Archive for the ‘articles’ Category
I released another published article about small business turnkey websites, and not just the scams. Brand name cookie cutter websites can have a downside, so you may want to read about the topic of brand name turnkey sites here. Here’s an excerpt.
The ideal scenario for any small business is having an original site with fresh content added often instead of a cookie cutter clone. Integrate a blog and forum as appropriate and you create a search engine magnet, but that traffic is meaningless if your content is stale and only optimized for search engines. It is more important to design content for visitors who are more likely to stay longer and eventually buy when you provide quality information and value for money.
In a previous article, readers were warned about scam turnkey sites, including some featured in late night tv advertising. You may want to read how one woman lost more than $10,000 over 2 years without one cent in profit as documented in another article I wrote, Tips Before Buying a Turnkey Online Business.
Use due diligence before spending your hard earned money. Contact me for an opinion before you buy, or consider joining online marketing forums to get neutral feedback before you pay for an online turnkey site. You may find seo, search engine optimization, very difficult with a cookie cutter website.
The next free pdf download in my series of search engine optimization reports is available. Unlike some free reports, you do not have to register or provide an email address to download any of these free SEO advice reports.
Enjoy the “Article Writing Top Resources” PDF report and learn the process for submitting articles to article directories to gain backlinks to your website. This is #3 in the series of 6 Do-It-Yourself Website Promotion reports for small business owners.
Content includes bonus information with an overview of the SEO value of writing articles, a tutorial for overcoming writer’s block, plus a list of my Top 50 Article Directories.
I’ve written another published article with advice for small business owners and it contains pointers for ensuring control of your www domain name. View the full article entitled Out of Control WWW Domains to learn how two unwary website owners incorrectly thought they owned their domains.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
In both cases the client paid for their domain. In the first instance the registrar simply registered the new domain in their company name, not the client’s. In the more recent situation, my client bought a business and the previous owner did not take action to transfer the registrant information. Each relationship deteriorated to the point where the clients felt compelled to register another domain, and fortunately the productivity of each business site was insignificant, so the downside of letting it go was minimal.
Unhappier endings to hostile relationships have occurred. The article includes comments on a case that was out of control resulting in the website going offline, and the true owner could not regain control for more than a year. If you have any doubts about who controls your domain, you may want to read my article about WhoIs here.
Two calls this week from clients prompted me to expand on previous advice about new domain names for small business owners. Here’s an excerpt from my published article Choosing Small Business Website Names:
The real value in the name you choose from a search perspective is how easy it is to spell and remember. Of the two types of visitors to your site, the human visitors and search engines, the ability of a person to remember your domain name and spell it correctly to pass it on to others outweighs any SEO value. Search engines are robots and don’t care.
Using words like “greatest”, “best”, or other exaggerated terms in your domain name is thought by some to be a disadvantage and penalized by search engines. Search algorithms change often and likewise that theory, and although you may not be penalized for using such words, consider the reaction of your human visitors. They may not stick around if they feel you boast without the content to back it up. For a serious small business commercial enterprise, my advice is avoiding adjectives in the domain name entirely.
You may want to read the full domain name advice article here. In addition to domain name selection, points are made about SEO, or search engine optimization, also.
Take a moment to learn why I recommend Article Post Robot for submitting original articles to article directories. It’s no secret that backlinks from other sites to your website are like votes when found by search engines, and writing articles for syndication is an easy way to create these votes.
The next free pdf report in my series of search engine optimization techniques covers this subject with My Article Writing Top Resources. Planned for release in July 2007 this report includes my Top 50 Article Directory list which was already published on my blog last month.
Article Post Robot will be featured in the new report, and after using this software for 2 months, I highly recommend this program to streamline submitting your articles for syndication. At the time this was written in 2007 they have over 450 sites preloaded in their software.
Select this graphic image to visit their sales page.
The problem with most programs used for automatically submitting articles is the potential for rejection due to being placed in the wrong category by the script running the program. Article Post Robot allows you to select up to 5 categories to help offset this approval issue. It’s not perfect, but close to it by comparison to other programs evaluated.
Note: Some article sites require prior registration and activation from a link in a confirming email to be registered as an author. Others require that you create a pen name on their website after registration. You may visit each site from within the list of over 450 article sites displayed in Article Post Robot with one click on each site name. The registration process takes time, but do that first, and expect to spend 1-2 days just setting up user names with passwords for the sites you select.
The option in Article Post Robot to manually submit articles is the ideal solution for me. Before buying this software the process of submitting new articles to over 50 websites was tedious. You visit each site, enter your username and password and then enter the submit articles area. Next, and with your article content open in NotePad, you copy and paste your article title, return to your file, copy and paste the intro, and continue back and forth for the article body, resource box, and key words. Argh! After an hour your wrist is ready to fall off and you’re cross eyed from bouncing back and forth between screens.
With Article Post Robot you complete these same steps, except you copy and paste just once because you enter these same blocks of text into fields within the program! Automatic mode will visit each directory site and post your article in an appropriate category based on what you input earlier. The software posts and submits, and then automatically goes to the next until it’s done. From experience the category selection is less than perfect, at least for my niche.
In manual mode you input your article details just once into the program to begin, and then it logs on each article directory, selects the category, inputs your article details in each appropriate box for title, intro, body, resource box, and key words, and then pauses for you to manually select the “submit” button. I prefer manual submission because I can verify fields are properly completed, and then change the category if I feel another is more suitable before I hit “submit”. In automatic mode you click start and walk away.
Note: The layout and requirements to submit may vary by article directory, and some have additional manual only fields to enter, or correct. You can only see these if you use manual mode. Almost all articles are reviewed before approval by a human editor. Manual mode may result in more article editor approvals.
In manual mode you pause at each, so you must monitor progress, yet the autofill feature means you no longer have to copy and paste 5-6 blocks of text individually on each site. This time saving function allows you to post to more sites in a much shorter period of time with very few clicks for each. You can do in 30 seconds what used to take 3-5 minutes, so the process of submitting is much easier on you, and especially your wrist.
Important Note: In either mode you may notice an error or page not found if the target directory is temporarily offline. There may be a significant pause as if the software locked up. It probably didn’t. Wait several minutes if necessary because as I found out it is still working and will advance to the next site.
Article Post Robot was less than $130 at the time this review was written. I feel that the cost savings in time from submitting just 2 articles more than offset the price in time savings and convenience. The documentation is written in less than perfect English grammar which is easily dismissed because the basics are there and sufficient to effectively use the software to your advantage.
Pros: Reliable, fast, cost effective, great time saver, value for money
Cons: Category selection for some niches and documentation less than ideal
Overall I highly recommend this software. You may purchase Article Post Robot here.
My latest marketing article published on my main website and entitled Small Business Unique Sales Proposition gives pointers to help small business owners evaluate their strengths, and then formulate a marketing strategy based on the exercise.
The key is making a list, getting customer feedback, and then fine tuning the results into a marketing message. Here’s an excerpt of the summary from the article:
…evaluate your strengths and then get customer feedback to fine tune the list of benefits doing business with your company. Formulate the list content into a narrative Unique Sales Proposition with several paragraphs, and make the first paragraph read like a news report. Condense the USP into a 15 second version elevator pitch, and finally craft a company motto or slogan to enhance your corporate identity.
When done you will have a refreshing look at your small business strengths including a Unique Sales Proposition of several paragraphs, a 15 second sales pitch for chance meetings, and a single line motto or slogan. This small exercise takes very little time, and may be a real eye opener to ways for promoting your small business.
This excerpt from a published article that I wrote offers advice for doing followup on proposals.
Many solo small business owners cannot state why they get business or why they lose business. We make assumptions, or just don’t ask. Until you make it a priority to get both these questions answered, you’ll never understand your strengths and weaknesses. Consider the dynamics of conscious marketing and sales efforts.
After the marketing is done and you find prospects the sales cycle is preapproach, approach, presentation, trial close, answer objections, and final close. Ask a trusted friend to tell you bluntly if you are weak in any of those areas. If you lack knowledge of basic sales techniques, it’s time to learn. Marketing extends into the preapproach to understand how decisions are made and the price structure. The more you prepare and form a strategy, the more likely you are to succeed.
Finally, show interest by asking about the needs of the client. Open ended questions or statements allow the customer to provide details that you may not get with a “yes” or “no” answer. Apply the open ended principles to be prepared in the marketing and sales cycle, and then deal with and learn from disappointments. If necessary, revise your strategy and redefine your market to deal with people who truly appreciate what you offer.
Read the full article at ezinearticles.com entitled “Solve the Mystery of Lost Business”.
This list of what I recommend as My Top 50 Article Syndicate sites is taken from a reply earlier today to members of the Small Business Forums considering writing articles for publication by free article directory websites. I decided to share this list here for the benefit of my readers.
I began a quest just over a year ago to promote my commercial site. Writing articles was one of 4 methods that I worked to develop and improve seo and backlinks. The results of the overall plan were an amazing surprise.
Search Google for “small business article directory” and out of 44 million results my site is #4 on page one after the sponsor listings as of the date of this post. It’s easier to spot if you look for the “Small Business Resource Center” title in the listing which is what I use for my site, even though as you’ll see the domain is my actual name.
EzineArticles has the top spot. If you follow the link for my listing you will find 15-20 articles and 1 author (me)… LOL. Compare that to sites that are free article directories with 30,000 articles and 5,000 authors and then it’s time for the question “why?”. Steve at the Small Business Forums had the answer when he commented that the value of being in an article directory has changed significantly in the last year.
In deciding to write articles I actually visited over 500 sites and based on what I felt was important like first impression, ease of use, and approval cycle, the list dwindled to around 150 top sites. Of those, I have the final list of top 50 article syndicates based on their performance over the last 12 months.
I spent 100′s of hours of research, and at first thought about selling an ebook and have kept the list and results under wraps. Instead I began a series of 6 reports in PDF and offer them for free download from my site (no obligation… no email registration or first-born requirement); I’m giving it away because it’s my nature, plus I’m very busy with actual design work.
The next free PDF report to be released (#3 in the series) is about article writing. The value of submitting articles to directories is different compared to a year ago, but it is still worth your time IF you provide quality.
Broadcast services that promise to place your articles in 1 million directories are a complete waste. The best directories still have editors who read and approve articles. If you do not control how each is submitted, the chances of approval diminish rapidly.
The issue of duplicate content is still hotly debated; however, you will not be penalized if your article (with your resource box) shows up as duplicates and you’re the author on each one. Instead, what has changed in the last year is the SE’s will only show your article in the SERPs from the top authority sites, ie EzineArticles.com.
It’s no secret that the major SE’s hide results. Each article you have published will be indexed wherever it is found, yet the majority will be “hidden” deep in the results. I stopped submitting to my top 150, and only submit articles to my list of top 50 now.
People are more likely to find you on the top authority article directories, and the value (for me) is traffic and new business based on establishing a reputation as a writer freely giving quality advice. Give first and success will follow. Backlinks are fine, but the real value is reaching people who are presold based on what you wrote before they actually visit your website.
Finally, I have purchased and reviewed software for automating the process of submitting articles, and the next PDF report is on hold pending my final results about software before I make a recommendation. Each has flaws despite claims of being fully automatic. I am convinced that semi-automated can work because of autofill features, but manual submission is still critical to get approved by the editors.
My top 50 (actually 52) is included below.
Join the fight against Spam. Here’s how small business owners can help, and it only takes 1 minute. I was getting fed up after I received identical email multiple times in one day from different Gmail addresses, and each was UCE or Unsolicited Commercial Email, asking for reciprocal links. Following my first impulse to report this to Google, who owns and provides the Gmail service, I learned that both Gmail addresses were fake, or spoofed. Here’s my advice on how to report UCE Spam.
In the example above, Google was innocent. The spammers used a technique called “spoofing” in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, and masked their real identity using special coding to avoid tracing. Commercial email solicitations to unknown parties where no existing business relationship exists, must include an unsubscribe option to opt-out of receiving future mailings, also. The identical messages I received from different addresses did not.
Is someone sending junk mail to your small business? Use the FTC forwarding email to report violations. Note: If you have an existing business relationship with a company the rules are different. While it is legal to send email to known business contacts, your email message may not contain false or misleading routing information, but otherwise is exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.
Read this related article that I wrote in August 2006 entitled Don’t Ignore Legal Obligations of The CAN-SPAM Act to learn the provisions of commercial email you receive, or send.
Writing small business articles for syndication has worked well in establishing backlinks to my commercial site. I may want to feature other guest authors and consider posting their articles in my Article Directory for small business advice.
My specialty is custom website design with matching graphics for print, and related advice. Articles about insurance, financing, taxes, and other general topics may be of interest.