Tuesday, March 25, 2008

7 Search Engine Tips for Non Webmasters

This is a really helpful article I found by Jinger Jarrett (her bio is at the end) Learn and enjoy!

With all of the changes to the search engines these days, you can drive yourself crazy trying to get your site submitted. Unless you are willing to commit yourself to doing it full time, or you are a search engine expert, you won't rank at the top of the engines. However, this doesn't mean that you should neglect this important means of getting traffic to your site.

Unlike most of the methods for promoting your business, which came from the offline world, this method is different. It's unique, and it is changing and growing at a rapid pace. By at least informing yourself of the basics, you can make this a more effective method for driving traffic to your site.

Below are seven tips you can implement to get started:

1. Understand the Relationships of the Various Search Engines. Before you can know where to submit, you need to understand how all of the various search engines are related so that you don't duplicate your work, or worse, get banned from submission.
Now, mind you, I am no search engine expert. However, I have been watching closely what is happening, and here is what I have seen so far:

Recently, Yahoo, a directory, acquired All the Web, Altavista, Inktomi and Overture. Yahoo is no longer going to be using search results from Google as its backend.
Although it remains to be seen what role All The Web and Altavista will play, Inktomi will only provide limited offerings in Yahoo because Yahoo announced that Inktomi's paid inclusions would not be included in its results.

Overture, the number one pay per click search engine, provides paid results to 80 per cent of the major search engines and will continue to do so. It will also be providing backend results to Yahoo. Overture provides results to major sites like HotBot and MSN.

Yahoo is adding its own search engine and will continue to offer its paid directory at $299 a year.

Currently, MSN and Yahoo, the number two and number one sites respectively on Alexa, are battling for supremacy. Bill Gates is also working on a new model for his search engine, but it remains to be seen what that will be.

Eventhough Google will no longer be providing backend results to Yahoo, Google is still a major player. It is also the number one search engine in the world. Google gets some of its results from the Open Directory Project, a volunteer effort to create a directory of the best sites on the Internet.

Looksmart is still out there, but it appears to have changed its model to a pay per click. You can get started for free, but you'll have to pay for each click. (NOTE: I found this site hard to navigate to answer the most simple questions. Maybe that's why it's the least relevant of the options available.)

Finally, you have Alexa, which is in a class all its own. You definitely want to get your site submitted here because it's a great way to find out who is linking to you, where you rank, and other statistics about your site. Back end results for Alexa are provided by Google.

The easiest way to track your site using Alexa, is to download a copy of the toolbar. You can get it here: http://www.smallbusinesshowto.com/htmlfiles/alexa.html

2. Prepare Your Site for Submission. Now that you know where to submit your site, you want to prepare your site so that it gets accepted.

The best tool to help you is Good Keywords: http://www.goodkeywords.com This free utility will let you search for the best keywords to use on your site.

Key words, however, are only part of the equation. You will also want to create a good title and description. Take your time when you create these. You want each to be key word rich, and the right length.

Once you've written your title, keywords, and description, then all you need to do is to create the metatags for your web site. You'll find all the tools you need at Evrsoft - http://www.evrsoft.com/, including a link popularity checker, submission to over 100 search engines, search engine analyzer, and a metatag generator.
Once you have used the metatag generator to create your metatags, then all you have to do is paste it into the header of your web page.

You will want to check your metatags first to make sure they aren't too long and are search engine friendly. You'll find a metatag analyzer here: http://www.scrubtheweb.com/abs/meta-check.html

This one is stricter than the one I use, but it works very well.
Let me emphasize here that this step is absolutely crucial to getting your site accepted. You would be amazed at how many professionally done web sites skip this step.

3. Submit Your Site. Now that you have your site ready, you want to start submitting. You will use your title, keywords, and description again here.
Here is your submission list:

Alexa - http://pages.alexa.com/help/webmasters/index.html#crawl_site
Google - http://www.google.com/addurl.html Open Directory
Project - http://dmoz.org/add.html
Fast Submit - http://www.evrsoft.com/fastsubmit/ - Submission to 100 of the top search engines. (Caution here: some of these sites may ignore or ban you if you are a business site).

Google Ad Words - http://services.google.com/marketing/links/ads_us/adwords/ - Pay
Per Click Inktomi - http://www.inktomi.com - Yearly Fee Per Url
LookSmart - http://www.looksmart.com -
Pay Per Click Overture - http://www.overture.com - Pay Per Click

4. Check to make sure you are listed. After about a month, you want to go back and make sure that your site is listed in the appropriate search engine. The way to do this is to go to the search engine and type in your domain name. You don't have to include the http://www to do this.
If you are not listed, then go to the next step.

5. Resubmit if Necessary. If your site is not in the search engine you have selected to search, then resubmit your information for inclusion. It's important to remember that unless you are using paid inclusions, it is up to the discretion of the search engine whether or not your site is listed.

Your chances of success will increase if you include some quality content on your site that is dense in your key words. You also want to have as many quality links as possible. You can build your links by contacting other webmasters who have sites that complement yours.

6. Reevaluate. If your search engine strategy isn't working, it's time for a change. However, you need to consider that submitting to the search engines is a very long term strategy, and it isn't something that will occur over night. Only if you are using pay per clicks can you see an increase in traffic almost immediately.
For your free inclusions, you just want to make sure that you are included. Quality content and quality links can help here in raising your rankings.

For paid inclusions, you want to make sure that you are getting the click thrus you need. Unlike free inclusions, you should see results immediately. If you aren't getting enough traffic, consider changing your key words. Good Keywords will help you here.

7. Stay Informed.
If you want to continue to use this strategy in your business, then you need to stay abreast of industry happenings because things change so quickly.
The best place to get information on this constantly changing industry is here:
They offer three different newsletters to cover the industry. At a minimum you should be reading the daily newsletter.

Although it is only one of the many strategies I use to promote my business, it can be very effective when done correctly. Take your time, be patient, and learn what you need to do before you use this strategy. It will become an effective tool in your marketing arsenal.

Jinger Jarrett is a former newspaper reporter and military journalist who currently spends her time writing, marketing, and consulting. You can get her free ebook/ecourse, "How to REALLY Start Your Business in 30 Days" free here: http://www.smallbusinesshowto.com


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March Cookbook Site Newsletter

I just published my second newsletter for my cookbook site: http://abridescookbook.com This one has a Spring/Easter theme.

To see it, click on link below and then on Easter, A Time for Celebration

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Monday, March 10, 2008

7 Reasons Why Customers Don't Buy

You've got a great product (or service). You've sent out fliers and brochures, networked with your local Chamber of Commerce and secured a great spot in the new Yellow Pages. No one's buying. What's wrong? There are many reasons why customers may not be flocking to your store (or web site). Here are seven fundamental ones to consider.

1. Inconvenience

In today's age of fast food and high-speed internet connections, people want instant gratification. If your sales process is not hassle-free, many customers will go elsewhere.

a) Do you offer multiple payment options?
b) If you have a website, is it easy to navigate? Do the pages load quickly? Studies indicate web visitors will move on if they don't find what they are looking for in the first 20 seconds. Similarly, is your physical storefront easy to find?
c) Do you provide adequate customer service? Can your customers reach a sales representative when they need one? Do you provide enough product information for your customers to make intelligent decisions?
d) Are your hours convenient for your customer?

2. Customer Doesn't Need or Want What You're Selling

Your customer may feel like he or she doesn't need or want your product. Your job as a salesperson is to convince them otherwise. Rather than focusing on a product's features, show your customer the benefits - your product will save them time, will save them money, will make their home more comfortable, etc. Paint them a picture with words like "imagine" and "wouldn't it be nice if..." Encourage them to visualize the benefits: "How do you feel this product would help you?"

3. Customer Doesn't Understand What You're Selling

If your product or service is relatively new, you may have to sell the concept before you can sell the item. Take virtual assistant services, for example. Two years ago, no one had ever heard of a virtual assistant, much less knew what one did. Through a number of trade organizations, though, the word has gotten out and the public has been educated. Now, virtual assistance is the 7th fastest growing industry in America, according to a Mitsubishi Research Institute study (Sep, 2000). People once had no idea that they could find remote, independent contractors to assist them with their businesses; now that they are aware of the benefits; they are actively searching for virtual assistants.

4. Customer Doesn't Trust You

A good customer relationship can, in many cases, overcome some of these other selling obstacles. Do your customers trust you? Do they feel they know you well enough to do business with you? Consider these questions:
a) Do you follow through on promises (e.g., delivery dates, technical support, warranties and returns)?
b) Are you viewed as an expert in your field? If not, try writing articles for publication, or presenting workshops. Join online discussion groups and offer advice in your area of expertise.
c) If you have a web presence, does your site list a physical address, or a P.O. box? (Physical addresses generate more trust.)
d) Are you active (and therefore visible) in the community?
e) Are online purchases conducted over a secure server? Is this evident to the customer?
f) Does your website have an adequate privacy policy?
g) Do you have a money-back guarantee?

5. Perceived Poor Quality

When it comes to selling (as with most of life), perception is reality. If a customer believes your product is inferior, it might as well be. Turn that perception around! Demonstrate your product so your customer can see it with his own eyes. Provide samples that they can touch, hear, see.

6. Perceived Poor Value

Are your competitors "giving it away?" If so, stress to your customers why they should pay for your product. What are you offering that your competitor isn't? Customer service? Warranties? Quality? Technical support?

7. Failing to Ask For the Sale

Don't assume that just because you've covered 1-6, that the sale is yours. Remember to ask for it! Do your marketing materials contain a clear call to action? Example: "Call now to reserve yours!" or "Order today!"

No, following all of these suggestions won't close every sale, but knowing why some sales fall through may help you get a jump on the competition. Good luck!

This article was written by Kelly Cullison from Birmingham, AL. She is a virtual assistant and founder of Atlas Virtual Services. Atlas provides a wide range of administrative support for small businesses so entrepreneurs can focus on the core functions of running their businesses. Visit Atlas at http://www.atlasvs.com/ or email Kelly@atlasvs.com

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

20 Simple Things To Do Today To Dramatically Increase Your Website Sales Part 2

This is the second half of Willie Crawford's article:

11. Consider offering the option to phone-in orders. If your volume and profit margin justifies it, maybe you want to use a full-time employee or answering service to take orders over the phone. Many customers are uneasy about entering their credit card information into a webpage but don't hesitate to give it over the phone. Hearing a voice on the phone is reassuring. If your merchant account agreement allows this and you're equipped to key in orders don't discount this option too quickly.

12. Consider offering the option to fax in orders. If you don't want to have a full-time order taker sitting around, this may be a good option. This also gives you a hard copy of the order, along with a signature, which some credit card processors require.

13. Consider offering the option to mail in orders. This is another option you should not overlook. Some customers will not have credit cards but may want to order using a money order or check. I get a steady flow of mail orders, and the joy of opening letters containing orders never seems to go away.

14. Re-examine your price. Sales often increase dramatically when you make minor price changes. Perhaps raising your price will imply a higher quality to your prospects and therefore increase sales. Maybe lowering yourprice slightly will increase sales revenue by more than the decrease in per-unit profit. This is a point that it generally makes business sense to test.

15. Stop offering so many freebies! Ask yourself if you want customers with money to spend or those who aren't willing to pay for quality products and services. If you want to attract primarily "freebie seekers" then you need to have a system for eventually converting them into some type of revenue stream. You must pre-qualify your prospect even when giving them something for nothing to confirm you are reaching the ideal customer.

16. Make sure your promotions are really targeted. Begin by writing our a description of your ideal target customers. This ties in with number 15 somewhat. You may even go as far as stating in your ad the type of prospect you don't want. Many marketers of high-end items do this. It saves a lot of resources and allows them to focus on prospects who want what they offer, can afford what they offer, and are willing to purchase what they offer. Factor this philosophy into your marketing plan.

17. Have a trusted advisor review your web copy and/or ad copy for credibility/believability. This advisor should be familiar with copy writing and with your industry. You should seek honest unbiased feedback. We often overlook obvious flaws. It's a common practice to ask for site reviews on discussion forums. The drawback to that is that you may get opinions from those who aren't qualified to offer good advice.

18. Make sure you have a call to action. Your website or sales letter should stir your prospect into a buying frenzy. It should also tell them exactly how to order. It should tell them to click the link or pick up the phone or print out and mail in the order form. Many people must be given specific instructions before they take action. Tell them to do it now.

19. Review your guarantee. You should only market products that are of sufficient quality that your buyers are unlikely to be dissatisfied. Therefore you should offer a very strong guarantee. Guarantees which have a lot of conditions or reservations only build doubt in the prospect mind. "No questions asked, 100% money-back guarantees" generate substantially more sales and do not increase returns. Longer guarantees also tend to reduce returns since the customer does not feel an urgency to decide if he's satisfiedwith the product.

20. Make sure your ezine and website tie together and work synergistically. An ezine that reminds prospect to revisit your website and tell them about new products or features tend to increase sales. Websites that encourage ezine subscriptions give you a tool for staying in touch with visitors who would otherwise never return to your site.

Willie Crawford Not Only *Shows* You How To Make Your LivingOnline, He'll Also *PAY* for the Resources Needed to Do it!Click Here for the "All-In-One Internet Marketing Solution":http://williecrawford.com/cgi-bin/tk.cgi?all-in-one

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

20 Simple Things To Do Today To Dramatically Increase Your Website Sales

Today I'm sharing with you half of an article by Willie Crawford http://williecrawford.com/cgi-bin/tk.cgi?all-in-one It's a little long, so I'll post the first 10 today and the rest tomorrow:

Need to increase your website sales? There are major things you can do which often produce incredible results. Things like having your entire website professionally rewritten. However, there are many little things you can do which also generate increases in sales. Through a process of continuous testing and making continuous improvements you CAN increase sales! Combined, the results from making simple improvements can be more impressive than from making the major changes.

Today I'd like to offer (in no special order) 20 simple things you can do to improve your website sales .

1. Review your product lineup. Ask yourself what is selling and what isn't and honestly examine why. If a product simply isn't needed don't waste your time promoting it. If a product is producing very little revenue for you, find another product to promote. Devote your time and effort to products that are producing for you. Don't be too stubborn to admit that perhaps you chose the wrong product to promote in the firstplace.

2. Revamp your ezine's welcome message to reinforce the decision to subscribe and perhaps introduce one of your products. Don't turn the welcome message into a sales letter, but do start familiarizing your subscribers with your product lineup. To reinforce the decision to subscribe, perhaps give the new subscriber an unannounced gift (make sure it is ofreal value).

I also include a sample copy of my ezine with the welcome message. This really serves to confirm what the subscriber will be getting each issue and if it's not what he expected, he should unsubscribe. You do want targeted subscribers and you don't want list members who don't want to receive your material.

3. Review your ezine's unsubscribe message. Since you WILL get unsubscribes, make the confirmation message a positive experience. Perhaps provide another bonus, some useful tips, or tell them about a special you are running. This may be your last contact with this subscriber so use it wisely (without annoying the person).

4. Follow up purchases with an unexpected gift. Your customers are so use to having lots of sometimes useless bonuses promised to them that it is a pleasant surprise when they get an unexpected bonus that is really useful to them. Several well-know mentors of mine use this "under-promise and over-deliver" model. It dramatically reduces "buyer remorse" and reinforces the decision to buy your product. Using this technique you are well on your way to building lots of repeat sales. Satisfied repeat customers often make many large purchases :-)

5. Review your order handling process - from the web copy through to the delivery of the product. Place an order and have others place orders to evaluate the experience. Look for points in the sequence where a prospect might be turned off. Is there something about any page in the sequence that might generate doubt or negative feelings in the prospects mind? A significant number of customers abandon orders at the order form or during the checkout process.

Examine yours closely to reduce this happening on your website. Make sure your order process steps the customer through step-by-step while providing continuous reassurance.

6. Join image-enhancing organizations such as the BetterBusiness Bureau or the International Council Of Online Professionals. To be accepted as a member of either organization requires that you ascribe to certain professional and ethical standards. You must also maintain a very high level of professional business standards to remain a member of either organization. Your potential customers will be reassured when they see that you conduct your business at this level of professionalism. Membership in such organizations pay for themselves many times over.

7. Look for broken links on your site. Having webpages load with broken images or having a visitor get a lot of file not found messages can create a negative impression. Your weblogs should reveal "file not found" hits. Fix these to improve sales. Also, periodically surf your site to confirm everything on your page functions as you intended. This is a good chore to get one of the kids to do :-) There are also software programs and services which check for broken links. Use these!

8. Focus on fewer products. If you try to promote too many products and "spread yourself too thin" you will generally do a poor job. Instead really get to know all of the features of your products and also get to know all of the promotional tools available for that product. If you are marketing affiliate products, there should be lots of tools for you to use in your promotions. Test a variety of these tools and stick with the winners. It's much easier to rave about and market a product that you know inside-out.

9. Include inserts with physically delivered products. If you have any products which are actually mailed to your customers such as hard copy books, cassettes, etc. make sure that you include a brochure or flyers for other products in the package. These customers are your best prospects for repeat sales. When they open a package they've been waiting for, and are thrilled with the product, they are instantly in a receptive buying mood. As an example, I sell cookbooks from one of my websites. I offer both ebooks and hard copy. With each hard copy shipped I include a flyer encouraging purchasers to consider giving copies of this book as a gift.I also encourage purchasers of the books to order copies of video cassettes demonstrating many of the dishes. It works like magic.

10. When you get new subscribers or customers make sure your "thank you page" offers them a path to continue experiencing your site. Perhaps you offer them some other special report, tell them about a product you really love, offer to up-sell them, or offer free access to a customer-only section of your website. Suggest where the customer should go next -instead of just leaving them "hanging."