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Who is Time’s Person of the Year?

December 17, 2006

YOU are Time’s person of the year. I just read the news on Problogger. Pretty crazy!

I highly recommend you check out Darren’s follow up article on getting noticed. It’s an excellent read.

Anyway, congratulations on being Time’s person of the year. Maybe next year, YOU will win a nobel prize…

Treat Your Customers Like Royalty

December 14, 2006

Jill and I just got back from a short trip to San Antonio. We stayed at the Omni on the Riverwalk (aka. Omni La Mansión del Rio). It was a very nice hotel, the people there were very nice and it was a nice room. Overall, I would recommend it.

I have stayed at a wide variety of hotels over the years, however there is one hotel I will always remember.

A few years back, I went back to my home town of West Palm Beach, Florida for my friend’s wedding. Since our youngest was three months old, and since it had been a while since I had been in West Palm Beach, Jill and I decided to book a room at a really nice hotel. It turned out to be the BEST hotel either one of us has ever been to…

It was the “Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach”. Wow, was it nice. I don’t recall the rooms being much better than the rooms at the Omni. Well, I take that back, we had an Ocean view and that was really nice.

The real thing that set the Ritz Carlton apart from any other hotel we ever visited was the Customer Service.

The employees at the Ritz Carlton treat you like royalty!

Everyone on the staff called us by name. I am not sure how they knew our name all the time, but they must be trained in some sort of Ninja name memorization technique.

One of Jill’s favorite things about the customer service at the Ritz Carlton was the number of times she heard the words, “It would be my pleasure Mrs. Manty.”

In fact, when we got back to Houston Jill wanted to teach the kids to say, “It would be my pleasure Mom” everytime she asked them to do something. Needless to say we haven’t trained them to do that (yet).

I will never forget the Ritz Carlton, and we will definitely go back there sometime. I think my wife said it best, “Everyone should get a chance to stay in the Ritz Carlton and be treated like Royalty.”

If you treat your customers like Royalty, they will remember you for a very, very, very long time.

Some Marketing Tidbits

December 12, 2006

I am going to be out of a town a few days. I thought I would leave you with some good reading from around the net:

Do You Have the Time to be an Internet Marketer or AdSense Publisher

Its not that hard to make $100 US Dollars a month part time

Marketing Your Business on Craigslist

And just for fun, these two blog posts:

Google Copies Yahoo

Yahoo Copies Google

The Advantage Of Owning A Product Review Blog

December 11, 2006

My wife Jill recently wrote a post on her new product review blog about a natural dishwasher detergent that we are trying out. She then sent the review to the manufacturer and they were so pleased that we liked their product that they are sending us coupons for our next purchase. This is one of the great advantages of owning a product review blog. Eventually, people start sending you FREE products to review.

My friends (and co-workers) at sfsignal get tons of sci-fi books sent to them to review. They get so many books, that they can’t possibly read them all.

It’s one of the nice perks of owning a product review blog and something to keep in mind, next time you start up a new blog.

PS. There are other perks to owning a product review blog, like having lots of product owners ask to use your review on their website and/or link to your review of their product.

Spamathon Last Night

December 8, 2006

Oh my goodness! Last night, we had a ton of SPAM on our blogs. A lot of it got through the Akisment spam blocker.

That wasn’t so good. I wonder if Akismet was down or something.

It’s times like this that I think about turning off comments altogether…

Is Keyword Research The Key To Search Engine Traffic?

December 7, 2006

The other day in my Interview with Austin C. Davis of Trust My Mechanic I found several things very interesting. The first thing was his answer to this question:


Q. From the polls I have run on this blog, one of the top questions people have about Internet Marketing is “How do I get more traffic to my website?” Can you give us a brief description of one of your favorite methods to generate traffic to your site?

A. Hands down, KEYWORD RESEARCH! Most site owners make sites and post to their blogs about topics that they as the site owner THINK are of interest to the reader. I do things backwards. I do my keyword research FIRST, find the most traffic for the search term, then I will Google the actual keyword phrase to check out my competition…

After giving it a little thought, I decided that I agree with Austin.

Keyword research is the most important thing I do to get search engine traffic to my sites.

Getting links to your site is extremely important, but without keyword research links don’t help nearly as much. If you just focus on getting links without keyword research you are losing out on tons of Search Engine traffic.

By doing good keyword research you make it a lot easier to get traffic from the Search Engines. In fact, even if you use outdated keyword research techniques you will get WAY more Search Engine traffic than those who aren’t doing keyword research.

There are many methods of researching keywords to increase your search engine traffic. I suggest taking a good look at Austin’s advice (see Interview with an Internet Marketing Expert), and I also suggest reading the following posts for more keyword research information:

Intro to Chossing Keywords

Methods of Choosing Keywords

Choosing Keywords and KEI

More Thoughts on Keyword Research

Final
Thoughts on Keyword Research

How do I Research Keywords?

Keyword Research for Blogs vs. Websites

How do the experts research keywords?

Have you created a custom Search Engine yet?

December 6, 2006

I saw a lot of people do it a few weeks ago…

If you haven’t heard, Google announced this new way to create a custom search engine using the Google search engine. You can create one yourself by signing up for Google Co-op here.

I created a custom search engine for our homeschooling site and called it “The Homeschooling Search Engine”. When you use our Search Engine you are only searching from homeschooling sites that I or someone else has added to the Search Engine.

What is really cool is the whole social aspect. Anyone can sign up to be an editor for the search engine and add their favorite homeschooling sites.

You can even make money with it, by associating your Goolge Adsense account with the Search Engine.

Anyway, you can check out our Homeschooling Search Engine by clicking here. It’s a pretty cool technology that I have been meaning to play around with. I am glad I did!

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Why You Need to KISS Your Navigation

December 6, 2006

This past weekend, I fixed the navigation for our homeschooling wiki. You can check out the new navigation by clicking here.

I modeled the original design after wikipedia. It had featured articles, featured categories, etc. I think that the original design was too cluttered and from what I discovered non-techies found it hard to navigate.

In the redesign of the home page, I decided to follow the axiom: Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS). Instead of having featured articles and featured categories I made one big table with a list of the most popular categories, subcategories and articles. I find this layout much easier to navigate.

I also moved most of the introduction text to a separate page. Right at the top of the page, I direct new users to this new Introduction page.

I feel like the new home page is WAY easier to navigate and much more user friendly. I think that often times technical types (like myself) forget that most of the people who use the web are not necessarily as web savvy as we are. It needs to be simple for people to a navigate your site. That’s actually a lesson I learned way back, but I was reminded of this by my wife Jill, a visitor to our site and from interviewing Austin of Trust My Mechanic. It didn’t sink in that our wiki was in violation of this rule, until others pointed it out. Easy navigation is very important.

I suggest taking a look at your sites and/or blogs and asking the question,

“How can I make it easier for my visitors to use this site?”

We should all probably ask that question on a regular basis….

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My Interview With An Internet Marketing Expert

December 5, 2006

About 6 weeks ago my wife Jill and I went to a couples night out dinner for a local Homeschooling group. At the dinner I met a homeschooling Dad who earns his living entirely online (something most of us would like to do). His name is Austin C. Davis and he runs over 100 websites. His two most popular sites are auro related sites that bring in consisent traffic for keywords like, Car insurance Atlanta, Car Insurance Dallas and the like.

The following is an interview I did with Austin, that I am sure you will enjoy…

Q. Austin, how did you get started in Internet Marketing?

A. I wanted to work from home by myself, make my own hours, not have to actually sell anything, like on Ebay, home school my kids and travel with my family. That pretty much narrowed things down to online stock trading…which I did for a while and lost money, and building a website and promoting products and services that someone else would mail out and take all the responsibility for.

I quit my day job, which is funny because I was the owner of a family auto repair shop in Houston TX that my grandfather started in 1937. I left the company and my father came out of retirement to take over. I knew nothing about the Internet and how to build a website or what and how to sell online, but I was determined and that is all that mattered.

I sat down at my computer and started to learn HTML, SEO stuff, link building skills, how to get listed in top positions in the search engines, how to become an affiliate for other web marketers etc. etc. etc. It took me about a year to really get everything under my belt…but I did EVERYTHING myself which I do NOT recommend. There are tons of places online now that can show you how to build a site, find products and start promoting them very quickly.

I had no idea what an affiliate marketer was so I had to start from scratch, and I was afraid to spend money on education, so it took me a longer time than it should have to get up and running and making a profit.

Q. If you don’t mind sharing, could you let us know what are the favorite sites you work on and why?

A. Sure, I have a direct relationship with an auto insurance company and they are my top revenue producer for me. Google adsense is my second largest revenue producer, then Alldata which is an online auto repair manual program that pays me per new subscriber. Clearly Adsense is the easiest and fastest to implement, but the days of large per click pay outs might be gone.

A year ago there where many, many marketers that were making $10,000 + a month easily with Adsense. I personally know of a handful of marketers that were making well over $50,000 a month JUST in Adsense.

If you can get a direct relationship with an advertiser, you will probably get more money and have more access to statistics and banners etc. than if you used a third party provider like http://www.cj.com which I still use, but look for a direct advertiser first. If you have a quality site, generate a fair amount of traffic and can prove to be worth the extra effort for the advertiser…you should not have a problem asking the advertiser directly.

Q. From the polls I have run on this blog, one of the top questions people have about Internet Marketing is “How do I get more traffic to my website?” Can you give us a brief description of one of your favorite methods to generate traffic to your site?

A. Hands down, KEYWORD RESEARCH! Most site owners make sites and post to their blogs about topics that they as the site owner THINK are of interest to the reader. I do things backwards. I do my keyword research FIRST, find the most traffic for the search term, then I will Google the actual keyword phrase to check out my competition.

I want to get on the top 10 on the first page…or I won’t waste my time making the webpage. So, an example would be the phrase “New Jersey Auto Insurance” and according to http://www.goodkeywords.com using the Overture search engine I see the search volume for that phrase just last month and just on the Overture search engine had about 1059 searches. Now that is JUST Overture, so I take that number and multiple by 5 to include the other top search engines Like Google, Yahoo and MSN ( I count Google twice because of its large search size). So in this example I can estimate about 5500 monthly searches or about 180 daily searches for the phrase “New Jersey Auto Insurance” .

Now I will take the phrase “New Jersey Auto Insurance” and do a Google search to look at my competition. I am looking to see how many sites are Top Level sites, meaning the main page of the site is what Google returned. i.e. http://www.trustmymechanic.com is the top level and www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html is a secondary page within the site.

If the top 10 competitors are all top level sites…my chances of beating them from my secondary page is going to be very tough, and I would look for other keyword phrases to compete against.

Now, if you did the Google search for New Jersey Auto Insurance, you probably found my page http://www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html and if you noticed the title of the page, not the title of the article on the page….the actual title of the page you can see what other keywords I am targeting and how I used them in my title so it still reads well, but will pick up on all the varieties of the phrase I wanted to target. Which are

· NJ car insurance

· NJ auto insurance

· New Jersey Car Insurance

· Car insurance NJ

· Auto insurance NJ

If you add up all the potential free search traffic from those keyword phrases it is well over 10,000 monthly potential visitors from those searches. My page http://www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html gets returned on Google using many of those phrases because I themed the page correctly for each phrase AND I have links from other websites linking to that page using those phrases in the anchor text. The anchor text is what the visitor clicks on, like “Click Here” except I get my link partners to link to that page with “NJ Car insurance” which in turn gives me link popularity credit on the search engines. The more links I can get pointing to that page…the higher the search results I will go.

So the moral to the story is that ONE page on my site http://www.trustmymechanic.com/newjersey_auto_insurance.html is now getting listed in the top 10 results on the first page in the major search engines AND is making money. Incidentally I made that page about 2 years ago doing my keyword research I found that most major auto insurance companies DID NOT write policies in NJ. There is some whacky law that the big insurance companies don’t like, so they just don’t write auto insurance policies in NJ. I got on the phone, and spent days on the internet tying to find an advertiser that WOULD accept NJ traffic and built a relationship with them.

Keyword research is tricky and time consuming, but if you do it right….you will be rewarded handsomely. Don’t forget misspellings in your keyword research….I would bet more than 30% of the search volume contains a misspelling. I purposely add the misspelling and the proper spelling within the articles like this popular page on my site http://myhonestmechanic.com/articles/pontiac-soltice.shtml

I went to the Houston car show early this year and took my own pictures and made my own car review from all the free literature they pass out. You would not believe how many new vehicles that are coming on the market that are prime candidate for misspellings. Think about the visitor and how they might misspell the words you are trying to target. According to the Goodkeywords.com program almost 200 people using Overture last month searched for “break pad” instead of brake pad. 130 searched for nsurance instead of insurance….take these search volume numbers and multiple by 5 to represent the other engines and you can easily see a LARGE amount of easy search traffic that can be picked up utilizing the same articles on your site..

Q. Another thing people always seem to want to know how to do better is monetizing their site. Could you tell us about one of your best money making techniques?

A. From what I see, most webmasters make it too difficult for the visitor to take the action the site owner wants them to do. If you want me to enter my zip code and get a free online auto insurance quote, tell me that upfront on the center of the page…get my attention, make a compelling reason WHY I should get a quote in the first place and why should I get it from YOUR site? Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy. People read a webpage very quickly usually just skimming the content of the page looking for the information they typed in the search engine….make it easy for them.

Back to the NJ auto insurance page from above, look at the page text…I reinforce the same keywords you used to get to the page via Google…it’s my page title with a BIG testimonial from me telling you why you should get a quote from my site and all the reasons why I made the page in the first place….to HELP you find good insurance, because I have already done my research and can save you lots of time and frustration. Bulleted lists work very very well!!

If you have an affiliate program that will allow incentives ( you will give the visitor something in exchange for them doing something for you) then you should make your incentive offer irresistible to the visitor, and your incentive offer must be something they visitor will perceive as valuable and worth their time and effort. Like on my NJ auto insurance page, I will give a free copy of my ebook explaining how they can lower their car repair expenses….its something that is on the same lines as lowering their auto insurance…so the visitor sees value there and takes me up on my offer.

Here are a few good places to find incentive allowable affiliate programs, http://www.modernclick.com (owned by a friend of mine) and http://www.bulletads.com among many other affiliate programs you can Google to locate.

Q. You mentioned to me that you have tons of Internet Marketing products. What is your favorite one? Knowing what you know now, would you have bought as many products as you did or would you have different buying habits?

A. I think I learned the most from Brad Fallon and Andy Jenkins, both are super nice and very knowledgeable guys. Here is their latest venture http://www.instantseoexpert.com/ which QUICKLY sold out. The offer lots of really great info for free! I still buy online marketing ebooks all the time, I want to stay on top of what others are doing and if I can learn just one new idea from a $97 ebook…its more than worth it to me. There are lot of SEO tricks out there, but to be totally honest….keyword research, having good unique content, getting inbound links to your page from other quality sites AND having an affiliate program that will convert visitors to customers is 95% of the game.

Q. If you could only give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in Internet Marketing, what would it be?

A. Find your niche, do your keyword research and consistently add great unique content to your site on a daily basis. The visitors will bookmark your site, tell their friends about you and others will begin to find your site valuable as well. I am giving a BBC radio interview later today, they found me via a Google search and from a recommendation of a listener of their show. If your site helps the visitor…you will be successful.

Q. What do you consider to be the most important thing you have done to increase your online income?

Without a doubt, taking the time to do my keyword research BEFORE I make a new website or even a new page on my websites.

Q. Are there any other things you would like to tell someone just starting out?

Find someone in your area who is making money online whom you can meet with on a regular basis for lunch to discuss new ideas, get your ideas and sites critiqued. You can find people online on the webmaster forum boards pretty easily. I would also spend the money and the effort to go to a few SEO seminars like the http://bigseminar.com/ and http://bradfallon.com/. I have been to both of them and have met and interacted with both marketers…..and learned A LOT from them in a short period of time. Don’t be afraid to ask other marketers. I visit a lot of SEO seminars and trade shows and I ALWAYS hand out lots of my business cards with my email and website address. You never know who you will run into and how it can benefit you later on down the road.

How Can Squidoo Increase Website Traffic?

December 4, 2006

I got a comment the other day on one of my posts asking:


I still don’t get it. What can Squidoo can do for you to increase pagelink?

First of all, website traffic 101 tells us that the more links you get to your website the better.

How does Squidoo help you get links to your site?

When you create a Squidoo Lens you create tags for it. These tags are used to categorize your lens. Your lens and other lenses have links to these tag pages. The tag pages link back to all of the lenses that use that tag. This means that when you create a new lens your lens automaticly gets links from the tag pages on the Squidoo site. Which increases the PageRank for your Lens.

Now we have a Lens with Links to it. How does this Lens help your webiste?

Let’s use my first Squidoo lens as an example. Click here and take a look at the lens.

Notice that the first link on the Lens is a link to our homeschooling wiki.

If you do what I did and create a link on your lens to one of your websites, you will have a new link to your website. Which is good, because some people will find your lens, click on the link to your site, and bring your site traffic.

This link is also good, because almost every link you get to your site will help it rank higher for Search Engine terms.

Another way that this link helps is that you are getting a link from what is known as an Authority site. Most people believe that Squidoo is considered an authority site. Authority sites are sites that are considered an authority on a specific topic and have lots of links to them. For instance, I think it is pretty safe to say that CNN is an authority site for news.

When you get a link from an authority site it is considered more valuable than a link from a non-authority site.

The Search Engines will see the link on the Squidoo Lens as a link from an authority site. Therefore this link from the Squidoo lens is going to be a good quality link to your website. Ulitmately, this one link isn’t going to make any site rise to the top of the Search Engine rankings, but it will help.

How to remove the arrow images that follow external links in a Mediawiki wiki

December 2, 2006

I searched, and searched and couldn’t find any useful information on removing those external link arrow images that mediawiki’s wiki software automaticly inserts directly after links to external sites.

I find those images annoying and feel like they clutter up the screen. So I went through the code and found out how to get rid of the arrow -> images.

If you own a wiki here’s what you do:

1. Go to the skins directory and into the directory of the skin you are using. For our homeschooling wiki it is the monobook directory.

2. Open up the style sheet file “main.css”.

3. Search for the word “external”.

You should see something that look like this:

#bodyContent a.external,

#bodyContent a[href ^="gopher://"] {
background: url(external.png) center right no-repeat;
padding-right: 13px;
}

4. Remove the 5 lines above, save the file and upload it back to your server

Then say goodbye to the annoying arrow images!

You can see the results on our wiki by clicking here. Notice that none of our links have those annoying images. Woohoo!

The next step is updating the navigation for our homeschool wiki. It is going to be much easier to navigate when we are done with it.

UPDATE:
You also need to do those same steps for the files: “IE60Fixes.css”, “Opera6Fixes.CSS”, and “Opera7Fixes.CSS”.

Stay Tuned For The Best Post Yet

December 1, 2006

Next Tuesday, be prepared for the best post on this blog ever!

At least I think it will be…

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