SEO, Social Bookmarking, Article Writing, Web Design & Everything Else

Since taking on a new job as an editor for an online newsletter SiteProNews.comand website, I have read a huge amount of amazing articles on just about every top you can think of that would be of interest to webmasters and small business owners. There seems to be a trend going right now…hot topics include: social networking/bookmarking, SEO (always SEO), article writing and how to submit them, web programming and design, etc. I get dozens of articles in my in-box daily to choose from as well as a number of really good depositories/directories to peruse as I look for good articles to post on our web site.

Personally, as a small business owner/webmaster, I find most of these articles and the newsletters we publish…extremely informative and definitely worth reading. Of course, we are all busy…and taking the time to read a number of articles does clog up the day somewhat, but in the long run, well worth it for the amount of information to be had.

My suggestion….read the title and first paragraph of the article. If it doesn’t grab you…move on. Get a good RSS reader (GreatNews Rss Reader is a good one) to organize your blogs, news aggregators, etc. so they are all in one location and you can scan the headlines. Many articles of worth are picked up by the major sites/blogs as headlines. (We do that too.)

If you are truly interested in new information, ideas, business tips, trends, hot topics, and all that…take the time to READ! I promise you won’t regret the investment into your business and personal growth as you keep up to date and informed on what’s going on out there!!!!

Part 1: Creating a Facebook and Twitter Account To Build Your Business!

The buzz words continue to be Social Media, SMO, and everything to do with Social Networking, so it is not surprising that we are constantly bombarded via all media outlets with “Are You? or Why Aren’t You?” on Facebook and Twitter (and all the many others social media sites). Therefore, I wonder, is our society about to reach Social Media overload? I do believe some people go over-the-top with the amount of time spent on these sites, but they ARE, and I will repeat ARE, extremely necessary in today’s business environment and YOU SHOULD have an account on both sites to actively pursue your businesses opportunities!!!


Since their inception a few years back, membership stats for both have exceeded even that of MySpace, which had become a phenom in itself for kids and musicians. It appears that MySpace has been replaced by Facebook [thanks in part to college students (the GenXers) and recent explosive interest by the Baby Boomers] as the GO TO place for social interaction with friends, family, and business opportunities. Heck, everyone has a Facebook page these days! My point exactly!! Everyone has a page, so as a business person you should be pursuing all your Friends and Family members to become a Fan Like It – Friend for your company, thus their Friends and Family members become your potential customers/clients too.

Same goes with Twitter. Reaching out to those who use Twitter for information, news, opportunities, etc. You can definitely reach a younger audience and there are many Twitter apps that allow you to setup Tweets in advance and send them out an a scheduled release. A huge time saver! TechCrunch listed several on their site…

Twitpic, an app that lets users share photos on Twitter, took the top spot with 1,236,828 unique visitors in January. Tweetdeck, which came in second with 285,864 monthly visits, is a Twitter app that streamlines notifications and tweets. Third place went to Digsby (with 233,472 monthly visitors), an application that centralizes e-mail, IM and social networking accounts into one desktop program. With 149,812 visits, the fourth most popular app, Twitterfeed, offers to automatically tweet posts published on a user’s blog using RSS. A Twitter user ranking site, Twitterholic, is the fifth most popular application, with 147,164 people visiting monthly.

If you don’t have these accounts setup, it is pretty easy to do. For Facebook, first creative a personal account. Once you have created your personal page, on the left hand column under Ads and Pages, you can create a page for your business. This is a great place to provide information about your business, news, promos, sales, create an ad, post your blog, announce specials or sales events….whatever you want to promote…here is your FREE (the magic word here is – FREE) opportunity to get the word out at the same time keeping your personal page separate from the world to see.

For Twitter , you should have a personal account and/or a business account. Larger organizations’ employees should have employee business accounts –  all tweeting and providing business news and insights, as well. Again, all this just opens more doors, creates additional ways to get your company name on the Internet, and more content for your web site. Your accounts can be added to a web page providing real-time updates, follow me buttons or sign up for streaming.

Good luck and feel free to ask questions!

Part 2:  How To Successfully Use My Facebook and Twitter Accounts to Build My Business!

Web Pages and Web Browsers…Why Don’t My Pages Always Look the Same???

Browsers are funny. They perform the same function but things don’t always look the same on Apple’s Safari, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s FireFox, Google’s Chrome, or other browsers. Just what function does a browser perform? Well according to Wikipedia,

A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content. Hyperlinks present in resources enable users to easily navigate their browsers to related resources.

OK, now that we have the definition, why do browsers differ??? The ultimate question for Internet users! Well, until recently web programmers worked with computer language such as HTML code that was not standardized. Fortunately, the international W3C or World Wide Web Consortium started working at standardization of web programming and applications including but not limited to, HTM technologies,  HTML, XHTML, CSS, and other web languages to improve user viewing efficiency so, eventually, all web pages are speaking and programmed in the same language with the same standards and ultimately ensuring the long-term growth of the Web. (WOW…what a mouth full!)

This standardization will continue to improve web page programming, web page viewing, and browser compatibility, thus making everyone’s job just a little bit easier. It is frustrating to build a web page and have it look completely different on each browser or have elements missing. The time and energy it takes to make adjustments can be eliminate with standardization.  At this point, it’s not mandatory, but what will happen as a syntax or specific codes are archived, web pages not in compliance with the W3C standards will be viewed differently on newer versions of web browsers. Therefore, it behooves everyone to be on the same page – program developers, designers, applications engineers, and all technologies associated with the WWW.

With the coming of Web 3.0 and further improvements within our current Web 2.0 technologies, we can anticipate a little more continuity and a little less fragmenting between the powers who drive the Internet, which will ease the transition, improve and optimize our current browsers, and move us graciously into the next generation of the World Wide Web.

Web 2.0 Move Over…Web 3.0 Is Coming!

OK…you always wanted to ask (but thought you should already know) but, “Just what is Web 2.0?…And now there’s a Web 3.0 – what’s the difference between them?” The term, Web 2.0 (for the Internet) and 3G Networks (for cell phone service) refers to the next generation of applications and software available on the Internet or Network including but not limited to – file sharing, blogs, tags, bookmarking, social networks, and of course searching  for a specific person, place, or thing on the plethora of search-engines now available.  According to Sharon Housley’s article on RSS Specifications:

Simply put, Web 2.0 is a perceived transition of the web to web applications. Web 2.0 is the next generation of technology solutions where interactive content is the norm. There is no agreement on exactly what Web 2.0 means, depending on who you are speaking with, you may receive different explanations. At it’s heart, Web 2.0 is about the maturity of the Web and businesses that are thriving online. While many refer to Web 2.0 as companies that employ powerful web technologies, the key components of the new web are said to include: the web as a platform, collaboration, and syndication.

It took us a while to find, use, and disseminate all all the information regarding Web 2.0 all the while just trying to find our way around the WWW. Some of us prevailed, some gave up, and some have take things to the next level of progress. Is Web 3.0 just and extension of Web 2.0 as Tim O’Reilly sees it, or does it stand to be the third generation of web applications breaking boundaries, opening vast market opportunities, and boldly exploring areas no man has gone before. (OK..sorry…just thinking of Star Track for a moment!). So, what does Web 3.0 have to offer? Oh my friends……so much it will take me forever to list the implications of Web 3.0 and how it will break all previous boundaries of business and doing business on the Internet.

Allen Cho, of  Suite 101.com,  has a great article on this topic and outlines what Web 3.0 will offer using “intelligent web programs” such as:

  • Natural language processing
  • Machine-based learning and reasoning
  • Intelligent applications,
  • and tailoring searches to respond to user preferences and needs.

In addition Cho ventures further to say, Web 3.0 is about “Openness” and the ability to run applications on any device, whether it be a computer mobile phone, accessing one HUGE database so to speak. So are we “opening” ourselves up for more identity theft? This too, has been is part of a growing market of problems associated with Web 2.0.  Hopefully, through the following applications Identity Theft will become less an issue. (Let’s keep our fingers crossed on that one!)

  • Open identity
  • OpenID
  • Open reputation
  • The ability for roaming portable identity and personal data.
For more in-depth information on this subject please read the following articles or give me a call!

Feature Creep…In Web Development Projects

I just read a great article on Feature Creep by Mike Tek, a colleague over at SEOMoz. He discussed the feature creep concept from the web programmers perspective, but I would also like to address how you can help your programmer out by educating yourself prior to hiring someone to build your site. A web site is an extension of your business or persona and if you already have an idea of how you want the site to look, feel, and operate, GREAT. If you don’t, you need to do a bit of homework of your own first.

Scout around, surf the Internet…look at other websites that are in the same industry as yours or even ones that just catch your eye. Appeal is extremely important and YOU must like the way your site looks! Color schemes, graphics, text, layout placement, navigation, number of pages…this is all something you need to think about BEFORE you talk to a designer. Coming to them with an idea clearly defined will make the initial design process for them a lot easier. They can incorporate your ideas to make the site look good and functional. That’s the web programmers job.

OK, what if you DON’T have any idea what you want your site to look like??? This is OK too, just have an open mind and be prepared to tell your designer right away what you like or dislike about their concepts.

In addition, be clear on what you want the site to do. Do you want to sell your products or services from the site? If so, it will need a shopping cart software program (there are many to choose from) so you will need to let your designer know, up front, you want this feature!! This type of functionality takes additional programming and set up with a third party company to handle your money transactions, and still more time for account set up and testing. (This may add costs to your initial quote if you didn’t tell them upfront!!) What if you want to collect info on your users? Or have a secure site where members must log on to view specific pages. Again, these are all features that tend to creep into the web site programming process. As a site evolves, so may the scope. Be prepared to spend more money than the initial quote if you add more features to your design project….thus the name Feature Creep. This is difficult for the programmer as well as you because they don’t want to eat the costs and having to charge a client more than the initial quote (when unexpected) may cause tension in the business relationship.

My point….do you homework. Know what you want. Be prepared to ask questions if you don’t. Understand the concept of Feature Creep and where your limits are as well as the programmers in the proposal process. Plan ahead! Be upfront and honest with your designer/programmer and your business relationship may continue for many years. Remember a web site must constantly be updated, changed and refreshed with new content, graphics, etc. and you DON’T want to have to hire a new programmer halfway through a project or at a later date if you don’t have to!

Good Luck…call if you have questions…530.913.0721.

Why Your Website Should Have a Blog!!!

I really cannot stress enough, the importance of having a BLOG on your web site. I’ve touched on several other  topics, which discuss getting the most out of your web site and pages and how to optimize your site by adding lots of good content,  acquiring backlinks, having your 301 Redirects in place if you have changed or moved pages or your domain, and using organic growth to grow your web site. Having a blog on your site will add lots of content, help you acquire reputable backlinks (lots of them),  and will help grow your traffic (without spending a dime), therefore your site. For those who WANT to grow traffic to their site…all the necessary tools to employ.

A blog is an excellent way to communicate with your target audience, whether it be in the form of free advice (I am an advocate of), providing compelling news articles on industry topics, or just a “What’s Up” type of post on current happenings with your business (you can use a press release format). The more content you have on your site via blog posts, the more web pages to index by the search engines. Again, this helps build your authority for overall site rating. In addition, once you start getting comments on your posts, you will build those backlinks I keep hounding you about. Fortunately, the Internet has evolved to a point where most people have an identity already established if they are on-line frequently. This may be through Google, Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, etc. but most have the option to attach a URL if you have a blog or web site.

For example…a typical comment screen may look like this where the user can sign-in with an account, leave just their name and URL if they don’t have an account, or be anonymous (the word verification just keeps spammer software out of the loop):

Blog CommentsOr, the user may sign in with an existing account if they already have one and their email address, URL, Avatar, etc. isaccount comments automatically added with their comment. This is a BACKLINK!!!! Their site is now linked to your blog post (if they have a URL), which counts in the overall scheme of things. Here’s another example where you can choose your identity: —>>
My point is – YOU SHOULD HAVE A BLOG! This is where your business can establish a personal relationship with your audience, customers, and/or clients developing customer loyalty that will set you apart from your competitors.  Think about it….if someone offers you advice, information, or DIY info, wouldn’t you be more likely to purchase from them when the opportunity presented itself? Customer loyalty is a huge part of marketing and something to always consider.

Next, a blog is a good place to test market ideas, products, or whatever using your audience as a sounding board. They are typically honest and upfront with comments, suggestions, and will let you know what they think whether it be a positive or negative response.

Finally, build your blogroll and look for industry related sites you can link to, further enriching your site with even more relevant content. Be original, be funny, be creative, be serious once-in-a-while, but most of all, be consistent!!!! Post at least 3x a week if possible and more is better. Make your posts worth your effort and those who take the time to read it!!!! Good luck!

Need help in setting up your BLOG…give me a call and I will be happy to help!

301 Redirects…What they are and why you NEED them!

You may have heard someone talk about a 301 redirect (OK…it’s technically called a Permanent Redirect) or come across this error message yourself when surfing the Internet. A 301 Redirect is just that – the web page that has been either renamed or redirected to some place else. This simple process is the easiest and most search-engine friendly way to move web pages so the bots (baby spiders) can find them. Also, every site should have at LEAST one from conception. By this I mean – your domain should have a Permanent Redirect so http://www.yourdomain.com and http://yourdomain.com are considered the same page. If you DO NOT have this redirect in place the world will end as we know it JK..some search engines will consider the URLs two different sites and your web site grade may suffer tremendously. Providing the 301 Redirect will (according to HubSpot Website Grader) get you full search engine credit for these sites and preserve what SE ranking you may already have.

There are several different ways you can implement the redirect. Using the .htaccess file on your server and the proper code is one way. Many servers have a built-in redirect program ready to use – you just pop in the URL of the site.  If you have someone hosting your site, ask them if they have the 301 Redirect in place then run the check yourself. I am happy to help anyone out who is not quite sure if its in place and how to do so. Just drop me an email or give me a call at Creative Web Solutions 4U.

How to Generate Backlinks to your Site!

I have touched briefly on the importance of incoming (backlinks, or inbound) links and  link-building.  Now, I would like to go a bit more in-depth on the subject so you understand why they are important and the different ways you can build incoming links to your web site.

According to Wikipedia (Not always the most reputable source, but I trust them on this definition!) backlinks are;

incoming links to a website or web page.  The number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (though other measures, such as PageRank, are likely to be more important). Outside of SEO, the backlinks of a web page may be of significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page.

Backlinks can build more traffic….therefore…the greater number of backlinks coming to your site….the more traffic you should get coming to your site. (People like to and will click on relevant links!) Even the number of internal links your site has count in the ranking, but the goal is to get others to support your site by providing a link from their pages to yours. You should do this in return for them too. This is know as a two-way reciprocal link exchange and I have used it as a marketing tool for many, many years. It can be FREE and it benefits both parties.

The Search Engines are temperamental in their treatment and grading of backlinks. Do not get scammed by the many web companies out there selling traffic-building tools and software, etc. It is a waste of your time and money. If you try to cheat the system…they will find out and the result could be disastrous. You can even be black-listed from the search engine sites for fraudulent activity. So, it benefits you and those you link with to do it right. Organic Growth…remember!

Who should you target?? Other organizations that are within your industry but not a direct competitor.  First…Search out business that provide products or services within your industry (that are relevant) and those that provide products and services that you DO NOT at this time. This is an excellent way to see what your competition is doing and is a good place to start. Check out these web sites (not the competitors) and see if they have a place for placing Industry Links. Send them an email or even call inquiring on their two-way reciprocal link policy. You will be providing your visitors valuable information on your web site and they WILL appreciate the time and effort it saves them. But you also want them coming BACK to your site. This is where the backlinks come in. When visiting other sites, your link will be available for visitors looking for your services as well. Confused yet??? It really is pretty simple and very, very important to work on continuously throughout the life of your web site.

This is another reason why a BLOG on your web site is useful and extremely important. You can encourage visitors to comment on posts and leave their web site link. Again, this is just another way to bring in more backlinks to your web pages creating a better SEO and page rank with the search engines. This all takes time and a bit of effort on your part, but its typically FREE and hey….FREE is ALWAYS GOOD.

If you have any questions regarding the above…just let me know.

Your Web site MUST HAVES…

What is the most important thing to have on your web site? I cannot emphasize this enough – CONTENT – CONTENT – AND MORE CONTENT! In text format….not graphics.

First, you must understand how the Internet search engines work and why content is so important to the success of your site and business. Think of the web as a nest of spiders. All the baby spiders (Robots or bots for short) spread out and crawl the Internet searching for food (they are crawling over yours and everyone else’s web pages) and once they find food (content), they bring it back to Mommy spider (the search engine). Mommy spider takes the food (your content) digests it (files and indexes all the text from each page in their database) and then remembers – or stores this info  for future use – where the good food is found according to her personal tastes (Page Rank based on inbound and outbound links, keywords – how  many times they appear, their weight/importance, and the basic context of the page). I know this may be confusing…really its not once you understand how the search engines work, but it really is that simple!

So, you see why it is so important to have content full of keywords on your page? A page full of beautiful graphics will look absolutely wonderful to visitors, but the search engine’s bots will not be able to read those images. Unfortunately, an  image only page will not get indexed or the info you want from that page will not be indexed properly. It really is a fine line between how many images to place on a page for aesthetic reasons and when to hold back. A few are fine…and you do want a nice appealing web page. These days there are a multitude of fantastic web sites out on the web, full of sound, color, images, etc. but their page ranking is still low or nonexistent. The way a web developer sets up the page headers also improves search engine capability.

Finally, should you have questions or concerns regarding your web site and pages there are many page-grader sites that will grade your page for FREE. Or you can give us a call and we can help you optimize your page. This is called  – SEO or search engine optimization which is taking each or your web pages and making sure you have the proper combination of content, images, keywords, and different headers, to optimize your site, so when the baby bots (spiders) come a calling you are READY FOR THEM!!!

Really…What is Marketing?

This is a question I get asked a lot. What is marketing? Everyone has some general idea of what marketing is…but how it works and the importance of marketing your business seems to elude many people. I will try to explain in a nutshell, the importance of marketing and some of the terms used. From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: mar·ket·ing
Pronunciation: \ˈmär-kə-tiŋ\
Function: noun
Date: 1561

1 a : the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market b : the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
2 : an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer

Pretty simple explanation for things. More than anything it is part b’s definition and for us marketing gurus, we use the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place & Promotion) for putting our Marketing Mix together. These four areas of the marketing plan are designed to get your product from conception into your customer/consumer’s hands ahead of your competition. Within these four areas, Promotion is where most organizations require or ask for help from outside resources. The promotion of your product or service can cost thousands of dollars in advertising media whether by email, print, TV, radio, or on the Internet. You can also send out a Press Release (PR) with the announcement of your product launch, again by print or online. And finally, of course, you can spend tons of money in purchasing those services from people to help you with the marketing plan. But…here is where the Internet can help!

Organic Growth Definition

In today’s market, we hear more about “organic growth.” Just what is “organic growth” and why is it different? This is from BusinessDirectory.com

Expansion of a firm’s operations from its own (internally generated) resources, without resorting to borrowing or acquisition of other firms.

Organic growth is the way of the future in marketing. Can you imaging NOT spending thousands of dollars on advertising and using that money toward product development or just investing back into your organization. Organic growth is a viable option for marketing and can be used to grow your company’s online presence and exponentially your overall consumer/business presence . Word of mouth is EVERYTHING these days and putting your organization’s name out on the Web is, first and foremost, – FREE – and an option everyone should invest time and energy in! This is where I want to help businesses grow on their own and learn to spend less with better results. Organic growth takes time and many organizations want to see the bottom-line right away. This type of marketing will take time – no doubt about it  – so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Next blog…I will talk about Viral Marketing and the Viral Marketing Loop Theory

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