Having the passion to write can do a lot of wonders online. If you want to write while earning, you should know the right process of creating your blog. Through this way, you do not only gain a lot …
Watch television and read newspapers from a marketing perspective and look for media…
Research your subject and use that knowledge. Author Bill Warner, whose articles on model aviation have appeared in publications in the United States, England and France, does extensive research before interviews. He refers to related newspaper and magazine articles, press …
Working at home also means…
Recently, I made a seemingly off-topic post–”Would You Still Trust These People If You Knew These Secrets?” It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet for a number of reasons–off-topic for this blog, etc.
While the content was off-topic, the …
A Little Background
A few years ago, I read with interest the obituary of Bob Hope, one of the 20th Century’s legendary American entertainers. It was in the obituary section of The New York Times newspaper and you can read …
If you, as I do, operate an enterprise online, you know that one of the things many people obsess about is keyword rankings in the search engines. Since it is virtually impossible to be noticed without being visible in the search engines, a whole science has emerged with respect to getting sites ranked for certain keywords. For example, if your site is about movers, ideally you’ll want to rank number one in Google whenever someone’s searches include the word “mover” in context.
The problem is that there are only ten listings on the first page by default (you can change this to some greater number but the vast majority of people casually searching for stuff on the Internet do not) and there are oftentimes millions of search results. In addition, we all know that there are more than one keyword to which any one product relates. People might search for “movers” as well as “New York movers,” “NYC movers,” “New York moving companies,” and so on. In order to engage in proper monitoring of these long-tail keywords, you need the right tools to check your keyword rankings from time to time.
While there are a number of free tools available to help you check your site’s keyword rankings, I recently came across two tools from a company (Caphyon) that have become invaluable to me to help in both monitoring my website ranking as well as managing my link popularity (a necessary process to move up the rankings for virtually all your most important keywords).
Advanced Web Ranking
The first tool is Advanced Web Ranking. Basically, it is a rank monitor on steroids. Unlike the free rank monitors available as Firefox extensions or otherwise available at any number of websites that specialize in search engine optimization, AWR is search engine ranking software that sits on your desktop and tracks your keyword rank across hundreds or even thousands of keywords on both a present and historical basis. You can even compare the keyword rankings of your competitors across the same or a different set of keywords. All of this can be set to automatically engage on a set time schedule.
If you are serious about your online enterprise, it is absolutely critical to be aware on a regular basis the status of your keyword rankings. Unless you have a seriously large marketing budget in the nature of certain large corporations, the only real way people will find out about your business will be through searches at engines like Google. Since it is virtually certain all your serious competitors are actively engaging in methods to improve their keyword rankings, you need to also be aware of the status of your keyword rankings.
Besides simple monitoring, AWR will help you spot trends. If it appears that your ranking on certain keywords are improving, you’ll know that whatever you are doing to improve your ranking is working. Alternately, if it appears your rankings on certain keywords are deteriorating, you’ll know that you need to either stop doing what it is you are doing to try to improve your rankings or else do something to counteract that deterioration.
Here are some additional features of AWR that make it more useful and efficient than the free alternatives:
- Triggers can be set to automatically alert you to certain events that occur (e.g. a decrease in ranking on certain money keywords)
- Advanced filtering can be set to get you information that is most relevant for your needs
- You can export the data to manipulate in external programs such as Excel
- You can monitor keywords on a local basis limited to results for a certain city or region
- AWR can help you generate a list of keywords
- AWR runs on Mac, Windows and Linux
Advanced Link Manager
The second tool is Advanced Link Manager. This is a tool that lets you monitor the links that are pointing to your web site. You can also set it up to monitor the links that are pointing to your competitors’ web sites.
Before moving into the features of ALM, it’s useful to discuss why links are important. The veteran Internet entrepreneur will know that besides the traditional PR one gets from mentions on the Internet by other web sites and authorities, the search engines such as Google consider links to be a proxy for “citation” authority. Thus, in determining where a web site should rank for any particular keyword, a large determinant is the number of links (i.e. link popularity) pointing to that particular website.
Besides pure link quantity, another determinant of keyword rankings is link quality or authority. A link from a respected educational institution is considered to be of a higher quality than a link from a site without any links pointing to it and without any apparent authority itself.
Although not a perfect gauge of the quantity/quality mix, you will hear webmasters often refer to the “PR” of a site or a page on that site. PR in this context merely refers to Google’s PageRank indicator which runs a scale of zero to ten. The more links and the more authoritative links a web site or page has, the higher the PR. For example, CNN.com has a PR that fluctuates between 9 and 10. This reflects the number of other web sites that have linked to stories from CNN. Similarly, Adobe.com has a PR of 10 which is most certainly due to the millions of sites that use Adobe Reader for PDF documents and link to Adobe.com.
Now that we have a good sense of the importance of links, it should be obvious why a link manager like ALM is pretty useful. With ALM, you can automatically determine which sites are linking not only to your site but also to your competitors’ sites. This will allow you to monitor your own link building progress as well as compare your efforts to your competitors.
Here are some features of ALM that make the tool critical to my link building process:
- You can monitor multiple sites including your own as well as your competitors’
- You can set an automatic schedule for checking links
- You can set triggers that automatically alert you to changes in links
- Links can be sorted by PageRank to determine link quality
- Links with “nofollow” are shown
- You can export the results to be manipulated into an external program, such as Excel
- You can find broken links
- You can monitor the anchor text of links pointing to your site
- ALM runs on Mac, Windows and Linux
Running a successful enterprise online is not just about throwing up a site and hoping that the world will come. Besides engaging in traditional marketing, you need to have a reasonably solid understanding of how your site will be discovered on the Internet. I have found both Advanced Web Ranking and Advanced Link Manager from Caphyon critical tools to have in my virtual toolbelt.
I read this article with interest from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/business/smallbusiness/13freelance.html?sq=elance&st=cse&scp=3&pagewanted=all.
In this tough economy, how many of us have considered turning to the web as a source of work? If you have the skillset of a professional but can’t find work in the traditional markets, why not consider leveraging some of your skills you’ve acquired over the years as a provider on Elance? And, if you are really ambitious but don’t have the skills, why not learn a skill and make money while you do it?
I know how to ace interview questions like the back of my hand and can whip out a snappy “Knock ‘Em Dead” resume in about 3 hours. I see some of those services being offered up for $300 or more. And it doesn’t take much for me to pick up a business proposals book from Barnes and Noble and offer up my services writing proposals as well after a little brushing up on the basics.
We all spend time on our blogs, why not also spend some time being paid to provide writing services for others? It might be even more lucrative than earning a few dollars on Adsense while blogging…
I just wanted to point a link to Tom and Kerrie Everett in Vancouver, Canada. They’re real estate agents in the Vancouver market and started doing short, simple and fun videos on their real estate website. Over the course of less than 6 months, they’ve grown their business and audience by setting themselves apart from their competition with these short videos.
What is so great is that you’ll notice they’ve been featured by two television stations – one national (CTV) and one local (City TV) and have only done 11 episodes! Also note that, while not really professionally produced, the videos are fun and informative.
Here is the takeaway:
- you can do videos easily with a digital camera
- you don’t need to make them fancy
- you do have to post regularly
- make them fun and short and you will probably be surprised at the results!
- OH, Kendra Todd (of Apprentice fame) is in one!!
More videos over at ThinkTom.com. By the way, I went to grad school with Kerrie.
I’ve found that, on Twitter, I’ve been befriended by people who claim to be either well-known (like Barack Obama) or people I know. Problem is, they are fake profiles. Even the Dalai Lama had his profile faked. Often, the only thing that’s changed is the addition of an underscore or a middle initial.
Two reasons why this is a problem:
1) They may phish me at some point by responding to my Tweets, for example, and then asking for info I would only provide to people I trust.
2) They may be legitimized by being followers or being followed by others not wise to their scheming. So, when someone else sees that these scammers are friends with someone they know, that third person may be fooled into befriending the scammer.
This whole development reminds me of the AOL chatrooms and instant message clients from the last century where random scammers would overrun the services and try to defraud you. It drove me, and perhaps others, into services that were more secure.
Twitter needs to nip this in the bud before it gets out of control.
At the University of Utah, Prof. Juliana Freire is working on DeepPeep, an ambitious effort to index every public database. Now, check out the screen–Mac OS X 30 inches * 6 across * 4 down = 720 square inches and 98,304,000 pixels of resolution.
David Lat of Abovethelaw.com writes a brief note about cyber-bullying, slander and libel on the Internet.
Simple rules everyone should abide by. It’s too easy to be offended by someone and lashing out without regard to consequences. I can safely say with confidence that we’ve all done it at one point or another and regretted it almost immediately.
Basically, don’t make a false statement about someone else that is malicious, false and damaging to that person’s reputation. Also, don’t think you can hide behind an anonymous comment.
It wasn’t that long ago that if you wanted to develop a website or web application, it would potentially cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars before you even had a prototype. So, you probably needed investors willing to step up to fund your venture. For a chance at a healthy return, wealthy angels or companies would plunk down enough change to get you through to market.
Problem is, it seems that as time and technology progresses, it becomes cheaper to actually develop for the web. There are now enough standards, backend modules (both open source and paid) that allow a lean startup team to get a product to market for a fraction of what it would have cost earlier. That means the later venture, compared to a similar venture started up several years earlier, could be more profitable earlier and wouldn’t be saddled with the startup costs of the earlier venture.
Result: lower cost to market; higher return on capital invested. Consequently, the newer startup has a healthy chance at displacing the earlier startup in both market share and profitability. I think only way to avoid this situation is if the earlier startup has become so dominant in its industry that that itself becomes a barrier to entry.
I set up a trial account on TypePad recently and tried to port my blog over there. Unfortunately I failed; there were some serious flaws that made porting difficult or impossible. So, I’ve decided to stick it out with WordPress hosted on my own server after all. It all started when I decided to restart this blog (I know, it’s been a long time since I last wrote; more on that later). That’s when I realized that WordPress had gone through a couple of major iterations since my last install. When I installed the latest version (version 2.7), I noticed that plugins broke down, templates broke down, and the interface had changed. Rather than try to relearn everything and try to fix my broken down WordPress install, I decided to take another look at TypePad.
I really liked TypePad’s administrative interface. The backend was quite elegantly designed and, once set up, posting new entries was really intuitive. I also liked their default template selections. There were 100 different designs and you also had the ability to customize your own from a default installation. The customization process was as easy as click, drag and drop. There was no noticeable lag like there were when I first tried using TypePad way back in 2005. Thus, I really wanted to like TypePad; it was elegant and polished. Compared to the WordPress backend, TypePad was, in my opinion, miles ahead.
Unfortunately, when it came time to redirect my existing posts that were well indexed in Google, that’s when I realized it wouldn’t be possible to port my blog. There were two critical TypePad flaws:
Flaw Number One - You can’t change TypePad’s permalink structure
TypePad doesn’t give you much control over how your permalinks are formed. That means that if you have anything indexed in the search engines and have any incoming links, you’ll need to do a meta-refresh to transfer visitors clicking on old links to your blog. So, unless you have a handful of blog posts, moving anything more than, say, 10 posts, becomes a real hassle.
Flaw Number Two - TypePad’s extensions are “.html”
WordPress extensions are “.php” while TypePad extensions are “.html”. I don’t think anyone these days should have webpages with the .html extension. Having that really limits how you are able to expand your webpages when it comes time to integrate with a database or otherwise interact with dynamic php code. Php code (the language on which many plugins and extensions are written) requires webpages that end in “.php”. In TypePad, you can’t change the extensions of your pages because, as Flaw Number One noted above, you can’t change your permalink structure in TypePad.
Stick with WordPress or another hosted solution (and on your own domain) unless you don’t care about losing your existing link equity or want to be locked into their system.
A Little Background
A few years ago, I read with interest the obituary of Bob Hope, one of the 20th Century’s legendary American entertainers. It was in the obituary section of The New York Times newspaper and you can read online here.
Bob Hope’s obituary was well written, reflecting a tremendous amount of research, covering his life and contributions spanning over seven decades. It discussed his work during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, entertaining American troops overseas, his career as vaudeville, theater and film, among his other detailed accomplishments. The obituary was supplemented with a picture slide show, audio sound bites, and a couple of film clips of his work in Hollywood.
Bob Hope died on Sunday, July 27, 2003 at the age of 100. On Monday morning, July 28, 2003, his obituary was featured on the front page of The New York Times newspaper and was read by thousands of its subscribers. Clearly the newspaper either had some really hard writers burning the midnight oil to research and write his obituary or, more likely, had Mr. Hope’s obit pre-written in anticipation of his eventual passing.
Well, it was pretty obvious which had occurred once you researched who the writer of the obituary was–a Mr. Vincent Canby. Vincent Canby was a prolific film and theater critic for the Times who, in October 2000, had himself passed away at the age of 76, nearly three years before Bob Hope. You can read Vincent Canby’s obituary here.
The Main Point
Now on to the main point of this post. What can we learn from how old-world media research and write obituaries that we can apply to our blog postings? If it isn’t obvious, it is that we, as bloggers, can pre-write many of our posts in anticipation of things that will likely happen sooner or later.
An Example–The Apple iPhone 3G
Taking a recent example, a tech blogger who blogs about cell phones would clearly have been able to anticipate that Apple Computer would eventually release an updated version of their world-famous iPhone. Well, this week, that event happened. Apple Computer released Version 2 of its best-selling phone, the iPhone 3G.
If you really wanted to be a cutting edge-, breaking news-type of blogger, you wouldn’t have waited until after Steve Jobs speech at WWDC 2008 to have started to write your blog posts.
Let’s pause there for a second. If you were a cool-as-ice, in-the-know tech blogger with the early “exclusives” on new products as they happen, what would you do (or, more accurately, what could you do) to make it appear as if you were a first to post, in-the-know, up-and-coming A-list blogger?
If that blogger were me, I would first make up a list of “likely” and “unlikely but wishlist” features that might appear on a new-generation Apple iPhone.
Among the likely:
- Built-in GPS
- Better battery power
- Third-party applications
- “3G” high-speed internet access
- Lower price
- Greater worldwide availability
- Multiple carriers
- Higher resolution camera
- Ability to record video
- Purchase quantity limits
- Long-term contract required
- Updated iPhone software
- Enterprise server access
- Integration with .Mac online services
Among the unlikely but wishlist:
- Video phone chat
- More than one carrier in the US
- Built-in physical keypad
- Wireless stereo headsets
- Redesign of physical form factor
- Multiple colors
While hindsight is always 20/20, let’s analyze the lists above as if we made them up well before the new iPhone 3G was revealed. What would we have been correct on? Wrong on? As it turns out, on the “likely” list, we were nearly right on everything except for the ability to record video and the lower price (phone cost was much lower but the monthly contract fee was $10 higher than currently). On the other hand, on the “unlikely but wishlist” list, none of the items were featured except for a minor redesign of the form factor and that there were two colors–black and white.
Having made those two lists and thought something about each feature well before the iPhone 3G actually debuted, I would have been well positioned to pre-write any of the following blog posts:
- Ten Features Missing From the Latest iPhone
- Five Disappointments of the iPhone 3G
- The Ultimate iPhone 3G Guide
- Three Reasons to Get/Not Get an iPhone 3G
Mix and a match the points in the lists above and you could have pre-written a number of blog posts. Just revise for reality (in case some of your predictions are wrong), add some illustrations, and release into the wild. Rinse and repeat; now you’ll be among the first to release breaking news blog posts about your favorite subjects as they happen.
A Couple of Other Examples
- Politics–Prewrite posts about who’s going to win the US election in November. Prewrite why a particular candidate lost.
- Sports–Prewrite posts about who’s going to win the US Open Golf Championship. Prewrite about the characteristics of the champion. Even though you don’t know who’s going to win, champions share some common characteristics–luck, determination, experience, etc.
I thought I would put up a domain I own for sale. If anyone is interested in BloggerForums.com, please let me know. If you always wanted to start a forum site for bloggers, here’s your chance! You can’t get any more specific than BloggerForums.com. The domain has been continuously registered since 1999. The asking price is [please email me].
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Stripe ads are a neat way to extend screen real estate to create additional advertising room. They are extremely popular with high traffic websites and are extremely visible to the website visitor since they are the first thing the visitor sees on the site.
As you can see, the reason they are so effective is because they are right at the top of the site, almost integrated with the browser’s navigation. So, they are not (at least yet) subject to visitor blindness so often associated with banner ads at the top of websites.
To integrate a stripe ad for your website, you can get a branded plugin for your Wordpress theme from certain Wordpress plugin developers or you can roll your own! In this blog post, I show you how you can roll your own. [To get the link to the full report, you must subscribe to my RSS.]
Why do you want to roll your own? Because:
1. It is free!
2. You don’t have to keep a visible link to the plugin developer’s website (e.g. “Powered by XXXX”) since that looks amateurish.
3. You get to understand how xhtml and php works so you can custom tailor your stripe ad to your website needs.
You should know a little bit of how to write html and CSS. If not, follow the steps below and just do a Google search for parts you don’t understand.
Step 1 - Create a new “div”
Add the following div and message to each page you want the stripe ad to appear:
<div id=“stripe-ad-top”>[INSERT MESSAGE HERE]</div>
If you are using Wordpress or another blogging system, you can just add the div to the appropriate template file once and it will appear on all pages.
Step 2 - Modify your CSS file or style sheet
Modify your CSS or style sheet to add in the following styles:
[Subscribe to my RSS to get the link to the full report with all the codes.]
Step 3 - Modify your webpages for Internet Explorer
Because IE6 and below is not generally standards compliant with W3C guidelines, you have to enter the follow fix for IE:
Put this at the very top of each page (again, it is easier to just paste this into your templates):
[Subscribe to my RSS to get the link to the full report with all the codes.]
Then put this in thesection, right after the reference to your linked CSS stylesheet:
[Subscribe to my RSS to get the link to the full report with all the codes.]
That’s it! Enjoy your new stripe ad!