SEOMoz – Have You Been Introduced?

Keen to start link building? Let me introduce you to, a site boasting “The Web’s Best SEO Resources”. SEOmoz’ main claim to fame in traditional link-building annals is it’s famous toolset, which includes “over twenty SEO tools”.

That may be too rich for the new marketer’s blood, but what about some of the other tools?

Linkscape is a free tool that allows you to perform a number of targeted analysis functions on your competition (and your own sites), including:

– Checking your links to see if they are from suspect sources
– Identify your competitors’ anchor text keywords
– Analyze their strongest linking strategies
– Analyze your own sites’ strongest web pages

(And that’s just for starters).

What SEOmoz doesn’t tell you up front is that you can only see basic data, until you upgrade to a paid subscription: Still, a web page that can instantly show you – simply by your entering a website URL – its “mozRank”, number of links and number of root domains linking to that site is a pretty cool tool, when you’re analyzing your link strategy!

My favorite tool is Trifecta. The free option allows you to run one analysis per day, and lets you see:

– how many pages and sites currently link to yours
– how many times your “brand” is “mentioned on the web”
– how much traffic your site has

You can analyze your competitors too, of course. All sites are equal (figuratively speaking) at SEOmoz. And many people wouldn’t be without their SEOmoz Firefox toolbar add-on for instant stats.

Other paid link analysis tools include BacklinkAnalysis, and the SEOtoolbox page offers you the ability to check backlinks, page rank, domain age and indexed pages (in 3 major search engines).

A “pro” subscription that allows you to analyze in much more depth than you can probably imagine right now begins at $79.00 per month. Is it really worth it?

Only you will be able to tell.

Branding Your Direct Mail Campaign

Before you embark on creating a direct mail campaign, take some time to brainstorm ideas for what your campaigns will look like and how it will continue your company’s branding effort that you currently have online.

Your website should have a professional logo, specific colors and easy-to-read fonts detailing your message. Your social media sites should be constructed using these same elements and they should also be incorporated into your direct mail design.

The primary goal of branding your business is to gain customer recognition. The more people see your branding online, the more they will recognize your company and listen to what you say.

One goal of direct mail is also creating brand awareness, which in turn can help your direct mail open rate and sales conversions. If people recognize your logo and /or colors from your online presence, they will recognize the direct mailers you send out. This recognition will entice them to take the extra time to read your offer and possibly make a purchase.

Let’s examine one of the world’s best known brands, McDonald’s. Occasionally they send out coupon booklets in the mail or stuffed into the Sunday newspaper. Even if you just look at the rounded yellow M logo, there’s no mistaking it for any other restaurant than McDonald’s.

Also recognizable is the red and yellow color scheme as well as the product images of the most well-known burgers, such as the Big Mac. Between the logo, colors and photo images, anyone receiving this flyer will instinctively know it’s from McDonald’s before they even read the text.

Before you dismiss this example as too hard to achieve, brand recognition does not happen overnight. Even the world’s richest man, Warren Buffet, took many years to make his fortune. The important thing to remember is you have to start somewhere. So if your website and online presence is already set up, then move to a direct mail campaign to further extend your company’s brand image.

Questions To Think About

Creating a direct mail campaign takes planning so before going to the drawing board, think about how your direct mail piece will continue your online branding. Obviously use your logo and colors but what about the size of the piece? The shape? Folds? Card stock? Perforations?

What will make your piece memorable for years to come?

Even if you start off direct mailing a postcard, you can hire a talented designer to make it memorable. Include your social media pages on the postcard so you can engage them in conversation and immerse them into your online community.

As your business grows over the years, you can send out more complex mailings, from thank you letters with see-through envelopes to larger boxes with a promotional gift for past customers. If you’ve been nurturing this customer relationship through social media and email marketing, these mailings will most likely get opened and receive high conversion rates.

The elements tying all these campaigns together, however, will be your branding elements.

Making Video Marketing Work for You

You’ve decided to make a video this time, to help sell your product. If you’re nodding you’re head in agreement, I’ve got three words of advice: “Just do it!”

It doesn’t matter if you have the latest software or a top-of-the-line camcorder. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve made a video before. The truth is, teens and pre-teens are uploading home-made videos to YouTube every day – and getting views that would make many marketers drool with envy! There are 3 main keys to making a video that gets views:

1. Keep it real. Your honesty and enthusiasm are what will help sell your product – not whether or not you can out-direct Quentin Tarantino
2. Promote it. Create a buzz. You can bet that’s what the “kids” are doing – telling all their friends, announcing the video using YouTube’s “Share” feature, talking about it on Facebook, leaving comments on other similar or related videos in their YouTube group…
3. Make it interesting. It can be as flawed as all get out, production wise, but if it’s interesting – even if you have to stand on your head and juggle with your feet – it will get views.

(And if it’s interesting enough, it may go viral!)

Here are some solid tips to help you get started…

The Most Importing Tip For Making a Successful Video – First Time

1. Use a storyboard or rough script. If you’ve never made a video before, chances are, you’re going to either ramble on, using up precious seconds – and rambling will tip your video firmly over into the “boring” camp – or miss out vital information. Using a storyboard or rough script will help you:

• Stick to the point

• Include everything you need included

If you are a “visual” learner, use a story board – quick, scribbled thumbnail sketches (“stick people” are fine) showing each point in “frames” (think of it as a comic book page).

If you do better with lists, use a rough script. This is not the sort of script you read word for word – doing that would ensure you ended up with a “wooden”, deadly dull video. Rather, just a reminder of the key points you need to include (such as your call to action, and website URL).

Shoot your video, edit, upload to YouTube – and promote.

The important thing to remember in all of this is… yup, you got it: “Just do it.”

Affiliate Marketing Success 7 Guidelines

Being a successful affiliate marketer is within your reach. The problem is that many people who begin to dabble in affiliate marketing get off course pretty fast, usually due to excitement of the possibilities that affiliate marketing brings to their life. The idea of earning passive income selling other people’s products is so exciting that they get carried away and try to do too much at once. The following tips will help you achieve affiliate marketing success if you follow them.

Choose a Niche — A niche is a small and targetable portion of the entire market. You should be able to narrow down your niche to a specific target market. If you can name your target market then you’ve got a viable niche. For example: “Moms who are ages 24 to 32 with 2 children under 3 years of age who breastfeed.” If you know who your target market is, then you can have your niche, and you can choose your products. By having a niche you can figure out what their needs are, and fill them.

Stay Laser Focused – It’s imperative that you keep focused on your niche and target market. If you stray outside this area you’ll get distracted, often referred to as “shiny object syndrome” this can lead to frustration and less success. Believe it or not the more laser focused you are on your niche the more success you will experience. Casting a wide net on the Internet doesn’t work, but laser targeting is a proven method to make money on the Internet via affiliate marketing.

Choose Products Wisely – When choosing affiliates products to promote be very aware of your niche and target your market towards this niche. In the example above good products might be involve breast feeding guidance and support. Coaching moms about breastfeeding and dealing with breastfeeding issues. In addition you might sell breastfeeding gear such as nursing bras, nursing shirts, nursing pillows. Picking the right products that your niche market wants to buy is imperative to your success as affiliate marketing.

Be Mindful of Your Budget – When you first embark on affiliate marketing it is best to choose a budget for your affiliate marketing business. If your budget is zero, then you know automatically that everything you do has to be free, although it will take you much longer to succeed. If your budget is 50 dollars a month, then state that on paper. Whatever your budget is, state what it is, keep track of it, and stick to it.

Develop a Content Strategy — In order to properly promote any product then you need to develop a content strategy. Content is every word, picture, or form of communication that is on your websites, blogs, and other media channels. You should actually have a plan for your content. Plan your blog posts, plan your vlogs, plan every picture including which tags you’ll use for the pictures and title tags for each page of your website. Content is so important, that it is likely the most important thing you can do to promote your products and market to your niche.

Build up your email list — Always ensure that you have a way for visitors to all your websites and blogs to sign up for your email newsletter. One of your strongest marketing channels will be via your email list. Tell each person who signs up what they will receive for signing up, how many newsletters they will receive, and remind them that you value their privacy. Use your list wisely but do use it. It is important that you have regular emails scheduled in your autoresponder at least once or twice a month, and then you can manually send newsletters with new promotions if you want to.

Be Persistent and Consistent — It is imperative for your success that you never give up and be persistent and consistent in all your marketing efforts and your product promotions. Affiliate marketing success does not happen overnight. IF anyone tells you that you’ll be rich overnight, move on, because they’re lying. It takes time to become successful and how much time is completely dependent on how much you put into it.

The Top Reasons you want Recurring Revenues

Recurring revenues are the lifeblood of your business. It does not matter what business model you have right now, what matters is that you make recurring income each month that you can count on and that hopefully, grows with each passing month and year to come. When you can count on your income growing each month and year, you know you’ve done something right. The top reasons you want recurring revenue streams are:

Work Once — Most recurring revenue streams are work that you do once, and keep getting paid for later. Such as eBooks, niche websites, and affiliate marketing. All of these require you to do the work once, and then you can get paid months and years later for your efforts today. Nothing is more fun than seeing money in your PayPal account for something you did two years ago.

Passive Income — Many types of recurring revenue are what is called passive income. That doesn’t mean you don’t do any work, but it does mean that you can keep earning on the same item. For instance, if you have a niche website or blog, that has some affiliate products, and Google AdSense as the revenue streams it can become almost automatic. Once you get the traffic up to a certain point, if you leave it for say a two week vacation, or a six week period of time off due to birth, death or illness you’ll still make money on the site.

No Limits — Unlike trading hours for dollars there is truly no limit to the amount of money you can make with many recurring revenue streams. Once you write an eBook and start selling it, you can sell it as many times as you want to. You can’t sell as many hours of Virtual Assistant time as you want to, because there are simply only so many hours a day. The same can be said for Graphic Design or any type of service business. While you love doing it, there are built in limits.

Avoid Burnout — We all need to take breaks. In the current service provider business model there is no room to take a break. How would you like the freedom to close down your business every holiday? What about taking month long vacations during the summer? Heck, how about taking a trip to a warm climate when the weather gets too cold at home? The possibilities are endless and having a recurring revenue stream allows you to be more picky about taking on clients so that you can truly do what you love.

More Saleable — The more passive and recurring income you have the more you can sell your business for later if you choose to do so. If you learn to separate yourself from your business model a little bit then you can eventually sell the business so that you can retire or move o to the next opportunity as you wish. A business that is named right, and has recurring revenue is just more salable than a services business with a good client list, without.

Top 5 items not to skimp on when self-publishing

Cutting corners is often done when a business wants to cut costs, but make a larger profit. But, when you are self publishing anything, it’s important to avoid skimping on certain aspects of your project if you want it to be successful. Here are five things that you do not want to skimp on when self-publishing. If you do, you won’t see as high of sales as you could have. If you’re going to self-publish, take it seriously and pull out all the stops to do it right.

1. Cover Art — If you aren’t a designer, it’s important to hire someone, or at least train yourself in what constitutes a good cover design for your book. It does matter whether your book will be printed or is solely an eBook. The printed book requires a higher quality graphic than an eBook, however the design of both should be top quality. Your cover art should adequately give possible readers an idea of what is in the book. Along with the cover art goes a good title that describes or puts a picture in the readers mind to go along with the book’s contents.

2. Jacket Copy — Ask other experts for blubs, and comments about your book, then write copy that will entice a reader to read your book. Pay attention to word count for digital books on some of the copy. You may need jacket copy, and other copy based on each medium you will present your book for sale. If you’re not well versed in writing copy, which is different from other types of writing, teach yourself about copywriting by reading other descriptions of books both digital and jacket copy. Additionally, you can hire an expert to get this done for you.

3. Layout — Each type of publishing requires a different type of layout, and may require a different expert to perform each layout. However, more and more experts are popping up who can do all layouts for you and even specialty layouts based on your instructions. It is important to hire someone who understands the types of layouts you need. It is not unusual to hire more than one expert depending on the types of layouts you want.

4. Proof Reading & Editing — While most people are going to buy your book based on the cover art, and the jacket copy, if you want your readers to be happy and satisfied as well as buy other products you put out, ensure that your writing is top notch by paying attention to the editing process. If you can’t edit your own writing by all means hire an expert to do it for you. It can be difficult to keep a clear head during the editing process, but it’s a very important aspect to self-publishing that some people wrongly over look.

5. Marketing — You’ll need marketing materials, social media, blogs, interviews and more to market your publication properly. Cover all sides of the marketing process using every channel that you can to get the word out about your product. If needed, hire a marketing expert to help you. This can be overwhelming to many, but if you’re already well-versed in Internet marketing you will have a leg up on marketing your book. It’s not unusual to hire a marketing firm to help with offline marketing efforts when this is not your expertise.

Whenever you want to outsource consider how many books you’ll need to sell to break even on the deal. If it seems impossible, renegotiate a new price, or find another way to do it. But, don’t skimp on these five items if you want to have a successful self-publishing experience.

Keeping your personal and professional life separate on Facebook

Pretty much everyone has a Facebook page. There are over 845 million users on Facebook. Naturally, with that large of an audience it’s important that your business be there. Marketing your business via Facebook is a great way to get new business as well as create free word of mouth marketing.

In addition, it’s easy to create Facebook advertisements, and more on Facebook. But, there are some serious roadblocks with social media that can cause problems for any business owner. You innocently click “like” on someone’s picture, article, or meme and before you know it someone you do business with us offended and fires you.

Dr. Phil says that perception is reality, so it doesn’t really matter if you’re within your rights to have your own opinions when it comes to social media. Of course, you do! However, so do your potential clients. There are some best practices for using social media when it comes to business. One of those best practices is to keep your business and personal life separate.

The way to keep your business and personal life separate is to:

Create separate accounts — Choose very carefully when business associates or acquaintances want to follow or friend you on your social media. It’s perfectly within your right to turn someone down to be your friend. Creating separate accounts can solve a lot of issues.

Think twice before doing — On social media where people can follow you without your permission, it’s important to consider the ramifications of the things that you choose to share. If you want to be controversial, think about it first.

Use privacy settings — On social media where you can set privacy features, and even block people; ensure that you take advantage of the technology. No one will know they are blocked or that your account is even there in most cases, if you set your privacy settings right. Don’t underestimate the power of keeping private things private.

Understand the technology – When you set up any social media accounts be sure to understand how it all works. For instance, consider the chain of events that occur when you “like” something. Who sees your “like”? Do you care who sees your “like”? Is it really private?

What will your Grandmother think? – A good test to see if something is appropriate to post, including pictures, memes, and thoughts — is to know whether you would want your Grandmother to see it or not. If the answer is no, don’t post it.

Stay focused on your audience – When using social media to promote your business stay focused on what your target audience wants to see from you. It’s okay to promote your business on private networks occasionally so that your family and friends know what you’re up to, but don’t share private matters unless necessary on your business social networks.

Your personal life is none of your clients’ business. It’s likely that they don’t want to know much about your private life either, especially super private information that covers the three topics that you should not discuss in mixed company: Religion, Politics and Money. Keep that in mind going forward and keep your personal and private lives separate on social media as much as possible.

Learn the Language of SEO – Definitions of Common Terms

Whether you are an internet marketer or an offline business going online, you are going to hear about search engine optimization (SEO) very early on. SEO is the term online marketers use to refer to the process of getting as much traffic as possible from search engines like Google. It can be confusing to try to understand this new foreign language that everyone online seems to feel so comfortable with. So rather than struggling to translate everything, learn a few of the basic terms to give yourself a head start.

Here are some of the most common SEO terms that you’ll hear.

SERPS: This stands for “search engine results pages”. These are the pages you see after you type in a search phrase into Google or other search engines. They’re the results of your search. For anyone with a business online, your goal is to be as high up in the SERPS as possible for any search phrases associated with your business.

Meta tags: Meta tags are words that appear in the html code for a page, but do not appear on the page itself. They tell search engines specific information about that page. The most common meta tags are for description (of the page), keywords, and author.

Title tags: These are the words that appear in the tab or bar at the very top of your web browser. They are the “title” of the page that a user will see when they look at the top of their browser.

Alt image tags: The alt image tag provides the “alternative text” for an image. Since search engines can’t read an image, you should always provide some text that describes the image as well. It will show up if the image can’t be displayed and will also show if someone mouses over it.

Hyperlinks: A hyperlink is simply a link you can click on that connects one place to another either on the web or even within a document, such as a slide show. Hyperlinks can be attached to text or images.

Anchor text: This is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Marketers typically use keywords that describe the linked page as their anchor text, which can help in ranking higher in the SERPS.

Internal links: These are links from one page on a site or domain to another. The opposite is an “external link” which involves linking to a page on another website. Both types of links are important for SEO.

Longtail keywords: A longtail keyword is a search phrase that consists of 2 or more words. Usually, the longer the keyword phrase the more specific the information is that the searcher is looking for. In general, it is easier to rank for a longtail keyword since it will have less competition.

Keyword density: Keyword density is a measure of how many times a specific keyword appears on a page in relation to the number of words on the page. If the keyword density is a high percentage, it can be a warning sign to Google that the page is low quality or spam.

Organic traffic: The free traffic you get naturally from search engines and other directory listings is referred to as organic traffic. The opposite is paid traffic, such as the people who arrive at your site by clicking on one of your ads on another site.

Spider: Also referred to as a “crawler” or “robot”, spiders are software programs that the search engines use for locating and indexing all the pages and websites on the internet. Spiders follow links from one page to another and will revisit sites, indexing new pages as it goes.

There are many more SEO terms that you’ll hear as you learn more about getting traffic from search engines. Don’t be afraid to ask for definitions and explanations of a term you don’t understand. Even the most seasoned internet marketer comes across terms they are unfamiliar with. It’s all part of the learning process for getting more traffic.

Accelerate Your List Building with Online Contests

Contests and freebies can boost your email subscriber list exponentially. However, whether or not those subscribers add value to your list or not depends on how targeted your prize is. If you’re giving away something like a free iPad you’ll get all kinds of entries who may not even care about your product or service, especially if the only requirement to possibly win is to sign up. Let’s be frank, they’re going to simply unsubscribe when the contest is over.

So, for example, if you are teaching lessons on how to use a certain graphic design software, a good prize may be to give away the software to one lucky winner, along with free classes. But, if your target audience needs baby supplies, the prize of an iPad, for example, might not be as effective. Sure, people will sign up in droves, but are they really interested in your solutions? If you really want to accelerate your list building with online contests, think strategically when planning the type of contest that you conduct.

It’s important to not only accelerate your email list building with contests, but to also accelerate your entire contest strategy by being certain about the market you plan to target. Contests generate leads, drive traffic (both online and offline), increase brand awareness, make customers and potential customers happy, create good will, and even help you develop insight into your customers that you may not have had before via user generated content.

It’s clear that online contests can boost your email list building opportunities many times over. But it is also clear that the efforts must be targeted to your specific niche audience. It’s important to study your target audience and know everything you can about their needs, fears, desires, wants, and to then create products and services that fill those needs and solve those problems. By having good products and services you’ll have read made prizes that your target audience really wants to compete to obtain.

You can then have many different types of contests such as having customers make short videos about them using your products or services, or people who want to try them to make a video about why they should be chosen to win them for free. Let others comment on the videos and vote on them, the one with the most votes wins. Then, promote the winner in a big way. Someone who wins very publically something of value like this is likely to give you a good review on the products and services and later purchase further products and services from you.

By having a good email list, full of targeted, interested potential buyers, you can basically give yourself a raise anytime you want by carefully promoting your products and services to the list members. They have signed up to receive the information you have, and they want the information. Ensure that every email you send has a purpose, and a call to action. Do not leave readers wondering what to do next. Ask them to read your blog, ask them to buy your product, ask them to make suggestions on future products. Use the list well, and grow it well with targeted subscribers and it will serve you well for years to come.

How to Hold a Conversation in Church

I have a question for anyone who has ever been to s Sunday church service: What happens on Sunday mornings?

The preacher preaches from his pulpit. Everyone sits and listens (or pretends to listen). They’re a captive audience, held by guilt, duty, pressure from a spouse, guilt over the kids or even – occasionally – real interest in the sermon.

So they stay.

Too many people give in to the temptation to mirror those Sunday sermons. They climb up on a soapbox, and Expound.

Unless the soapbox is a particularly off-the-wall one, the usual result is much the same as Sunday service. Everybody shuffles out, without saying a word…

…or else they click away and close in the first couple of sentences. After all, your blog ain’t church. They don’t need to stay. There’s no guilt or duty holding them on your browser page; no spouse to look over their shoulder and condemn the action. (In fact, any shoulder-peeping spouses are more likely to say: “Good. Now we can talk!”)

Why is it, then, that so many bloggers sound off like a preacher; either dully, or with faint condemnation?

That’s not what gets your posts comments – and links!

“Invite and Incite”

Before you can lay down the law to people, you need to provide proof you have the right to do it. That’s number one question to ask yourself, when tempted to wax forth on why most marketers fail, or why clear skin is not reserved just for the young. It should be like holding a conversation with your buddy.

Conversations give room for answers and interaction. On a blog, you have to do this by:

– Asking questions (especially ending with one)
– Making sure those questions invite and incite an answer

To do this, you need to keep the focus of your question specific – “What do you think?” is just not gonna cut it:. The average blog reader hastily decides a question of that magnitude is going to take too long to answer… and clicks away.

Give your reader an incentive to answer. Make the question personal. Leave your topic open for debate by presenting two sides of the same coin. When you do that, human nature has readers evaluating which position they agree with. They’ve engaged with your post – and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Most of all, however, care about your post. Care about what you’re asking. Don’t be afraid to let them see the real you; the one with the doubts (that doesn’t mean pouring your heart out about your lousy marriage, by the way!)

After all, when you care, your readers are more likely to care, too.

And that’s the real secret of inciting valuable, relevant, topic-related links.