Category Archives: Internet Fundamentals

Trends: Home Staging Down But Not Out

In the aftermath of the real estate collapse it is not surprising to learn that online searches on Google for “Home Staging” is down as well.

As the following chart indicates interest in home staging peaked in August of 2007 and again in July of 2009. Partial data for March of 2013 puts the level of interest at just 35% of the levels at the peak. The fact that this is up from the 8 year low of 21% in December of 2012, may indicate that the recent rebound in the housing market may be stimulating demand for staging as well.

Interest in

Interest in “Home Staging” over past 5 years

Within the US, the greatest level of interest in Home Staging is coming from Colorado, and from the Denver metro area in particular.

“Home Staging” Interest by State

The following map, shows the hot spots from a metropolitan perspective.

US Regional Hot Spots of Interest in

US Regional Hot Spots of Interest in “Home Staging”

Interest in Home Staging is actually higher in Canada than in the US. There it is most strongly evident in the Province of Quebec.

Canada Provincial Interest in

Canada Provincial Interest in “Home Staging”

And the city of Toronto is the center of that activity, as displayed below.

Canadian City interest in

Canadian City interest in “Home Staging”

With demand down, a significant number of home stagers have exited the market. In my marketing efforts to home stagers, I have run into a number of websites that still show up on the first page of Google Searches for “Home stager X city,” where when contacted I discover the individual is no longer actively pursuing home staging.

For those still active in the field, this lesser competition may be beneficial, but for the individual who understands the value of home staging and is looking for a qualified stager, this can be discouraging.

This is just another small reason why an active stager in a market may want to do something extra to stand out, and why my online video marketing program can be so valuable.

With fewer people searching for staging, you want to capture as many of them as possible. And the best way to do that is to stand out on the search results.

 

My Cpanel Howto Recommendation

I’ve been doing a series of blog posts across several of my blogs on the basics of internet marketing.  There are two key tools you need to really be in business online. The first is an autoresponder.  I shared my opinions on them on a blog post on my Micro Business specialist blog: http://microbusinessspecialist.com/blog/autoresponder/internet-marketing-the-basics-where-to-start/

In addition I posted my recommendation as to which web hosting service to use on my Minneapolis Internet Marketing Consultant blog on the following post: http://minneapolisinternetmarketingconsultant.com/web-hosting-2/my-favorite-low-cost-web-hosts/

Today, I am going to revisit one of my favorite themes and one of my criteria for web hosting, the use of and presence of a c-panel to manage your web hosting.

I like cpanel for a lot of reasons, the most important one being that it is relatively easy to use and you can find a lot of help using it.  The majority of Web hosting firms use the cpanel, which means that a lot of people use it and it is thus easy to find people who can help you when you have an issue.

While my first sites and web hosting were on a proprietary system, I was locked in to them for life, and needed to learn their specific system and its quirks to manage my web site.  I did. It took a while and was hard at first to figure out and despite their best efforts to have a peer supported help desk and forum, I found it difficult to get answers to my questions just when I needed them.  Maybe an hour or two later, when I had already gone on to something else.  It was frustrating and limiting.

Once I learned the need and discovered Host Gator which I moved to for cost and support reasons, I was still faced with learning their system. In this case the cpanel.  It has a ton of icons on it, and while I tout it as easy to use, it can be daunting at first.

The advantage of Cpanel is that a lot of people have written about cpanel and you can find a lot of resources online to support you when you have an issue.

I like it, because I have help my clients as well much easier when I know how the guts of their system works.  Its probably this second factor that accounts for the success cpanel has had. Because it is popular, it has support and is easier to help others. Because of this, it gets recommended more.  That’s the good type of viral working for them. The good news is the the cpanel comes with the hosting package at no extra cost.  You just need a web host like Host Gator that uses it as their control panel.

But you do need to learn it. So where. Their are lots of free videos on You Tube and elsewhere on the web.  I learned from Bob the Teacher on his Discover Cpanel video series.  It was a major break through for me.

Since then, I have been recommending that set of videos to all my newbie marketers. It’s inexpensive and a critical bit of essential knowledge for those who have a cpanel on their hosting.

If you don’t have cpanel, you don’t need this. If you do, you really do owe it to yourself to learn at least the basics.  Then you can farm it all out to your computer person if you want. The advantage is you will realize how trully simple some tasks can be, and avoid being overcharged for five seconds of work.

Now again, I like Cpanel, because I can do the five seconds of work and not have to wait two or three days to get it done. Which is what I hate about letting someone else manage my sites.

Anyway, my goal here today is to introduce you to my favorite cpanel training course.  It’s called, Discover Cpanel.

This course was a critical help to me, and could be the same for you.  Now that I have this training, I am able to set up new sites and blogs easily, I can add new domains. I can control my own website email and much more easily.

Now I recognize that most home stagers are more interested in doing home staging than they are at learning the mechanics of their web site. Still for those of you who do want to take charge of your online life, I highly recommend that you get this course if you have cpanel on your web site.

How do you tell. Just type your url with a /cpanel on the end.  If your host uses cpanel you will see a log in.  If you don’t know your log in info you should be able to get it from your computer guy or the help desk at your web hosting site. IE www.abc.com/cpanel

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Technorati Tags: control panel, Cpanel, cpanel howto, cpanel web host manager, discover cpanel, host gator, web host with cpanel, web hosting

Do QR Codes Have a Place in Home Staging Marketing?

Below is the QR code for one of my blogs called Minneapolis Internet Marketing Consultant. If you were to use your smart phone to scan it, it would take you to it. These two dimensional bar codes are a coming wave that will soon be ubiquitous. They may look a bit like crossword puzzles, but to early adapters and those who learn how to most effectively use them, they will mean cash flow. It’s time to consider how they will effect your marketplace.

Now I’m not sure how best a Home Stager would apply these to your business, but I am sharing below a series of recent blog posts by people who have shared some of their own ideas.

Ten ways marketers can use QR Codes | Econsultancy QR (Quick Response) codes are much talked about at the moment, but will the adoption of such a simple yet powerful code change the landscape of digital marketing in 2011? Publish Date: 04/04/2011 6:14 http://econsultancy.com/blog/7368-ten-ways-marketers-can-use-qr-codes

QR Codes, Fun and Fast Information. Educate Your Customers Before Quick Response Codes, or “QR codes” are the 2d bar codes you are starting to see more… Publish Date: 04/05/2011 9:00 http://www.businessinsider.com/qr-codes-fun-and-fast-information-educate-your-customers-before-your-competition-does-2011-4

QR codes – still me Ok, today is TUESDAY… so I am going to share my ‘techy’ tip… I love this! First time I saw this was in the Target Christmas ad- and there were all these ugly square looking things- that were totally distracting… Publish Date: 04/05/2011 12:21 http://heidiswapp.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/04/qr-codes.html

Do you have some good ideas on how one could use a QR code to good effect? If so leave a comment here. I’d love to hear it.


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Technorati Tags: cell phone marketing, Internet marketing, mobile marketing, qr, qr code, qr codes

Title Tag Tip for Home Stagers: Getting People to Find My Web Site

Here’s a tip for home stagers and any other locally based business that is both easy and quick to do. More importantly for many of you, in smaller markets, this tip may be enough in and of itself to get you ranked on the first page of the search engines in your market.

For those of you in more competitive markets, this is one of the major prerequisites to accomplishing that task, but you will need to do additional work. I am ready to help with that. All you need to do is contact me, and I will do my best to work you into my schedule in a timely manner.

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Technorati Tags: getting people to see my website, home staging business, homestaging business, SEO, seo video, title tags

C-Panel Liberation for Homestagers

Most homestagers I have come to know over the past couple of years are way too busy running their business to spend a lot of time learning how to take charge of their business web sites.  It’s a shame, but I have come to understand and accept the reality of this fact.

Most use a third party computer person to make changes to their site, or worse yet let it sit there “as is” pretty much as it was on day one.

The net result is that these people are far less likely to have their web sites appear at the top of the search engines and thereby get an occasional client as a result of their site.

Many conclude that the internet doesn’t work for home staging and I for one don’t buy that.

If you can take the time to spend a few hours learning how to access and make changes to your web site, you will discover that it’s not all that difficult.  In fact it can be a lot of fun.

I could teach you how to use the C-panel that is used by most web hosting companies, but that would require my trying to do a better job than is done by Chris Morris and Bob Jenkins whose course on C-panel is top notch.  It was a key part of my education, and remains the premier how to do C-panel course out there.

One caveat, not every web hosting company uses C-panel.  In my book, that’s a good reason to switch to another web host. (If that’s your case – email me and I will give you my top two recommendations for an alternate service(s) that does.)

To determine if your web host does use C-panel – type in your url and add /cpanel at the end. A log in will appear if you do have cpanel.  You will need to have your Log in name and password.  If you don’t know it ask your computer guy. It’s your site and your service so they should give it to you gladly. (If not – it’s a sign that you really do need to make a change.)

Example. http:// homestagingBusinessTips.com/blog/cpanel

Below is a video offering a free lesson on Cpanel as a promo for the course. I encourage you to watch the free lesson and then make a decision to take charge of your web site, or at least learn how to do it, even if you decide it wiser to leave the day to day operations in the hands of your computer people.

Press
Play
To Take

Control Of Your Websites




Click Here To Claim


Your Free Video

PS: Allegra Dioguardi tells me she has room for one or two more students for her HomeStaging Training By Design course that starts on the 13th and the 14th. She offers both a day and evening sessions to accommodate more peoples schedules.

Check it out.

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Technorati Tags: Allegra Dioguardi, bob jenkins, C Panel, chris morris, Cpanel, Internet marketing, staging training by design

Do You Pay for Google Ads? If so listen up?

I am recommending a new free report by Ryan Deiss for anyone who either buys pay per click ads or who wishes to get their web site or blog ranked higher on Google.  Its called the Perpetual Traffic Report.   It runs some 29 pages and was must reading for me, and perhaps for you as well.

It covered a lot of different topics including a bit of a history on Google and how its ranking algorithm has changed over time.  But what I want to focus on today is just one element of the report.

It used to be that to get the most traffic from Google, it made sense to buy pay per click ads.   That’s no longer true.  Now I have been a cheap s.o.b. for some time, so I have always preferred to do what is called search engine optimization to get as much free traffic as possible.

According to the report it appears that my time is now.

Based on their research, it appears that the top ads, the one that shows up on top of the organic listings get only 2-3% of the people who come to the page to click.  The ads on the side get only 1-2% of people to click.

This is in contrast to the top organic listing.  It typically gets 41-45% of the people who come to the page to click.

The #2 listing gets 11-18%

The #3 listing gets 7-15%

The #4-9 listings get 2% putting them on an even base with the highest paid advertisers, and

The #10 listing gets 3-4% as it appears that some people start at the bottom up, or some other rationale.

What does this mean to you as a home stager, or any type of business online.

Clearly, the place to be is #1 on the organic listings for your keywords.

Number one is 4 times as valuable as the #2 slot.

And the bottom line is that you must start paying serious attention to your search engine rankings.

The report goes on to stress the three major contributing aspects toward getting top search engine rankings. Two of these I have written about in detail and will pick up again in coming posts.

The two old ones are, Getting your page set up right in the first place. Even now, after some 16 months of harping on the topic, most home staging and other small business web sites are not set up properly. This is particularly true of most of the group template websites so many new homestagers use.

The second key to the game is getting backlinks from not only a lot of places but also from highly ranked authority sites.  I will also take up this mantra in the coming weeks.

Finally, the third aspect that I have not given much direct attention to is what Ryan referes to as “Activity.”  By which he means proof in Google’s eyes that a sight is a real site with people rather than robots running things.

This may seem strange to those not familiar with all the people who sell black hat tools and programs to try to fool the search engines.

I will return to this topic again as well. But frankly need to do some additional research of my own.

In the meanwhile I recommend you get your own copy of this excellent free report.  Ryan is one of the Good Guys, who actually does his own research and knows what he is talking about.

Get your copy of Perpetual Traffic Report while it is still available for free.

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Technorati Tags: Google Rankings, how to rank high on Google, perpetual traffic, perpetual traffic report, Ryan Deiss, search engine optimization, SEO, SEO Factors

StumbleUpon for Homestaging?

There are a plethora of social media sites out there from Twitter, to facebook, and so many more…

Some of the tools are of particular value to Home Stagers who are interested in driving traffic to their blogs or web sites.  The more traffic you get, the more likely you will get better ranked in the search engine, and the more likely ultimately that your next customer will find you.

I ran into an article on StumbleUpon today that I thought might be worth passing on.  This is just one more tool you can use to help market your site  and raise you visibility online.  I hope you enjoy it.  Let me know if you would like more items like this, by commenting on the article.

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Have You Discovered StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is an Internet community that allows its users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos. It is an Internet community that allows users to discover web pages. StumbleUpon is a social network online desktop. Many consider it one of their favorite social media sites, not only can it drive traffic that matches or often exceeds that of Digg, StumbleUpon users are much less critical/confrontational/judgmental than the typical Digg user. StumbleUpon is less about communication and more about discovery, which I think is an under served problem on the web.

StumbleUpon gained its popularity as a toolbar for Firefox while Digg isn’t browser-depended as Stumble. StumbleUpon chooses which Web page to display based on the user’s ratings of previous pages, ratings by his/her friends, and by the ratings of users with similar interests. StumbleUpon was owned by eBay from May 2007, when it was acquired for $75,000,000, until April 2009, when Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith and several investors bought it back. StumbleUpon is now an independent, investor-backed startup once again, with offices in San Francisco and New York City.

Traffic from StumbleUpon ordinarily has the lowest bounce rate. Traffic coming directly from Digg is much less memorable, and most Digg users don’t venture farther than the front page. Traffic from any source is welcome I agree, but I personally prefer StumbleUpon. If you Stumble the right way, it will get you huge traffic. Webmasters have realized the potentia lof StumbleUpon as a marketing tool and therefore have started to stumble each others sites to gain traffic and exposure for their sites.

Users rate a site by giving it a thumbs up, thumbs down selection on the StumbleUpon toolbar, and can optionally leave additional commentary on the site’s review page, which also appears on the user’s blog. Users can post comments in the manner of a discussion board in these groups and post links to Web sites that apply to the specific topic. Users can also use the Stumble Upon toolbar as a form of social bookmarking. Users can also see others who gave kudos to a page and follow their recommendations. They can now simply start on StumbleUpon’s site, for example, and stumble all over the Web using their Web browser as guide rather than a toolbar.

StumbleUpon is more widely accepted by mainstream users while Twitter is more accepted by the power users. StumbleUpon is more to an entertainment website (just one button will bring you to a new page that you might not have visited before) while Twitter focuses more on communication and keeping in touch.

StumbleUpon is an amazingly fun tool and having the StumbleUpon Toolbar installed, I often play about with it myself, the result being it leads me to great sites I’m interested in and excellent articles I might not have found otherwise. It is one of the handful of services launched on the consumer web in the last few years that can truly be said to have significant cognitive benefits for the people who use it.

Andre Arnett is a professional Internet Marketer and the author of the Learning Affiliate Marketing blog. For more information on StumbleUpon, be sure to download Andre’s free report, How StumbleUpon Benefits Your Business

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Technorati Tags: backlinks, Internet marketing, search engine ranking, SEO, StumbleUpon

How to Apply SEO to Your Web Page

I’ve covered much of this material one way or another in the past, but my friend Ken Koh of Leadleap fame has added another posting in his ongoing series on getting people to find your web site.

http://www.leadsleap.com/blog/how-to-seo-a-website-from-scratch-free-seo-tutorial-part-4/?r=earlnetwal

It’s surprising how many home stagers and others think that they can just put up a web site or have one put up for them, and expect to get traffic and jobs from that alone.

You need to get you page set up right, with both on and off page tactics to raise your web sites visibility online.

The Value of Backlinks

I recently read a Blog Post on Leads Leap discussing the value of back links. I’ve preached on this topic before, but thought it might be worthwhile to share another person’s take.

The Power of SEO Backlinks: A Classic Example

Technorati Tags: back links, backlinks, leads leap

Internet Marketing 101 for Non Internet Based Businesses

Push the Arrow to Hear the 1 hour 2 minute presentation.
Internet Marketing 101 for Main Street Businesses

Last week I did an hour long presentation for Allegra Dioguardi’s new home staging curriculum.   Staging Training by Design

In it I covered three different major topics. The first section dealt with some basic decisions most people make before they have enough information to do well. That includes picking their url, web host and decision as to whether to have a blog or web site.

The second topic covered includes a discussion of how to make your web site more search engine friendly and also how to generate back links need to raise your standing in the search engines.

The third section, dealt with how to get more of the people that find your web site to do something.

These are topics I’ve dealt with before, here and in my two eBooks.  My challenge was to condense all the information into a single 60 minute presentation. Turns out I ran about 2 minutes long.

But if I say so myself, I did a pretty good job of covering all the major points you should be aware of when setting up your internet marketing campaign for your business.

Now while I would advocate that most people should learn how to manage and run their own web sites, the reality is that most will not. Therefore I discussed these topics so that people would know what they wanted to accomplish, so that they would be better equipped to tell their computer people what they wanted, and why.

Thus while the conversation was directed to home stagers specifically, the comments apply to almost any locally based business wishing to attract more customers by internet marketing.

In support of the audio, I have created a resource page of links and resources.  It is pretty rudimentary at the moment, but I will be developing it as time goes on.

Resource Page

Technorati Tags: Internet marketing, Must Know Internet Marketing Concepts

Black Hat and Gray Hat

Black Hat and Gray Hat

There are a lot of businesses that have developed around helping people get to the top of the search engines. For popular mass market products and high margin items the competition to gain top billing in organic search has lead to intense competition. This has resulted in constant innovation, and many efforts to out smart Google and the other search engines.

At one time, just getting your meta tags right was enough. Then keyword stuffing came into vogue with some Viagra sites repeating their selected keyword hundreds of times. That’s why you now want to use your keyword from 1-4% of the time today. The search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to keep ahead of the Black Hatters, who try to game the system.

Today with the emphasis on back links, there are black hat and less offensive but still “gray hat” techniques used by some to cheat there way to the top. These include various services that can get you thousands of back links for a fee, or article spinners that use software to automatically rewrite you articles so they appear to be different. And many more.

Most main street businesses don’t need to use black or gray hat techniques to get to the top of the search engines in their local areas. While these techniques can work for a while, they are almost always shut down by changes by the search engines. That’s because the goal of the search engine is to be as useful as possible for the searcher. If they offer up an article that is clearly pigeon English, they loose face, and eventually market share.

In the long run, you will earn your top listing by providing useful information to your prospective customers in as many venues as possible like your web page, Squidoo, Hub pages, and through blogging and article marketing.

These approaches will work now and for the long haul. The sooner you build a base of such useful content, the sooner you will gain an insurmountable lead over your competitors.

Right now, even at this seemingly late date in the evolution of the internet, in most industries, including home staging, your competitors are asleep at the switch. You have a temporary advantage if you are the first mover in your industry, in your marketplace.

But this Blog and the ebook I am preparing based on the lessons I’ve discussed of the past several week will begin to reach out beyond the internet marketing world into main street. You may already be behind. If so it’s all the more important that you develop a plan of action. Beware of those who will try to sell you black hat and gray hat solutions. While they may work for a while, they won’t in the long run.

One final comment on the subject. Many firms will try to sell you a package of services that include getting you listed on the “Directories.” This used to be important, but is not anywhere near as important today. If you set up a back link from a Squidoo Lens to your website, Google will find you. In fact if you merely tweet a reference to your website on Twitter, Google will find your site.

Their search bots are all over these services and once the see the link to your site they will find you. In my opinion, there is no reason to pay for such services.

Technorati Tags: back links, Black Hat, Gray Hat, Meta Tags, Search Engines

Getting High Powered Backlinks

Getting to the top of the search engines X

Getting High Powered Backlinks
gettinghighpowredbacklinks
Once you have your on-page ducks in a row in terms of search engine optimization the next step is to get back links to your site.  All back links matter. They can all deliver traffic and most will be tracked by Google and the other search engines. Some back links are considered to be more valuable by Google however. These are back links from relevant authority sites.

There are two aspects to that. Relevance and authority.

If you are a home stager and get a back link from my favorite site on ice fishing it will not “weigh” as much in Google calculations of your rank as it would if it were coming from a site dealing with interior decorating. I don’t think I need to spend much more time on this aspect.  The link is still worth having, just not as valuable. The key point here is that the Google bots know what’s on the page the link is coming from, and it matters.

More to the point is the perceived “authority” of the site. This topic is far more actionable.  Some sites have been online for a decade or more and are the “go to” sites for specific types of information. For example in the health care arena, WebMD is an established player. Your website about Weight Loss will get much more benefit from a link from WebMD than it will from a link from your cousin’s three month old blog no matter what its topic. And when you think about it, it should.

Some years back, Google started giving web sites what’s called page rank. Web sites are ranked from zero to ten based on some internal process at Google. I have a Google toolbar on my Firefox browser that lets me see the page rank of any web page I am on. Now the bulk of what I read on SEO these days says Google no longer uses page rank in its formula for ranking the value of back links. That may be, but page rank can still be assumed to be a pretty good indicator of relative weight.

So here’s the bottom line.  You want to get back links from relevant sites that have high or at least relatively high page rank. Fortunately, that’s not hard to do.

With the advent of the Web 2.0 era, there are lots of new authority sites that are easy to access and that carry significant page rank and more importantly seem to convey significant “Google Juice” or weight to their back links.

The next series of posts here will discuss a couple of  these in more detail.

Some of the more popular of these sites for search engine optimization are: Squidoo; Hub Pages; Weebly; Learn Hub; Wet paint; Yahoo Answers; Google Groups; and Yahoo groups.

I am most familiar with Squidoo myself and also have some Hub Pages, so I will discuss those in more detail in my next posting. If you are already familiar with any of the others, you will want to pay particular attention to opportunities to create back links to your web site.

When you do, keep in mind that you want to use anchor tags as we have discussed before and you want to link not just to you home page but also to internal pages as well.

If you are interested in learning a lot more about search engine optimization you owe it to yourself to take advantage of a special offer from the stomper net folks. It’s about to expire so you need to move quickly.  They have a top level course called Stomping the Search Engines II.  They have sold this for $497 but are now offering it for $1 as a promotion to launch a new monthly newsletter called Net Effect.

I encourage you to grab the offer, and check out the first copy of their newsletter. If you aren’t interested in the newsletter you can cancel within the first 30 days and keep the course.  I know a lot of people who are grabbing this deal, who have no intention of subscribing to the newsletter. So don’t feel bashful about it.  http://cli.gs/TpmR1u

But hurry, this offer ends soon!

Technorati Tags: anchor tags, backlinks, search engine optimization, SEO, squidoo, Web sites

How Many Backlinks do You Have? Getting to Top of Search Engines IX

Getting to the top of the Search Engines IX

How Many Backlinks do you have?

A bit of a detour today. I have had several people ask how they can find out how many backlinks they have to their web site. A good question and one I can answer.

First thing you want to do is go to Yahoo.com rather than Google or MSN and search for the term “linkdomain:” and then the web site you want to inquire about using the Yahoo search box.  This will take you to Yahoo’s Site Explorer site.

When you do this for your site you will see two boxes at the top of the page. One will show the number of pages on your website, and the second will show the total number of inbound links to your site.  These are your backlinks.

Now if you want to see what you need to do to outrank that pesky competitor of yours, it wouldn’t hurt to enter their domain name the same way and see how many backlinks they have.  You might want to check out who they are, because there is a good chance you should be able to get back links from some of the same places.

Now as we mentioned before, not all backlinks are created equal.  Some have higher page rank and are thus weighted more than others. So it’s possible that someone with fewer backlinks could rank higher.

As an experiment, go to Google and enter the keyword “Home Decorating” in the Google Search Box. When I did it for this article the top three “organic” listings were www.home-decorating-made-easy.com;  www.tuscan-home-101.com and www.hgtv.com

I looked at each site with the Yahoo Site Explorer and found the top ranking site had 627 pages of content and 1726 back links.  The second ranked site, the tuscan one, had 88 pages of content and 794 backlinks.  I believe the number of backlinks to be the major determinant in the higher ranking by home decorating made easy site.

But what about the third place site, HGTV? It has 203,974 pages and 7,285,773 backlinks.  A behemoth by anyone’s standards. This is where relevance plays a role. HGTV has a lot of pages and backlinks, but not all of them were specifically relevant to the keyword term “Home Decorating.”  At least not in Googles eyes.

If you enjoyed this exercise, play around with a few other keywords, and see if the number of backlinks doesn’t seem to play a role in most of them. As you do, you will come to appreciate how important backlinks are to ranking.

In our next article we will discuss some easy ways to get a bunch of high value backlinks.  [ I should be charging for this. 🙂 ]

Technorati Tags: backlinks, search engine optimization, SEO

What is a Backlink? SEO Off Page III

SEO Off Page III

What is a backlink?

I’ve already spent a couple articles talking at least in part about back links without specifically explaining what a backlink is.

According to Wikipedia, Backlinks are incoming links to a website or web page. In the search engine optimization (SEO) world, the number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page. In basic link terminology, a backlink is any link received by a web node (web page, directory, website, or top level domain) from another web node. Backlinks are also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links.

Thus when I create a hyper-link in this blog post to one of my Home Staging clients, Jane Ann Lance and her web site http://enhancedbylance.com it appears blue in most web browsers and you know that when you click on it, you will be taken to her web site. This is thus a back link to her web site and when the Google bot or one of the other search engine bots scans this page it will follow that link to her site and note it as a backlink. Notch one up for Jane Ann’s site.

Now even better would be a link to another of my home staging clients if instead of using her web address, I just sent you to this link: Hamptons Home Staging. In this case, the link is being made to http://www.styledandsold.com/home.html in the form of what is known as anchor text. This anchor text, “Hampton’s Home Staging” tells the bots that this back link is about Home Staging in the Hampton’s and reinforces the keywords on Allegra Dioguardi website. While both are backlinks, the second is more powerful.

Unfortunately, since we are now dealing with off page factors, you no longer have direct control over how others will link to you.

Thus we come to realize that not all backlinks are equal. Some are more important that others. A backlink from a blog that’s been published regularly for many months is going to have a somewhat more valuable link than one started today with just a single entry assuming the new blog is even visited by a bot. Even more valuable is a link from a site Google considers to be an authority site. Google has devised a series of page rankings that it uses to provide guidance as to the relative standing of various major web sites. A back link from a site with a 6 rank may be worth dozens of back links from dozens of unranked sites. That said, there is still a great deal of value in having back links from a large number of sites even if smaller.

So while we will be talking about some places where you can get some relatively highly ranked backlinks, don’t neglect getting links from lesser lights as well.

In our next session, we will show you how to get some backlinks with anchor text that you can control and that have high page ranks. The best of both worlds.

Technorati Tags: anchor text, backlinks, search engine optimization, SEO

Off Page SEO II

Getting to the top of the search engines VII

In out last post we suggested that the key to getting ranked higher in the search engines was getting back links. Today, we will look at that a little closer, but first we are going to discuss my perceptions as to what Google is looking for when it ranks web sites.

Now keep in mind that Google is just one of about 40 major search engines. And what applies for Google doesn’t always apply to all the others. But also keep in mind that Google has about 60% of the search market in the US, so it really is the elephant in the room.

The key distinction that lead to Google’s ascendency in the search engine business is not just the speed with which it found relevant sites, but the relevance of the sites it found.

Google understands this deeply, and it remains their paramount objective to deliver the most accurate results to their search engine customers as possible. Most of the people who go to their computers to look up something are looking not for something to buy. Most are looking for information. And most are looking for free information, if they can find it. I bet that true of you as well.

Now if Google finds more than one site that appears to be relevant to a particular keyword search, they need to find a way to determine which one is the more valuable site. Their ability to do that is what has made them famous.

One of the factors is size.

That’s why we suggested you might want to get your main page up to at least 425 words of text when we were talking about on page factors. That suggests to Google that your site contains some material of relevance. It’s also why we suggested that you try to have your keyword appear from 1-4% of the time.

When you do that you are offering Google an indication that the CONTENT on your site is relevant to what the searcher may be looking for. In internet marketing circles the mantra is, “Content is king.”

It’s one thing for you to say your site is about the keywords you put in your meta-tags and on your page. Too many people have tried to fool Google before by stuffing keywords on the pages and in their meta tags. Google learned and adapted. It now looks outside those factors to what others have to say about your page. Do those outside factors confirm what you have listed on the page? And who is it that is confirming the authenticity of your site and your keywords. We will discuss all of this, but the first message I want you to understand is that the more and better the content of your site meets the needs of the searcher the better your chances of ranking higher in the search engines.

You may think your visitor is looking to hire you. Maybe they are, but what they are more likely interested in is information about the type of product you are selling or the service you are providing.

They are searching for information, and that is what Google wants you to be giving them. The searcher has questions in their head, they may not even be fully able to articulate them. You must answer those questions on your site, in your content.

Google looks to your site and those sites that link to you for clues about the quality of the content on your site. If you appear to be answering peoples questions, you will rise in the ranks compared to other sites.

I hope I have made myself clear. Way too many web sites are brochures about the company or person portrayed. Instead they should be about the questions their likely visitors have in their minds. Google isn’t a mind reader, but they do everything they can to figure out if your content answers those questions or not. Make sure your pages do.

Thus for my home staging friends. Your page will perform better if you answer the questions, “How much does it cost?” and “Is it worth it?” Or, “Do I need to de-clutter my house fist and then invite the stager in, or can I call her fist and get her to help me,” and a myriad of others. If you spend at least some of your time answering these questions, Google will notice the content and you will probably rank higher. More importantly, you will be giving prospective customers the information they want and need.

There are a lot of tactics to getting links to your pages, and thereby improve your ranking in the search engine. The first and foremost item is providing worthwhile content on your site.

Due to the Memorial Day holiday in the US, the next post on this topic will be scheduled for next Tuesday, May 26. We’ll get into more nitty gritty next week.

Now I have been doing my homework in an effort to share with you the lessons I have learned about SEO. While I’ve learned alot about the topic, the experts in the SEO field are the guys at Stomper Net. They are probably the number one resource used by professional internet marketers on the topic. They have just released a FREE 7 lesson course on SEO that you will find interesting. While it covers some of the same material as I do, I think you will find their presentation to be more than worthwhile, and as I said its free. Go to http://cli.gs/T8aGze

Technorati Tags: backlinks, content

Off Page Search Engine Optimization

Getting to the top of the Search Engines VI

Over the past two weeks or so, we have focused on what I call “On Page” search engine optimization. We are now ready to move forward to discuss the “Off Page” factors that affect how Google and the other search engines rank your site.

It was important to deal with the on page factors first. They are for the most part they are the easiest to change and or fix. You have complete control of the on page factors. Second, the off page factors require work. Now some of you may go running and screaming because of that four letter word, but what we are about to launch into take some effort. It will be worthwhile effort, if you did what I have already advised.

If you haven’t yet or are confused about any part of it, spend a few bucks on my WART Analysis and I will tell you exactly what needs to be done. Then if you find you still can’t do it. Let me know and I will arrange to do it for you. Most of it is simple.

But if you only have 60% of it done, all the work you will be doing on off page factors will only get you about 60% of the effect they would have if you had fully completed the front end on page things. Clear enough?

In the old days, getting your keywords, meta tags, titles and etc. done correctly was enough to get you to the top in the search engine rankings. In narrow niches it still may be, but if you are playing second fiddle to a competitor or two for your favorite keyword you have some homework to do.

Professional search engine optimizers use a wide array of tools to get their client sites to the top of the search engines, many of which aren’t necessary for most small business operators serving a local market. You can largely count on your geographical keywords to get you in front of most of your customers.

While there are a variety of tools, the key concepts of off page search engine optimization is focused on one concept: Backlinks. And when discussing backlinks the two major components are Focused Keywords and Anchored Text.

As we progress over the coming week of two, these words will reappear frequently.

There are many different ways to generate backlinks to your web site. In discussing this topic we will return to talk about the content on your site, social media sites like Squidoo, Twitter, Hubpages, directories, article marketing, forums, press releases, blog networks and more.

In the next post we will talk about Google in particular, and ask why Google ranks one site higher than another. Or at least my best take on that topic.

Technorati Tags: anchor text, backlinks, SEO

Getting to the Top of the Search Engines V

In our last discussion we talked about keyword density and the need to have your keywords appear on your page, frequently but not too frequently. The need to do so early on your page, and some suggestions on making sure you had enough words overall to appear substantive to the search engines and pointed out a need to have keywords that appear in your meta tags also appear on your page.

These are all important factors visible on your page. Today we will talk about three more elements of on-page importance. Your URL, the originality of your content and finally internal links.

You probably already have your URL or web site address. So this first topic may seem pointless, but let’s dig in anyway. If your business is counseling women going through a divorce on their financial matters, you may be better off trying to get www.DivorceeFinancialAdvice.com as your URL rather than www.JBBrown.com.

Way too many business web sites use meaningless business names as their URL in the hopes of creating some branding value. While some will take issue with me here, a URL that includes your major keyword may do you a lot more good, unless your brand is already deeply ingrained in your marketplace. Similarly, MinneapolisChiropractor.com
may be superior to WellnessClinic.com, although MinneapolisWellnessClinic may be worth a shot.

If you are wedded to www. your name.com you might still want to consider buying domain names of the better combinations of your major keywords and geographical areas and redirecting them to your web page. This serves a defensive purpose of keeping them out of potential competitor’s hands. Once you own these domains you can have them point to your existing web site. It’s not the ideal from an SEO standpoint but will help drive traffic to your site for the relatively minor cost of the domain name.

Originality of content shouldn’t be a problem for most business websites. But if your website is a template and you are using essentially the same text as another website, you may not get your site indexed at all. Google and the other search engines want to see unique new content, and not a duplicate of the same old thing. They will index the first copy they find and ignore the duplicates. You don’t want to have your site ignored. Make sure you are not using a carbon copy of someone else’s web site.

They also like to see new content. You can do that by adding new pages on occasion, or by making changes to existing pages. Is there a portion of your page that can be updated from time to time? If so, make sure you do so. This lets the search engines know that your site is active. That said, if you are going to do it, make sure you do. No one is impressed with a site that is talking about an upcoming holiday from two years ago.

Internal links are the links on your site to your various pages on the site. Most web sites have a home page and links on almost all their pages to “Home.” A better strategy is to use your major keyword, be it “Minneapolis Dentistry Home” or “St. Louis Sewer Repair Home.” By adding your keywords, you let the search engines know that that’s what your pages are about. It reinforces all your other keyword efforts.

This may be a bit tricky in some cases where space is tight, but where you can include links within the text of your pages to other pages, you should be sure to use anchor text links like this. Next week we will discuss off page factors. There we will go into more detail on linking to your site. When you are off page you have very little control on what links others will have to your site. When you have complete control such as on your own page, it behooves you to make maximum use of your ability to use internal links that let the search engines know what your pages are about.

Don’t forget about my WART Analysis program. For next to nothing I will do a diagnostic of your web page and provide you with my personal advice on steps you could take to make your web page more effective in terms of search engine ranking.

Technorati Tags: Keywords, Linking, Meta Tags, SEO, Web sites, websites

Getting to the Top of the Search Engines IV

In our last article, we discussed the hidden or invisible “on-page” factors that can help or hinder your ability to rank high on the Search Engines. Today we will look at some on-page factors that matter as well. By on page I am talking about the text that people can read on your home page.

From a search engine optimization standpoint, the key factor for any web site is your selection of keywords. These are important in both the visible and hidden portions of the page. They should be in your meta tag title tags, keyword list and description. They must also be on your page.

If the search engines see keywords in the hidden code that aren’t on your page, they will discount them and possibly even penalize your site.

Specifically you want to have your primary keywords appear in the first 50 words of your page text at least once. In the past some internet marketers tried to game the system. They would stuff their keyword on the page over and over to get a high ranking. Such tactics worked for a short while but Google and the other search engines changed their algorithms to punish keyword stuffing. The rule of thumb now is that you want your main keyword to appear between 1-4% of the time. If you have a thousand words on your page that would mean you would use your primary keyword from ten to forty times. For five hundred words of text that would be five to twenty times. This is called keyword density in the trade.

This is usually not a problem for most sites, but it does require keeping in mind which keyword you want your web page to rank for, and them being sure to use it when you are writing your page. When working with a home staging client, I noticed one occasion where they used the term “home stager” repeatedly, while the focus may have been better put on the term “home staging.”

By the way, if you have a top three or four keyword variations that people search for, you may want to have one page of your site optimized for one term, and another for the second, etc.

So, my home stager above might have stressed the term Home Staging on her home page, but talked about House Staging or Home Stagers on another page talking about services provided, or a third page on her certifications, Qualifications etc. This takes a bit more time, but helps raise your sites ability to rise to the top not just on your main keyword but on other keywords as well.

The final topic we will discuss today is total word count. It appears that the magical number of words on a page that the search engines like to see is 425. In my experience most business web sites don’t have that many on their home pages, while most information sites do. The search engine bias is toward sites that provide more information, so it’s not hard to understand that they would tend to reward sites that appear to be “meatier.”

For many of the sites I have reviewed in my WART Analysis program I have had to suggest they add a paragraph or two of text to their front page. And since I am an advocate of using geographical keywords in the meta tags I encourage them to consider adding their geography to their home pages as well.

Many of them have followed this suggestion and added a final paragraph on each of their pages. A butcher for example might include on the bottom of each page a phrase like the following: “South Minneapolis’ premier source of quality meats serving Minneapolis, Richfield and Bloomington as well as the Highland neighborhood and the rest of St Paul.” This adds some words to the page, and also the geographical keywords to complement those in the meta tags.

One final comment on words on the page. Words that are placed on images or graphical elements such as on your header are usually invisible to the search engines and don’t count as keywords on the page, or in the total page or first 50 word counts. If you put your cursor on your header and right click and do not see View Source or View Page source in the box that appears, you are probably on an image that cannot be read. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to keep it in mind when designing your page so it can compete in the search engines.

That’s it for today. We will continue with on page visible factors in the next article. After that we will explore off page factors.

Technorati Tags: geographical keywords, Keywords, Meta Tags, search engine optimization, Web sites

A Pat on My Back – Always welcome :)

One of my clients for the WART Analysis mentioned that she has benefited from my past advice as well. She sent me this testimonial about how she took my advice and is top ranked not once but three times by virtue of her Squidoo lens.  It’s one thing to appear on the first page of the search engine, but when you are there three times, it really improves your credibility with prospects, don’t you think?

Here’s her comment,

Hello Earl,
I just wanted to say I enjoy reading your articles and find many of them extremely useful with powerful tools.  I took action with your article on Squidoo and opened an account.  I am now ranked on the first page of Google and listed not just once but 3 times.  I’m now starting to receive business through the internet because customers are finding me easily thanks to your help and advice.
Thanks so much for taking the time to publish these articles with free advice and tools, you’re the best!
Kelly Heaps
Heaps of Decor
Georgetown, Ontario
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 8:55 AM
Subject: Kelly, Homestagers should use Squidoo.
Getting your web site to be top ranked on Google and the other search engines is a complicated task.  Particularly, if you are one of many homestagers within a given market area.
A little known tool to most home stagers is a web portal called Squidoo. It’s similar in many ways to sites like Facebook, and Myspace in that it allows people to create a web presence easily, but unlike the aforementioned it unabashedly permits commercialization.
That means you can put up sites that advertise your business. The easiest way to do so is to reuse much of the content you have on you web page now, and/or items you have just taken down, or not yet put up on your main web site.
Squidoo calls its pages, lens. There are a group of modules that you can create and edit in minutes once you get the hang of their system.
The most critical point when setting up your first lens is what you call it. Pay attention now. Call your lens, “Home Staging in ______” Fill the blank with your top geographical reference point in your market.
If you do, you will often find that your Squidoo lens will get higher ranking than your own web page, even if you have optimized your meta tags geographically as I do for my Market Maker Clients. That’s because Squidoo itself has a high PR or page rank in the eyes of Google.
Now what you want to do is include links in your Squidoo Lens to your web site’s home page and to additional pages within your web sites. This helps raise your web sites ranking in Google’s eyes as well. It sees Squidoo as an “authority” site and gives more credence to links coming from it.
When I say you want links from your Squidoo lens to additional pages in your web site, I am suggesting that if you have a separate page on your web site for Realtors (and I think you should), then somewhere in your Squidoo lens you have a section about Realtors in your home town, and link not to the front page of your web site, but rather to the page about Realtors on your web site.
Do this with other pages as well. Google likes these links to internal pages. There is a lot more to internet marketing than having a web site. And that is one of the reasons the Market Maker Program includes a monthly seminar on internet marketing.
While Squidoo is easy to use, like everything, there is a learning curve. And once you master the basic mechanics you also need to learn the strategies to make it work for your particular needs. There are a number of eBooks about Squidoo out there. I publish one called Squidoo Basics. It is a general introduction to Squidoo and not specifically directed to home staging, but worth the $17 to get a handle on the Basics.
There are other formats beyond Squidoo, like Hub Pages, but Squidoo is probably the best place to start building a broader internet presence. To get started all you need do is open an account at www.Squidoo.com
In due course, you will not only get your web site on the top of the Google Rankings in your home town, you will also have a Squidoo page there as well. When prospects see you listed not once, but twice, in the top of the local listings, they will begin to understand that you are the person to go to locally for home staging services. And that’s where I intend my Market Maker members to be. On top of their local markets.
Best wishes,
Earl Netwal

Technorati Tags: Internet marketing, Market Maker, squidoo, WART Analysis

Getting to the Top of the Search Engines 3

The hidden essentials to attract the search engine bots are your title tags, your keywords and your meta description.  In addition, your keyword should appear on your page in an <h1> tag. We will discuss each in this article.

First let’s talk about where to find your hidden code.  Go to a place on your website where there is text and not an image. Right click, and a box will appear with a number of options. Look for one that says View  Page or View Page Source, click on it. It should bring up the HTML code that is behind your web page.

Near the very top will be a header tag. It looks like this <head>.

A variety of different types of code can be placed here. For our purposes, the three important items are the title tag, the keywords, and the description.  Sometimes one of more of these will be missing.

This section of code always ends with an end tag that looks like this: </head>

The next section of the code starts with the body tag, <body> and this is where the parts of the page that are visible appear.  But except for the <h1> tag we won’t be dealing with that today.

Title Tags.

Each page of your web site has a title tag. The title tag will show at the very top left of your browser when you are on the page. When you go to some people’s web page you will see the word “Home” in the top left. That’s because they named their home page “Home.”  More frequently you will see the company name, ABC Jones & Company or something similar.

In terms of search engine optimization, you would be better off to include your primary keyword and your primary geography. So if you were ABC Jones, I would consider putting “ABC Jones & Co San Diego Home Staging Experts” or “ABC Jones New Jersey’s Best Wedding Arranger.”

The title goes between the <title> and the </title>

Each page has a different title so you might add a Pipe sign after that and use, About us, Contact us and your other page names on the relevant page.

Keywords:

You should also see a line of code that starts with, <meta name=”keywords” content=” and then a series or word separated by commas.

Most businesses have more than one keyword that people use when they are trying to find you. Hopefully you have identified the primary one or ones. Keyword research is a major topic on its own, and one you should pay attention to. For example, while home staging is the dominant keyword to use in the home staging business, about 10% of people will type in “house staging” when looking for a home stager. You want to include the keyword “house staging” in your keywords.

Note that this two word phrase is still a keyword. Internet marketers have long know that you want to use keyword phrases, because that’s what some people type. Two and three word phrases and sometime longer yet can generate positive results for them. If you are the only person who puts “best specialty cold cuts in Chicago” in your keywords, and also in the body of your site, there’s a pretty good chance you will pop up pretty high if someone actually searches for that term. Now don’t go hog wild, as relatively few people will use the phrase.

The key here is to focus on what people who don’t really know what to ask for are likely to use when they are trying to find you.

Finally, I recommend that you use not only “fresh cut flowers” as a keyword but “Toronto fresh cut flowers” if you are a Toronto florist.  Use the suburbs you sell to as well.  When someone searches for Pizza in the search engines millions of sites appear. When they search for Pizza, 55417 a zip code, they get those closest to home.

Description
Similar to the Keywords, you should see a line of code in the meta tags called description. This should be kept to 160 characters. Some search engine results display this description when your site comes up in their listings. As such you may want to make it a sales pitch. You want to come up with a coherent statement using as many of your best keywords as possible, especially including your primary geographical reference points.

If you say, “Dog Walker in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Edina….etc.,” even though you might not come up number one on the listing yet, a person from Edina or St Louis Park will recognize that you are in their bailiwick.  They may check you out before the top guy, just because they see that you are local to them.  This is a side benefit, worth getting, but your primary intention is to rank high when the search for “dog walker Edina,” rather than “dog walker Minneapolis.”

While you want to focus your site on your largest geographical target, consider using the smaller ones as well, but don’t get carried away, you only have 160 characters.  When consulting with others, I try to include at least the top three keywords and then work as much geography as I can all the while trying to make a strong sales pitch. It’s an art form.

<H1> Tags

You may have a header on your web site that may have been designed as an image or may be in HTML code. Many web sites will consider this their headline and launch right into the body of their message on their main page.  This is a mistake.

Start you page with a headline. That headline should include if at all possible your primary keywords including you primary geographical market. This is done by using <h1> tags in the HTML code for the headlines.  Thus while the headline is visible the code isn’t.

So if you are a Hair Salon in South Omaha, you might top you page with </h1><h1> South Omaha’s Premier Hair Salon </h1> in the meta tags. This will automatically make it headline size on your actual page.  More importantly, it will let the little bots searching your page that these are important words and what your page is all about. And that is what you want.

The four steps outlined above are crucial first steps to getting your page optimized for the search engines. We’ve covered a lot of material here. If you have any questions, let me know.

In the next issue we will talk about some of the visible on page factors.  This ran a bit long today, so I may break the next section into two parts.

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If you would like to have me take a close and personal look at your web site, I am offering a special deal on my new diagnostic service.  The price is incredibly low, and the service a great value. I will look and see what if you need to make any changes to your site and actually call you and discuss them with you. For more info go to www.askearlabout.com/WART/index.html

Technorati Tags: Keywords, Meta Tags, search engine optimization, Web sites

Getting to the Top of the Search Engines 2

Getting to the Top of the Search Engines 2

There are two main areas of attention when discussing how to move your website to the top of the search engines.  The first are the on-page factors and the second are the off-page factors.

The on-page factors are the easiest and quickest to deal with and are where we will start to focus our attention.  They are critical but not the most important. The off-page factors will in the long run carry more weight. But that said, if your on-page factors aren’t set up properly you can and will lose much of the benefit your off-page efforts could supply.

We will talk about 10 on page factors. Of these four are invisible, and of the six that are visible, one may already be cast in stone for better or worse.

The invisible elements are the Meta Tags. The meta tags are in the hidden code that the search engines can see, but your visitors normally don’t see.  You will learn how to see them, and anyone else’s when we discuss them in detail in our next section.

The meta tags include your title tags, your description and your keywords. The fourth of the invisible items is called an H1 tag.  The results of it are visible, but since it’s also HTML code (of the simplest kind) I am listing it as one of the invisible factors. Almost all of you will be able to make improvement to these elements on your web page.  For some of you this alone will make a significant difference in your page ranking. So stay tuned.

I’ve been surprised at how few websites I’ve reviewed have had adequate meta tags. Even those done by expensive web designers are often poorly done or in some cases missing altogether.

The visible elements include your first 50 words specifically, and the total number of words altogether. The total keyword count within your text and the percentage of the whole they comprise. We call this keyword density. The visible elements also include the internal links you have on your site and the way you link them, as well as the originality of your content.

The one item that may already be locked in stone is your domain name itself. As we will discuss, you will do better with the search engines if your web site includes you main keywords in it. If your site is already up and established you may not want to change it. That’s understandable. But if you are just now starting up and or are considering a complete makeover of your web presence, give serious thought to including your keywords and geography if appropriate in your new domains.

In our next article we will focus in detail on the hidden items. That will be followed by a look at the visible elements. Once we have covered those we will move on to discuss the off-page strategies.

—-

P.S. I have just launched a new service I call the WART Analysis and Consultation

I have been testing it over the past week or so with home stagers and it has been very well received. I’ve got the service rock bottom priced for a short while, but will be raising it soon, so check it out now and take advantage while the price is so low.

Technorati Tags: SEO

So You Have A Splash Page and a Lot of Flash, Now What?

Yesterday, I described a problem that a lot of home stagers and other businesses have. When your web site starts out with a splash page, and/or your site uses a lot of flash coding you can become invisible to the little bots Google and others send around the internet to index sites. And that means your competitors have an advantage over you in terms of their ability to out rank you on Google and the other search engines. That costs you opportunities, and that means less jobs, and less money.

Today, I will briefly share more on what you need to do to mitigate the situation short of redesigning your entire web page. The “on page” factors that the Google Bots look for are just a part of the equation. And while lacking all the umph! having them would provide, you can still get yourself some traction using “off page” factors. There are a variety of off page things to do, but they basically boil down to getting BACK LINKS.

You do this by posting on other peoples blogs, writing articles, posting on web 2.0 sites like Squidoo and others.  When you do, you don’t want to link to your splash page if you have one. Instead link to your home page, or another page on your site that is relevant to the topic.

So, picking on my Friend Allegra again, I would have her sign her posts as “www.styledandsold.com/home.html” rather than “www.styledandsold.com”  It may look a bit odd at first, but it will take google to the page that matters and will count as a backlink in many cases. (not all but that is too long a discussion for now.)

Better yet, are situations where instead of signing with your URL you are able to use an anchor tag.  For example, if you are writing an article to post in an article directory instead of using your url, say Allegra Dioguardi is a Hamptons Home Staging Expert.

In this case, the keywords Allegra wants to rank for on Google is “Hamptons Home Staging”.

If she is on a Blog Site like Active Rain that has a Link tool (Looks like three links of a chain) in its WYSIWYG editor, she would highlight the words Hamptons Home Stager, and then insert her URL as the link, using the /home.html version.

That way when the bots find the link they provide not only a backlink but also identify the keywords at being relevant to the site. This process starts building keyword status for your website.

If you are on a site where you need to use html code you would build the link with a standard opening

<a href=”   and then insert your url, again with the /home.html (Or another page on your site) and end it with a   “>  Once that’s done, you add the keyword you want to rank for—  Hamptons Home Staging and a closing code which is  </a>

So the completed phrase in HTML is <a href=”http://www.styledandsold.com/home.html”>Hamptons Home Staging</a>  When this is put in the HTML of a site, anyone reading the phrase once published would only see:Hamptons Home Staging The words would be highlighted and most people will recognize them as a link. If they click on the link they would be taken to the page.

By virture of this post, Allegra now has a back link to her site.  You want to get as many of these as you can from as many different sites as possible.  Some sites are more valuable than others, but we will cover that in the future.

Focus on your major keyword. For home stagers, the number one word is Home Staging. But as I did for Allegra keep in mind that there are over 6 million web sites with the words “Home staging” in them. You want to rank for Home Staging and your town or what ever the dominant regional term people in your market would be likely to use.

I will be starting my new series on getting ranked by the search engines soon. But since I had several questions on this point I thought I would answer it now.

Technorati Tags: anchor tags, Keywords, Linking, SEO

Does Your Websites Splash Page Win Design Awards But Lose You Customers?

I got up before 5 AM this morning, which is against my religion.  I am a night person, not a morning person.

I do some of my best thinking when I am on long walks, driving to or from Chicago (400 miles) or sleeping. Last night the muse hit me while I was sleeping.

A couple of pieces finally fell into place.  And they may make a difference for you.

For some time now, I have been imploring home stagers and other small business people to make changes to the meta tags on their web pages.  Many have and have had good results. Other less so. And I have been troubled as to why.

There are two major categories of things you can do to improve you search engine success. Things that are done on your page and things that can be done off your page.  I will be starting a new series on this topic this week to repeat much of what I have already said, but to expand it into additional areas that I have not covered as well in the past.

My mistake in the past was to focus on just part of the equation – the meta tags and my innovative emphasis on geographical keywords. And while these are important, not paying attention to other factors was undermining results we were getting on some web sites.  I now think I know why, and better yet what to do about it.

It’s too early in the morning to tell my Market Maker associate Allegra Dioguardi, but her web site promoting her Hamptons Home Staging business was bothering me. Despite my efforts, it was not rising as rapidly as I thought it should in the Google Listings.   The reason – it has a splash page. The same problem affecting her, may affect you as well, even if you don’t have a splash page, so please read on.

By a splash page I am referring to a graphic page that viewers first come to when they type your url into their browser. When you go to www.styledandsold.com you see a logo and then some pictures slide in from the right. When fully resolved there is a link that says enter here.

This is an attractive and stylish design and may even win a design award, but it creates a marketing problem.  Let me explain why.

The Googles of the world use a variety of factors to rank different web sites.  Among these factors are a variety of on and off page aspects of a web site. While I have been stressing the meta tags because so many home stagers and other micro businesses have grossly inadequate meta tags, another set of key factors are what is actually on the page. This shouldn’t be surprising at all.

The keywords listed in the meta tags should also be on the page. The main keyword of the site, and for home stagers, the main keyword is “Home Staging” should not only be on the main page but should be in a “H1” tag on the main page.  It should be used between 1-4% of the time on the main page.  It should be used at least once in the first 50 words of the main page.  And finally, the main page should have at least 425 words.

I will be discussing all of the above in the coming week in my new series on getting to the top of the Google Pile.

But for now, let me point out that even if you don’t have a splash page like my friend Allegra, your front page may also lack some of these features. And it is costing you Google Rank.  But never fear, there is at least a partial solution.

In Allegra’s case, her front page is all graphics.  Even if she had the keywords in the images, the Google bots couldn’t read them. Google bots read text, not images. So if your first page is heavily graphics, you may fall into the same boat.  Her site didn’t have the H1 tag which is Headline sized type. It didn’t have 425 words which Google uses to determine is the page is “substantive.”  It didn’t use her keyword in the first 50 words, and It didn’t repeat the keyword enough without over repeating it, which google uses to counter keyword spammers who attempt to game their system.

All of this means that this splash page gets a weak rating for the keyword “home staging,” or as in Allegra’s case she really wants to rank on the term “Hamptons Home Staging” to get the geographical long tail keyword benefit I have been advocating.

Now as I mentioned at the start, there are on page and off page factors that influence Google Ranking.  As readers of this blog know, I am an advocate of article marketing as a way to build back links to your web page.  Back links to this splash page will help the page, but without a lot of its own keyword gravitas they may be wasted.

So here is the solution.  When Allegra writes an article she should seek to get backlinks not to her splash page but to an inside page.  So when I included the anchor text in this article for the term “Hamptons home staging” I used http://www.styledandsold.com/home.html as the link and not www.styledandsold.com. This is her real home page on her site. This allows her to rework that page to meet the above google criteria and increase her chance to climb in the Google rankings for her actual home page.

That way she can keep her existing web design and still build her Google ranking.  Now if I were to recommend a new web site, I might argue against the splash page all together, but if you have a splash page, and/or a page that is heavy on graphics, or just light on text, you may want to consider focusing your attention on an interior page for the purposes of getting ranked on Google.

I suspect this article will raise some questions. If so, please leave me a comment.  I will answer in the upcoming posts.  As mentioned, I will be doing a series over the next several posts on how to get your page a better ranking in your local market.  This is important stuff. And while you may not always be able to get the number one spot, you want to be in the fight because it matters. The top ranked organic site almost always gets more viewers and more business as a result of that placement than number 2 and #2 does better than #3 etc. (but I will share a hint that will help you even if you are #2 in the new series.)

Technorati Tags: Google ranking, SEO, Splash pages, web design

Home Staging Marketing: Winning Over the Null Set

Home Staging Marketing: Winning Over the Null Set

Home Staging Marketing: Winning Over the Null Set

If you remember the null set from your school days, or as likely from your kid’s math homework, you might recall it being used to describe those who did neither a or b but nothing at all.

You put a lot of effort into marketing your home staging services and sometimes get undercut by your competitor, and that hurts.

Marketing is essential in our competitive world, particularly in adverse times. Most people realize it’s all the more important to invest in marketing when times are tough. But do they realize that sometimes the biggest competitor isn’t the gal down the street with that “other” designation, but rather the null set.

In this case, the null set includes the people who come to your web site because they are considering home staging, but then decide to do without.

That’s one of the reasons the little gift or bribe I wrote about yesterday is so effective. If you offer visitors something of value on your web site and then follow up with them; you have a far better chance of getting them to use staging and most importantly your services to stage their home.

If you don’t, it’s like betting your business on one cut of the deck, high card wins.  They either are sold on your services when they see your web site or not.

In contrast, with a little gift, and follow-up you have a chance to continue that conversation for days, until they either say yes or no. You get multiple chances to share with them the value of staging and win their business. You won’t win over the entire null set, but you have a better chance at getting more of them to use your services.

This process is at the heart of the Market Maker system.  Market Maker will be launching very soon. You want to be part of it.

http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html
Now I confess I have been stressing the need to sign up before your competitor does in most of my posts.   And while it’s true that market maker will give you a distinct advantage over your competitor, a good part of that advantage will be in turning members of the null set into customers.  People who otherwise might not have staged at all.

Effective marketing isn’t just about beating your competitor to the job, it’s about getting more people to use your services.  Market Maker does both.

That said, it’s still true that only one home stager will be allowed to join the program from any one telephone area code.  So it’s important that you at least take a good look at Market Maker as soon as possible. And then decide to join or not.  Don’t let your friendly competitor take your option to join away from you by beating you to the punch.

Home stagers who sign up on the advance notice list will get a half hour head start to join and advance notice of the actual start time.  Word to the wise, I would sign up for that head start today.
Market Maker
http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Earl Netwal
Micro Business Specialist
www.HomeStagingBusinessTips.com/blog

To get on the advance notice list register your company at
http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Technorati Tags: Home staging marketing tips, marketing

Dangle Something Pretty Before Their Eyes

Dangle Something Pretty Before Their Eyes

Listen to the podcast

Dangle Something Pretty Before Their Eyes!

We all like things that are free and pretty and/or delicious.

And if it’s something that is also related to what our web visitors
are looking for and the product or service we wish to offer, it’s
very much all the better.

In recent articles we’ve been looking at what it takes to get
people to find your web site. There are a whole host of tricks
tweaks and tactics collectively called Search Engine Optimization
that can help build traffic to your web site.

But once they are there, what are you going to do to get them to
pay attention to you?

You are going to give them a sucker, a popsicle, an ice cream cone
just like you did your kids. Only in the adult world we are going
to give them something of value, related to our mutual interests.

Presumably they came to your web site because they were at least
somewhat interested in Home staging.

You want to be able to give them something they can use related to
home staging. Something for free. Something they can take with
them, right here and now. With no fuss or muss. With no obligation.

If you do and no one else does, you will be ahead of the game. What
you want to give them is a free report of some sort that they can
download. A Gift.

To get it they will need to give you their email address so you can
send it to them. That way you will know who they are, and how to
get a hold of them again.

That will allow you to send them another gift in a few days. And
another.

And if you keep it up, they will end up calling you when they are
finally ready to make up their mind and hire a home stager.

If you have a pretty thing to dangle on your web site, and no one
else does, you are going to get their attention and eventually
their business.

It might not be nice to bribe your kids to get their attention but
it works.  It works with prospective customers as well.

Market Maker is coming and coming soon.  Market Maker takes the
ideas of Search Engine Optimization and what we call ethical bribes
and much more and wraps it into a unique marketing plan
specifically designed for Home Stagers. It’s a marketing plan on
auto pilot that pays for itself.  Membership in the plan is limited
and you should be sure to sign up for advance notice as not
everyone will be allowed to join.

Sign up for advance notice at Market Maker
PS: Market Maker is limited to just one home stager per telephone
area code during its initial run.  You want that to be you, and not
your competitor.  Register for advance notice now at Market Maker

Technorati Tags: ethical bribes, Internet marketing, Market Maker, marketing

Sailing beyond ActiveRain, don’t miss the boat.

Sailing beyond Active Rain, don’t miss the boat.

[Many home stagers post on the Active Rain Blog site. While this is a great forum and brings home stagers and Realtors in close proximity, it shouldn’t be the sole marketing focus. Instead, if you post there learn in the article below how you can leverage your efforts.]

Listen to Sailing Beyond Active Rain on Podcast

Sailing Beyond Active Rain – Home Staging Business Tips

Posting on ActiveRain has many benefits but if that’s all you are doing, you are missing the boat.

Active rain is a good place to share with other homestagers, to learn from them and to get exposure of your business with other active rain members. But most Realtors and home stagers are not on active rain, so don’t let yourself spend all your marketing efforts there.

Instead, multiply your results.  Post articles on your own blog and on article directories and not just on Active Rain.

This will significantly boost the number and value of back links to your web site. It will accelerate your rise in the search engine results and win the top ranking in your market.

A post on Active Rain, puts some wind in your search engine rankings because the Active Rain site is seen by Google as an authority site. It has a page ranking of 6 which is pretty good, and a link from active rain back to your site gets more credit that a link from your cousin Mary’s occasional blog.

That said, if your only back links are coming from Active Rain, there is reason to believe that each additional post is less and less meaningful from Google’s perspective.

To really fill you sails, you want to get back links from dozens and then hundreds of other web sites.  And it’s easy to do. Particularly, if you are already posting regularly on Active Rain.

There is no reason why you can’t post the same article you intend to put on Active Rain on your own blog first.  I highly recommend that you set up a either a free Blogger Account, or better yet a free WordPress blog. There are a lot of reasons for this, but most notably, having your own blog sets you up as the expert and allows you to develop your own identity.

The second additional step is to register with eZine articles, and begin publishing your articles there as well.

These steps work in combination with each other, and capture the wind of your effort like a three masted ship captures the same wind three times over.

The same article with a few tweaks can be used for all three. And the results are a swifter voyage to the top of the rankings.

Let me explain it a bit more.

Your own blog makes you an authority in the eyes of those who come to it. Be they past or prospective customers, other homestagers or realtors or the media and general public.
This increases your status as the go to person in your market on home staging.

You have an article idea.  You write it up and post it on your blog.  You then take the same post and share it on Active Rain. You get Active Rain points, and rise in their listings. Plus you enjoy all the other benefits of participating in the active rain community.

Once you have it up on your blog and active rain, your rephrase it slightly to appeal to the general public. You then post in on one of hundreds of article directories. I recommend eZineArticles as the place to start.

Once posted on eZine Articles, your post is available to be reprinted by bloggers and ezine writers around the world. The bargain is that anyone can post your article, but they cannot change its wording and must include your resource box.

The resource box is where you put a brief blurb about yourself, and a back link to your blog and to your main web site.

As your article is picked up by blog writers, you get more and more back links. It builds slowly at first, but as time goes on it grows into a gale of a windstorm sending tens, then hundreds, and then thousands of back links to your web site.  Before long, Google realizes that you are an authority, and blows you past the finish line as the regatta winner and top ranked homestager in your market.

The beauty of this system is that you go yourself to the article directory and find other home stager’s articles from other markets and print their articles as entries on your blog.  That way you can add new material to your blog on a regular basis without having to write it all yourself.

For Example, I posted this article on Active Rain, and a modified form here and as a broadcast to my Home Staging mailing list.
You should do the same thing.  You write an article a week, and post one or two others from elsewhere on your blog. It sets you up as an expert.

You take the one article you wrote and with minor revisions as necessary post it in three places.

This provides you with a great deal of leverage, and will make you captain of your own destiny.

When you become a member of Market Maker, which will be opening next week, I will be sharing other ideas and techniques that will help you maximize your return on effort as you market your home staging business. Marketing can be challenging, that’s why it’s a good idea to put as much as possible on auto pilot, and then leverage the work you do so that it has maximum benefit.

Market Maker is a limited membership program. Members will have access to some innovative marketing tools that will put them on top of their local markets and provide a genuine competitive advantage. It is highly recommended that you sign up for advance notification of the start date as only one home staging company will be allowed to join from any given market place, and initial membership will be limited to only 30 companies.

To get on the advance notice list register your company at
http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Technorati Tags: Article Marketing, home staging marketing, search engine optimization, SEO

Home Staging Tip: Chased By A Bear!

Listen to this podcast, Chased by a Bear:

Homestaging Business Tip: Chased By a Bear!

Chased by a Bear!

There is a story of two people in the woods, being charged by a hungry bear. One stops to tie his shoes, the other scoffs, “you can’t outrun a bear.”  “I don’t need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you.” His companion replied.

So too, with marketing in a local market.

You don’t need to be the best in the nation at marketing, you just need to be better than your local competitors.  That may be easier than you think.

With notable exceptions most home stagers spend very little time thinking about their marketing. Some may even feel it contrary to their nature. But if you are serious about your home staging business, you must give some serious thought to how you are going to attract your next customer and then the one after that.

That’s one reason you have a web page. But many of you make a mistake and think a web page is all about selling a potential customer on your staging skills. The purpose of a web page is to get prospects to call you.

I will discuss that more in a future article, but many of you have a bigger problem and don’t even know it.

Many people looking for a home stager in your town can’t find your web site.

In past articles, I’ve touched on two things you can do to remedy that problem. One is to change your page title tags to include relevant keywords.  Another is to change the Meta Tag description on your web page to also include relevant keywords.  There is one more major step to take in the meta tags area, that will greatly increase the chance that prospects looking online actually find you.

And that is the formal meta tag keywords.

There are over six million web sites that show up when someone searches for the term “Home Staging” in Google. That’s way too many, so most people when confronted with so many responses do a second search.

And in that second search they may try another keyword, like “home stager,” but more likely they will use the same keyword and add a geographical term.

When my son searches for pizza on the web, he adds his zip code. For a less common business like home staging, he might use his telephone area code, or the town name.

I’ve written about this before, but I am amazed at how few people actually take the time to make this simple change to the keywords they have in their meta tags.

If you do, and your competitors don’t, it’s like you putting on a pair of tennis shoes. Hey, they may even be a slightly better home stager than you. But if you are wearing geographically based keywords as your tennis shoes, you will get ranked above them in the computer search engines.  You will get seen, they won’t. Or if they do, they will be listed under you in the rankings.  You will get first chance to stage more houses. And they won’t know why.

Now I know some of you aren’t into competition, but this is business. If you want your phone to ring. If you want to be doing two to four more home stagings a month, you need to pay attention to your marketing.

You need to change the keywords in your web page’s meta tags. You need to include terms like “Home staging in Minneapolis”, “St. Paul Home Stager”, “House Staging in 612.”

In the first article of this series, I told you where and how to look up keywords. You need to find the top keywords people actually use, and then mix and match the appropriate geographical references for your market place.

It’s a chore, but not hard. It will make a real difference, and will allow you to outrun your competition.

Next week, the Market Maker program will be launched. All of these changes and much more will be handled by Market Maker for you. Market Maker is a unique program designed specifically for the Home Staging industry.  It will put your web based marketing on auto pilot and will pay for itself.

Membership will be limited, particularly at first. So if you want to sprint to the front of your market place, make sure you sign up for advance notice of the release date.

To do so go to http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Best Wishes,

Earl Netwal
MicroBusinessSpecialist
http://www.HomestagingBusinessTips.com/blog

Technorati Tags: homestaging, Keywords, marketing, Meta Tags

Curb Appeal for Search Engines

Curb Appeal for Search Engines

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Curb Appeal for Homestaging Web Sites

When you want to show yourself off, you may decide to put on your best dress.

When you talk to your clients, you tell them to stage their house, to present it to its best advantage.

When you put up a web site to attract potential customers, you need to do the same thing.

To attract people to your site, you need to dress up your META tags.

Geeky it may be…but it’s curb appeal for search engines.

Starting sometime next week, you will be able to get all of this done for you when you become a member of Market Maker and much, much, more.

But even if you don’t, you should be aware of what you can do to make you web site sparkle in the eyes of the Google bots. They roam the internet and determine whether or not your site has enough curb appeal to merit a look see.

Previously, We’ve talked a bit about finding keywords and how to improve your Page Title Tags. Today we are going to dress up one more section of your “Hidden code” the Hidden charm that the bots love to see. (See yesterdays article on how to find your meta tags, if you don’t know how.)

The Description Statement is one of the META tags that makes a difference in how to professionally stage your web site.

It starts like this:

“<meta name=”Description” content=”______”/>”

In the blank, you want to put a description of your business. This should be keyword rich.

In the first article in this series I told you how to look up keywords. This is where you begin to use them.

You want to come up with a sentence or two that includes as many top ranking keywords as possible and an appropriate geographical reference.

Example:

“Staged to Sell is a professionally accredited and certified Home Staging Service specializing staging houses in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Edina, Burnsville and Apple valley and other South Metro suburbs. Our home stagers are expert real estate fluffers and the best home staging company in Minnesota”

Notice: Very few human will ever see this, although some might. Stilted language is okay. We’re going for robot sex appeal, not your English teacher’s ok.

Getting people to find your web site is just the beginning of the process of communicating with them. But it is the essential first start. Like curb appeal, it will help get them to look closer, but its what’s on the inside that gets them to buy.

Next week, the Market Maker program will launch. Market maker will not only deal with this geeky tech stuff, but will also add significantly more to the conversation you have as a home stager with your prospective homeowner.

Market Maker is a complete home staging web site marketing plan that runs on auto pilot. It will give you a distinct competitive advantage. Sign up for advance notice at Go to

www.homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Best wishes,

Earl Netwal

www.HomestagingBusinessTips.com/blog

PS: Market Maker is coming, but not everyone who wants to will be allowed to join. Initially only 30 Home staging companies will be allowed to join, and only one from every telephone area code. This will be a powerful tool to build your business. Be sure to sign up for advance notification.

http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Technorati Tags: Market Maker, Meta Tags, prospecting, Web sites

Page Title Tags – Getting People to Find Your website II

Listen to “Page Title Tags” Podcast

Page Title Tags – How to Get More People to Visit Your Website

Page Title Tags

Yesterday I discussed keywords and the Google Keyword tool. Today, we will explore page title tags.

These are the first of several elements that are in the hidden code for your web site. It is one of several elements that the search engines can see about your page that you and you visitors don’t.

Well that is only partially true, because you do see your Page Title Tags. They are in the tab at the very top of your browser when you are on your site.

If you are reading this on my web site, you will see Home Staging Business Tips at the very top, left hand side. If you were on your web page, you would see the title of your page there as well.

If the name of your company is “Staged Homes Sell” it shows up because in the hidden code on your page this is what is inserted as the of your page. To see your hidden code, right click on some where on your page where their isn’t an image.   A box will appear with a variety of labels. Click on “View Source” or “View Page source.” This will display the source code for your entire page. At the top of this code is the “Header” code. This is where several critical elements of your web page are placed. Including your title.

If you live in Minneapolis, like I do and your company is called “Staged Homes Sell” you will see code that reads: <title>Staged Homes Sell</title>

My tip for you is to change that code slightly. Change it to: <title>Staged Homes Sell in Minneapolis</title>

By adding the “in Minneapolis” you provide the search engines with important information.

They will now be more likely to post your web site in the top of the listings when someone searches for stage and or Homes and also use word Minneapolis.

We will discuss this more in a future article.

Geographical keywords added to your business keywords are a surprisingly under appreciated way to get a higher rankings in the search engines. The first place to make this change is in your Title Tags.

Not only will it help you get higher rankings, when people see your page, it gives them a better sense that you are like them, local. And that helps build your standing in their eyes by virtue of affinity.

More on this tomorrow. And don’t forget to sign up for information on Market Maker.

Money maker is specifically designed for the Home Staging Industry and will put your web marketing on auto pilot and pay for itself!

Go to http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Word to the wise. Market Maker is a powerful tool that will give participants a competitive advantage in their market place.  Its power could be diluted if everyone in a local market used its techniques, therefore it will be made available on a first come first served basis. Initially it will be limited to just 30 participants and they will all need to be from different telephone area codes.  If someone in your area beats you to the punch you may need to wait a year before being able to access its powerful features.

You are getting a head up on this as a reader of my blog. Take advantage of that and sign up now to get a shot at being at the head of the line when it launches sometime next week.

http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Technorati Tags: geographical keywords, getting traffic, Meta Tags, page title tags, SEO

Getting people to find your web site.

Listen to the Pod Cast

Getting People To Find Your Web Site

There are many ways to market ones home staging business. Most of them are enhanced by having a good web site where you can refer interested people to learn more about you and your business.

That way, when you give a talk to a church group or Chamber of Commerce luncheon you can give people a web page to visit.

But you can also get a lot of free traffic from people surfing the web for information on home staging, if your site is properly set up so it can be found.

Unfortunately, most home staging web sites are not easy to find, because they have not been optimized for search engine traffic. About 85% or all web traffic results from searches on search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN and a myriad of others.

If you were to enter the words “home staging” into Google today you would get over 6 million responses. The top 10 names on the page get the vast majority of actual page views, the others 6 million don’t, and that includes your page.

That means that 85% of the people searching for a home stager are unlikely to see your page at all. That’s lost business. Business you could have a shot at…if your web pages were properly optimized to get the search engines attention.

There is an entire industry devoted to Search Engine Optimization or “SEO.”

But there are some simple steps anyone can do, if you are willing to take action and make your web site more attractive to the search engines. If you do, you will get more traffic to your page. And that’s the first step. What you do with that traffic is another issue. But first things first.

In the next week I will be posting a series of articles on SEO. This is a prelude to the release of a major new product. The exact release date and time is being held under wraps for now.

The new product is called Market Maker. Not everyone that wants to will be allowed to join when it releases. I encourage you to sign up for additional information at
http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Today, I want to let you know how easy it is to begin to find keywords that apply to your business and website. In later articles I will tell you how to use these keywords, for that’s where the magic of SEO takes place.

There are a lot of expensive paid keyword tools, but the best free tool is Google’s.
Go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
In the middle of the page, you will see a blank box with directions to enter a single word or phrase. Type in the word “Home Staging.”

Make sure the box that says synonyms is checked.

Then you will need to enter the letters from the Captcha code that is there. This is to confirm you are a person and not a computer or robot.

Then click get keyword ideas.

When I did this recently I got 127 keywords related to Home Staging and another 73 related terms. Not all of these are appropriate for a home stager looking to find customers. But many are. This is because different people will use different terms to search for you. If your web site is only set up to attract some of these keywords, you won’t stand a chance of showing up in the results the search engines return at all.

There is a lot more to say about all this, and it does matter. If your web site is properly optimized to get traffic from all the relevant keywords and your competitor across town isn’t you will get more business.

If your competitor’s website is properly optimized and yours isn’t you will loose out on business you could be getting.

If you’re not turning away customers today because you are too busy, you may want to consider making the effort to understand keywords and how they apply to your web site.

More on this tomorrow. And don’t forget to sign up for information on Market Maker.

It is designed to put your web marketing on auto pilot and to pay for itself!

Go to http://homestagingbusinesstips.com/MarketMaker/ComingSoon.html

Best wishes,

Earl Netwal
www.HomestagingBusinessTips.com

Technorati Tags: Home Staging, homestaging, Homestagingbusinesstips, Market Maker, SEO

Checking your meta tags: It’s easy

I’ve been writing about meta tags and keywords and how frequently many of the web sites I review have them all wrong.

I suspect some of you are wondering how it is that I can see your meta tags, when you can’t?

It’s just a matter of knowing how, and it’s very easy to do.

Just right click your mouse somewhere on the main body of your web site or that of virtually any other web site and a box will appear with a set of options. If you use Firefox as a browser, one of the options will be “View Page Source”, if you use Internet Explorer it will read “View Source.” Just click on either and you will see the code that is behind the web page.

Now sometimes people will right click on a part of the web site where an image is displayed, and you will not see the “view page code”. If this happens to you, try another area on the page, usually where there is text for the body of the page. On most web sites you should be able to find the code with out too much trouble.

The meta Tags are at the top of the code, between two “head” tags.  The first is <head> and then bunch of code and it ends with </head> which indicates that the Header information is done. It is almost always followed by the Body code. <body> Then all the stuff that actually appears on your page is listed. it eventually ends with a end body tag, </body>

You only need to look at the stuff on top to see if your meta tags are adequate.

There are a lot of possible Meta Tags, but of those there are two things you want to be sure to check.

You will want to be sure to check out your keywords and also your web site description.  Most meta tags such as the keyword ones are optional as far as getting your site to work.  But they are very important if you want the search engine bots and/or anyone else to find your site.

You should have, but are not required to have the following:

<meta name=”Keywords” content=”keywords,separated,by,commas”>  In the example, I include the words keywords, separated and comma to show what the keywords should look like. There shouldn’t be spaces between the keywords, each keyword or keyword phrase should be separated by a comma.

I have found web sites with no keywords at all, and I have found web sites where the keywords are totally unrelated to the page. In the later case, someone probably “borrowed” someone else’s web site because they liked the layout and replaced all the content without bothering to fix the keywords.  Look at your keywords, are they “geographically based  long tail keywords” as I have been preaching? If not, you want to get them fixed.

The second element that you want to be sure is in your meta tags is:

<meta name=”Description” content=”information about your site”>

The “information about your site should be 100-150 characters long and should include your best keywords.

To learn more about meta tags, you might want to get a copy HTML in Simple Terms by Terry Jett which I have published and sell. You can find a link on my other blog site http://MicroBusinessSpecialist.com/blog or you can use the links below. It’s only $9.97 and does a good job of explaining Meta Tags on pages 16-18.

I keep a copy of it handy by my computer to look up the HTML code I need on occasion to adjust my blogs, web pages and Squidoo lens. I am a marketer, and not a computer tech, so I need HTML help from time to time. If you do as well, you might benefit by downloading a copy, printing it out and keeping it by your computer like I do.

You can always look up things online by doing a search, but I find having a printed reference to be handier and quicker.

http://askearlabout.com/html-in-simple-terms/index.html

Technorati Tags: Meta Tags

Bill Boards Belong on Freeways not Back Alleys

Have you ever passed by a blank billboard on a backwater highway with a 1-800 number on it? Or perhaps one saying, “Your message here?” I have, but it’s been a while since the last time. Mostly I suspect, because I seldom venture off the main freeways in my normal travels these days.

In past years, I did a bit more traveling to smaller towns in out-state Minnesota and Wisconsin and I would see a fair number of them. Mostly on roads that used to be the main thoroughfare in the pre-freeway era. I suspect a good many of them still exist.

In those traveling days I used to consult with towns and counties on how to attract businesses to their communities. Today, I consult with businesses on how to attract customers. Same business, different focus.

A billboard is a marketing device some businesses use to attract customers. It’s like a display ad in a newspaper or magazine. It provides a graphic image and perhaps some keywords to people who happen to be passing by. On the highway, in their cars. In the newspaper or magazine as one’s eyes pass from one article or story to the next, one page to the next.

They have a hard job to do. They need to make an impression on your conscious or sub conscious mind quickly. It must be the sub conscious the advertiser is aiming for because there are very few such images that ever really capture my conscious mind’s attention.

Now as a kid, I remember the old Burma Shave signs because they were different and funny. I remember a number of teaser campaigns over the years that had me guessing as to what was coming next, but I can’t remember what any of them were about at the moment. I admit that I do notice some of the new billboard campaigns from time to time when they change along one of my regular routes. But I don’t remember ever buying something because I saw a billboard, do you?

My uncle Urban had a billboard on the highway from the Minneapolis to St. Cloud where he had a butcher shop. The sign read, “Gaida’s Meats” with a sausage on on fork that protruded above the sign. It was a clever enough visual effect, breaking out of the box. I suspect he got at least occasional comments from customers in the store about it. Particularly when it was new. But I doubt it brought in any new customers. It may have, however, brought in a few more existing customers. Not because it made his product any more valuable, but because it created status. A sense of importance because everyone who lived in St Cloud saw it whenever they returned home from a trip to the cities.

In my uncle Urban’s eyes the sign wasn’t meant for people from Minneapolis that happened to be going to St Cloud, it was for people from St Cloud who happened to have traveled to the Twin Cities. They would be coming back on this road. And that’s where he placed his sign.

Now I’m talking about billboards today, because in many ways they are like a business website. The clever ones may catch my attention as I browse through many related sites online. But only if they are on the highway I am traveling. If I am on the freeway, and the web site is on a dusty county road, I will never see it. And no matter how cute, creative or otherwise inspired it may be, it may as well not exist at all. It may as well be blank. In my book, it’s not even worth a toll free call to find out how much someone wants to put my message on it.

When it comes to online advertising, far too many people have spent all their effort coming up with a great image and feel for their sites and not given any thought to whether to put their site on a freeway where it will be seen by thousands or on a dirt road where only the crows and gophers will see it.

On the internet, the way you get in front of the traffic from Minneapolis to St Cloud is to make sure the keywords in your meta tags put you on the right highway. In addition, you need to use those same keywords in your message – in the body of your web pages.

This is particularly easy for local businesses, and a bit more difficult for those who compete on a national scale.

If my uncle still had his butcher shop, I would encourage him to use St Cloud Butcher Shop, St. Cloud Meats, Saint Cloud Butcher Shop, Stearns County Butcher Shop, Benton County Butcher Shop, and Polish Sausage as just a handful of maybe several hundred keywords in his meta tags.

In fact, I would take every conceivable term like meat, sausage, etc., and pair it with every conceivable geographical term that people in the area might use to find what they were looking for in a computer search. I call such terms geographical long tail keywords. And they are designed to mimic the actual phrases people might type into their search engine. While they might type “sausage” the first time, when they see over 20 million responses they will quickly find a geographical term to narrow their search if they are looking for a place like my uncle’s where they can get good Polish sausage.

And yet if you look at most business web pages you will see terms like plumber, attorney, dentist, groceries, resort, bait, or what have you in their meta tags. Such keywords are worthless. But so too is having Minneapolis, or Saint Cloud, or New York.

As my frequent readers know, I have been working with the Home Staging Industry for the past 9 months or so. As I dug deeper into the keywords that people actually use, I have grown a list of 124 terms for the home staging industry. Most were fairly obvious, others less so. I have been offering a service to the industry where I concatenate the various keywords I have researched together with the relevant geographical modifiers for individual home stagers. It gets a bit tedious and time consuming. But the result has been a block of keywords that puts my client’s web pages on the internet freeway, while their competitors are advertising their business on the dusty back roads of the internet where no one goes.

Where do you want your billboard to be? If it’s appropriate for your business, follow my example and create a series of geographical long tail keywords. It will make a difference in how often your potential customers find you. It also will make it far more likely that you get top ranking for a keyword phrase when you are the only person who has taken the time and effort to include in in your keywords.

Don’t forget that you also want to incorporate as many of the major terms into the body of you text as well. So if you are a Homestager in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, make sure to say so in the text of your web page as well as in the meta tags.

Technorati Tags: advertising, geographical long tail keywords, Keywords, marketing, Meta Tags, websites

Do you need two web sites?

Within the internet marketing world, people have ten’s and hundreds of web sites. Each with a different URL and each targeted to a specific niche or purpose. That permits each web site to be addressed to a particular audience. And since the site is targeted, so too are the keywords, which means these sites tend to rank higher than if they were attempting to be all things to all people.

Off line businesses and those firms operating online in niche arenas should consider whether or not they too would benefit from multiple web sites.

I will once again use my friends in the Home Staging Industry as an example of a situation where two web sites may make a lot more sense that one.

If you go to most home stagers web sites you will see that they are primarily directed to the home owner. But if you were to survey home stagers as I have done, you will see that most of them market not to home owners but to Realtors, who they hope will refer home sellers to them.

This means the Home Staging company has two different marketing objectives. One is to convince realtors that they can help sell a home faster and for more money, and the second is to convince the home owner that they can help sell a home for more money and faster. While it appears to be the same objective, it’s not.

For the home stager, the sale to the individual home owner is critically important, but represents just one sale. The sale to the Realtor, might not in itself win any direct business, but represents a series of prospective future business.

Home stagers offer two primary benefits to their customers, faster sales and higher price. While both are important to home sellers and to Realtors, the relative ranking between the two vary. A home owner is more likely to be impressed with the prospects of a higher price, as any such higher price will help pay for the services they are being asked to cover. For a Realtor, the higher price may mean a marginal improvement to their commission. More important to them, is the speed with which a home sells, so they can go on to the next.

Now while both share same objectives their motivations differ. To be most efective, the sales pitch to either market should lead off with their primary motivation. That in turn calls for two web pages, and two marketing pitches.

This is going to be true for any business that markets to distributors as well as final customers. And probably many more circumstances as well.

How about your business. Do you have multiple audiences you are marketing to?

If so, you really should be thinking in terms of multiple rifle shots rather than a blunderbust shotgun spread.

Most businesses try to accomplish this with multiple pages on one web sie. And this may be an adequate compromise in some cases, but it is always a compromise, and an opportunity for a competitor to step in and out compete you.

One objection has been the need to buy multiple domain names and hosting accounts. And while this is a pound wise penny foolish objection, the fact is that with the right hosting service there is no need to pay any more to host a second, third, fourth, or even twentieth web site.

It would take me a while to sit down and even count the total number of web sites I have. And they are all on one account. And that account costs me less than $25 a month. I use HostGator

They offer me the opportunity to have an unlimited number of web sites on one account and enough bandwith to cover my needs and that of most small business people. These can be readily stepped up should my increased use of video require a future adjustment.

I mention the hosting problem, as just one barrier to having multiple sites. A second site, probably means reworking the first and then adding the second. This will take some site design work and of course that entails a one time expense. But the final result is a more clearly targeted marketing campaign, and better marketing results.

I would have two “ethical bribes,” one each on each of the two new web sites to build a separte email list of prospective home owners and Realtors. Using my home staging example, I might offer a report on how to de-clutter your home on the web site directed to homeowners, and a different report on how to discuss home staging with your clients on the Realtor Oriented Web Site.

The prepackaged follow-up messages would be distinctly targeted as well.

It’s important to clarify your marketing objectives, and then to develop approriate marketing tools such as web sites and autoresponder porgrams to meet those objectives over time. If you need three web sites, you should have three.

What do you need?

Auto Reponders: The Magic In a Two Way Web Converstation

[note: this is a new chapter I will be adding to the resource section in my new free report, on Why Most Small Business Web Sites Stink.”  Thus while the examples I use are not directly tied to home staging, the content is applicable to home staging as well as most any business or non profit agency for that matter.]

Auto Responders:

The key component required to transform your current static web site into a marketing tool, is your auto responder. The service I use and recommend is Aweber, www.BuildRelationships.aweber.com . It is by far the preferred service, and is used by most of the internet marketers I know.

While it’s possible to have a programmer develop an auto responder service on your own web site, using a professional service makes a lot more sense in the long run. First, it’s cheap. Rates will vary depending on how much traffic you generate, but as of my writing this, most small businesses will be able to start for well under $25 a month, even less if you take advantage of their annual payment plans.

There are a couple of things you should understand. Aweber uses what’s called a double opt in system. What this means is that when a person signs up to be on your mailing list, they are actually signing up on a form you create at BuildRelationships.aweber.com. Once Aweber gets their initial message, they send out a confirmation message to the email address registered. This asks your new subscriber to confirm that they want to be on your list. Your new list member must confirm, or they will not be included.

This accomplishes two things. First, it keeps people from putting in phony email addresses, just to get your free report. And more importantly, it serves to protect you against spam complaints when people register someone else’s legitimate email address instead of their own.

Aweber is a known entity in the internet marketing world, and it’s well known they use this double opt in system. Thus the folks who monitor and prosecute SPAM complaints are far less likely to raise any issues with you, even when someone forgets they signed up for your list and complains. This avoids problems you don’t need.

In addition to the double opt in feature, they automatically insert both an automatic “opt-out” link and your legal address at the bottom of each of your messages. This means you will always be compliant with the anti Spam laws, and your subscriber knows that they can stop your emails whenever they want. Best yet, if your subscriber decides they want to stop, all they have to do is click the link and it’s done automatically. You don’t need to be involved at all.

These peace of mind features make the monthly fee more than worthwhile by themselves.

But you get a lot more than peace of mind. Aweber offers a lot of features, more than I can cover here now. But lets lay out a few, for the sake of clarity.

First, you can have multiple lists, at no extra charge. You can have a list for those people who sign up on your web site. You can have another list for people who sign up because you add, an invitation to do so on you cash register receipt or invoice forms.

This may make sense as a way to conduct separate conversations with prospective customers who are first finding you online, as opposed to the conversation you want to have with people who are existing customers.

You may also want to use this capability to focus on different product lines. Say you are a restaurant that also does catering. You might have a sub list for the catering business in addition to a primary list that promotes your weekly or monthly specials.

This ability to run multiple lists is a great asset. It allows you to have multiple conversations going on, with multiple people at the same time. All on autopilot.

There is one more basic concept to get across regarding auto responders. There are two types of basic messages. The first is the follow-up message. These are written and stored in the system and are sent automatically once a person signs up for your list. The first one goes out immediately once they have confirmed that they want to be on the list. Then you can pre-schedule any number of additional lists as you wish. Depending on your particular needs, you may want to send a second message three days after they get the first one, and then maybe another in 3-5 days, and then weekly thereafter.

Some people set up mini courses on topics of interest to their customers. A Liquor store may for example create a series of posts on wines, or the characteristics of different beers they sell. A restaurant, may do recipes or cooking tips, etc. The key thing about follow-up messages is that they should be “Evergreen.” With any luck people will be signing up to your list every day from now till the end of time. You want messages that make sense no matter the time of year. So event though it may be Spring, when you are writing you messages, eventually it will be winter when someone joins your list. All of these follow-up messages are sent sequentially based on the number of days since the person signed up on your list. So on any given day you will have message 1 going out to newly signed up people, message 3 going out to people who signed up last week, and message 14 going out to people who maybe signed up four months ago.

The second type of message is the Broadcast. This is sent to all people no matter when they signed up. This type of message is ideal for sending out messages about this week’s specials, of attractions for the coming month, or holiday greetings. If you are a dentist and want to let your patients know to schedule their appointments prior to you upcoming two week vacation cruise, you send them a broadcast message six weeks in advance and then again periodically up until you send them a message on who to contact in case of an emergency.

The best part of this, is that you can pre-schedule broadcast messages. Thus if you want, you can send a Happy New Years message for exactly at midnight next year right now.
If you have a three month advertising plan, you can schedule all your broadcasts for the coming three months at one time, and then forget about it. The messages will be sent automatically, and your customers will get you messages and respond and it won’t cost you any more than the cost of your auto responder and the time to write the messages.

There are other more advanced features available once you have you system up and running. For example you can do split testing to see which of your ads get a better response, and there are ways to tie your blog posts into the process and even pod casts. But such services are beyond the scope of this report.

Again the service I recommend is www.BuildRelationships.aweber.com.

They offer a series of helpful tutorials which should be more than adequate to get you up and running in no time. I am also available to assist you. Contact me at enetwal@gmail.com.

Technorati Tags: auto responder, Aweber, Internet marketing, marketing, web pages

Most Business Web Sites Stink! Free Report – Download Now!

I just completed my newest report, called “Most Business Web Pages StinK!” subtitled, Web Sites are like Trade Shows. Readers of this blog will soon realize this is a recompilation of five previous blog posts on the Trade Show theme. The current version is number 1.2, I am working on 1.3 which will be revisions after my wife gets done proof reading it, and a resources section at the end.

I intend to use this as an eye opener for hopefully thousands of Home Stagers and other small business people. In these tough economic times it only makes sense to better utilize all of our existing resources such as out web sites.

And since upgrading them is not difficult or expensive, it makes even more sense.

Let me know if you need my help.

Technorati Tags: interactive web sites, Internet Fundamentals, Internet marketing, list building, opt in, web pages

Is your Web Site a Billboard on a Desolate Highway?

A decade ago, small businesses flocked to the internet. It was going to transform the way business is done and they wanted to be part of it. And many are today quite disappointed and perhaps philosophical about how their web pages didn’t do diddly squat.

While there is no doubt the internet has changed how business is done today, for most businesses all that changed is they now have an internet Yellow Pages add in addition to there actual listing.

The only people that go to their web site are people who already know about their business, and are jsut checking for a phone number or the times we are open.

While that’s certainly not true of all businesses, it is true for a good many, how about you?

I’ve been preaching on three major topics here about why I think most business web sites stink.

* Most aren’t using their ability to list their business in multiple categories.
* Most have just a billboard, or an electronic brochure and not an interactive site
* Why most web sites are so bad, even when you paid good money for them.

In my prior posts on this blog, I have tried to use the trade show as a metaphor as to what the role of your web pages should be. I encourage you to look back at my past postings and read them.

In the last few days, I have been focusing on how most web sites I’ve reviewed lately have poor and often no keywords.

If you were able to afford it, and were in the wall paper business, you might buy a yellow pages ad under wall paper, and maybe under decorating or a number of other yellow page headings. Most businesses don’t as its very expensive to do so, even with multiple category discounts.

With your web pages, you don’t need to pay extra to be listed in multiple categories. You just need to do a systematic listing of all relevant keywords that your possible customers might use in an effort to find you.

This may take a little time and effort, but once done, it will pay tremendous rewards in additional traffic and potential new business.

You may have thought your web designer would have done this for you. But unfortunately most web designers are not marketers. They tend to be graphic artists or techno geeks. Great at creating web pages, but not necessarily at getting your web site to generate the business you had hoped it would.

Technorati Tags: Internet marketing, Keywords, marketing, Meta Tags, web pages

599 home staging keywords will draw more web site visitors

So far, I haven’t found a single home staging web site with good keywords in the meta tags of their web site.

This is a big mistake, as these meta tags are what almost everybody other than Google uses to find web sites to display.  And while Google may have the largest chunk of web search, they certainly don’t have it all. And with the older demographic that is most likely to use the services of home stagers they may even have a lesser share of the pie. That’s cause most older folk are likely to use the search tool that comes with their computer. My wife for example has Yahoo on hers. While she may say she is going to “Google” something, she actually uses Yahoo.  Yahoo uses meta tags. So does MSN, ASK and virtually everybody but Google.

I have created a base list of some ten dozen key words people often use to search for home stagers in their market. I add or subtract a few depending on the scope of service of the individual home stager, and then incorporate geographical elements to come up with a comprehensive set of what I call, “geographical long tail keywords.”  These are the phrases people actually use to search for you.

Every business should have these in the hidden meta tags that the search engine “bots” see, but no one else does. Unfortunately most web site developers are techies, and not marketers, and they often don’t have a clue as to what they should put in there.

For an industry like Home Stagers, where I have already done the Keyword research, I charge $75 for a compiled list of keywords. I have a few simple questions that Home Stagers need to answer, and then I can generally get their completed keyword lists done in 24 hours or less, depending on what’s on my plate that day.

Until the end of January, I am offering a $40 discount as part of my Recession Fighter effort, (Yours and Mine) So if you would like more people to find your web site, drop me an email, and I will give your web page a look see. If it needs the work, and so far they all have, I will let you know and submit my list of Q’s.

But hurry, I will raise the price to $75 effective February 1st.

email me at enetwal@gmail.com with any questions.


Technorati Tags: geographical long tail keywords, homestaging, Keywords, long tail keywords, Meta Tags

Recession Fighter Discount for Web Site Code “Tweak”

If you read my home staging survey analysis, or listened in on the tele-seminar I conducted last year on how to make web pages better, you will know that I think most Home Stagers are not setting up their web sites properly.

I am not a web page designer. So I am not interested in revamping them, but I do have two suggestions that apply to most home stagers, in fact they apply to most small business web pages period.

Today, I am making a special recession fighting offer to help you resolve the easiest of the two. But first let me explain why this problem exists, even on web sites you may have paid someone thousands to develop.

Most web designers are great at the techie end of the game. They may even be good at graphics and have a sense of design. But while they may be good at those things, few of them understand marketing. I suspect if you’ve been in the home staging game a while, you know people who may be great at home staging but not so great at marketing. (Maybe you are one of them.)

In the hidden code that’s behind each of your web site pages, there is code that the search engines see, that no one else does. In the past two weeks, I have randomly checked about a dozen home stagers web sites and found that almost all of them had opportunities for improvement, – but not all.

Another reason many techies don’t pay attention to this is that Google no longer looks at some of this code when they rank web pages. However most search engines still do, including Yahoo and all the other major players. Since you have no control over the search engines your prospective customers use, it’s a real mistake to ignore this very sizable source of business.

So for the month of January I will, on a time available basis, examine your home staging web page free of charge. All you need do is send me an eMail with a link to your web site. I will check to see whether or not your web site would benefit from a “tweak.”

If it does, I will let you know and send you a very brief questionnaire to fill in. If you decide to proceed, I will prepare the appropriate code for just $35 rather than the $75 minimum I normally charge. You save $40 and get more traffic to your web page for years to come. If any one of them uses your services, you’re sitting pretty.

Now the fly in the ointment is that I cannot make the actual change for you. I will compile the code and email it to you, but you will need to post it to the site yourself, and/or have your Web site person do so. This shouldn’t cost you anything, as it’s a very simple process to upload it, but it does require having access to your web site host and your passwords.

The tweak I am proposing won’t change anything about the way your page looks, but it will ensure that more people find <strong>your page </strong>when they are looking for a home staging professional in your market.

I am willing to do this for other small businesses as well, if I have time. Drop me and email and I will do my best to include you.

This offer expires no later than the end of January, but I may pull it earlier. It costs you nothing for the free look see on my part, so drop me an email today.

Email to enetwal@gmail.com and put “Free Tweak Peek” in the subject line.

Technorati Tags: Home Staging, Home Staging Web pages, Meta Tag Fix, Meta Tag Review, Meta Tag Tweak, Meta Tags

Web Pages are like a Trade Show: Consider the Crowd

This posting was originally written earlier this week and posted on my MicroBusinessSpecialist Blog, but genesis of this entire effort grew out of my work with Home Stagers last summer. At that time I discovered that most Home Stagers web pages were very pretty but also often pretty ineffective.  This is the first of a five part series.

I had trouble sleeping last night.

My head was working on a speech, I will give to my Toastmaster Group Thursday morning. I’ve decide to talk about why I think most small business’s web pages stink.

I’ve been toying with the content of this speech for a couple of weeks now. I know why I think they stink, but have been having trouble coming up with a hook and a word picture I can use to convey my message.

The added difficulty is that I need to compress my comments into a 5-7 minute time frame.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find the right formula, and so I did a lot of tossing and turning despite my best efforts to just forget it and sleep.

Eventually, I did, and lo and behold as I woke in the morning, in those luxurious moments before I actually woke, the winning concept occurred to me.

It’s hard on my beauty to sleep this way, but I do come up with much of my speeches at night.

A web page is very much like a trade show.

But unlike a trade show, where most businesses would have a sales person up front to greet and engage passersby, most web pages use a deaf mute to do the same task.

This week I will work on this concept. Today let’s look at the crowd at the trade show and compare them to web browsers who may chance on your web sites.

Imagine a typical home improvement show or similar trade show. Think of the crowd. They are like web browsers. There are a lot of different reasons someone might be at a trade show. For some it is simply an outing, a form of entertainment or exercise. Some are there to get ideas, or maybe looking for comparison products, or alternative suppliers. Some want information on prices, or learn about features or other options they may want to consider. A few may even have come to the show to actually buy something. This last group is probably a minority.

So too, with web browsers. If you are a business on or off line, most of the people who walk past your booth or browse by your web page are not actively looking to buy.

If you are to meet the needs of those people actively looking to buy, you need to give them the information they need and and the means to actually do so.

If your web page does this, you may have met the needs of the active buyer, but what about the others, those not quite ready to make a purchase?

Has your web site met their needs to the point that they will come back to you when they are ready to buy?

When you think of the crowd at the trade show, they tend to be moving in some sort of circle, streaming through the displays, browsing as they go. Often overloaded in stimuli as each exhibitor tries to attract their attention. If they are like me, they pass most booths with scarcely a glance, unless something grabs them and then holds their attention.

Same to with a web site. I don’t know what the actual number is, but many people suggest you have but 2-3 seconds to catch the crowds attention with your web site. And even then, you have an uphill battle to keep them at the site. That’s why I like the web sites the folks at David Goes Online produce for small businesses. As part of their deal, they are offering a free video, that gives their site some stickiness.

But that is getting into the next discussion which is on the booth exhibitors set up. In future blog posts I will also discuss the ethical bribes they offer to convert traffic into leads and then the follow-up they do, once they have the lead. And most importantly I will discuss why they don’t hire the handicapped. Why they don’t use deaf and dumb sales people to meet and greet their visitors, and why I think most business web pages do.

Technorati Tags: Internet marketing, web design, web pages

First Day Covers – an example for Home Stagers

I have advocated for some time that off line businesses use internet marketing Give Away events to market non internet reports. Last night the New Year Giveaway opened, and already today I have had five people download a report I wrote on First Day Cover Collecting. While I have sold first day covers on line for almost twelve years, I would not normally think of internet marketers as first day cover people.

And yet, at least a few are. I suspect I will attract quite a few more in the coming week as more and more people learn about the New Year Giveaway

The past holiday period between Thanksgiving and the New Year have been full of such Giveaway events. I have participated in many and have downloaded a lot of useful material and gained a lot of new subscribers to my lists. The point I want to get across here is that you don’t need to only offer internet marketing products to these lists, as my First Day cover collecting ebook proves.

So What does this have to do with Home Stagers?  It’s an opportunity to public awareness of Home Staging in general, establish yourself as an expert, and build links to your web site. If you like you can even make some money in the process.

What’s required? Not much more than a 5-10 page eBook on the benefits of Home staging.  A nice cover graphic would be nice, and then a web hosting site to host it and an autoresponder system to follow-up with those who do download the eBook.

This last feature would be most useful to any of the networks or schools out there that have members in diverse locations.

Since many of the giveways (not all) are free to put up a product, once you have it created, you can list and relist it many times.  The odds of someone in your town downloading it, may be slim, but you can advertise to your local people that you are an author and even allow them to download their own free copy from you web site in exchange for their name and email address.

What’s more, you can do this without making any changes to your current web site.

If you need help with any of this, feel free to give me a call at my home office after 9AM CST, most days.

I can help you set up an Aweber account, and help you with the mechanics of getting your eBook written for you, images selected, and a hosting site to publish your eBook.

Of the prior ideas, the most important is the idea of putting this eBook on your web page.  If done right it will make a significant difference in your ability to get people who visit you web page to do something.

It will lead to your getting far more calls from prospective customers than you are now.

And the best part is that it need not be expensive or time consuming.

Technorati Tags: Aweber, GiveAways, list building, optin

Free Internet Video Squeeze Page Offer – Worth Grabbing!

Hi there,

Here’s an interesting blog post for you..

When videos started to grow popular on the Internet in
the past couple of years, the Internet Marketing
landscape started to change.

Affiliate Marketing was not exempted, either.

The most classic mistake people tend to make in
affiliate marketing is not capturing the opt-in leads
first before sending their visitors to the merchant’s
website.

So what smart marketers often do is that they would
have their own Squeeze Page for the visitors to opt
into their list, before sending them to the website
they are an affiliate for.

This is so the affiliate marketer can build his own
opt-in list and do his follow-ups later.

A few but exceptionally smarter marketers, on the other
hand, take this to the next level.

=====> THEY IMPLEMENT VIDEO MARKETING, TOO.

You probably notice most top Internet Marketing experts
are now using videos on their Squeeze Pages. And
smarter affiliates are also doing the same for their
own, for one obvious reason:

=====> VIDEOS CAN SKYROCKET YOUR TRAFFIC AND SALES
CONVERSIONS!

Unfortunately, the problem with video marketing is that
to begin with, you have to know how to make your own
videos.

And even if you could do your own videos, what if you
learn that the affiliate program doesn’t convert well
for you after all?

Affiliate Power Videos remove all these barriers.

=>Get Over 10 FREE Affiliate Video Squeeze Pages!

At Affiliate Power Videos, you get 10 unique, high
converting Video Squeeze Pages, and 5 new ones every
month.

So all you have to do is:

Step 1: join any or all of the listed affiliate
programs (free)

Step 2: Upload the video and squeeze pages to your web
host

Step 3: Start driving in traffic, build your opt-in
list and rake in affiliate sales!

You might be thinking that this is going to be a costly
monthly membership – maybe $97, $197 or even $297 a
month.

You’re going to be in for a pleasant surprise — this
one’s on the house (read: zero cost)!

Here it is again:

=> Get Over 10 FREE Affiliate Video Squeeze Pages!

Sign up for your free Silver membership access now and
don’t delay – because I know you could very well have
your own string of affiliate video businesses up and
running by tonight, with or without any technical
experience on your part!

Warm Regards,

Earl Netwal

P.S. If you want to find out how you can maximize your
traffic and sales conversions, I really urge you to
check out the One Time Offer too right after signing
up:

=> Get Over 10 FREE Affiliate Video Squeeze Pages!


Technorati Tags: free video squeeze pages, Internet marketing, squeeze pages, video squeeze pages

PLR Gold Videos Great Way to Learn, and Make $ Sharing

Edmund Loh and Steven Luc have just released PLR Gold Videos.

Now Edward is one of a handful of marketers that has a stellar reputation for the quality of the PLR products he releases.

His past PLR Gold products have allowed me to create quite a few products and his quality is always first rate.

This time he has teamed up with Stephen Luc who is a video expert and voice over specialist. Together they have created one of the best PLR products I have seen in quite a while –

http://viralurl.com/easier/PLR-Gold-Videos

With the Private Label Rights to these videos, you can:

– Put your name or brand name on the videos,
– Change the titles, edit or voice over the videos,
– Set up 8 separate mini sites and sell as many copies as
you want with personal use rights,
– Use as content for paid membership site,
– A perfect incentive to go with a high ticket item such
as a seminar or home study course,
– Make your own product bundle and sell at a higher price,
– Offer the videos in your back-end offers,
– Sell the videos with Basic or Master Resell Rights, Much More within the terms…

Not only can you brand the videos as your own, you get the sales copy and graphics to each of them, making them very close to being a turnkey product.

They cover 8 hot topics.

1. Online Coppywriting Pro – 9 videos
2. Celebrity Blogging – 12 videos
3. Using Freelance Sites – 6 videos
4. Adobe PhotoShop for Newbies – 8 videos
5. Creating Web 2.0 Graphics using GIMP – 7 videos
6. Selling On eBay – 7 videos
7. Outsourcing Your Traffic Department – 6 videos
8. Responsive e-mail marketing – 8 videos

Click here to claim your copy of instant videos:

http://viralurl.com/easier/PLR-Gold-Videos

Edmund and Stephen are letting go the Private Label Rights to their newest collection of videos at an introductory price but it’s not going to be around forever.

In fact, the Early Bird Special is in effect only for the next 10 days or when the first 500 copies are sold out, whichever one comes first.

Secure your copy now:

http://viralurl.com/easier/PLR-Gold-Videos

To your success,

Earl Netwal
Micro Business Specialist

P.S. These are worth buying just to watch and learn. The ability to make a ton om money with them is just plain gravy. Don’t let this one pass you by.

P. P.S. Have you grabbed your gifts yet at The Halloween Giveaway? Only one day left don’t miss out.

http://viralurl.com/easier/Halloween-Giveaway

Technorati Tags: PLR, Videos

Tweet Your Blog!

Would you like to earn auto-pilot commissions every time you post to your blog? And at the same time use the Power of Twitter to drive traffic to your blog.

I know it sounds like a fairy tale, but it just became reality, with the launch of John Merrick and Soren Jordansen’s new “Tweet My Blog”.

Just by using the powerful free plugin, you will be promoting your affiliate link on auto-pilot. In other words, you can earn commissions just for posting to your blog.

But that’s just one of the many benefits of using TweetMyBlog, visit the page to learn more – and grab your free copy today.

And… Even though they are giving this plugin away for free, you should take a close look at the special offer they have in store for you when join. I instantly grabbed my own copy, and I know it will skyrocket my marketing power when using Twitter and WordPress.

Just click on the image below to access this powerful new tool. -etn



Technorati Tags: blogging, Twitter

Blogging Tips for Business

The internet is no longer a new idea for business. Many businesses once enjoyed a first mover advantage by entering the online arena earlier than their competitors. Today, there are few fields left where just being online is providing a significant competitive advantage.

The internet has opened the market place to customers from around the world. And it has opened the marketplace to competitors from around the world. It is no longer enough to be online, a business to succeed must be able to drive traffic to their websites. In order to dominate a field it is increasingly important that businesses establish a blogging presence online.

While anyone can set up a blog easily and inexpensively, so can your competitors. But there is a lot more to blogging than first meets the eye.

Here are some useful tips that you can incorporate in your internet business:

• You must research and then use keywords effectively – your blog’s contents should reflect appropriate keywords. Effective keyword research can also place your blog and thus your business toward the top of the search engines.

• You want to stimulate Back Links to your blog. These are valuable – you have to give importance to back links. Your blog posts should be able to incorporate appropriate back links.

• More important than the frequency of your blog posts is their regularity. You must be able to post regularly if you want to be effective. If you forget to make posts, you will loose regular readers and possibly leave viewers with an impression that you are not truly up to speed in today’s internet world.

• While regularity is the key, your blogging efforts will be rewarded most if you post frequently and if the contents are interesting. With effective blogging, you can establish your online business reputation and, you can demonstrate to the world your business expertise. To gain a positive reputation, make sure that you post interesting and relevant blog posts.

These are the basic tips you must follow to be effective blogging. As you can see, blogging requires more than a slap dash approach. Most advisors online will tell you that blogs are not that hard to compose. They are right. However, according to expert bloggers, you need to consider the interests of the readers and online researchers.
Try to understand why they are coming to your blog in the first place.
Think more in terms of what they want to discover, and less about what you want to tell them. But be sure you do get your licks in. It’s all about how you frame your blogs attitude and conversational style.

Remember that once you start posting blogs on your business’ website, you have to post frequently (ideally at least once or twice a week) so that your customers and readers will not forget you or your business.

Blogging for business is one of the most effective means of making your business a success. Set up your blog now, you will profit in the future.

If you learn to become an effective blogger, your business will benefit. If you want to learn more about effective business blogging, you can easily conduct researches online because you can find a wealth of information there.

Technorati Tags: blogging

Help Readers Find Your Blog

Is your blog collecting dust and not getting enough traffic? It’s a common problem for bloggers. Their blogs are good, but no one is coming to visit. They want to know how to increase traffic. Increasing traffic is actually easier than it seems–provided you know how. In this newsletter, we will go over 7 specific methods of increasing traffic. These are guaranteed methods to draw more visitors to your blog.

Tip #1: Sign up for pinging services
It seems pretty obvious, but most bloggers, even those who are more experienced, don’t sign up for pinging services. If you’re new to blogging and don’t know what pinging means, pinging basically means that when your blog is updated, a “ping” is sent out by the service to let pinging sites know that your blog has been updated. People who are visiting sites with pinging services will then see your blog flash across the side of the screen as “newly updated”. Pinging services include Yahoo’s blo.gs, weblogs.com, Google Blog search, and ZingFast.

Tip #2: Sign up for Technorati

If you go to technorati.com, you’ll see an option on the left side of the screen to “Claim Your Blog”. Doing so allows you to get updated link counts, add your photo or branding to Technorati, and see your Technorati link. Having your blog claimed on Technorati helps to increase traffic because the
millions of people who go to that site will have a chance to see your blog on there.

Tip #3: Sign up for FeedBurner, a RSS service

What FeedBurner basically does for your blog is it helps you to promote your blog’s content, build your audience and measure your audience. In other words, it helps you increase your blog’s traffic.

Tip #4: Bookmark your blogs at places like del.icio.us

You can set up an account and profile at del.icio.us. Then, using that, you can add links to your blog along with excerpts from your blog. Anytime someone visits your profile on del.icio.us, they will see a link to your blog and excerpts.

There are other social bookmarking sites that you can use in much the same way. The bottom line is, using these social bookmarking sites can help you increase traffic.

Tip #5: Post comments at other blogs

No, this doesn’t mean you should go and spam other blogs with comments that are only there to promote a site. It means that you should visit similar blogs to your own, post legitimate comments and then sign your name(along with a link to your blog). This way, people know you aren’t there just to promote your site–you’re there to post a good piece of feedback and also say where you’re from.

Tip #6: Ask owners of other blogs to post a link to yours

Find other blogs that are similar to yours. If they seem to be decently popular(that is, they have a good amount of comments for each post), you can try to contact the owner of the blog to add a link to your blog if they have a links section. To make them really want to do this, you can offer to link back to their blog on your blog. People do this reciprocal blog linking all the time and it does help to increase traffic.

Tip #7: Use keywords in your blog

Like regular web pages, having a good keyword density on a blog is a terrific way of getting search engine spiders to notice your page. (FYI: Search engine spiders are programs from search engines that browse sites and report back their findings to the search engine database, which then lists that site. The more keywords on your site, the more likely it is for a search engine spider to pay a visit)

If your average blog posting is around 200 words, try to use 2-6 keywords per blog post. 2-6 keywords in a blog posting of 200 words is a keyword density of between 1 and 3 percent, a respectable number. Remember that you don’t want to use too many keywords, as that will make your blog look bad. Also be sure that the keywords used are relevant to your blog. Before even making a blog posting, decide what the post will be about and then select a keyword or two to use in your post. Then do it.

It’s a surefire way of getting more traffic to your site!

To your success,

What’s That Pinging in Your Ears?

You’re a blogger and are constantly hearing about pinging. The
thing is, you don’t know what it is and what it can do for your
blog. Well that’s fine because a lot of bloggers don’t quite
understand pinging. In this newsletter, we will explain what
pinging is, how it helps your blog, and what the best pinging
services are. After you’ve read this newsletter, you’ll know
exactly how to use pinging to make your blog popular.

What is pinging?

When a blog is pinged, it essentially tells a web blog tracking
system that the blog has been updated. Thus, pinging is the
process of telling tracking services that a site has been
updated.

So how does pinging work? Well, a ping service scans regularly
blogs for updates. Whenever there is a new update for a
particular blog, that is reported back to the pinging service’s
site. You can almost think of ping services being just like
search engine spiders–both scan sites looking for information,
and both report that information back to their specific site.
The difference is, a ping service only reports back new blog
posts.

Why is pinging useful for my blog?

Pinging, in effect, tells people that there is a new blog
posting available. Those who are loyal followers of your blog
will see the ping and want to visit your blog. Those who haven’t
read your blog before will see the ping and perhaps think “hey,
there’s a new blog I haven’t been to before, I think I’ll check
it out”. Pinging helps to increase your traffic because it tells
people when your blog is updated. Those who visit sites with
pinging services will see this information in the form of a
scroll on the left or right side, or top of the page. The scroll
is usually in XML format and typically includes the title and
URL of your blog, as well as the date and time of the update.

OK, so now I know what pinging is. Who offers pinging?

The answer is, there are several pinging services available
which you can use to have your blog pinged. We’ll go over some
of them right now.

Weblogs.com
Weblogs.com is probably the most well-known pinging service.
Weblogs.com monitors sites for updates and then pings whenever
there is an update to report. Virtually every blog software is
available to use Weblogs.

Yahoo’s Blo.gs
Another popular pinging service. This one is offered by Yahoo
and has a built-in integration with movable type and other
tools. One cool thing about this service is that it offers the
ability to give out updates via Instant Messenging services like
AOL and ICQ. It is a direct pinging service, so those who sign
up for subscriptions to your blog will be sent an email anytime
your blog is updated.

Blogrolling.com
Blogrolling allows its bloggers to manage their
blogrolls(updates) through a web-based interface. Recently
updated blogs are also highlighted on Blogrolling’s web site.
Data is automatically retrieved from other sites like
blogger.com and weblogs.com every 5 minutes. Often times your
blog is already being pinged by Blogrolling, so you might not
have to sign up for it. Search on the site first for your URL
before signing it up.

Technorati

Available at http://technorati.com/ping, Technorati is
another service that pings blogs. It gets its data from a
variety of places and is definitely a site you should go to for
blog pinging.

These are just 4 of the many different blog pinging services
available. A quick search on Yahoo or Google will reveal many
other possible blog pinging services to use for your blog. It is
best to sign up for as many as you possibly can to ensure that
your blog is well-pinged. A well-pinged blog will definitely
help your blog attract more visitors. So sign up for as many as
possible and watch your blog traffic increase.

To your success,

Earl Netwal
Micro Business Specialist

Technorati Tags: blogging

Protect Your Blog From Spam Comments

[ad#ad-1-1-1]
Blogs are now an extremely popular and important part of the internet. Millions of people blog every day. As blogs have evolved over the years, so has the commenting system. Now anyone can make comments on a particular blog posting. As blog commenting has grown more popular, so has spam commenting. In
this newsletter, we’ll go over why comments are a great form of feedback for your blog, how they help the credibility of your content, what spam comments are and how to prevent them from happening.

Comments – A great form of feedback

When blogs first came around, they were simply online journals. No one could post comments on a blog posting. That all changed in 1998 with OpenDiary, a site which allowed people to comment on blog postings. Now every blog, whether it is remotely or self-hosted, includes this option to comment.

Commenting is great because it allows real people to tell you what they think about your form. It gives you feedback on what you are doing right and what you may need to improve. Comments can be encouraging to you and motivate you to post more quality blog messages. Or they can be constructive criticism to make you work harder to get better at writing content.

Whatever the style of comment is, it is still very useful to your blog. High numbers of comments have the ability to make a blog look credible because they show that the blog is being read by a lot of people. That’s something that every blog owner wants, and comments help to let them know just how many people enjoy their content.

Bad comments

Unfortunately, spammers have now started to use comments as a way to spam. How do you know what a spam comment is? Well, a spam comment is a comment that only advertises another site or product. If the comment seems bland/generic with a cheap link thrown in, then it’s definitely a spam comment.

Here is an example of a typical spam comment:  “Hey, this site is really cool. Check out my really cool site at spamsite.com.”

Of course not all spam comments will be this blatant, but you get the point.

Fortunately for bloggers, as spam comments have grown, so has the ways to prevent it. Here are a couple ways that you can prevent spam comments from even being posted on your blog.
#1: Close off commenting on older blog posts There are options for you to stop comments from being posted on any particular blog post. Lots of times, spammers will post comments in weeks or months old posts. So take away this opportunity from them to keep it from happening. Most blog hosters now offer this as a standard option in the tool panel. If one of your posts has been up for a couple weeks, close it
up.

#2: Take advantage of software offered to prevent comment spam If you host your own blog using WordPress, you can use an option in that software to prevent spam. Even if you aren’t using
WordPress, you can still use other Spam comment blocking software like Spam Karma, Akismet, and Bad Behavior. While these aren’t 100% effective, they have proven to be quite effective in preventing spam from happening.

#3: Take a look at your settings and see what can be tweaked to toughen your protection.  Lots of blogs now have settings to help prevent spam. If you already have a spam blocker on in your blog and are still
experiencing spam, take a closer look at the settings to see if there’s anything that can be tweaked to make your protection stronger. However, if you do this, you should closely monitor your posts to make sure legit comments aren’t being blocked out. If they are, you might have to lighten up a bit.

#4: Regularly read your blog comments Be sure to keep an eye on your comments. Even the best software
or setting can’t prevent everything, so you will have to occasionally manually remove comments on your own.

By applying the above principles, you can ensure that your blog is full of only good, quality comments, which will help your credibility tremendously.

Technorati Tags: blogging

How Frequently Should You Post to Your Blog?

Keeping people interested in your blog, whether it is a business or personal blog, is key to attracting a lot of regular visitors. Many blogs have died because people have just lost interest. The main reason for the lack of interest is simply a lack of posts by the blogger. Regular, frequent posting, which will boost your blog’s ranking in search engines, is essential to the survival of any blog.

You might be asking yourself, what is frequent posting? How many blog entries should I make on a given week? How do I make frequent consistently good posts? What are the reasons for me to post frequently? In this newsletter, we will go over all of the above.

What is frequent posting?

Frequent blog posting is posting enough to keep your readers interested. Obviously, people will not want to come back to a blog that hasn’t been updated in months. They want to see consistent posting so that they know coming back to check the blog next week to see if there are more posts won’t be a waste of time.

How many blog entries should I make each week?

This is one of the tougher questions to answer. It really depends on the purpose of your blog. If it’s a personal blog, a weekly or twice weekly update is an excellent idea. A political/sports/music/religion blog should have 3-4 posts per week. Some believe internet business blogs should have at least 2 posts, but preferably 4 each week. I feel the actual number is less important than a consistent regularity of posts.

For most brick and mortar businesses once or twice a week is more than enough. If you are building a web only business, more frequent postings are probably more important.

The thing to remember is that quality counts. Posting frequently just for the sake of posting frequently tends to result in subpar posts which people won’t care about. It is important to find a balance–frequent, quality posts that won’t result in burnout on your part. Why create 4 poor quality posts each week when you could post 2 quality posts per week?

How do I create quality postings on a consistent basis?

It’s all about following a consistent pattern of writing. Maybe you’re not a natural writer and this is difficult. That’s why we’ll give you an outline to help you.

1. Pick a topic that is interesting to you and to your readers. Maybe if your blog is a personal blog, you could write about the latest happenings in Hollywood.

2. Carefully think about what you’ll write about the topic. It makes it easy to make quality blog postings if you know exactly what you’ll write. Plot out everything about the post before even beginning to write it.

3. Before writing your content, pick out some keywords that are relevant to your blog. If you naturally use keywords throughout your post, you will please search engine spiders which will get your blog ranked higher on search engines. Your visitors won’t mind the use of keywords if they are used in a tasteful way.

4. Begin writing your post. Don’t limit yourself to a particular amount of words. Just do what’s natural. And if any blog post is hard for you, just take a timeout and relax. You should be able to finish the post a bit later on, after you’ve had some time to think things through, you should be able to finish the post with
no problems.

I like to write four or five posts at a time, if I can, on a related topic and have the task done for a while. It also has the advantage of allowing a more in depth discussion of a topic.

Why is frequent posting important?

Blogs are meant to be outlets for individuals or businesses. They are used to get an opinion out on something and to engage readers. Readers need to have something that makes them want to keep coming back to a blog. That something is usually quality, frequent posts.

Gaining and maintaining visitors isn’t the only reason to post often in your blog. Catching the eye of a search engine–and achieving a high ranking–is another valid reason for posting frequently. Most likely, each posting in your blog features some keywords or keyword phrases scattered throughout it. Logic says
that the more natural keywords you have on a blog, the better.

Thus, the more posts you make on your blog, the more keywords you have on there. And the more keywords you have, the more likely a search engine bot is to crawl your site. The more your site is crawled by bots, the more likely it is that you will have a high ranking on a search engine.

Technorati Tags: blogging

Blogging with Blogger

Over the past few years, blogs have become incredibly popular.
Just about everyone who uses the internet also has a blog. You

want to get in on the action, but you’re not sure how to get

your own blog.

Luckily for you, sites like Blogger.com have made it easy to

set-up and make posts on a blog. In this newsletter, we will go

over everything from signing up for a blog on Blogger.com to

choosing a template (look) to finally making a first post.

What is Blogger.com?
Simply put, Blogger.com is a site that hosts blogs for free.

This makes it even easier for you to have a blog because there

is no need to set up a web site and host the blog yourself. All

you have to do on Blogger.com, once you’ve signed up, is login

to your blog, write a blog post and click submit. It’s that

simple.

What will my web address be on Blogger.com?
Your web address will be http://yourname.blogspot.com. One thing

that people dislike about Blogger and other free blog sites is

that they don’t have as great of a freedom in choosing a name.

You are limited to choosing only what is available. So if you’re

looking for http://yankeesfan.blogspot.com, you probably won’t

be able to find that.

Signing up for a blog on Blogger
The first thing you’ll do is go to blogger.com. Next, you’ll

scroll down the page and click on the button labeled “Create

Your Blog Now”.

You will then be taken to a page where you will enter an email

address(used to log into your blog), a password, and a word

verification. You’ll also have to check “I Accept Terms of

Service”. Click continue.

Next, you will be taken to a page where you will choose the blog

title, blog address, and another word verification(which is done

to prevent auto-signups). When you type in your blog address,

you can click a link that says “check availability”. This will

tell you whether or not the desired name is available. If the

first name you wish to have is not available, keep typing in

different variations of the name until you find one that is

available.

After you have put in all the information, click “Continue”.

Choosing a Template
After you click “Continue”, you’ll be asked to choose a

template. The template can be changed at any time after you

sign-up for the blog, so you don’t have to choose an “official”

template now.

If you scroll down, you’ll see a variety of different templates.

Click on the one that you like best and then click “Continue”.

Your First Blog Post
After you’ve chosen a template, you’ll see that your blog has

been created and that there is a button to “Start Posting”.

Click that button.

You’ll be taken to a page that is similar to the posting page at

a message board. There is a “Title” field, where you can put in

the title of this particular blog posting. Then there is a

bigger field, which is the body of your post. Type all you want

in this “Body” field, as there is no limit.

Note that there are options above the field to bold, italicize,

underline or spell check the text. There is also the option of

changing the size and color of the text, plus the ability to add

bullet points, numbered lists and even pictures. For now, you’ll

just do a simple “Welcome” post.

In the “Title” field, type “Welcome!” In the “Body” field, type

your message. You could start with a simple introduction,

talking about yourself and the purpose of the blog. When you’re

done typing the message, click the “Publish” button. It is worth

noting that you can choose to save the post as a draft, if you

want to go back and later finish the post.

After you’ve clicked “Publish”, you’ll see that your blog has

been published successfully. Click the “View Blog” link to view

the results of your work. You’ll now see your post.

Logging into Blogger after the first post
You’ll go to Blogger.com and click on the “Old Blogger” link at

the top right of the page. Type in the email address and

password that you signed up with.  You’ll be taken to the

“Dashboard” of your blog. If you want to enter a new post on

your blog, click “New Post”. Then follow the instructions

mentioned in the previous section. Or if you want to edit the

template, add/edit elements to your page, you’ll click

“Settings” and then “Template”.

That’s all there is to it. Blogs, whether they are hosted at

blogger.com or another free blog site, are incredibly useful and

fun.

To your success,

Earl Netwal

Micro Business Specialist

P.S. Blogger makes setting up and running a blog very easy for

those who have never done it before. Frankly my first blog attempts

were on Blogger. However, I don’t recommend Blogger for those who

are trying to build a business online.

PPS. Blog sites like Active Rain which serves the Real Estate

industry and other industry centered Blog sites are great, easy ways

to begin blogging. They lack the individual control of your own blog,

and don’t build your Google Ranking as well. They can however be

an interesting industry exchange as long as you don’t get carried

away.  You need to focus more on your customers with your own blog.

PPS: A third option is to blog for bucks with a blog dedicated to

promoting products as a separate business activity. Many are making

significant incomes in this regard. One fellow from Singapore has put

together a program thats inexpensive to get started with if that’s

your interest. It’s called Atomic Blogging and you can find it at:

Atomic Blogging

Technorati Tags: Blogger, blogging

Should You Use Blogger of Word Press of their Compatriots?

So you’ve decided to blog, but aren’t sure whether you should host the blog yourself or sign up for a free service like blogger.com. It’s a dilemma that many bloggers face. There are pros and cons to both, which makes the decision difficult for many. Neither is perfect, and neither is for everyone.

Fortunately, you should be able to make the best decision for you if you are armed with adequate knowledge of both. In this newsletter, we’ll go over services like blogger.com and others, plus software that allows you to host your own blog. We’ll also go over the pros and cons of each. After reading this, you will know which is best for you.

Who offers free blog hosting?

Many sites offer free blog hosting. Among them are Forumer, Blogger, BlogEasy, Aeonity, BlogThing and Blogates. A quick search for “free blog” on Google reveals many possibilities.

What software can I use to host my own blog?

Like free blog hosting, there are many possibilities for software that makes hosting your own blog easy. Most of them are free to use. These include:

WordPress(the most popular software)
Apache Roller
Blosxom
Geeklog
Textpattern
LifeType

There is also blog software which you can purchase for use on your site. These include:

Community Server
Movable Type
Radio UserLand

One negative about using software and hosting your own blog is that the process can often times be complicated. You have to download the software and install it to your server, which doesn’t always go easily. It’s particularly hard for those who don’t have a lot of experience installing things on servers.

[I had difficulties until I got myself a web host that used C-panel and then learned how to use the C-panel to control my own site. Prior to that I had to pay a guy who would eventually get around to doing things on his time line. Having control is much better and not that hard, once I was properly set up and familiar with how to use the C-panel.]

Why should I remotely host my blog at a place like Blogger?

Places like Blogger allow you to host your blog there. It’s a good option for many people.

The Pros

-It’s easy to set up and maintain a blog. You don’t have to go through the trouble of installing software and configuring it to work on your server. All you have to do is sign up for an account and start posting.

-It’s friendly for beginning bloggers. Sites that host blogs offer good tutorials on how to make your blog postings, so that even someone who is completely new to the concept of blogging can do it easily.

-Most blog hosting sites are completely free to use. There is no need to pay for things like a domain name and hosting.

-Monetizing your blog is easy. Rather than having to manually put HTML/Javascript codes on your blog to manually set up things like AdSense and Pay Per Click advertising, you can select an option on most blog hosting sites that does much of the work for you.

The Cons

-You don’t have as many options to customize your blog. Remotely hosted blogs are admittedly somewhat limited in terms of what you can actually do on them. You have to stick with what is provided to you in terms of look and features.

-The URL you get is always yourname.BLOGSITE.com. You don’t get to have a custom domain name like YOURNAME.com. This can possibly hurt traffic to your blog.

-Blogs hosted on free blog sites don’t look as professional as self hosted blogs.

Why should I self-host my blog?

The Pros

-You have more options and more flexibility. You are able to tweak the blog to your liking.

-Your URL is your address for your blog. Rather than having go to where your blog is hosted to read it, they can read it right from your site.

-The ability to make your blog look professional. Blogs that are hosted on sites of their own tend to look a lot better than those hosted on free sites.

-More space for your blog. Free blog sites usually place a restriction on how much space you have for things like photos and music. By hosting your own blog, you are able to use as much space as you need.

The Cons

-There are sometimes problems with setting up blog software to run on your site and server. If you aren’t experienced when it comes to working with mySQL, the process will be hard. [easier with C-Panel]

-Updates aren’t as easy to post.

-You have to manually set up programs to monetize your blog. However, if you are good with HTML/Javascript, this shouldn’t be
too hard.

-You have to pay for your own hosting and domain

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both. Which should you choose? Well, it depends on who you are and what you intend to use your blog for. If you intend to use it for business, then a self-hosted blog is the best idea. If it’s a personal blog, then a free hosted blog will probably be fine for you.

To your success,

Earl Netwal
Micro Business Specialist

P.S. Closely examine all of the pros and cons mentioned above. That way, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you! Keep in mind that there are ebooks and video programs available to help you quickly master the technical skills required.

P.P.S. Do you Have C-panel? If so, I recommend a course by Bob the Teacher which helped me learn how to use it quickly and painlessly. This basic information is essential to your internet independence and ultimately your success.

Discover C-Panel

Blogging Gets Search Engines to Notice Your Web Page

When you setup a business website and are looking to get it listed
quickly on search engines, there really is no easier and quicker way
than to also put a blog on the site.

It is a known fact that search engine spiders from sites like Google
and Altavista list new blogs much faster than they list new sites.
However, it’s not as simple as just creating a blog and letting it
sit there. You have to also use tactics like pinging, linking and
the use of keywords. We’ll go over each so that you are able to
effectively use your blog for a quick site listing. We’ll also
briefly go over how to host your own blog on your site.

So how do I host my own blog, anyway?

The easiest way to do this is to install and run a blogging
software from another company on your web site’s server. One
such software that is popular is WordPress. It’s fairly easy to
install and works pretty good on your site. It’s particularly easy if your
webhost offers a C-Panel interface.

Other blogging software options include:

Apache Roller
Blosxom
Geeklog
Textpattern
LifeType

Whatever one you choose, be sure to follow the instructions
provided by the company so that the installation goes smoothly.


Where should I put my blog on my site?

Most people who host their blog to help their site get listed
quickly don’t put the blog on the main page of the site, because
the site isn’t all about the blog. Instead they put it in its
own folder at mysite.com/blog/. But you can really put your blog
anywhere on your site, so it’s your call.
What is pinging?

It’s a question that many ask, so don’t feel silly if you don’t
know what pinging is. Pinging is essentially a tracking program
installed on your blog that will notify the site which it is
from whenever your blog is updated. Search engine spiders
usually visit newly pinged sites most often, which is why
pinging is such a crucial part of the equation to get your site
listed quickly. Sites that are newly “pinged” will be visited by
search engine spiders. A visit from the spider equals a listing
on the search engine.
How do I get pinging on my blog?

You’ll have to register with a site that offers weblog pinging.
The most popular pinging program around is weblogs.com. Other
programs offered include Yahoo’s Blo.gs, BlogRolling, and
Technorati. Once you’ve decided on a pinging service, you’ll
have to follow the instructions to install it on your blog. When
you’ve done that, your blog will start getting pinged and
visited by search engine spiders. We will touch on these again in a
future lesson.
What is linking?

Linking is basically having another blog or site link to your
blog. When search engine spiders visit that site and see a link
to your site, they’ll visit your site. Linking is effective both
for sites with blogs and those without it.
How do I get linking?

You get it by visiting sites/blogs that are relevant to what
your site is about. Then you contact the owners of those
sites/blogs, asking them to post a link to your site on their
site. In return, you will probably have to link to their site on
your site. That way, both of you are able to benefit from the
linking.
Why is the use of keywords important to my blog?

Keywords are search terms people might type into Google to find you.
A person in the home staging industry would probably use the keywords
Home Staging and their city as key words. A Optician might use
eyeglasses, or contact lens in theirs. Keywords are usually pretty
straightforward.

Spiders love to visit sites with a good amount of keywords.
People who read your site won’t mind the use of keywords if they
are lightly spread throughout the content of your pages. The key
to this is to make a list of keywords relevant to your blog
posting and then to try to use those keywords throughout your
content. It is important to make sure, however, not to overuse
keywords. Spiders have been trained to ignore sites with
excessive amounts of keywords, so if you use a whole lot of
keywords in the hopes of getting spiders to visit your site,
it’s not going to do you any good. Generally speaking, using
between 2-6 keywords per 200 word piece of content is a good
ratio. It’s pleasing to both readers and search engine spiders.

That’s really all there is to it. Apply the above techniques to
your blog and you will net your site a quick search engine
listing.

To your success,

Earl Netwal
Micro Business Specialist

P.S. There is no quicker way to get your site listed than to use
a blog.

P.P.S. For business purposes, I recommend using WordPress rather
than a free blog site. WordPress is free but you do have to pay for
web hosting. I use host gator as my web host because I am able to
host multiple websites and it uses the C-Panel interface thus it doesn’t cost anything
extra to use the better tool.

I recommend a free report if you don’t know everything you should
about web hosting. Get it Here:

Technorati Tags: blogging, C Panel, SEO

Do You Have a C Panel?

Many but not all web hosting services utilize C-Panel for their user interface.

You can find out if your hosting service does by typing in your URL in your browser and adding /cpanel to the end. Example: http://www.yoururl.com/cpanel

If your web hosting service uses cpanel, it will pop up. That’s good. It means you have control of your web site. With a little knowledge can take charge of it. But you need to know how.

Discovering how to control my C-panel was the most significant bit of learning I’ve done to date on the internet.

Controlling your own internet presence is critical. Even if you decide to let someone else have the keys to your internet presence, it’s wise to understand what’s involved. (Particularly, how easy it is.)

I took a video course from Bob the Teacher called Discover C Panel. In a series of short videos I learned in just over an hour how to take control of my internet destiny.

I highly recommend this program. DiscoverCPanel.com – Step-By-Step Video Tutorials

Having a Cpanel interface makes it easy to set up a WordPress Blog, to upload files to your web site without needed an FTP Program and much more.

Technorati Tags: C Panel, Home Staging, Home staging survey