Mini Sites and Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, should be a top priority for any website. Even those that have thousands of pages should have each page optimized for targeted keywords in order to get the best possible search engine rankings. This opens the door for much more traffic.

But what about mini sites? Can they compete with those huge sites from an SEO perspective? Well, they certainly won’t have as many pages listed in search results, because they don’t have as many pages. But yes, they can fare well in the search engines.

Mini sites have an important advantage over those gargantuan sites. They are targeted toward a very specific niche. That means that they can target keywords the more specific keywords that bigger sites tend to overlook. These keywords may not have an astronomical search volume, but they are subject to much less competition. That means that it’s easier to rank highly for them.

But finding the perfect keywords is only the beginning of your SEO adventure. The next step is including them in your web pages in a way that will cause the search engines to take notice. There is no surefire formula for a number one ranking, but there are techniques that will give you an edge over the competition. Here are a few pointers:

Include your most important keyword phrase in the page’s title. If possible, put it at the very beginning of your title. The title tag has become a favorite of the search engines, so use it to your advantage.
Write a keyword-rich description for your description tag. This tag doesn’t carry as much weight as it once did with the big search engines due to abuse, but it’s worth paying some attention to it.
Use your keywords in headings. The search engines see this as a sign that your content is in fact related to the keywords you’re using.
Include keywords in alt tags to describe your graphics. Search engines do pay attention to this.
Sprinkle your keywords throughout the page’s text, but make sure you do so in a natural and logical way. Including your keywords in your content is important, but overuse of a given keyword could result in penalties.

Since mini sites are so small, good SEO is essential to their success. Finding the right keywords and using them in the right way will result in targeted traffic. And if your mini site is doing its job, that traffic will translate into sales.

Understanding the Difference Between Back and Front End Sales

When you first start planning your sales funnel and creating your marketing strategy you may be confused by the terms Back-End Sales and Front-End Sales. Understanding these concepts is key to a successful sales funnel and ultimately your online profits.

Front-End Sales. Your Front-End Sale is the first product your prospect purchases. In your sales funnel, this could be at any price point. Your front-end sale could be your lowest priced item, say a book or an introductory report for example. It could also be one of your higher priced items. While most customers may enter your funnel at the very beginning, that’s not always the case. Therefore, it pays to have back end offers designed for each and every price point in your funnel.

Back-end sales. Back-end sales are where the money is truly made. Your back-end products and offers are designed to enhance the product your customer just purchased or is getting ready to purchase. For example, if your customer just purchased a book then your back-end offer might be a corresponding workbook or online course to compliment the book. The key to having a successful back-end sales strategy is to make sure each offer compliments or enhances the value of the product they just purchased.

If, for example, your customer purchased a book and your back-end offer is an unrelated software product then your customer is going to be left scratching their head. Their confidence in you and their trust in you is going to falter. Not a good thing.

However, if your offer compliments what they just purchased or are getting ready to purchase and offers them more value, their trust and confidence in you is going to increase. See how this works?

The key to a successful sales funnel is to create complimentary back-end products and offers. Understand that customers may enter your funnel at different points and be ready to up the ante, offer them more value, and increase your profts.

21 Must Do’s For Your Next Networking Event

It’s time for your yearly networking event and you’re getting nervous about being in a room filled with people you don’t know. What do you say? When should you pitch your speech? Should you shake their hand first or wait for them to offer their hand?

First, take a breath. Relax and know that many are just as nervous as you are. Remember you are first a person and then a business owner. If you keep in mind that this mixer is an opportunity to get to know people instead of getting your next sale then you will be much better off.

Try and balance speaking with listening and above all stay focused on your goal, which is to connect with people who can help you move your business forward. Keep these 21 tips handy for your next event.

Be interested in the conversation – you will be bombarded by a number of people who will introduce themselves to you, hand you business cards and pitch their products – take time to concentrate on the conversation, don’t let your eyes glaze over with boredom.

Smile – sometimes when nervous people forget to smile.

Maintain eye contact – with the noise level in the room, the drinks and other activities it is important to maintain eye contact.

Ask about them & their niche – people love to talk about themselves and they love talking about their business or product even more. Write yourself little notes if it is a person you want to remember.

Be assertive – this is no time to be shy. Fake it if you have to but stand your ground and show that you believe in yourself and your business.

Speak up – nervousness causes our voices to squeak or soften – be sure you speak up when conversing with your peers.

Be selective when choosing whom to talk to – there are going to be a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds, if your business is baking you don’t want to spend your time with someone who is an IT expert.

Know your intent before going – what is your purpose? Connect. Follow Up. Develop Partnerships.

Concentrate on quality contacts not quantity – the purpose of the networking event is to connect with businesses that compliment yours so that you can build each other up not about how many business cards you can collect.

Exchange business cards – upon introducing yourself, give your contact information.

Follow up immediately – immediately after write those thank you notes. Mention the event, remind them who you are and what you talked about and set up a follow up meeting.

How can you build their fan base & community? – Ask them what you can do for them to build their community – this helps you identify what services to offer them or what referrals, if any, you can give them.

What skill can you teach them? – This goes with asking them about their niche and how you can help them grow their fan base – identify a skill you have, it could be speaking, interviewing for a podcast or allowing them to guest blog.

Don’t be pushy – relax, don’t push your product or service. I know it is a networking event but believe me, people at these events want connections to grow their business not more products. You can say your 30-second pitch but only after they ask for more information after your introduction.

Introduce your brand & key product – in a concise sentence introduce yourself and your brand highlighting your key product

How can your product meet their needs? – They’ve told you about their niche and what they need to move forward now write down a note about how your product will meet their need. (Preferably on the back of their business card) This is not the time to throw your pitch at them.

Shake hands – shake hands at the same time you are introducing yourself. This gets it out of the way and is also an icebreaker.

Tweet a shout out – Just had a great conversation with someone? Tweet about it. Mention their business and how excited you are about getting to know them.

Connect with at least 5 people – You’ll meet way more people than you can possibly get back to. Concentrate on connecting with just 5 people that you know can be a potential partner. These will be the ones you follow-up with for future meetings.

Show confidence – You can be all tied up inside but show confidence on the outside. Practicing your questions before hand and really knowing who your ideal partner or client is will help.

Be human – This is self-explanatory right? Remember you are dealing with humans not numbers and sales.

A networking event’s purpose is to connect you with potential business partners and mentors not to get you sales. Stays focused on your goals and use the 21 tips above to reap many rewarding partnerships.

10 Ways to Market Your Content

The best content in the world won’t do any good unless there are people who are reading it. Marketing the content written for a website is one of the most important aspects in creating a site of value.

Knowing which form of marketing your content isn’t as tricky as it may seem. The Internet offers tons of effective marketing strategies and most are easily accomplished. The following are 10 ways in which you can market your content and start building your customer database in the process.

1. Create a Blog – A blog allows a marketer to constantly add new information targeted to a particular audience. Many potential customers will use a blog to get a better idea of the company they are dealing with. They also find out what you have to offer, such as product reviews, articles, reports and more.

2. Write an eBook – An eBook about your product or service can be written and distributed to current and potential customers. A fee could be charged, it could be offered as a free gift with a subscription to the site, or as a free gift to get people to your website, also known as viral content.

3. Create a Forum – Create an online forum where your customers can discuss the topic of your products or services.

4. Write a Newsletter – Create an newsletter detailing the latest happenings within your company and distribute it weekly or monthly.

5. Start a Podcast – Talk about your product or service and record it as a podcast. Require your customers to subscribe to the podcasts in order to capture possible leads or simply use it as a way to generate buzz about your products.

6. Put a Video on YouTube – Create a short but informative video about your website and post it on YouTube. Creating a link in your user information will allow people to go directly to your site after they have watched the video.

7. Set Up an RSS Feed – If you update your content on a regular basis, offer an RSS feed option on your site so customers can be alerted when you post new information.

8. Utilize Social Media – Social networking is on the rise and is one of the best ways to market your product to the masses – for free. Popular sites include Twitter, Stumble Upon and Facebook.

9. Webinar – Hold a live webinar on a topic that relates to your business. Charge a fee for customers to attend. Offer the webinar for a nominal fee of $1 to generate interest and build your client base.

10. Teleseminars – Record a sales presentation as a teleseminar and charge a fee for listeners to gain access. Yet another great way to capture lead information.

Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

Face it, the reason you want to be a rock star blogger is to grow your business and make more money, right? Of course, you do. In order to make money from your blog you will need to find ways to monetize your blog. If you do not offer anything for sale on your blog the money fairies will not automatically you give you money just because you’re an excellent blogger.

You have to do things that enable you to earn money. You have many options but let’s just talk about three of them.

1. Your Own Products / Services

One of the best ways to make the most money is to offer your own products and / or services. In order to know what type of products or services to sell to your audience you must know who your audience is, what problems they have that you can solve, and how much they can afford to pay. This requires a lot of market study, thought and consideration, but it’s the most profitable way to make money from your blog. With your own products you can even get an army of affiliates to help you sell them.

2. Advertising

You can earn money placing advertising on your blog. You can work with a company, or you can work on getting the sponsors yourself. There are many options when it comes to placing advertisements on your site. The drawback to going with a company is that you are not usually in charge of which ads appear on your website and there could be cases where competitors’ ads appear. If you are in control of which ads appear, you’ll be better off. You want to be careful about sending your visitors off to other sites. Some ad networks do allow you to block some ads, and some don’t. Therefore check out each solution before signing up.

3. Affiliate Marketing

Another really great way to make money from your blog is to find products and services that solve problems for your audience that someone else made. Once you find the product or service you market it on your site via textual ads, graphic ads, and by blogging about the product or service so that your audience understands what’s in it for them if they purchase what you are recommending. You can’t just put the link on your blog and expect them to click it and buy it; you need to talk about it in multiple ways: blog about it, promote it on social media, mention the product in a webinar or podcast, and so forth.

As you see, there really isn’t just one way to make money. In fact you should choose more than one type of money making activity for your blog. You want to create multiple streams of income so that you are not just relying on one thing to make money. Within each category there are also multiple ideas from very low cost entry products, to very high cost one-on-one coaching and personal services that you can offer. Be very focused on the type of products you will offer your audience and you will earn money and become a rock star blogger.

Mobile Optimization is Essential

One email marketing technique that will never go out of style is mobile optimization. In fact, mobile optimization is becoming more important than ever as the proliferation of mobile devices outpaces personal computers. In fact according to Litmus, mobile users account for more than 43% of email engagement. Mobile engagement is here now, it’s not something we should be watching out for in the future. It’s here now. If that doesn’t get you moving toward mobile optimization, nothing will.

Most email list providers offer mobile friendly templates, and responsive templates. So, there isn’t really any excuse for not making it a point to always use mobile friendly templates, and mobile friendly responsive design when given the chance. Design your emails and websites for mobile first, then it will naturally look great on a bigger screen too, or use responsive design that detects which size of screen the user is using and delivers a design that is appropriate.

By providing a good experience for all your users, regardless of what device they’re using to access your information you will increase your transaction rates. You’ll get more opens, more click throughs, and more purchases if you make mobile optimization an imperative. Imagine 43 percent of your customers trying to click through to your sales page via a mobile device and then not being able to read it. Will they go home and do it later? No. They won’t. So, you’ve missed out on sales due to your lack of mobile optimization. In fact, one study suggests that up to 75 percent of email recipients in the USA simply delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile.

This means that not only should your emails be optimized for mobile but all your online real estate should be optimized for mobile. You want every aspect of your user’s experience to be optimized for mobile from the emails, to the landing pages, to the websites, to the shopping cart. You only get one shot to impress customers and potential customers before they delete you. This fact makes it an imperative to deliver information to your readers that is optimized for mobile at all times. From email to the final transaction, everything needs to be optimized for mobile.

Check with your web designer and your email list provider to find out how you can make all your online real estate optimized for mobile. If you use WordPress for your websites it should be as simple as switching templates to one that is responsive over one that is not. If you use any number of email list services from Aweber to MailChimp they offer email templates that are optimized for mobile as well as responsive. Simply start choosing responsive or mobile optimized over anything else from now on.

Don’t forget to use your own mobile device to try out the experience to ensure that the user experience is top notch. Testing is an important part of marketing. You can test by trying it out yourself, and by sending out surveys to your audience asking them directly what they think. Customers appreciate being asked and will respond well to your efforts to improve their experience.

Networking Online: It’s Not About How Many People “Like” You

Building connections with other businesspeople takes time and effort. Your networking opportunities are no longer limited to local groups. With social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter you can build your network virtually.

It may surprise you but this whole networking online thing isn’t “all about you”. No, it really doesn’t matter how many people “like” you on Facebook if those people could care less about your service or product. Customer focused businesses still trump those focused on numbers alone.

Numbers aren’t all bad, they still tell you about how you are doing but they can’t be the focus. In gaining the numbers you don’t want to lose sight of your purpose, which is to build a relationship with your customer and like-minded businesses that nets positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Online networking has some benefits that offline networking doesn’t have. It allows you to stay in contact with your clients like never before. You can add status updates of various conferences, meetings or events where you’ll be located as they happen. You can offer a limited time discount on a whim. I.e. receive a free drink when you purchase a nacho burrito between 11am – 12pm

Another advantage of online networking is that it makes it easier for you to engage with your contacts. Allow positive and negative reviews on your Facebook wall. Meet the real-life needs of your customers by solving their problems right away in a very visible way.

You want clients to be comfortable with expressing their needs. Don’t stop there however; one of the greatest advantages of this medium is that you can make changes to how you are doing things from real-time customer feedback. I.e. if you posted a resource in error you can fix it, offer your apologies and a compensation gift at the same time.

Networking on Facebook
Facebook offers two ways in which you can connect with others online. You can create a fan page for your fans and customers. You can also create a group where you can engage with other businesses. On your fan page you want to keep updates about your daily business activities. You also want to engage in conversation with your fans by asking questions and sharing resources that benefit them.

In a mastermind group you want accountability, feedback, tips, resources and mentoring. Getting to know the niche customer of your peers will help you better understand whom to refer to them when the time comes. Sometimes though you just need a pat on the back and that’s okay.

Networking on LinkedIn
On LinkedIn you can engage with like minded businesses and mentors that can guide you into your next business milestone. Join groups with your peers, interact, share tips and resources and ask questions. If there isn’t a group that meets your specific needs, create one.

When networking online don’t focus on what someone can do for you, rather focus on how best you can meet their needs. Find out what the ideal customer is for each contact so you’ll know who to refer their way. You want to be the “go to” person when someone needs a referral.

Networking on Twitter
Twitter has turned into a long list of links and advertisements so don’t get lost in the shuffle. How will you stand out? You want to engage in conversation with your followers so they learn to trust your recommendations and click your resource. Without the trust you are just another advertiser or link junky.

Ask thoughtful questions that you really want an answer to. I.e. how was your Holiday Weekend? When your follower answers the question remember to thank them for taking the time to comment.

Business Networking Advice: Know Who You Are and Sell It

Before you go to your next networking social you might take these snippets of advice. First, interview yourself. Get to know who you are so that you will connect with the right people. Second, get into your customer’s shoes. Why should they hire you? Finally, be prepared with your own question for the customer.

Interviewing yourself is an exercise that will benefit you immensely in networking. A couple of questions to ask yourself are what are your strengths? What would your last client say about you? And what is one of your weaknesses?

How will knowing the answers to these questions help you? First, it will highlight what your key benefits are to your client. Knowing what you offer, why you offer it and how you offer it under pressure is important.

10 Words to use for describing your strengths:
* self-starter
* creative
* motivated
* decisive
* organized
* adaptable
* responsible
* productive
* persistent
* resourceful

Now that you know who you are take the time to get to know your ideal customer. Who are they? Are they college age or middle age? Are they female or male? What type of job do they have? Why do they need your service or product? What qualities would their ideal company have?

When you compare your interview with that of your ideal customer’s – do they match up? If they do, you are on the right track. If they don’t, you either don’t know your ideal customer well enough or you are marketing the wrong product. Knowing your similarities or differences before a networking event is valuable because you can take the time to alter or enhance your product or service.

The last step before attending your next network gathering is to prepare your own set of questions for your contacts. This is how you find out whether they are a fit for you. Remember, just because it is a networking event doesn’t mean you have to do business with everyone you meet. Be highly selective in the people you choose to do business with because your brand is at stake.

Some questions you might ask of network contacts are: if you have a very successful 2012, what would that look like? Or what keeps you up at night? Knowing the answers to these two questions will tell you a lot about a person. First it will tell you how they interpret success and finally, it will tell you how they interpret their weaknesses. Knowing these two things will prepare you for a possible business relationship.

Networking isn’t difficult; you just need to know what you want in a business relationship and go after it. Don’t settle for just anyone as a client. Although the reason you are in business is to make a living don’t let that cloud your business sense. Only if you can communicate and meet each other’s goals can you truly develop a lasting partnership.

7 Tasks Online Business Owners Can Easily & Quickly Outsource

As an online business owner, you’ve probably heard the term “outsourcing” more than once. Outsourcing is a great way to expand your business while freeing up your own time and saving money too. But, what exactly can you get help with in your business and how will it help? Keep reading for seven tasks that can easily and quickly be handed off to someone else allowing you to focus on more important things in your business and personal life.

Content Creation – Ahh the basis of all websites, content is a necessity if you want your prospects to actually find you on the Internet. Hiring a ghostwriter to produce content such as articles, special reports, eBooks, and more is one of the best ways to grow your business and free up your time.

Article Marketing – Submitting your articles to directories is very time consuming but another necessity to grow your business. You can find a virtual assistant who specializes in article submissions for very little costs.

Graphic Design – The majority of people aren’t born with the gift of artistic ability. If you’re one too, outsourcing graphic work is a god-send. No more spending hours trying to put together a professional looking graphic that turns out blurry or just plain stinks.

Technical Tasks – Technical stuff isn’t my best friend. As a matter of fact, many online business owners have a fear of the techie side of their business and for good reason. In one click you can lose it all if you don’t know what you’re doing. Save yourself from the possible heartache by hiring someone who specializes in this area to maintain your website or create software for you.

Bookkeeping/Tax Preparation – Most of us dislike the numbers side of business (unless of course your business is bookkeeping). Unless it’s the numbers making it into our pockets we just don’t have an interest in the figures. Save yourself a lot of heartache at tax time and hire a bookkeeper. Then when your accountant asks for your annual information you can simply hand it over!

Customer Service – Many online marketers have a hard time letting go of this part of their business, but in all actuality it serves more than one purpose. You no longer spend an entire day replying to or checking your email. Even better, you aren’t emotionally attached to the responses you might receive. When you’re that close to the action words can hurt. If you let someone who is not so vested in your business, you’ll only see the things necessary for your input. Let the haters have their say, now you don’t have to let it get you down.

Website Design & Maintenance – Do you have a vision for your website, but have no idea how to make it real? Let a professional handle it. No need to learn every little detail in order to keep your site maintained or even created from scratch.

These are only 7 of the many, many tasks that can easily be outsourced to someone else. Take a minute to think of the things you could use a hand with or just want to be relieved of in your business and start researching people who can help you get them done. Once you start removing things from your plate, you can then focus on the things you enjoy doing in your business – the things that an owner should be centering their attention on.

Mobile Website Branding

If you are focused on branding your business, remember that your mobile website can help – or hurt – this process.

What is “branding” exactly? The practice of creating an instantly recognizable site, logo, color scheme or any other visual “cue” that helps viewers identify it instantly with your product or business.

If you’ve set things up properly, the advantages you can expect to reap from branding are:

Your customer knows who you are and what you’re about
What to expect in quality, service and price
Whether or not he is your favored target market (and if he is, he tends to stay loyal!)

You need a strategy, if you decide to focus on branding. You need ideas and methods to keep your sites and products in front of the public eye.

Coca-Cola’s distinctive red-and-white colors are as much a part of its branding as its actual logo. Even when small details change, the overall feel stays the same.

The Coca-Cola polar bears are instantly recognizable as part of that brand. Their graphic representation taps into 2 key elements of strong branding:

– Consistency
– Repetition

Even though you don’t want heavy graphics with a mobile website, small graphic elements that instantly remind people of your brand will work well. Allowing your branding to remain even through your mobile sites ensures:

1. Potential customers think of you, the moment they see those graphic elements on their mobiles

2. Potential customers know instantly what they’re going to get – they develop either a positive or negative emotion when they see your name or logo

3 Repetition of positive feelings brings trust – and a willingness to entertain your offers

4. Trust brings purchases – and develops repeat customers, who remain loyal for as long as you remain consistent

So don’t neglect your branding (if that’s relevant to your business strategy) when you decide to go mobile.

It can help boost your credibility more than you might ever realize, or think!