogs or personal sites on the web."



Then there's the recent wave of spats between journalists and bloggers. Many of the articles I've read lately feature defensive posturing by some traditional journalists whining that bloggers are "ruining" the art of writing by flooding the Internet with poorly written micro content.


Perhaps some journalists are feeling threatened by the ability of bloggers to reach the masses before they do? Or is it because they can't handle the fact that the art of writing is now in the grasp of anyone with a PC and an Internet connection?



To those journalists I say - get over yourself. Blogging is the ultimate equalizer. Just like brick and mortar businesses had to come to terms with e-commerce, writers need to adapt to the digital medium and morph their skills to suit, not throw tantrums and claim that the sky is falling.



Having spent much of my secondary and most of my tertiary education training as a journalist, I can understand the resistance they feel to the digital wave and their loyalty to the traditional craft. But the Internet is actually giving journalism a larger audience and providing ordinary people with a voice they never had before.



As Andrew Sullivan writes in his thesis-like post Why I Blog:



"...as blogging evolves as a literary form, it is generating a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that's enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before. Its truths are provisional, and its ethos collective and messy. Yet the interaction it enables between writer and reader is unprecedented, visceral, and sometimes brutal. And make no mistake: it heralds a golden era for journalism."



The naked truth is that the cachet of being a journalist is no longer restricted to the tertiary-educated, long-suffering newspaper cadet. Global Internet uptake and the advent of Web 2.0 has ensured that news can be reported instantly anytime, anywhere, by anyone.



Social media sites provide the channels to reach a mass audience and blogs provide the content. Blogging - even on a micro scale like Twitter - unlocks the journalist inside everyone and that's not a bad thing.




About The Author

Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.
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If you have a web-based business or if a significant portion of your business is performed on the internet through your website, then the best advertising and marketing is completed by submitting your website to a search engine.


No amount of press releases, newspaper or radio ads, banner ads, spam emails or newsletters will achieve the same results, although it may be effective in a small proportion.


Beware of companies that promise an automatic submission of your website to hundreds of search engines which are most times nothing more than false promises. The best way to submit your website for search engine ranking and inclusion is to do it yourself or to hire an expert to do it manually, by contacting the search engine companies and directories.





As with many things, researching or getting referrals from other companies that have had great success with an SEO company is always the safest way to ensure that your website is going to be in genuinely caring hands. There are so many websites on the internet trying to make a quick buck by any means necessary.


Business dealings with the wrong types of people can be very cut-throat if you're not careful in considering and researching where you decide to go in finding your marketing partners for life.


Before you begin to submit your website to search engines, it is best to ensure that your websites are thoroughly designed to a professional quality using the right key words, good graphics and pictures and appropriate, relevant content. Don't submit websites that are incomplete.


While submitting to a search engine, make sure to provide information about your website, keywords and any other information that may be pertinent, including the name and contact information of your business.


The creation and growing life of your website in the infancy stages are always going to come with many great challenges. But once you have overcome those challenges and beaten the odds, you will most likely be able to repeat this pattern over and over if you wanted to do so.


You could also decide to become a consultant and help others to become better with their dealings online. They could learn from your mistakes and discoveries just as you had with your wonderful mentors.


Mere submissions alone to search engine companies will not guarantee that your site would be immediately listed and the ranking will be at the very top. Because there are thousands of new websites coming up every day and it may take quite some time before they take up your site for review by human editors.


One important factor to remember while submitting your website is to include a site map of your website which makes the crawling easy for the web robots. Search engines like Google hardly consider submissions without sitemaps.








It just makes sense to do everything that you can think of to make the robot's job in crawling your website as easy as it can possibly be from your end. It can also be referred to as optimizing your website to just flow very smoothly without hardly any interruption at all from the search engine programs that hit all kinds of dead ends and errors as people place businesses online.


There are many online companies that accept search engine submission services. You can choose to do it yourself with software packages available all over on the internet.


The best way, as with anything, is to get to know your prospective source of help and information as much as you can. Over some time this will develop in your mind as a trustworthy source that you can always depend on for a very long time, you hope.


You will hear from many users online that you should stay as far away as you can get from these automatic submission companies. This is very much the case in most of what you may stumble onto online.


I repeat that there are a few good, solid and dependable companies that you can find by knowing the right people and being associated with a good network of business minded people.





About the Author:

Terry Detty values his Internet Advertising Services and Web Traffic Builder for Increased SEO Rankings. Greater Results can be seen with this high quality Web Promotion.

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By Jerry Bader (c) 2008


The other day I received two emails, both with the same question, why didn't we have a direct call to action on our website?



Sales people are taught, you always need 'a call to action,' a request to act or lose the opportuníty of a lifetime. I'm sure you've seen the infomercials, website presentations, online direct marketíng come-ons, and even high-pressure seminar and tradeshow presentations that will never be repeated, so you better act now. You're familiar with the language used: "act now and we'll send you two pieces of junk you don't need, but wait there's more, call in the next ten minutes and we'll add a third useless item."


Does any intelligent person really respond to this kind of pitch, and what self-respecting business would actually behave in this manner? The fact is, if you sell something of value at a reasonable price, and you treat your customers with some respect, you will get your share of business. You may not get all the business, nobody does, but the business you do get, will result in more satisfied customers, more word-of-mouth referrals, and ultimately more sales. High-pressure tactics, and demands for instant commitment, frighten off as many potential clients as they ensnare.



Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics



Statistically it may be true that if someone leaves your website without ordering, the chances of them returning to order are low, but as Shakespeare's Cassius said, "the fault, dear Brutus lies not in the stars, but in ourselves." The problem is NOT the customer; it's what you're saying, how you're saying it, and the expectations you've set for determining your site's performance.



Success is not a question of attracting more traffíc, especially if your message is weak, unfocused, and lacking in emotional context. Success is a question of how many people you connect with both directly and indirectly, and how many people come back to your site because they are intrigued by what you have to say.



To start, many products and services are either too complex or too high valued to expect people to make an instant decision; and demanding one just frightens people away. Asking for an order is asking a lot, and leads to resistance. Inviting someone to call or email is reassuring and friendly; it's an invitation to communicate, provide assistance, advice, and information, and it's easily accepted.



Orders are the result of building relationships and relationships are built on communication. You may not be able to speak to everyone who comes to your website but that only means that your website's primary job is to communicate what needs to be said so that it makes a memorable impression, and provides something more meaningful than a 'buy now' button.


E-Commerce Gone Bad



The e-commerce industry with it's easy to implement technical solutions has created a class of entrepreneurs who think all they have to do is display a product photo, description, price, and order button, and the sales will follow. This approach may work for large sites like Amazon.com but it's not going to work for you. You've got to be smarter than that.



When small and medium sized companies try to emulate major corporate business models, they are looking for trouble. It's one reason why so many websites are so bad, and why so many under perform.



Tom Peters and Robert Waterman didn't do entrepreneurs a favor when they wrote, "In Search of Excellence." What they should have written was 'In Search of Failure,' since we learn more from things that don't work than from things that do. In the world of Internet marketing, creating websites that are nothing more than online catalogs, digital brochures, or direct marketíng come-ons, is a waste of time and money, not to mention all that effort devoted to attracting website traffic.



Redefine Successful Website Performance



Orders are not the true measure of a website's success. Nor is the volume of traffic a site attracts. You can have loads of traffic, but little of it ever gets turned into business, and you can even get some orders, but few long-term clients.


The primary objective of your website should be to initiate contact either by email, phone, or in the case of brick and mortar companies, store traffic. In order to achieve that objective, your website presentation must be engaging, enlightening, and above all memorable. Potential clients want a little foreplay, a little respect, and an understanding that you are asking them to put their faith in you.



Marketing Is More Art Than Science



Marketing is about human nature, and the idea that all aspects of human nature can be quantified, and that meaningful results can be extracted and formed into an action plan guaranteed to produce results, is simply over-reaching. The human brain is far too complex, and human motivation is the result of far too many interdisciplinary factors to be boiled down into a unified mathematical formula. The movie and music industries have been trying for years, and still neither one can accurately predict what will be a hit.



In an effort to always maximize productivity, business has bowed-down to the false idol of statistical razzle-dazzle, and succumbed to its faux extrapolations. As a consequence business, and especially Web-business, has forsaken insight, intuition, and a 'consilience*' approach to marketing, one built on continuous creative experimentation and implementation.



*Consilience: "the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory" - Merriam-webster.com.



Three Website Ingredients Needed To Motivate Action



Donna Flagg of the Krysalis Group is quoted in the article, 'For the Love of Sales,' published in the online magazine "Selling Power": "Good selling comes down to three things: communication, education, and the ability to affect others."



I know of no better method to achieve these three goals than to implement video on your website, it is THE must have marketing vehicle for companies intent on maximizing website presentation impact.



The Center for Media Research reported in their recent 'Research Brief' that 42.6% of retailers surveyed were adding product videos to their websites. And the power of video marketing is not just about sales; it's about how you as a business communicate in the most efficient manner to all your concerned publics.



"Video's importance transcends the customer experience. It can transform every aspect of an organization, from sales, marketing and communications to investor relations, employee training and education." - David Dutch's MediaPost "Online Video: Redefining How Business Connects With Their Customers".



1 Communication - Engage

Your website serves no purpose unless it engages your viewer and communicates a meaningful, memorable message. A video presentation uses sights, sounds, and performance to produce psychological persuasion.



2 Education - Enlighten

A message delivered using creative video presentation techniques is seen, heard, and embedded in the audience's mind. It informs, explains, clarifies, and focuses attention on the key decision making elements that produce leads, and ultimately sales.



3 Affect Your Audience - Create An Experience

A properly crafted Web video makes a human connection, it affects the viewer on a psychological as well as rational level, so that the message delivered resonates and impacts the decision making process.



About Those Emails



You may be wondering how I answered the emails mentioned earlier; the simple answer is if a marketing presentation is intriguing enough, your audience will respond, and in this case, both visitors did exactly what our website is designed to do, get people to email or phone so that we can open a dialog with them, so we can get to know each other, so we can start to build a productive business relationship, and we do it using video - the media is the message.



It is time businesses employ a new Web-philosophy, one that is aimed at turning advertising into content, and content into an experience. And I know of no better way to create an online experience than to employ Web video.




About The Author

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit MRPwebmedia.com, 136Words.com and SonicPersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.



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Most small business owners/operators would probably agree that developing a stand-out brand identity is an essential part of the marketing package for corporates and large companies.


Many would add that branding is not that important for small businesses and see it as an additional expense on the P&L. So they head off to the local printer or graphic designer who designs a logo (sometimes even for free) that gets used on stationary, vehicles and other marketing materials.


From our experience in this field, we find that most logos designed for small businesses are simply graphic devices and not actually brands in the true sense of the word, and portray little about the value proposition of the company, its personality and service promise.


In actual fact, development of a meaningful, representative and outstanding brand identity is just as critical for small businesses and if properly executed, can actually be a powerful competitive advantage.


For corporates, an effective and powerful brand is a 'must-have', simply in order to be in the game.





It may not necessarily differentiate them but it does at least give them parity with their competitors.


Unfortunately, some corporates still don't understand the value of a great brand and have cruddy logos that are, in short, embarrassing and doing nothing for their businesses.


But there is significant value to the small business that has the vision and commitment to invest in having a professional marketing agency develop a meaningful and appropriate brand identity.


A brand identity is more than just a visual symbol or logo design - it defines your company's unique service promise, builds lasting brand recognition and invokes positive recall.


A strong brand enhances your company's credibility by integrating your brand strategy with consistent graphic application across all market and customer contact points.


Think about this - if most small businesses have weak branding, then by developing a compelling and effective branding package you can position your company ahead of your competitors in the mind of your target market.


A strong and effective brand can definitely be a competitive advantage in the cut throat world of small business.


To develop a strong brand identity, your marketing agency needs to work closely with you to understand the needs of your customers and prospects.





They need to explore suitable graphic elements and branding metaphors for the logo device, develop appropriate colour palettes and provide guidance on how to effectively apply your branding and logo design in specific applications.


Your goal should be to ensure complete brand integrity. If the brand development process is executed correctly then your company will stand out from the mass of small businesses that simply couldn't be bothered, or more likely, don't know any better.


Professionally designed brands, usually most visibly represented by the logo device, tell the market a visual story about your company.


It speaks of attention to detail, professionalism, pride and investment in your company, presents your unique value proposition and helps you to stand out above your mediocre competitors.





About the Author:

Wayne Attwell is the founder and senior brand strategist at Bold Horizon. He has over 25 years of international marketing and business experience across large corporates and SME's. Initially trained as an industrial designer, Wayne also has an intuitive feel for great design and presentation. For more marketing, brand development and internet marketing information visit www.boldhorizon.co.nz.

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Cache's Web-Marketing Manifesto

Posted In: , . By dr.emi creative design

By Jerry Bader (c) 2008

Who is Cache Closed and what can he do for you? Cache is a digital construct created to inform, enlighten, and entertain Web-marketers interested in learning how best to market on the Web.



Now don't be alarmed, Cache isn't interested in selling you anything, no e-books, no DVDs, no magic elixirs or potions, no sir, just a pixelated-paranoid, pied-piper of ideas and concepts designed to improve your Web-business.



The Cache-man has put a little something together he modestly calls, 'Cache's Web-Marketing Manifesto:' ten things every marketing manager, business owner, and sales executive needs to know about business websites.


Cache's Web-Marketing Manifesto



1. If it isn't working, stop tweaking and blow it up.



If what you're doing isn't working, or if it's working about as well as a 1973 Yugo, then it's time to start over. You can only make so many modifications and adjustments until your site gets a bad case of digital disconnect: a cyber version of Capgras Delusion where the brain can't connect the content to the emotional context.



2. If you're relevant, search engines will find you, it's their job.



Isn't it time you stopped chasing the imaginary pot of gold at the end of the Google rainbow, and start thinking of practical ways to connect to your audience.



Search engines are supposed to find you, it's their job, it's what they do, what they get paíd for. All this stuff about you can't do this or you can't do that because it's not search engine friendly is so yesterday.



If you have something to say worth listening to whether it's text, audio, or video, search engines will find you. And if they're not, perhaps you should take a look at what you are saying and how it's being said.



3. Being relevant means you actually have something to say, something to contribute.



Meaningful content doesn't mean a catalog of merchandise that's the same as the six million other guys selling the same stuff. If all you're offering is an online catalog and order system, all you've done is turn whatever you sell into a commodity and commodity sales go to the lowest seller. Say goodbye to Mr. Profíts.



4. Retaining your audience long enough to get your marketing message depends on how you present your content.



Having something relevant to say will attract an audience, but in order to keep that audience around long enough to absorb your core, marketing message you must present that message in an entertaining performance that creates an experience.


The Web has matured and evolved over time into a multimedia platform that allows you to really connect to your audience by turning your website into an experience. Just because you're selling something, a product, a service or even an idea, doesn't mean you can't present it in some memorable manner.



If your presentation doesn't get your audience's juices flowing then you've wasted your Web-investment and your audience's time.



5. Without creating an experience your message will never be memorable.



You've been careful creating your website content, but ask yourself this? Why would anyone remember any of it? And if they do remember it, why would they remember that it was your company that said it? Just because you're good at what you do, or you sell the best product in your field, doesn't mean you're going to get the business.



Memory is based on pattern recognition, association and emotional triggers. If your content and presentation is without context, without some memory inducing experience, then my fríend you'll be instantly forgotten. The companies that get the sales are the companies that turn their presentations into an experience.



6. Creating an experience starts with engaging the audience and the best way to do that is with a signature Web-host that presents your story.



The easiest way to create a memorable experience on your website is to use a website host, a personality that will deliver the content and context of what you provide in a way that penetrates and sticks in the minds of your audience.



7. Treat the presentation of your website material as if it was a performance, not a meeting with your banker or board of directors.



A signature Web-host brands your company by creating a memorable image through the use of verbal and non-verbal performance techniques, clever scripting, and digital presentation enhancements, including music, sound effects, editing, and style.



8. Don't be afraid to push the limits.



The Web is not a place for the timid. You're no longer competing just in your local market; you're competing with the world, where the Web, email, Internet phone service, and international shipping make buying from England or Australia, as easy as buying from the USA or Canada.



No matter what you do or how good you do it, there are other companies around the globe that do the same thing, and chances are they do it as well or better than you. So who's going to get the business: the company that presents their message in the most compelling manner, that's who.



9. Narrow your focus by turning your brand into a single adjective or short phrase.



The single word "Plastics" from the 1967 movie, 'The Graduate' was voted the 42nd most memorable movie quote of the last 100 years by the American Film Institute.



The biggest challenge most companies have in being understood is their ability to narrow their offering down to a precise concept, idea, or adjective. Can you say what you do in six words or less? How about a single adjective or noun?



10. You cannot be something you're not.



Customers are not stupid; they'll see through any phony presentation or prevarication. You cannot getaway with misrepresenting what you are, or what you do. Eventually you will be found-out or more likely, people will instantly see-through your efforts to present a false image.



If your marketing problem lies deep within your corporate culture, no matter how clever your advertising or marketing campaign, nothing will overcome it. You will have to change your corporate culture before you attempt to deliver a message that redefines you and what you do. You must be true to yourself and to your company's culture.



Cache Closed



Cache Closed was summoned from the misused and discarded concepts found in the ditch beside the information highway. His mission is to demonstrate and enlighten Web-entrepreneurs on how to deliver meaningful content in entertaining, informative and even viral presentations. His bizarre behavior and style may not be suitable for the stuffed-shirt purveyors of yesterday's methods, but he does speak to today's open-minded Web-savvy marketing manager. For all things Cache, visit his website http://www.cacheclosed.com.




About The Author

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit MRPwebmedia.com, 136Words.com and SonicPersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.



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A look of a website can make or break your business. First impressions always count. Here are ten tips to building a better business website.


1. Colour - A black background is not recommended. It's hard on the eyes. I don't know how many people have problems reading white or coloured text on a black background and with that said, don't go neon pink or glaring orange either. Generally black text on white background is best. Ideally you can choose two colours, but make sure they match and use it consistently on all your pages to maintain fluidity and continuity.


For example: Reds and oranges which stimulates appetite works well on a food site while warm pastel colours matches a baby site.


2. Layout - Don't cram everything into one page. Cluttered websites overwhelms the visitors. Keep it clean, crisp and concise. I had a CMS style website before and although it looked organized because there were three columns, there were also a lot of text. Navigation wasn't as plain as day and it overloaded the senses. Take these three words to heart, less is more.


3. Navigation - The more user-friendly the better and your visitors are bound to stay longer. You don't want your visitors to be jumping through hoops to find what they are looking for. Make shopping carts or payment buttons visible and easily accessible. Everything should be just a click away. Make sure all your links are working. Finding broken links becomes frustrating and annoying.


4. Proper spelling and grammar - There's nothing good about visiting a website to find loads of misspelled words and poor grammar. It's unprofessional and you can bet your visitors will leave.


5. Speed - When it comes to website loading, no one likes to be kept waiting. They will definitely leave a site if it won't load properly. People's time is precious; don't make them wait.


6. Graphics - Be careful of using big flashy graphics or banners. Too many animated and too many big banners take away a site's credibility. It also slows down the loading time of your site considerably. Not everyone uses high speed Internet. Remember people don't wait around for slow loading sites.


7. Audio - If you like it and want it, change the default setting to give the visitor control if they want to hear audio or not. Make sure it's visibly accessible to the visitor. The last time I landed on a site, I couldn't find the button to disable the audio so I immediately X'ed out.



8. Pop-up anything - Although many people now have pop-up blockers, it may not be so much of a nuisance, but a pop-up of anything is intrusive, unwanted and annoying. Adding a form to your page in a highly visible spot is much more effective and non-intrusive.


9. Content - Informative, resourceful content will keep a visitor coming back. No one wants to visit a site that hasn't been updated in a long time. You can add a small graphic or a simple text in red with the word "NEW" or a "What's New?" page to inform your visitors you have made updates.


10. AdSense ads - Too many AdSense ads on any page looks scammy and it downgrades the quality of your site. If you can handle honest opinions, have someone critique your website. It really all comes down to personal preference and you will never be able to please everyone and that's okay.


The main goal is building a functioning, well laid out website that is successful and prosperous to you for many years to come.



About the Author:

S McIntyre owns http://www.WorkAtHomeSpace.com, a free work at home resource focusing on telecommuting companies, daily telecommute job leads, articles, business resources and other work at home related topics.

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How to Choose a Web Designer

Posted In: , , . By dr.emi creative design

By Robin Eldred (c) 2008

You have the often unenviable task of finding someone to build your website. Chances are you know little to nothing about web design and, let's face it, you don't even know what you don't know. Let's change that, shall we?



Let me start by making a few assumptions about you and your business:




  • You either own or are part of a small business.
  • You're not trying to do this on the cheap.
  • You're looking for an experienced professional or organization. Your nephew or your neighbour's daughter isn't going to cut it.
  • You care enough about your business that you're willing to invest some time and money to get the job done right the first time (see the above two points).



Regardless of whom you choose to build your website you need to have, at the very least, a defined set of goals or objectives for your website. In other words, you need to figure out what you want your website to do.



Forget about PHP, ASP, CMS or any other acronyms you've heard; the right web designer will figure all that out for you. It's your job to create the wish líst from the perspective of your business. Do you want the website to help sell your products or services? Recruit new employees? Stay in touch with clients? You define the problem and we'll let the web designer propose the best solution.



(If your project is quite large you may want to write a more formal Request for Proposal document (RFP). But for the purposes of this article you're part of a small business, so let's not get mired down in RFP-land, OK?)



Armed with your high level requirements, here's how to identify the right web designer for you:



1) Decide on Geography.

A local designer/company will have more invested in ensuring that you're a happy customer. If things go poorly you can actually walk down the street and yell at them. That said, a web designer who has a good reputation or comes to you through a referral shouldn't be overlooked if they're not located where you are. Technology can greatly enhance communication and keep things running smoothly. Make a decision based on your comfort level.



2) Locate Candidates.

This is easy thanks to the nature of web design and Google. Do a search for 'web design city' where 'city' is your city. Pay attention to two different areas of the search results:



a) the first three to five listings in the natural or 'organic' results, and


b) the top three to five paid advertisers. Create a líst of between five and ten possible candidates.



3) Go Surfing.

Visit each candidate's website and look for the following:




  • Quality content. Are they interested in solving problems? Does the writing make sense to you as a consumer rather than a geek? If yes, good. Do they provide their services in 'packages' based on number of web pages and whether you want fries or a side salad? If yes, bad. The right web designer will be someone who understands your unique issues rather than trying to jam your business into a bronze, silver or gold package.
  • Presentation. This is not only the design of their website, but the organization. Does it make sense to you? Do you like it? Would your customers like it? The design and layout of a web designer's website is typically indicative of their 'style'.
  • Happy clients. Look for testimonials, a portfolio and case studies. Do they show an aptitude at being flexible enough to work with different industries? Ideally their testimonials include full names, which means they're not trying to hide anything. Web designers without some sort of portfolio or client líst are either bad or lazy; either way, they're not for you.
  • Contact info. Are you forced to fill out an online form to get in contact? Is there a phone number listed? A physical address (other than a PO Box)? You'll need to speak to someone before moving forward, so be sure you can actually call and get a hold of a human being. Companies without phone numbers or addresses are typically located in a basement.



4) Revise Your List.

Based on your surfing adventure, choose your top three candidates.




  • Call. Ideally, don't email or fill out an online form; pick up the phone. You want to ensure that you're dealing with a professional, so call them up and see how they respond. A good web designer will get you talking about your business. They will listen to your problem, try to assess whether or not you're a good client for them, and take things to the next step, which is:
  • Meet. Assuming your candidates are all local, meet with them. Sometimes this is referred to as a Needs Analysis meeting. The goal is to give the web designer enough information to prepare a proposal for you. You'll also want to ensure that you're comfortable dealing with them, and a face-to-face meeting is the best way.
  • Proposals. Get three of them. Any fewer and you're not exploring your options, any more and you're wasting your time. Three is the magic number. Ensure that the web designer gives you the proposal within a week of your meeting.
  • Assess. Here's how to assess the proposal:
  • Problem solving. They need to have proposed a solution to your problem that makes sense to you and is relatively free of geek-speak.
  • Comprehensiveness. Did they cover off all of your issues?
  • Follow up. What happens when the project is over? Will they help you market it? Train you? What about on-going maintenance? Do they guarantee their work? For how long?
  • Ideas. A good web design company might have some really good ideas that you had not considered. These can demonstrate creative, out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Timeline. Ensure that they tell you how long the project will take, and that you can live with that timeframe.
  • Budget. You don't have unlímited funds, so be sure you can live with the costs.



Your ultimate goal is to get quotes from a few web designers that you feel good about. You want to compare apples to apples, and only by going through the above process can you weed out the oranges.



Web design as an industry is still very much in its infancy, so unfortunately this is not like shopping for a car or a pair of jeans. You'll need to do a bit more homework to ensure that you find and choose the right web designer for your business. Good luck!




About The Author

Robin Eldred is the president of Apis Design, a Calgary Web Design company. Apis specializes in strategically building and marketing eye-catching, user-focused websites. They build websites that work.
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Doing business in the 21st century will eventually require every company to have a website in one form or another. Whether your site is interactive or simply informational, there are steps you can take to ensure you're on the right track to creating a successful web presence, seven to be exact (at least from our humble perspective).


While following these steps will not guarantee a successful website, it is certainly an intelligent place to start.


1. Perform a Business Analysis.

What is a business analysis? Simply put, review your business requirements and your objectives. What do you want to accomplish? How does your website fit into your overall business plan? What... no business plan? Develop a business plan first before you go any further into the process.


Your business plan will be your roadmap to success, so make sure the objective of your website fits into your overall business plan. I'll say it again, BUSINESS PLAN, don't have one? GET ONE!








2. Perform some research, also known as, the Research phase.

Research your competition and industry sites. See what kind of competition is out there. What kind of marketing does your competition engage in? Don't look to "reinvent the wheel", take a look at how the current market works; develop a list of pros and cons about your competition and then make your web presence work better.


3. Develop a concept and a design.

Finally time for the creative and fun stuff! This involves the selection of specific content, the layout of the site structure and navigation and the overall "look and feel" of your website.


Remember to pay special attention to your navigational structure!!! If visitors can't navigate your website or feel lost when doing so, your "pretty" site will have been a waste of time; don't go there, keep the navigation simple and for SEO purposes, make sure your navigation is text based. Although Flash driven websites look cool, they are not SEO friendly and can create more problems than the "coolness" factor they express (we'll discuss Flash sites in another article ).


4. Develop your website.

When considering which technology to develop your website, think cutting edge technology, not bleeding edge. Make sure the technology you use, such as ASP, PHP, HTML, CSS, will be useful for the next three to five years.


Database driven website are ultimately the easiest to maintain through the use of a content management system, but make sure the CMS you use is SEO friendly. An SEO friendly CMS will utilize real URLs, not strange looking query strings with lots of strange characters and question marks. Search engines despise query strings and rank these site accordingly.





5. Choose a host provider and implement your website.

When deciding on a host provider, make sure the host is not only reputable, but has been in business long enough that you can be sure they will be in business next year. Also, ask about site uptime. If your site is down for any reason, this will not only affect your potential and current customers, but the search engines as well. If the search engines decide on a given day to spider your site and it is unavailable, it could cost you your rank.


6. Promote and market your website.

Register your site with the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Initiate other marketing activities such as an email blasts to prospective customers. Consider "Pay per Click" advertising with the major search engines and don't forget about a long term SEO campaign to drive targeted traffic to your site.


7. Finally, maintain your website.

Probably the most important long term step is continuing to provide current and relevant information on your website. Keep your site content current to encourage return visitors and give them something to return for! Related to SEO, search engines just LOVE sites which provide new content on a regular basis and rank such websites accordingly.


Overall, remember, your website is not just a marketing tool, it's a business tool, and it should be generating a revenue stream for your business.





About the Author:

Matthew Mckernan - About the author, Website Design, Search Engine Optimization/SEO, Web Development.

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Does Google Have A Golden Rule?

Posted In: . By dr.emi creative design



By Titus Hoskins (c) 2008


As a full-time webmaster and site owner, figuring out just what Google wants has been the most challenging aspect of running an online business. For many webmasters Google is the eight ton elephant in the room and you only have two options: upset the elephant and get trampled or quickly find out what it likes to consume and try to feed it.



In order to keep Google fed, webmasters have to jump through more than one set of hoops. When it comes to getting top rankings in Google's Index or SERPs, there are 200 of these hoops or ranking factors. And if you want to play in Google's ballpark, you have to try and master the majority of them.



For years, frustrated webmasters have been guessing and searching for these ranking factors. Asking what does Google want? How does Google rank pages and keywords? How does Google want you to build your site?



Ten years ago it wouldn't have mattered what Google thought of your site for it wasn't even in the picture, but now when it comes to online search, Google is king of the hill. And as we all know, kings get whatever they want.



Besides, any webmaster worth his salt, knows Google is what counts when it comes to organic traffic - you can achieve #1 spots for a keyword in all three top search engines (Yahoo and MSN being the other two light-weight contenders) but Google will simply deliver the most traffic to your site.



Google doesn't as yet have a monopoly on web search, but it's getting close to 70% of U.S. traffic and in some countries it's up over 90%. But it's not only the search numbers which makes Google king - it is the prestige and power of the Google brand name. Google has truly permeated into popular culture and the public psyche like no other brand name in history.



Google brings respect and trust into the equation. Web users respect and trust Google to give them a quality answer to their question. That's why it was rather ironic, that for years webmasters have been asking Google about their ranking system, their algorithm, their practices... for years Google remained for the most part silent. This was mainly to keep at bay, those who would like to "game" the system in order to get high rankings within Google.



Until now that is, maybe it's just me but doesn't it appear that Google is suddenly opening up about its whole ranking procedures and what they expect from webmasters. Maybe the answers have always been there, we just couldn't find them. However, a more likely scenario is that someone high up within Google made the decision to be more transparent when it comes to webmasters and how much they would tell them.



In recent Webmaster live chats, Googlers Matt Cutts, Maile Ohye, among others... have been honestly answering questions about what Google requires webmasters to do regarding their sites. These are Q&A sessions dealing with the "burning questions" webmasters have had for years concerning Google and what Google wants. Do a search in Google for "Google Webmaster Help | Google Groups" if you want to find these sessions.



Since I run several modest sites on webmaster tools and Internet marketing I am approached by more than a few people who want me to help them build their online site or business. One of the major issues that always comes up somewhere in the process (usually phrased in different ways) is this question:



What does Google want? What does Google expect of my site? How do I get ranked high in Google?



Mainly because my chief goal is to help these webmasters understand Google better in order to build a profitable site; I have struggled and puzzled over this question for years.



What is Google's Golden Rule?



Many experts believe it is related to relevancy - the key to getting high rankings is how relevant your content is to the question being asked? Maybe so, but in order to explain it to a would-be webmaster, I had to find the words that would most appropriately sum up Google's prime directive?



After you go through all the SEO checkmarks, take into account the quality and uniqueness of your content, factor in the credibility and authority of your site and backlinks, and factor in the relevancy issue... this was the simple Google Golden Rule I came up with:



"Always think of your visitor first when creating any content for your site."



This may or may not be what Google is expecting but all indications are pointing in the direction of the "visitor's experience" and how good you or your content make that experience? Google is serving up a product, it wants the user of their product to be happy with the results. If they're happy, Google is happy. And if everyone's happy then the kingdom grows.



Still anything as simple and as complicated as getting top rankings in Google can't be boiled down to a single catch phrase. You must do your homework and a good starting point would be to thoroughly read Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Studying and listening to the latest Google webmaster chats may also prove beneficial and helpful.



However, there are still those 200 hoops you have to jump through and you must be extremely careful of how you build your site if you're trying to please Google. Listen when the king speaks. Observe his rules. Be on your guard, and it helps to become just a little paranoid. And always, always remember, an elephant never forgets.



About The Author

The author is a full-time online marketer who has numerous websites. For the latest web marketing tools try: BizwareMagic.com . If you liked the SEO tips above, why not try the Free 7 Day Traffic course.

2008 Titus Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.
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By Donna Gunter (c) 2008

I do wonder at times if some Twitter users have any time to get any work done. Several of the more prolific ones that I follow swear they spend no more than 30 minutes a day on Twitter, but I really find that hard to believe. Many times it seems they are twittering just to say something, like "Good morning Twitterverse" when they begin their day, give more details than I want to know about what they had for lunch, what their children said to them, or when they take a nap.




I realize that this is part of the "like, know, and trust" process that enables people to get to know each other, but sometimes it's simply too much information..LOL. I'm Twittering primarily to market my business. Consequently, I try and limit my personal twitters to no more than 2 per day. My clients, who create Twitter accounts for marketing, as well, tell me, "I'm signed up. Now what in the world do I Twitter about? How do I market my business with this tool?"



Here are 10 strategies that I use regularly to market my business and my expertise via Twitter. Remember, you have only 140 characters for your tweet (Twitter post).



1. How you're helping clients. Talk about specific ways that your business helps clients and use their Twitter ID if you have their permission, i.e. "Just finished @clientname brainstorm great Internet marketing plan for 2009" or "Finally finished setting up Quickbooks for local hardware store -- now they can invoice their clients"



2. What you're doing in your business. This is a perfect time to tell others when you're blogging, writing an article, creating your weekly ezine, recording your podcast, i.e. "Had great interview with Jane Smith today on speaking to grow your biz. Great ideas! Subscribe to podcast & listen here (URL here)"



3. Useful tool or resource you've found. I run across these all the time in my daily activities, and Twitter is a perfect place to share,. i.e. "Found great new Firefox plug-in to monitor & check multiple Gmail accounts at same time at (URL here)" or "Read great blog post on workíng at home with kids under 5 at (URL here)"



4. Ask a question. Need some ideas or some quick brainstorming? Twitter is an ideal place to gather opinions, i.e. "Help! Desperately seeking new laser prínter. Recommendations?" or "How do I find training organizations online?"




5. Conduct a survey. What do your Tweeps think about a particular issue? Ask them via Twitter, i.e. "Quick poll: Do you get more clients from Facebook or Twitter? Respond at (URL here)"



6. Report on live events. The latest Twitter trend seems to be tweeting what's happening at conferences or workshops. In order for Twitter users to follow a particular event, it's usually referred to by a name preceded by a # sign, as in #JVAlert, for example, to make it simpler for people who want to follow those posts. So, if you were at an event, you might tweet "#JVAlert John Smith speaking on affiliate programs. Just got great idea on training affiliate managers!" Just don't get so wrapped up in tweeting that you ignore the content delivered in the conference!



7. Product or service launch. If you're about to launch a new product or introduce a new product, let your Twitter followers know, i.e. "Pre-launch pricing for new DVD set about how baby boomers can start an online biz. Get $100 early bird discount at (URL here)"



8. Responding to others with advice or answers. The way to build professional relationships on Twitter is to help your tweeps. So, if someone asks a question, comments about something to which you have a response or an idea, or you want to ask a followup question, this is the perfect place to do so.




9. Acknowledging new followers. I've noticed a recent trend of acknowledging people who've decided to follow a Twitter user in the past day or so. I initially thought that others were doing this as a measure of popularity, but what I've come to realize is that it's actually helping out the new followers because it exposes their Twitter profiles to others who may have never heard of them and who might like to follow them. So, to thank your followers, you'd tweet, "Welcome new followers @twittername, @twittername, etc."



10. Automate your tweets. Many of my tweets have been automated and connected to other things I do. TwitterFeed turns all of my blog posts into tweets. aWeber turns each ezine issue into a tweet. EzineArticles.com tweets my followers every time I publish an article through their service. Typically all that's involved here is connecting the particular service to my Twitter account. Once all the services are connected, I get free and automated Twitter posts with no additional effort on my part.



Twitter can be a great time-waster or a wonderful way to market your business and leverage your expertise online. Follow these 10 strategies and you'll begin to attract more followers and get more clients through social networking.




About The Author

Online Business Manager and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketíng Toolkit, visit her site at OnlineBizU.com . Follow Donna on Twitter: http://twitter.com/donnagunter



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