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.com celebrates 25th birthday

On March 15, 1985, the first .com domain name was registered as symbolics.com. It took 10 years before the public became aware of what a domain name was.

Today, there are over 80 million domain names with the system serving as a platform for $400 billion US dollars in econmic activity. The Internet today generates more than $1.5 trillion US dollars per year.

People often question how we found out information before the Internet. Remember when you

  • had to go to the travel agent to make any travel plans
  • selling your old things in the garage was done using a garage sale – not eBay
  • you got the phone book out to call anyone
  • price comparisons were done by visiting a number of shops
  • product reviews were done by asking questions
  • receipe books or pieces of paper were used when making a dinner
  • an overseas phone call was kept short because it was too expensive
  • correspondence between businesses took days – no emails
  • faxes were used all the time for businesses
  • videos were rented from the video store
  • short videos was only seen on the funniest home video show – not youtube

We’ve come a long way in 15 years. What will the next 15 years bring us?

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Shopping Carts: Could your shopping cart be penalised from Google?

Did you know that Google penalises websites for duplicate content? If Google thinks you have copied content from elsewhere on the Internet, you can get banned from Google.

If you sell the same products as other merchants, are your descriptions of your products unique or copied from the manufacturers website?

Did you copy your content?
If they are copied directly from the manufacturers website or from a competitor, you run the risk of being banned from Google or at least penalised with your search engine rankings.

Make your product descriptions unique
The benefit of having unique product descriptions may give your website a better ranking. Having your own product description that you wrote means you can make it more targetted for specific keywords giving you more control of your ranking.

Search engines love content that is unique. Customers like reading product descriptions that say more than what’s your competitor websites.

Wrap Up
Make your product descriptions unique!

iPad: Will it revolutionise the way we read magazines and newspapers?

We have read and analysed the statistics – newspapers and magazines are loosing readership – and fast!

Will the introduction of the iPad revitalise magazines if they take advantage of this opportunity? Wired Magazine and a couple other magazines are leading the pack with new formats of their magazines.

Wired Magazine

It seems that everyone has forgotten that digital magazines have been around for a long time. I think that magazines could have done this previously using existing technology but the iPad has the cool factor attached to it and the big players are jumping onto the digital magazine bandwagon.

Wrap Up
The final two questions are – how will publishers charge for their magazines and how will advertisers be able to be added without being ignored?

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Book Review – ProBlogger – Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

This book is great for anybody who inspires to be a full-time blogger and make money while doing it.

This is not a book about generating buzz for your business by blogging. If you are wanting to learn how blogging can help your business, you will want to read another book.

I’ve read a number of books about blogging and this book is unique. It’s unique because I cannot think of any other books that explain the number of money making techniques used for blogging. It even talks about buying and selling blogs.

Blogging for money
Blogging is often thought as a hobby based activity. A bunch of enthusiasts who enjoy talking about a particular hobby and they do it for the fun of it.

This is not true for the professional blogger. They do it to earn money. By picking the right niche for your blog, your blog has more chances at succeeding.

Blogging Networks
These are used to get more exposure for your blog, share the skills of other bloggers in the network and earn more money.

Wrap Up
This is the professional bloggers manual. No other book holds such great information about blogging for money.

What is Google Buzz?

Google has had a number of attempts at entering into the social media landscape but have not had much success.

Google has just introduced a new social media platform called “Buzz”. The difference this is that it’s tied into the Gmail service. There are 150 million users of Gmail every month.

This means that their new social platform has 150 million + users from day one. Now there’s not many companies that can enjoy that kind of power when launching a new service.

Is the Internet ready for another social tool? Time will tell.

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New Year – New Office

This is a quick post about moving offices. I am moving from North Wollongong to Fairy Meadow. It’s an exciting time because I feel like I need a refresh. I’ve thrown out a lot of old stuff and will be buying new stuff soon.

I hope the new office makes me feel better because you need to work in a good office. I feel like I’ve gone a bit stale in this office so I hope to get a kickstart in the new office.

Thank you for following my blog so far and my next post will be from my new office!

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What is Phishing and How Does it Affect Me?

Phishing is a deceptive tactic to obtain login details to certain websites. Once they get the login details, they can login to the user’s account and steal money and get credit card details.

What to look for
Have you received an email that didn’t quite look right? If a bank sends you an email and asks for your login details, you know it’s a scam. The same for a social media website or online store website.

Bank phishing emails
You may receive emails from banks you are not with so it’s easy to tell that the email is a scam because you’re not with that bank. But what happens if you get an email from your bank. How do you know if it’s legitimate?

If you receive an email from your bank, be cautious, it’s highly likely to be a phishing email. Have a look at the link addresses in the emails. A real bank address would be – http://anz.com.au. A phishing website address may look like this – http://anz.com.au.vcsts.za/login

eBay phishing emails
I just received one that appears to be from eBay, that’s why I am writing this article right now. The subject is – eBay Member : You Received a Question From eBay Member fresh.tickets. It looks official. The body of the email looks exactly like an email you would get from eBay if someone really was asking a question about one of your auctions.

I don’t have any eBay auctions running right now so I knew straight away that it was a phishing email.

There are 9 links in the email. 8 of them go to real eBay pages. Even the link to the member’s profile is real.

The link to “repond” to the questions leads to the bad website. If I submitted my details on the bad website, this person might be able to access my PayPal account and other details on eBay.

The damage bill
It’s estimated that $3.2 billion dollars is lost every year in the US from phishing. Customers need to be smarter with their login details and do not provide it to anyone who simply asks to confirm their account.

If you do receive a phishing email, you can forward it to the real company so they know about it. I think this is more important for smaller stores so they can put out an announcement as soon as possible.

Are online stores affected?
Any online store can fall victim to a phishing attack. It usually happens to the larger companies such as Amazon but it can happen to any store. If your online store is attacked, you need to notify all your customers of the phishing attack. Describe what a phishing attack is and tell them to ignore any such emails that ask for their login details.

Wrap up
Customers and companies need to be aware of online crime and protect themselves from falling victim to such attacks. When your company may have been attacked, be pro-active about it and let your customers know as soon as possible.

If these cybercriminals keep getting away with it, they are going to keep doing it and the costs for doing online commerce will only increase.

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What Type of Website Should I get?

There are hundreds of options available when it comes to developing a website but which one should you choose? This article is dedicated to describing the main types of websites that are available and how to pick the most suitable type.

A couple of things first before we look at what’s available, you need to answer the following questions

What is the purpose of the website?
Is the purpose of the website to sell products online, take bookings or simply provide information to your customers?

How often will you update it?
Some website are updated everyday while otherwise are only updated once a year. Will the updated be done by your web developer or do you want to do it yourself?

What is your budget?
Do you have any idea how much your website is going to cost? There are a lot of people that just want to take your money, but there are also people who will give you a fair price for a good website. Get multiple quotes and trust your instinct.

The types of websites available
Websites can be broken into the following three types –

Static website
This is a website with one page up to a dozen pages with a contact us form. This is ideal for small businesses that want a web presence without a large investment in developing the site and ongoing fees.

Site updates are done only a couple times a year. I do not recommend leaving a site without any changes for longer than 12 months. You want to demonstrate to customers that you have an up-to-date website with current information on your website.

You can make this website yourself using a website builder or have it professional designed by a web designer.

Flash websites would be included in this website type because changes usually need to be done in Adobe Flash.

It is commonly referred to as a brochure website because it’s purpose is similar to a printed brochure.

Content Management System (CMS)
CMS websites are template driven and suitable for websites that are update often. It could be updated a couple a times a day or a couple times a month. These websites consist of two areas – the public website that everyone sees and an administration area to manage the content.

CMS websites require more investment to setup but updates can be done more easily. With little training, the business owner, receptionist or other employee can update the site. The user simply adds, modifies or deletes the content through the web-based administration area. The web developer is only required to make major changes such as modifying the template.

Examples of open source content management systems include – WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Some companies create their own CMS software but requires a large budget and more time to develop.

Shopping Cart System
Online shopping carts are very popular today enabling small businesses to compete with the big guys. Customers are comfortable purchasing online and paying by credit card. Many online stores have started as owner operators and expanded into large businesses employing hundreds of people.

Shopping carts can range from one page order forms – a static web page suitable for 10 products or less; or full e-commerce systems (suitable for 10 to 50,000 products) with backend administration capabilities to add, modify or delete products.

Examples of open source shopping carts include – CartXpress, osCommerce, Magento, CRE Loaded and Zen Cart.

Website designs
There are two popular types of website designs available – custom design and templates. A custom design may be suitable to give your website the same look and feel as the rest of your business. Website templates allow you to see what you get before the project is started. Website templates are available for all types.

You can browse our templates here – Template Shop.

Wrap up
You may use one type of website or a combination of website types within the one website. Some website have a static section, an online store and a blog (CMS).It all depends on what your needs are.

Before you talk to any website developers or designers, know the purpose of your website and browse the web to get some ideas. This will be very helpful when you talk to your web developer.

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Results from the AVS Networks’ Web Hosting Customer Service Results

This is a guest post by Sara Lundgren who designed, setup and analysed the data from a recent survey that I sent out to our web hosting customers. This is part 1 of 2.

To get to know our customers better, AVS networks sent out an online survey to all of our customers, and the results we got were very interesting.

Purpose for online presence
The number one reason for our customers’ online presence seemed to be “to provide information”, followed by “marketing” and “communication”. An interesting comment than one person made was “because in 2009 you are expected to have a website”. While this is very true, it might also be a good idea to put some extra thought into what the primary purpose behind your website is. Simply being online is not enough.

Where does your website fit into your marketing strategy?
You also need to figure out where your website fits into your overall marketing strategy. Is the principal purpose with the website to market your products? Get more traffic to you brick and mortar store? Selling products? Positioning your brand? What is your brand positioning? And is the online brand image coordinated with your offline brand image? If you have a clear message it will be a lot easier to communicate it successfully.

Types of online marketing
The majority of the AVS customers  are not actively marketing online, but the ones who do uses Search Engine Optimisation, e-mail marketing and Google advertisements. Interestingly enough, only a small number uses Social

Media marketing.
We all know that word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful tools to market your product offline. Why? Because having someone else talk favourably about you product is always more powerful than saying it yourself. Having said that, if social media is used in the right way it will lead to positive word-of-mouse which will be way more effective than any other marketing campaign you can create.

Marketing channel of the future
With this information in mind, I’m surprised than more companies aren’t using social media. It is definitely the marketing channel of the future. I believe that social media is so powerful because it makes interaction possible. Social media invites the customer to be part of the marketing process, if fact, it puts the customer in charge. The consumers are no longer passively fed with mass marketing messages, but can pick and choose between the millions of marketing messages that they are buried in every day. The marketing messages that the consumer likes will be passes along to other consumers. A social media campaign that is run smoothly will therefore be very effective.

Online strategy – why do I need one?
Another interesting point in the survey was that most companies did not have an online strategy, but almost everyone still believed that having an online strategy is important. By being online without a proper strategy, many businesses have neglected the most effective marketing tool that they have: their internet presence. Many of these companies spend thousands of dollars on web-design and development, but fail to plan and implement a good online strategy. In her online article about internet strategy  (http://marketing.about.com/cs/internetstrategy/a/aanetmarketinga.htm), Laura Lake compares being online without a proper strategy to starting a business without a business plan, placing an yellow pages ad in an irrelevant category or paying thousands of dollars to have a billboard ad created and placed where there is no traffic. Which is something no business owner in his right mind would do.

Summary
So, my advice for all the small and medium size businesses out there for 2010 is to START PLANNING. Evaluate your business goals, your brand positioning and make sure you are sending out the right message. Put some thought into your website and what you want it to communicate, and try to incorporate social media marketing into your new online strategy.

A good way to start is by conducting a survey among your customers!

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What Is A News Reader?

A news reader allows you to subscribe to your favourite blogs and read them all in one area.

Some of the popular news readers include Google Reader and Microsoft Outlook.

You may have seen the RSS icon on blogs and some normal websites. Whenever a new post or change is done to that website, the change is sent to your reader.

Some blogs only show a summary of the posts making you click on the link if you want to read the full post. Some blogs show the entire post in the RSS feed. Images and videos are shown in posts with a reader.

The benefits
You can read all the blogs and newsgroups in one area. If you are subscribed to a lot of blogs, you will appreciate the time saved instead of visiting every blog individually checking and reading new posts.

How to set up Google Reader
This is very simple. Create or login to your Google account. Click on News Reader and follow the prompts.

Using Google Reader
I start everyday by reading the latest blog posts from industry leaders. It allows me to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in Internet Marketing and eCommerce.You to would benefit from staying ahead of the competition and knowing the latest developments in your field.

I have my own opinions which I express on this blog which a lot of people read everyday. Learning how to start your own blog is a whole post, just to introduce the concept to you so we will leave this one for today.

Wrap Up
What can I say? If you’re not using a news reader, you wouldn’t be reading many blogs and not staying ahead of your competition!

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Are You Willing To Pay To Read The News Online?

The New York Times is expected to announce that they are going to start charging to read the news on their website. Nobody knows how much they are going to charge if they go ahead with it.

News Corporation recently blocked Google from indexing their articles and it seems they will be coming out with a paid model soon as well.

This is known as a paywall where you have to pay a subscription fee or a per article fee to read your news online.

It brings up an interesting question – Are you willing to pay to read the news online?

The research
Research figures around the Internet say that some people are willing to pay up to $3 a month to read the news online – which is currently free. It’s not a lot when people pay around $1 per day for a daily newspaper.

I guess people are more willing to pay something they can touch such as a newspaper than pixels on the screen.

Online advertising
If you have recently visited http://news.com.au, you will see advertising all over the place. It is getting more and more animated and in your face. Sometimes it takes over the entire screen!

If they are going to charge to read the news online, they will need to drop all the advertising. People will not pay if there are ads on the page.

Has the free-to-read advertising model stopped working? When was the last time you clicked on a banner from a news website. The advertising is usually very untargetted and the people visiting the website are there to read the news. Not to be sold products and services. If they were searching for something, they’d use Google or Yahoo.

Wrap Up
Are you willing to pay to read the news online? Do you think this new pricing model for newspaper websites work?

I do not believe they will get any more revenue from switching to this pricing model of a paywall. They might change back to the free model when they realise that not many people are going to pay to read the news online.

What are your thoughts?

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Magazine Advertising Down 18% in Revenue and 25% in Number of Pages

This is a follow up to the blog post I did called – Magazines and Newspapers are Dying.

The Magazine Publishers of America have released the 2009 data for magazine advertising revenue and number of advertising pages.

Magazines in the US have suffered a large drop in revenues and pages last year (2009).

Here are some examples in advertising revenue –

  • Business Week – Down 31.2%
  • Fast Company – Down 26.9%
  • GQ – Down 22.4%
  • Inc. – Down 46.4%
  • Maxim – Down 18.7%
  • Newsweek – Down 30.4%
  • People – UP 3.8%
  • Rolling Stone – Down 14.7%
  • Scientific American – Down 41.8%
  • Ski – Down 29.4%
  • Skiing – Down 40.4%
  • Sports Illustrated – Down 12.8%
  • Time – Down 13.3%
  • Transworld Snowboard – Down 17.5%

Overall, magazine revenue is down 18.1% and the number of pages for advertising is down 25.6%. This is a huge blow to the magazine industry in the US. I can only imagine that Australia will have similar results unfortunately.

Source

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Social Media Marketing Cannot Work For Every Business

Social media is one of the best marketing tools for many businesses. The entreprenuers has come up with a great idea, turned it into a great product or service and then cleverly used social media to launch the service.

This is smart marketing. What other marketing tools cost only your time and effort? What other marketing tool allows you to reach billions of people quickly?

Just like the real world, word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool. Social media is the online version of word of mouth.

The entreprenuer now has a large business and the cash is rolling in. Everyone in the social media world has done the hardwork to get the work out there. He sells his business and can now retire.

What about products and services that suck?
We’ve all bought products and services that have not lived up to their promises. Do we keep our experience to ourselves or do we tell all our friends in our online social world who then tell their friends?

Chances are many people will complain about the product or service that sucked. These in turn shows up when potential customers research the product or service. When they see bad reviews, you have just lost the customer!

Remember the old sayings – it takes 9 good comments to make up for one bad comment? And bad word of mouth travels faster than good word of mouth?

What to do?
When you launch your product or service online – make sure that you’ve got a fantastic product. Then you can get people excited about it and talking about it. This will spread good word of mouth and a successful business.

Are you focusing on social media before your product is ready?

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Google To Buy Yelp For $500 Million USD

What is Yelp? Yelp allows consumers to share the experiences they’ve had with local businesses and lets business owners share information about their business with their customers. Simply put, it’s word of mouth – amplified.

Yelp has raised over $30 million in venture capital and revenues are around $50 million dollars. There are 26 million Yelp users in the US, Canada and the UK and 8.5 million reviews.

It seems like a lot to pay for such a website but Google will have plans. This includes putting Google ads onto the site which would probably generate enough cash to pay for the acquisition.

Google has about $14 billion USD in cash reserves which makes you wonder what else they are going to buy? They could nearly buy Yahoo with this much money.

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Video Rental, Travel Agencies And Photo Processing Stores Are Ignoring Do Or Die Opportunities

It happened to the music industry and now it’s happening to more industries. The music industry ignored technology changes and suffered the consequences. If only if they were early adopters to selling online music, I believe more people would purchase their music online. They have had a hard time playing catch up including many court cases and legal battles.

The local video store under threat
Most video stores and chains have ignored the online world and will suffer a slow death in 2010 and beyond. IBIS World research predicts that the video rental industry will lose $20m in renenue in 2010.

The video rental industry has had a number of threats of late including NetFlix – an online video mail subscription service, DVD vending machines and new disc formats. A lot of people are legally and illegally downloading their movies today.

I’m just waiting for the day when Fox Studio and Warner Brothers successfully start selling their movies online for immediate download directly to customers instead of using distributors.

Travel Agencies
IBIS World research predicts the travel agency sector to fall by $46 million. Customers are now purchasing their travel services through discounted travel websites and directly with airlines and hotels skipping commissions.

Photo Processing Stores
Online photo services are increasing because customers can now upload their photos and receive their prints in the mail within a few days at a much lower price. IBIS World is predicting a 5.7% drop in revenue in 2010.

What does this mean for me?
Is your industry affected by these predictions?
Will your industry be affected in the near future?
What are you doing to take your services online?

Wrap Up
There is no stopping the online train now. It’s been proven many times over that the early adopters are usually the most successful. If you do not shift with technology changes, it will shift without you!

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Five Simple Guidelines To Make 2010 Your Most Successful Year Ever!!

How are you going to make 2010 the best year ever?

  1. Stop watching TV
  2. Better time management
  3. Set your goals
  4. Exercise everyday
  5. Educating yourself

Stop watching TV!

The average Australian spends (I mean wastes) 21 hours every week watching TV. That’s over 1000 hours a year! That’s 27 x 40 hour weeks. You could have a second full time job!

When you come home to an empty house, do you turn the TV on straightaway while you start doing things? Stop this habit.

When you finished watching your TV shows, ask yourself this question – how am I a better person from this experience?

If you stopped watching TV or limited the amount of TV that you watched, what could you achieve?

Have you disconnected from many of your family and friends?
TV takes up so much time. If you didn’t watch so much TV, do you think you would have more time for your friends and family?

I’m going to be moving house in a couple of weeks. We do not intend on getting a TV set up. If we do, it will be used for special occasions or watching movies.

Time Management
Where is your time better spent?
Work out what is wasting time. Investigate where your time would be better invested. Where is your time most productive?

Do not over work yourself
With all the extra time you have, it’s easy to become addicted to work. Life is about balance between work and play. When you are working, work hard. Don’t work half heartedly.

Spend the rest of your time with your friends and family and other productive activities.

It’s amazing how much I get done when I have a break from work. A short stroll resets my mind.

Set Your Goals
Do you know what your goals are?

Identifying and defining your goals is one of the most important details for any business or person. You need to know what you are trying to achieve and why.

Have you set them?
Do they have a due date?
Have you written your goals down?

Exercise everyday
My best days start with a 6 am workout
If you are not physically fit, you may not be mentally fit. That’s not for everyone but something as simply as a morning walk will get your brain thinking.

How much exercise?
Everyone needs to exercise 45 to 60 minutes a day. When was the last time your worked out? What was your last excuse? You need to make this one of your priorities for 2010 if you want more success.

Educating yourself
Why do some people succeed and others do not?
They are continually learning – everyday. It’s called education and nobody is going to do it for you. Successful people know the latest trends and continually learning new ways to succeed.

If you do not make the effort to learn everyday, no one else is going to do it for you. We are in an information explosion period. Choose your subjects and materials carefully and dedicate yourself to learning it.

Wrap Up
With everything you do, ask yourself – Is this moving me closer to my goals?

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Is Search Engine Optimisation Worth It?

onlinenews

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be defined as optimising your website so search engines can rank your website in the natural search results, as high as possible for those targetted keywords.

But is all the effort in SEO really worth it?
Should you put all that time and effort into optimising your website so that when the search engine bots come through, that your page will rank higher?

Should you even think about paying an SEO professional to do it for you? What return on investment can you expect?

There’s no  guarantees
No one can guarantee number one position for your chosen keywords for the natural search results. You might get emails in everyday with promises but still no real guarantee.

The statistics
The number one ranking website for any keyword has an average click through rate of 56%. So if 1,000 searches are done for that keyword each day, that’s 560 visitors each day on average.

Of these 560 visitors you get daily, 5% purchase a product – that’s 1 in 20 people. That’s a nice conversion rate and works out to be 112 new customers each day from that keyword. If the average purchase was $100, that’s $11,200 a day in revenue. That number 1 ranking is worth a lot of money.

Imagine if it was a popular keyword and it was being searched 100,000 times a day – 56,000 visitors a day and up to 11,200 new customers a day in an ideal scenario. That’s $1,120,000 a day. Now we’re starting to talk big business!!

Would your business benefit from this kind of traffic?
Any online business could benefit from this kind of traffic. On the Internet, targetted traffic is king. It earns money and it’s what some businesses survive on.

Competition is heavy in the search engines and the most profitable the keywords, that more likely there is going to be more competition.

Conclusion
SEO is definitely worth it and can take a company from being good to great! If your website is not search engine optimised, you are not helping the business at all.

If you have any questions about SEO, please contact me – nigel@burke.com.au

Susan Boyle: Uses Social Media To Catapult From Unknown To Success

91342-susan-boyle-to-appear-in-american-idol-200Susan Boyle from Blackburn, Scottland was relatively unknown until she entered the reality TV show called Britains Got Talent. The 47 year old, never been kissed, less than average looking woman who looked like she was going to make a mockery of herself suprised the audience with an unbelievable performance of “I had a Dream” for Les Miserables.

A well executed viral marketing campaign quickly catapulted her into stardom. If the social media wheels didn’t start rolling for her, I do not belive she would have been heard of outside of the UK.

YouTube and other online video websites
Within 9 days of the competition, the audition performance had been viewed over 100 million times. The total number of views today is over 300 million times. The live cast of the show would have been lucky to be a tenth of this number.

Email Marketing
One of the best known tools for getting the order out to everyone is through emails. People sent the link of the YouTube videos to all their friends. I received a number of emails to watch the “amazing video that I had to watch” as recommended by friends.

I could have forwarded the email onto all my other friends but I’m not much of an email forwarder myself. I get enough emails as it is but I know a lot of people would have sent it onto their friends and family to watch.

Facebook
Fan clubs on facebook appeared with one of them having nearly 1.8 million fans. Facebook gives Susan Boyle more publicity and reaching millions more of people.

Twitter
I checked Twitter but Susan doesn’t appear very much on here. There were a couple of fake profiles but this social media tool didn’t seem to help Susan.

Forums
A number of fan websites appeared and fans discussed Susan’s new found fame with other fans through forums.

Social Media Bookmarks
People posted links to Susan’s videos, facebook pages and other online media using Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit. The link on Digg was so popular that it was on the frontpage generating more publicity for Susan.

Blogs
With the Susan Boyle phenomenon, bloggers wrote about Susan and what they thought of her. Bloggers have the ability to embed videos directly from YouTube and other online video websites. Their readers added comments and all this generated even more publicity.

The Result
The well executed social media campaign which was pushed along by the TV show’s producers, made Susan Boyle the largest ever debut album for a female artist with over 5 million CDs solf worldwide in the first week.

The Wrap
I do not believe that Susan Boyle would have experienced such a success like she has if it wasn’t for social media. Millions of people got behind the move and posted about it all over the Internet. This gave Susan free publicity to many more potential fans.

Are you convinced that social media could help your business sell more products and services?

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Google: Introduces New Homepage And Why Internet Marketing Consultant Needs To Know Why

googleMany people may not have noticed this but Google has changed their homepage.

It’s not until you are told of the change that you would realize it.

Go to http://google.com but do not move your mouse. Only the search box and logo are visible. Once you move your mouse, the rest of the details appear.

This is just one of many changes Google has made that is not visible to the general Internet population. By writing and researching for this blog, I read about nearly every change.

Many of these changes are advanced and meaningless to users but as an Internet marketing expert like myself, they are important.

Your Internet marketing consultant should be aware of all the changes Google, Yahoo and Bing do so your website ranks at the top for your targetted keywords and stays at the top!

Is Twitter Really Worth It?

twitter.moneyTwitter is one of the hottest social media tools today. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon because … because everyone else is so it must be great.

I have been on Twitter for a few months now and yet to see real value from it.

I’m following 2,000 people because that is my limit but I’m not reading many of the tweets that come in. Maybe I am following the wrong people because most of them are about network marketing and making money.

It might be time for a clean out and following some better Twitters.

There is about 500 Twitters following me now. When I post a new blog entry, I normal send a tweet but I’m not seeing any traffic from it.

Is Twitter really worth it?
This makes me wonder if this company is really worth a billion dollars? It has no revenue and any advertisements are going to be ignored.

I see more value in the Facebook platform yet they are still having issues trying to make money from advertising.

Spam Tweets
I am noticing that many of the tweets that I receive are spam. I don’t read many of them because everyone is shouting out to get me to their website.

The statistics from January to November 2009.
The number of new users in July was 9.4 million down to 7.1 million in November. How many of these accounts are really accounts?

twitter-registrations-nov

twitter-tweets-nov

The number of Tweets has been increasing more. Are people using this as a real communications tool or are spammers using Twitter to help market their websites?

Conclusion
Will Twitter stand the test of time? Will people remember Twitter as a fad or will it keep growing into a important communications tool?

If Twitter cannot find a better purpose, with real people and less spammers, it may not be be really worth it.

Domain Owners Be Aware Of Domain Renewal Scammers

connectingA number of our customers have received letters about renewing their domain. The problem is that the customers have never dealth with this company previously.

The domain renewal scammers send out thousands of letters everyday to domain owners and they still get many people’s money. Often the domain name is not renewed after it’s being paid for.

If you receive a letter from a company that you are unsure about that is Internet related or you have received an invoice that you are just not sure about, contact your web developer, hosting company or even email me direct. They should be happy to answer any questions regarding any invoices or letters that could be a scam.

Companies that you need to be cautious of include –

  • Domain Registry of America
  • Domain Registry of Australia
  • Internet Names Group

We recommend throwing all their letters into the bin because they are ‘domain slammers’ (scammers).

Don’t get caught in this scam – use your common sense.

Book Review: Publish & Prosper: Blogging for your business – DL Byron & Steve Broback

publish-prosperThis book is great for business owners and other business executives that are thinking about creating a blog.

There are thousands of blogs launched into the blogosphere everyday. How many of those are going to be successful? Why do they fail? and how can you build yours differently?

This practical guide will take you step by step through the process of setting up a successful blog.

Research
This is the first thing anyone should do before that start a blog and after reading this book, I believe it’s one of two fatal mistakes majority of blog owners make.

The book discusses the following topics related to research –

  • Determining your focus – Who is your audience? the purpose of your blog?
  • Comittment issues – How much time will you dedicated to blogging?
  • Tools available – Make sure you start with the right blogging software for your blog

Setting up you blog
Getting the design and functionality of your blog right from the begininng can save a lot of work down the track.

The book discusses what tools are available for your blog, which ones are important and why.

Maintaining your blog
A blog that is not updated can make you look bad but as the book discusses, this depends on the type of blog and the information in the blog.

Marketing your blog correctly can make or break your blog. Using tools like RSS allows your visitors to subscribe to your blog and get notified when you make a new post.

Conclusion
The book is suitable for all levels. Beginners will learn terminologies and concepts that are vital pieces of information required before setting up a blog.

Advances users will learn from the authors experiences and tools they use. I’m an experienced Internet user and had a few ‘uh ha’ moments and learnt some new pieces of information that I will be using from now on.

If you are going to setup a blog, make sure you are passionate about what you write about and that when the times get tough (no one is reading you blog) that you keep pushing through by continually posting and marketing your blog appropriately!

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How To Become A Leader In Your Industry

lightbulb in grass

Why are some people successful and others are not?

I do not believe that you could pin point it to one particular skill. It’s a mix of a number of skills. Some you could consider natural but majority of them can be learned, developed and cultured.

Today I want to talk about how you can become an industry leader. By doing this everyday, you will become the leader in your chosen field.

Study your chosen industry just one hour per day

It is as simple as that. By reading, researching, listening and learning for one hour everyday about your industry, you are guaranteed to become a leader. That’s 7 hours every week and over 300 hours a year.

Today knowledge is power. By keeping up with the latest industry trends and being ahead of your field is everything.

Read a book every week
When was the last time your read an entire book? Set aside some time everyday to spend by yourself while you read. Books do not take that long to read if you read a small chunk every day.

Before you begin reading, write down what you want to learn from the book you are about to start reading. Read with a purpose in mind.

I try and read a book every week. Each book is usually on a different topic within Internet marketing or social media or programming. I’m going to start reviewing them on here as I finish reading each of them.

Read industry magazines and papers
If you do not read them, who do you think is? Your competition of course! Learn what is going on in your field and stay on top of it.

Subscribe to related blogs
There is a wealth of information available on blogs that is updated daily. Get yourself a blog reader and subscribe to blogs that are going to get you ahead in your industry.

Learn while you commute
Many people spend hours every week traveling to and from work. If you drive to work, listen to an audio series instead of the radio. You can listen to podcasts or audio books while you drive.

Information overload
It is easy to get wrapped up with all the information that is available today on any topic using the Internet. You need to learn how to scan through the junk and get to the meat.

Each day, I scan through 200+ posts about Internet marketing and e-commerce. I might only read about 20 of them but by doing this each day, I am keeping up with the latest trends, techniques and strategies out there today.

Writing this blog
When I started this blog, I did not realize how far behind I was with my industry. By starting this blog, it has forced me to learn what is going on with the big players such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter etc and looking at opportunities that exist.

I recommend anyone start a blog even if you are not after readers. By typing out everything you know about your industry, you will realize just how valuable and knowledgable you are.

Conclusion
If you read 1 hour every day, 7 days a week for 46 weeks a year – that totals 40 x 8 work days. That’s nearly 1 1/2 months spent getting ahead in your field.

Read the best information about your industry for one hour every day and let me know how you go.

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David Lim: Transition From A Hobby eBay Seller To Fulltime Small Business Entrepreneur

timberbitsAuthor : “Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – Timberbits.com

Most people dream of handing the letter to the boss that says “I quit!” However the reality is very seldom realized.

Starting your own small business is very daunting and traditionally, doing so means mortgaging the family home or borrowing from family and friends.

Where to start.

Ebay has now the perfect vehicle to test and develop you business model and skills. With a few click and some loose change in your pocket, you can compete in a level playing field with the big boys in town.

Should your sales start to pick up and you get into the rhythm of selling on ebay, you will very quickly notice the advantages and disadvantages of eBay.

Pro’s and Con’s

The main disadvantages of eBay is mainly

1. the enormous fees that it charges, and

2. the price wars and race to the bottom which quickly erodes profits.

The next level.

Once you have developed a customer base, it’s time to start to lead them to an environment that you control. Lead them to a place where the big corporation can’t dictates how much their share is (before your even earn a cent), away from the “hand of god” that can delete all your listing because of a complaint of a righteous customer, away from a place which shares all your business statistics with your competitors.

By leading your customers to your own web site, you take back control and you also save a lot of money in the process.

Your website is your shop – give it some street appeal

Have you ever visited a web site that looked like it was done by a 8 year old or a newbie to web design? You wouldn’t get a dodge carpenter or a friend of a friend to fitout your retail premises – we all know this is the case we walk into some shops, why do the same with your web site?

With the invent of the web – small business can compete with the big boys in town. Spend a bit of money up front and get a professional to do the job. To fit out a retail shop professionally expect to pay over $250,000. A professional website is less than $1,000.

I always get complimented for how professional Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – Timberbits.com looks. It cost me less than a $700 to get started – that’s less than 1 months of eBays fees. Now my website’s volume has grown to more than 5 times what I sell on eBay. I now save thousands of dollars a month just on eBay fees, not to mention the time and frustration on eBay.

My word of advice is as soon as you start selling more than 20 transactions a month on eBay, start to invest in a website. When you do build a website, don’t go cheap – we all know what those websites look like, pay a professional because you get what you pay for.

What Changes Have You Made To Your Website In The Past 12 Months

connectingI talk to a lot of business owners that have websites and many of them ask me how they can increase their online business.

I ask them what are their goals of their websites? They usually reply with the same comment – To increase sales.

But what are they doing to promote and market the website? What tracking to they have in place? What changes have been done to improve the site?

So today I am going to describe a couple of points that can get websites back on track and increase their return on their website.

Identify The Goals & Purpose of the Website
You need to determine what purpose is for the website. Is it to increase brand awareness? Provide information and to get customers in the door?

Have you set measurable goals for your website? You need to define what success is for your website and work out ways to reach those goals within a certain time frame.

Optimize your website for search engine visibility
Can a search engine read the content of your website? Is it being indexed? What keywords are your targeting?

I see a lot of websites that are poorly optimised for search engines which is the number 1 source for traffic. People are searching for your product and services but your competition is getting the business – not you because your website does not come up in the natural search results.

Website Marketing
Are you advertising online? Are you tracking where the leads are coming from? Do you know your acquistion costs for a customer?

The Internet is an amazing tool for business. You can set advertising budgets to the dollar, you can see exactly where customers are finding you to the words they enter into a search engine to find you, and track visitor trends.

There is no other tool like having a website performing well for you.

What value to do you provide to your visitors?
If a customer were to visitor your website today, what are they going to walk away with? Only sales material or will they leave smarter?

The sell, sell, sell techniques worked in 2001 but visitors want more. They want to know what’s available and how they will benefit from using your product or service. There is a global marketplace that we are in today – there is a lot of competition.

Demonstrate that you are an expert and give customers value by visiting your website.

Get involved with social media
Become familiar with social media ettiquet and start a blog, a Facebook group, comment on other blogs, start a wiki for your industry.

The main message here is to just get involved in social media but play nicely.

Conclusion
Get your website to be a market leader in information. People will link to your site and you will get more traffic. This traffic will convert into customers.

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David Meerman Scott: 8 Tips To Make Your YouTube Video Go Viral

will_it_blendHave you seen Will It Blend? It’s a crazy series of videos by Blendtec, a small blender manufacturer. The series has been seen by millions of people. My favorite is Will It Blend? – iPhone. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and take a minute to watch. This YouTube video has been seen nearly 7.5 million times.

Viral marketing is the phenomenon of other people passing along your ideas to friends via email or blogs or other online means…for free! Best of all, there is very little costs in setting up the costs compared to advertising campaigns. You could compare it to people handing out your business card to all their friends because they think it’s cool.

Here are some tips to make video go viral. Creating a video is easy and it is free to post onto YouTube. All you need is a simple $300 digital video camera, a YouTube account and an idea.

youtube_logoMost importantly: Your video needs to be funny or amazing or remarkable or have some fascinating information or be controversial. Basically the video needs a reason for people to pass it on. If you can find pass along value connected to your organization and its products, great. I’m not a fan of stupid contests or celebrity endorsements unrelated to a company and its products.

Tip # 1 – Homemade is just fine

You don’t need to hire a professional. A homemade quality video can work great. But plan ahead and shoot several takes to get it right.

Tip #2 – Your video should be no longer then 2 minutes (preferably less)

Think very short. You need to get to the punch quickly. Although YouTube will accept a video that is less than 10 minutes, smaller than 100MB try to make the video between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.

Tip #3 – Make your description clear and specific.

To best promote your video, you’ll want its text description on YouTube to be accurate and interesting. Use descriptive keywords and language that people will find when they search for videos like yours. And use the correct categorizations on YouTube so people will find it.

Tip #4 – Don’t attempt “stealth” fake customer insertions to YouTube.

Some companies try to sneak corporate-sponsored video onto YouTube in a way that makes it seem like it is consumer-generated. The YouTube community is remarkably skilled at ratting out inauthentic video, so this approach is fraught with danger.

Tip #5 – Try a series of similar videos to build interest

Sometimes a series of videos works great. The Blendtec Will it Blend? videos are a perfect example. The even sell t-shirts now!

Tip #6 – Tell everyone about your video!

When you upload your first few videos, you are likely to hear a deafening silence. You’ll be waiting for comments, but none will come. You’ll check your video statistics and be disappointed by the tiny number of viewers. Don’t get discouraged. It takes time to build an audience. Make sure people know it is there and can find it. Create links to your video from your home page, product pages, or online media room. Mention your video in your e-mail or offline newsletters, and create links to your video as part of your e-mail signature and those of other people in your organization.

Tip # 7 – make sure bloggers know about the video

Sending a link to the video to bloggers or commenting on other people’s blogs (and including a link to your video) is a good way to build an audience. If you comment on blogs in the same space as yours, you might be surprised at how quickly you will get viewers to your video.

Tip #8 – Experiment a lot to find something that hits

While I think it is difficult to purposely create viral marketing buzz, it is certainly possible. Create a number of campaigns and see what hits, then nurture the winners along. Think like a venture capitalist or movie studio and try a number of things in order to get that elusive hit.

Good luck. And if you do create a cool video, let me know.

david-meerman-scottPost Author: David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and the author of the hit new book World Wide Rave. His previous book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR is an award-winning BusinessWeek bestseller and is being published in 25 languages.

You can read David Meerman Scott’s blog here.

Marketing to Price Sensitive Customers And How To Get Them

ecommerceThere are many types of customers that are shopping online today but today, we are going to discuss the price sensitive customer type. These customers use two tools to do their online shopping – online comparison websites and coupon codes.

Coupon & promotional codes
Traditionally and still used today, you would get flyers in the mail box with cut out coupons. These were targeted to customers who would go to the effort of cutting out these coupons and taking them to the shops to get their discount.

Do you remember the times that you were waiting in line at the store and you see someone with a coupon in the line and then you realize you have forgotten your coupon to get your discount? The person with the coupon code is a price sensitive customer who goes to the extra effort of getting that discount.

These same customers are shopping online everyday and still looking for those discount codes. Many of the pizza chains in my area use online coupon codes for online ordering.

How to get your coupons codes out there
Many of the shopping cart software packages that are offered today often include coupon code functionality. You simply create a code by entering a keyword, the discount given – fixed or percentage, expiry date and number of uses allowed.

Promoting your coupon codes
Once you have your coupon code ready to promote, where do you promote it? There are many different places that you can promote your coupon code but the essential thing is to get it to the right customers at the right time.

  • On your home page – You can tell visitors when they load up your front page that a discount is given for a certain range for a limited time.
  • Special landing page – You can create a special landing page for your Adwords or Yahoo campaigns and include your coupon code on the landing page.
  • Social media site – You can have a link from your Facebook page, do a tweet using Twitter or offer the discount code on your blog for your blog readers.
  • Mail out – You can include the discount code when you do a direct marketing campaign or sending out flyers.
  • Coupon code websites – This is a powerful tool and used in the right way, can get great results. These websites list all the coupons submitted by users to share with other users.

Depending on what your goals are and the type of offer will depend on what method you use to get your coupon code out there. You don’t want to be offering coupon codes if the customer is already going to be buying the product at the listed price.

Google recently published the following data which shows how popular it now is for customers to search for coupon codes online –

Coupon codes search history from Google

Promotional search history from Google*Graphs provide by Google

These graphs demonstrate the popularity of people searching for coupon codes and promotions codes. You can see the holiday period spike in searches will be coming soon so now is the time to start promoting your codes.

Work better than other products
Some products work more effectively with coupon codes. They include popular products and commodity items. It’s up to you to do your market research to see if your competitors are offering coupon codes and if the market would respond well if you started offering coupon codes.

Conclusion
Using coupons effectively can mean more business. Make sure your website uses coupon codes effectively to take full advantage of the price sensitive customer.

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Google: Let’s Make The Web Faster + New Tool

google-betaGoogle has introduced a new tool that allows you to check the speed of your website and improve the speed.

This is one of Google’s ways to give back to the Internet community by educating developers and designers to make better websites. This in turn is supposed to make the web a better place.

Tutorials
The site has some great tutorials and you can visit them here – Tutorials. Some example tutorials are –

Participation
You can participate in discussions about making the web faster here – Share and discuss

Useful Tools
There are some fantastic tools the Google lists here. You can access the tools page here – Try useful tools. Some examples are –

I highly recommend you check out the educational tutorials and test some of the tools they have made available and listing on the site.

SEO Tip: Ask Your Customers For A Blog Post

seo tipI am often asked how to get higher rankings in search engines. Perhaps the customer has done everything possible to optimize their website, what next?

Backlinks are key to getting a great search engine ranking.

Next time you send an email to say ‘thank you for doing business with us’, maybe ask that customer to do a blog post if they have a blog. You can return the favour by adding a blog post about them. It’s a win-win situation for everyone – you both will get inbound links to your sites and a higher search engine ranking.

Try and get them to add some links to your site with the keywords you are targeting if possible.

You may not notice a big difference with one or two posts about your business but think if 20+ posts are done about your website. Now that will help you search engine ranking!

Book Review: The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing & PRThis book provides an awesome overview of the new rules of marketing your business in today’s connected environment.It is a must read for any business owner who wants to know what social media tools are available and how to utilize them in your business.

The book does not talk about the complexities of setting up these tools but discusses the concepts and letting you know what’s available. It really gets you thinking into how you can leverage these tools to create exposure for your business using social media tools.

Blogs
For search engine optimization – content is king. Blogs can be a powerful tool to create a high ranking website.

There are many reasons companies should use blogs such as they can put a face to your organization, used for announcements, putting ideas out there, creating a feedback loop. The book explains each of the benefits of having a blog.

News Releases
I believe that news releases are under utilized today. News releases have had a new lease of life thanks for online tools. You can publish your news releases to online news services such as PR Wire to get the word out there.

A great tip about news releases from Scott is including keyword links in your news releases to help your search engine rankings for those keywords.

Wikis
A wiki is site created so people can add content and share knowledge. Anyone can contribute to the wiki and they can work very well.

Creating a wiki about your industry can create credibility for your business. People love working with other successful businesses who are on the forefront of industry changes and knowledge. By creating a wiki, you too can have this creditibility and be known as an industry leader.

Viral Marketing
The beauty of social media marketing is the speed that ideas spread. By understanding the new rules of marketing, you have the knowledge to manage and grow these campaigns.

Scott provides some great examples of viral marketing and how the companies responded to these campaigns. Many of them were just created by the customers themselves. He explains what you need to do when this happens and to make it work in your favour.

Podcasts, Vlogs
Some people may not be great writers but they are create speakers. If blogging is not for you, could look at creating podcasts or video logs.

Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is the different types of personas of your customers visiting your site. When you built your website, did you create it for one buyer persona? Did you identify the different buyer personas and build a site that is targeted at each of these personas? Scott talks about how to identify them and how to create multiple call of actions for each persona.

Conclusion
This is a great book to get a general overview of the tools available for this new social world we are entering. Experienced Internet marketers can learn about the different tools available that are not often discussed in Internet marketing.

THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING & PR
How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
By David Meerman Scott
Wiley; June 2007
$24.95; 978-0-470-11345-5, Cloth

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Internet Advertising Exceeds $466 Million Dollars in the Last Quarter

Business GraphAustralian businesses have spent over $466 millions dollars (AUD) in the past quarter for online advertising.

The total advertising industry in Australia is currently worth $13 billion dollars a year. Traditional advertising has been declining over the past year especially with the global financial crisis hitting many businesses but online advertising is still increasing.

Online Advertising Vs Traditional Advertising
Traditional advertising is so expensive compared to what you can do with online advertising. You cannot measure the reach very easily, it’s often very untargeted and so much of the budget is wasted. You are trying to grab the attention of as many people as possible. Other advertisers are trying to gain peoples attention and pull them away from your ad.

Online advertising allows you to collect data about every visitor that comes to your website. You can see what traffic sources are producing the best results. You can run pilot campaigns before taking the campaign to full scale. You can jump in front of your potential customers right when they are looking for a service that you can provide.

The future of Internet advertising
Internet advertising is feasible for any business to setup. TV advertising and even newspapers and magazines are not feasible for many businesses that are running today. Unless you are a medium to large business, would you like at using traditional media only for building a brand.

A mix of online and offline advertising, worf of mouth (plus social media marketing) can be an effective way to generate more business.

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Newspapers and Magazines Are Dying

onlinenewsThis traditional media is experiencing quite a shakeup. From the research I have done, it appears that circulation numbers have stayed stable but no real growth. I think that the cost of printing coming down as meant that publishers can print more copies of their magazines at a cheaper cost and pump them out to the public to get the circulation numbers higher.

Are they really growing?
In reality, newspapers and magazines are not growing. I forgot the last time I bought a newspaper or magazine and think they are a waste of paper. When was the last time you bought a paper or magazine?

Advertising revenue from traditional media is falling. That is because the ads in these publications are not as effective as they used to be. I used to advertise in all the computer and Internet magazines in Australia with a full page ad. But as more competitors started advertising in the same magazines, our return on investment fell and we pulled out.

News are it happens
Newspapers and magazines cannot keep up with the news quick enough. A monthly magazine is often out of date by the time the reader gets a copy. Blogs and other websites have up-to-date content. Many websites display content as it’s happening.

I don’t think newspapers and magazines will ever die but I do not think they will ever be as big as they were.

What do you think? Are websites and social media replacing newspapers and magazines?

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Yellow Pages Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

yellow-pages-Of all the businesses I talk to, many of them are cutting out Yellow Pages advertising completely or at least cutting back on their spending. I’m not sure of the exact numbers are for their advertising revenue but it seems the old yellow book is an out of date concept.

Customers are turning to the Internet to do most of their product research. With search engines and other websites, customers are dealing with businesses all over Australia and the world – not just in the local area anymore.

Introduction of Metropolitan and Mobile Books
To earn more money, Yellow Pages introduced new lines – Regional books within metro areas and Yellow in the Car. This means that advertisers have to spend more money to make sure they cover their area.

Google Local Search
Google is becoming more targeted with their local searches. When this becomes mainstream, it will be necessary to be listed in here. I think there will be more local websites appearing helping people find local businesses.

Our Experience with Yellow Pages
We have cut back completely on all our Yellow Pages advertising and the online version got us zero results after spending 6 months advertising on their website.

What do you do?
When researching about your next holiday, booking airline tickets, booking show tickets … Do you turn to the Yellow Pages and start dialing? Do you go into town and go into the shops? Or do you do what most people are doing – getting on the Internet and doing all your research ang bookings online? So who is going to get the big yellow book out and use that as their research tool?

What has your experience been with Yellow Pages? Do you still use it? Will you be advertising in the Yellow Pages next year?

Maybe you should look at moving some of your advertising budget from Yellow Pages to Internet advertising?

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SEO: On-Page Elements You Can Instantly Change To Get A Top Ranking In Google

wwwYour website can rank higher by simply knowing what elements Google and other search engines look at when indexing your page. When you are aware of these elements, you can make minor modifications to your website to produce a better ranking.

This is information that your SEO expert does not want you to know. SEO experts charge thousands of dollars to apply this to your website.

  1. URL – The URL is the web address. You can name the page with the targeted keywords.
    Action – Name your pages accordingly.
    Example – http://yourdomain.com.au/keyword.html
     
  2. Links – The links in the page should be related to the targeted keywords. These are just like references and by reading the references, you should be able to work out what the original page is about.
    Action – Name your links so they are related to the targeted keywords.
    Example – <a href=”apr.com.au”>Australian Produce Report</a>
     
  3. The title tag – Do not simply place your business name here. Search engines rank the first words as the most important keywords for your site.
    Action – Place the most important keywords first and then your business name.
    Example – <title>keywords | page name | Business name</title>
     
  4. The description tag – This does not have as much weight as it used to have but it is still important. Many search engines still look at this for keywords and even Google may use it as the description for your page in it’s search results.
    Action – Imagine that your visitor has not seen the page and write a good description about what the page is about.
    Example – <meta name=”description” content=”a great description of the page”>
     
  5. The keywords tag – Search engines may not put much weight on to the specified keywords but it is still good to include it because every bit helps.
    Action – Enter a list of the most important keyworkds into this tag.
    Example – <meta name=”keywords” content=”a list of great keywords”>
     
  6. The heading tags – Search engines look at the heading tags throughout your document and define what the page is about. Many websites make the mistake of not using the heading tags at all so the text looks like a long blurb to a search engine.
    Action – Using heading tags to break up your text into headings and subheadings using the search engine recognised way.
    Example – <h1>Big heading</h1> … text … <h2>Sub heading here</h2> … more text.
     
  7. Bold text – Does your site use bold text? Using bolding on your most important keywords in your text. This will make it easier for a human reader and search engine bot to understand it – but make sure that it still looks good. Afterall, you need to make pages that humans can read and not pages that are simply only optimized and readable by search engine robots.
    Action – Use bolding for your most important keywords in your content
     
  8. Text – Your chosen keywords should be the main discussion points on this page. If you have chosen a keyword but have not mentioned it in the content, should you be really targeting that keyword or maybe you need to add more content so you include the keywords.
    Action – Check that your target keywords are aligned with the content.
     
  9. Alt text – Do your images utilize the image description element? If you load a web page without images, you should be able to make out what the images are about using the image description information. Search engines only read text and not images. The alt image value appears when you rest a mouse on an image.
    Action – Describe every image on the page and add your targeted keywords where you can. Remember that Braille readers and speech synthesizers use the alt text value so do not confuse these readers.
     

How could we forget these basic rules?
When making a web page, we often think about the marketing and the selling perspective of the page. We often forget that search engine robots need to read these pages too. On the other hand, we need to create pages that humans can understand as well.

Search engines try and replicate how a human would read a page but sometimes, they need a helping hand. By implementing these elements correctly on all your web pages means that search engines will recognise the content and targeted keywords more easily.

Conclusion
You now know how to optimize your on-page elements for your website. Now go update your website with your new found knowledge!

What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

Pay Per Click AdvertisingPay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising means that you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement. You do not pay each time your ad is displayed. PPC advertising can be an effective form of advertising because you are paying based on the performance of the ad. If no one clicks on your ad, then you do not pay.

The idea was formed in 1998 by GoTo, a search engine portal. PPC has now become one of the main forms of advertising online. This has created some very competitive marketplaces and can be expensive. Some marketplaces are very inexpensive and can be very profitable.

The Benefits of Pay-Per-Click
There are many reasons and benefits for using PPC advertising. Here are some of the benefits –

  • Get instant traffic to your website
  • Create test campaigns
  • No waiting to be listed in the organic search listing
  • Allows (smart) small players to compete against the big guys
  • Spending controlled on a daily, weekly or monthly basis
  • Anyone can setup a PPC advertising campaign in Google, Yahoo or Bing.
  • Continually test landing pages, ads, keywords before putting more resources into the campaign

PPC AdvertisingThe Cost of Pay-Per-Click Advertising
The great thing about PPC is you control what you spend. For popular keywords, the budget can be limitless. Industries such as insurance and car rentals can be very expensive and push the smaller players out.

Some keywords can be very profitable resulting in high conversion rates. Having a great ad, the right keywords and sending the visitor to the correct page can make all the difference for a successful campaign.

I have personally seen websites that were previously getting very little traffic and poor sales results – to becoming an overnight success because the world did not know they existed. Once the right traffic was sent to the site, the website started producing great profits and operations expanded.

Always Testing
Pay-Per-Click campaigns allow you to continually do testing. You can run a PPC campaign for one day or even an hour and see how people respond to the ad that you have created, the landing page that you are sending the traffic to and track the keywords that you are targeting.

You can do split testing where you run two ads in rotation and see which one runs best. You cannot do that with normal print media.

marketingTracking Results = Return on Investment
Through the use of Google Analytics and similar programs, you can track all online transactions. You can see the following information –

  • The exact keywords that the visitors enter to find your ad
  • The pages they view when they visit your site
  • The cost of the ad
  • The conversion rates resulting in working out the ROI

Why Pay-Per-Click is Important
If you are not advertising your services to your potential customers, your competition will and they will get your new customers. Can you afford to lose customers?

Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts will be wasted if you target the wrong keywords. PPC allows you to fast track your SEO by testing the keywords before you even attempt to optimize your site for those keywords.

Warning – You Can Lose Money
Google and Yahoo are targeting small businesses to start advertising online by offering free credit. Please be educated before you setup your own campaigns. If you do not know what you are doing, you will lose money. I have seen business with one keyword in their keyword list, poorly written ads and sending visitors to the wrong page. I have even seen ads sending visitors to broken pages!

Professional Pay-Per-Click Consultants
If you do not know what you are doing, I recommend using a professional service. They will charge for their service but in the long run, it can save you thousands of dollars and a lot of time.

A professional Pay-Per-Click consultant will –

  • Research for the best keywords
  • Enter negative keywords
  • Create professional copy for your ad
  • Pre-qualify visitors so you are only getting buyers to your website
  • Point visitors to the correct pages on your website
  • Setup multiple campaigns
  • Optimize your ads to have a strong rating
  • Continually test keywords, ads and the land pages
  • Control the spending of your campaign
  • Analysis the existing competition
  • Generate reports based on the performance of your campaigns
  • Answer any questions you may have

Conclusion
Pay-Per-Click advertising can be used in many ways to help your website get more sales and become more profitable.

I will be writing more articles to explain the different ways you can advertise your site online and setting up your own campaigns. If you have any questions, please email nigel@burke.com.au

Google Real Estate: Realestate.com.au and domain.com.au Are Angry

preview_imageGoogle has introduced a new feature to their online map service: Real estate listings. That’s right! You can now have your property listed on Google Maps for free. This service is shaking the online real estate portals.

You can use this feature here – Google Maps and click on Real Estate.

Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au are angry
News Corp who owns 60% of realestate.com.au and Fairfax Media owns domain.com.au are very upset. They are big spenders of advertising on Google and have now been shot down by Google by providing free real estate listings.

They are now re-evaluating the millions of dollars they spend with Google.

Simon Baker, the former boss at realestate.com.au said “Google was moving from a search engine to a portal what is now serving up the end data itself.

What’s Next?
It seems that Google is putting it’s finger into everything these days. Will these moves help Google become more popular or is it going to hurt Google in the longterm?

Have your say below ..

Google Wave: What is Google Wave?

Google WaveGoogle Wave is a highly anticipated tool by many people. It’s an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave is similar to an email which people can discuss and work together on multiple document types.

The file types include normal documents, videos, photos, maps and more.

How is it different to an email?
Imagine an email where it could be edited like a conversation by a number of invited people. Unlike emails that are bounced around to a number of people with different sets of replies, a Google Wave would allow one page that has everyone’s contributions and accessible by any computer.

It’s a live document where all participants can watch and interact together. We can all relate to miscommunication with emails with information all over the place.

But will a Google Wave resolve this problem?
I think having all the information at a central point where everyone can see the same information is definitely on the right track. Collaboration is a very important function because many of us are working with people that are in multiple locations across the world.

Group Projects
We all remember what it was like doing group assignments at school or university. The students do their part of a group assignment and submit it to the organizer of the group. People end up writing the wrong content, there is duplicate content, people write conflicting points, the list goes on.

I believe that if Google Wave works for students, it would work well for businesses.

Conclusion
I can see many uses for the new Google Wave application but only see the live document being useful. It does not sound revolutionary to me. Google is hyping this up a lot and there is a lot of talk about it on the Internet.

They are encouraging developers to build applications that use the Wave framework. Maybe some developers will be able to provide more applications that will help us work in an online world.

Click here to find out more about Google Wave.

Melbourne Cup and Event Marketing for Search Engines

Melbourne Cup

Melbourne Cup is the race the stops the nation. It is expected that $230 million dollars will be gambled on this race from punters and an incredible $1.67 billion over the four day race carnival. Many people take a day off work and go to the races, go to Melbourne Cup functions and have office parties. It is even a public holiday in Victoria!

Would your business benefit from advertising for the Melbourne Cup? Could customers interested in the Melbourne Cup use your services? You may not be based in Melbourne but this is watched by half the population in Australia. Is that a big enough market?

Melbourne Cup search on Google
I did a Google web search for “melbourne cup” and there is 17,500,000 results but there are only 4 advertisers which are gambling websites. A search for “melbourne cup catering” has 48,900 results and many more advertisers.

Could your business be advertising for melbourne cup services? What about other events?

Event Specific SEM Campaigns
You can create specific SEM campaigns that target the event. You would need to choose related keywords, create related ads and maybe even create a special land page to send people to. The campaign may only run for a couple of weeks leading up to the event and then you could turn it off. Maybe re-use it for next year.

The benefit of setting up an SEM campaign and paying for the traffic means that you don’t need to optimize your website for the event keywords. You can apply a budget and only pay for the performance.

Conclusion
I hope I have you thinking about setting up event campaigns to targetted events utilisng search engine marketing.

ICANN: Set to Approve Internationalised Domain Names

icann logoDomain names are currently based on the Latin alphabet. This is great for English speaking countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia but what about countries that have their own characters.

It is estimated that more than half of the 1.6 billion Internet users online today use non-Latin characters in their language. These people will be able to register domain names in their local language very soon.

Will this just be another revenue raising exercise where companies have to register more domain names to protect their intellectual property?

Support languages
There is 17 languages to be introduced include Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese plus more.

I think it’s going to be very confusing when advertising these international domain names. They will obviously be geographically targeted but also towards the locals only.

English people understanding the new domains
I’ve seen many different character sets when using keywords in cybercafes while traveling around. Sometimes you are only in a country for a few days before moving on. I just do not know how outsiders will be able to use these domains. Having an English domain name as well is just going to double up on everything.

English people have been very lucky on the Internet. Imagine if the Internet was all in Chinese? Everyone would have to learn Chinese otherwise they would not be able to do much on the Internet.

Conclusion
The technical work involved to accomplish this is a bit like introducing IPv6. These are both mighty tasks which I think need to be overcome to continue the growth of the Internet and open it up to more communities.

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Online Stores: Are Your Product Descriptions Accurate?

globe-in-shopping-trolleyYou’ve setup your online store and your selling lot’s of products. But are your product descriptions up-to-date? Are they accurate? Are the products exactly as they described in the product description on your website? What about the warranty and refund information?

Word-of-mouth can be one of your most effective mediums for spreading the word about of your services. The problem is that if a customer has a bad experience, the bad news is going to spread even faster ( 10 times faster!) and you’ll have to work hard to repair the damage.

Deals Direct LogoDeals Direct Example
The online department store – Deals Direct, are in trouble with the ACCC this week. The ACCC has received a large number of complaints about bogus savings claims, and inaccurate or misleading product descriptions on their website. They promised to clean their act up but is the damage already done?

This got me thinking about our customers and other online stores. Too often I see online store managers who copy and paste information about the products they sell from other online sources. But is the product information correct, up-to-date and accurate?

The same rules apply
Online retailers often forget that the same rules apply to them as do the brick and mortar retailers. Online retailers need to check their refund and warranty policies for the products that they offer and stand by them when required.

The costs of complying with the required law is offset by the reduced risk of the ACCC taking action against you and help with the goodwill you will give your customers.

Conclusion
Spending a few minutes ensuring that your product descriptions including warranty and refund policies are correct will ensure a good relationship with your customers. Customers will know where they stand if there is a problem and the relationship can continue on with problem resolution is clearly documented.

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