Thursday, January 31, 2008

Web 2.0 - Are you Isolated?

by Bob Rose

There is considerable variation in understanding what the phrase Web 2.0 really means. Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media refers to Web 2.0 as a new "business revolution" caused by moving to the Internet as a platform and an attempt to "understand the rules of success on the new platform". In general it is widely believed that Web 2.0 refers to "second generation" of Web based communities, social networking sites, wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, collaborative categorization of content and folksonomies. This is further emphasized by the evolving concept of full interactivity between users and providers. A user on a Web 2.0 platform can upload content in addition to downloading it from the existing Websites.

Web 2.0 could stands for any or all of the following

  • Breaking the barriers isolating content and functionality on current Websites.
  • Changing the manner in which Web content is generated and distributed based on open communication, decentralizing content creation and use through social networking phenomena
  • Superior categorization and organization of content through collaborative action
  • Separating functionality and Web technology

With all the hype surrounding Web 2.0, it is not surprising at all to see organizations of all sizes scrambling to ensure an interactive customer experience by deploying an array of technologies and concepts such as Wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts. The basic objective of a Web 2.0 Website is to engage effectively with users - making it imperative to measure the success of their online initiatives by tracking and analyzing different sources of user content such as feedback, comments, votes, subscriptions, leads and even the number of downloads.

What makes Web 2.0 tick?

A whole new set of technologies have come together in creating this new "business" platform. These technologies range from a host of server side software components, content syndication tools, messaging protocols, extension to browsers and client side applications. Broadly these could include:

  • Rich Internet application usually Ajax-based
  • CSS, Valid HTML and use of micro-formats
  • Syndication and aggregation of data with RSS
  • Meaningful and relevant URLs
  • Liberal use of folksonomies (tags, tagclouds, freely chosen keywords)
  • Using wiki software on the Website
  • Weblog publishing, mashups
  • Technologies like SOAP, Web services etc.
  • User-friendly Website content-management systems (WCMS).
  • Optimized search engine capability for frequently-used keywords

Adapting to Web 2.0

While these technologies have given organizations a significant opportunity to build close relationships with their customers, they have also presented new challenges. Web 2.0 sites demand a higher level of interaction where content can be served in multiple formats, and create, edit or retire content as they desire. The shift is essentially from a static form of serving Web pages one way to one of breaking down silos where the focus is more on participation, collaboration and interaction. What does this paradigm shift mean for your Website? For one, when you consider that managing and updating content on a Website is a challenge task in itself, the additional requirements of usability, design and information architecture are enough to push things over the edge. Add to this the complexity of multiple file formats, delivery methods and user generated content. Other significant challenges lurking round the corner are:

  • Creation of unstructured and ad-hoc content can soon become unmanageable
  • Managing and moderating information posted by user community and readers
  • Presenting content in different forms such as podcast, blogs or Wikis.
The second generation Web is a big shift in both technology but also in customer's expectation. The users look for a rich user interface, seamless participation, community based services, content categorization and trust - all built on a decentralized infrastructure. At it's core a Web content management system (CMS) must provide the ability to edit contents through a user-friendly and technology-neutral interface. Also consider that when a community actively participates in adding and editing content on your Websites, security will quickly become a prime concern. User-friendly interfaces along with a robust content monitoring system, and security are basic requirements of any WCM in a Web 2.0 environment.

The Web 2.0 users demand an interface that is functionally rich, easy to use, and helps in publishing content quickly. You do not want your users that are well tuned to using sites such as Flickr or Blogger, getting frustrated about the complexities of interacting and posting content to your company's blog. Further, different forms of metadata such as 'rating' or 'tagging' by voters introduce new layers of intricacy in managing content. Additional challenges in content management arise due to multiple types of digital devices. Organizations, which stick to manual process for updating of content, or deploy a CMS that tightly binds content to the structure, are only reinforcing the silos that are fast becoming obsolete.

Syndicating content in standard Web feeds such as RSS or Atom is not a trivial task. Often non-technical subject matter experts struggle to update or publish news feeds themselves.

How can a Website CMS help?


Website content management systems
help businesses maintain consistency across different digital assets on their Website so that branding and design are controlled to the level desired (style sheets, templates, etc.), regardless of who is responsible for the actual content. As a result, visitors have a consistent and professional experience on a Website managed through a content management system. A CMS geared for Web 2.0 allows publishing of multiple forms of content all fed from a single source. It enables creation and dissemination of content to a wide range of audience in multiple mediums a breeze. Some examples are:

Blogs
: Most blogs posted by companies lack workflow or approvals process for content that is published or comments that are posted. These organizations can use a CMS to exercise greater control over their corporate blogs by employing workflow, approvals and archiving both postings and comments. A content management system can play an important role in an organization's Web 2.0 strategy, as it ensures that content passes through appropriate quality gates before being published. RSS feeds: A CMS can be setup for automatically publishing content as RSS feeds. What's more, visitors to a company's site can personalize their RSS feeds by defining a keyword or phrase. When new content related to the keyword or phrase appears on the Website, personalized content is automatically pushed to the recipient.

Podcasts
: A versatile CMS can facilitate publishing of digital assets such as audio and video files, and simplify the process by which a customer publishes the XML associated with the Podcast RSS feed. As a result, users can easily subscribe to the podcast. Most importantly, all versions are maintained enabling subscribers to have a complete archive of all podcasts that were issued.

Social Networking
: Static content is out - and user generated content is in. Inbound content plays a significant role in gauging responses of user community. It is unavoidable for organizations to employ a mechanism to pull data and its categorization posted by users. The CMS enables users to directly post data with folksonomy, tag clouds, ratings and comments. Analysis of this content provides organizations useful metrics to measure the success of their online initiatives. The beauty of a Website CMS is that it gives a wide range of flexibility without losing control. For instance, completely configurable workflows enable organizations to assign tasks to any person, and escalate in case defined thresholds are crossed. For example, e-mail alerts can be sent to content owners of specific sections on a Website, when these sections don't get updated after a specific time period. Imagine doing this manually in a dynamic environment.

How will this affect my Budget?


A full Website CMS based on SaaS delivers all functionality to manage a Web 2.0 enables properties without making a dent in your budget. By accessing 'software' as a service', you are spared the high initial cost of buying a license. Moreover, as the software is hosted, there is no additional hardware to buy and no software to configure and install. You pay a fixed monthly or quarterly subscription fee and leave the task of managing, maintaining and up gradation to the service provider.

Organizations also save as they do not have to engage a developer to tweaks the HTML code or template, or a Webmaster to take care of hosting. By using a SaaS model, organizations can also cut down on their risk, and choose different functionalities as they grow or unplug if they want. Further, as billing is on a monthly or quarterly basis, the cost is spread across the lifetime of a product's usage and the risk of product implementation and adoption are absorbed by the vendor and not the customer.

The benefits continue even when you compare the SaaS model to other CMS models like home grown solutions, and open source applications. Both the latter solutions need considerable additional resources to handle support and maintenance. This is because the hard part of a CMS starts only after the system goes live. It needs a dedicated team for managing hardware, software and the network. In addition you will need an expert who is always available 24/7 to modify a template, change a workflow, or trouble-shoot an end-user problem. Every time you need to change a layout, make a small change to your template or add a new section, you need a developer guiding you.

Not surprising, it is estimated that close to 91% of all support requests for a CMS are unrelated to software, but still require dedicated software personnel to solve content related issues. The contracted support handles only 9% of your needs.

Web 2.0 Success = Content + Interaction


Content is the key to the success in achieving your business goals in a Web 2.0 world. Content
and interactivity will drive people to your site, and will instill valuable opinion about your company in your customers or prospects. However, unless the diverse parts of information landscape do not connect and talk to each other, the ROI on online initiatives will remain unclear. With a Website CMS, you can easily synchronize these disparate content components and catalyze the equation by effectively engaging your customers or prospects.

About the Author

This article is contributed by Rob Rose - Vice President of Crownpeak. Content is the key to the success in achieving your business goals in a Web 2.0 world. With a Website content management system (CMS), you can easily synchronize content components and catalyze the quation by effectively engaging your customers or prospects.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Do You Know What Your Web Traffic Is Telling You?

by Hermas Haynes

Every time someone visits your website, they leave behind several important bits of data that you can analyze to determine whether or not your site is doing the best job it could. This generic data is stored in your web server's log files.

You can study this data to understand who your visitors are, how they explore your site, and get answers to lots of other questions. The process is known as web analytics, and you can use it to find out things like:

- Where is my web traffic coming from?
- What pages are visitors landing on?
- What other pages do they visit?
- How long do they stay on the site?
- How do visitors find what they want?
- How often are sales made?
- What's the ratio of visitors to sales?
- Are people subscribing to my newsletter?
- What browsers are visitors using?
- Through which pages do they exit?

Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions will give you a strong indication of how effective your website is, and the impact it is having on your business growth.

Say you provide three different ways for visitors to navigate your site - menu links, a search box and a site map. You can study the data to learn, for example, which navigation scheme is the most popular, or which keywords are searched most often.

The answers may prompt you to redesign the site's navigation to exploit the popular choice, or perhaps add a page that provides content relating to the new keywords being searched.

Server log file have traditionally been the default method for collecting user data. Today we can add page tagging, cookies, JavaScript, traffic analysis software and sophisticated online systems to the mix.

They collectively address issues such as speed for real time reporting, accuracy, cost and flexibility for collecting a wider range of data.

Traffic Analysis Definitions

Collected data is usually presented in various formats, such as: reports, charts, tables and graphs. Here are some of the critical areas where user data is recorded.

Page View - a count of a web page that has been viewed by one visitor.
Visit - an uninterrupted web site session that lasts for a certain minimum length of time, usually set for 30 minutes.
Unique Visitor - an individual visitor counted only once, in spite of how many visits they make in a given day.
New Visitor - a first-time visitor.
Repeat Visitor - a visitor who has made a previous visit.
Hit - a request for a specific web server file. (Should not be confused with Page View or Visit, as a web page is typically made up of several files).
Referrers - identifies the source of your traffic by url. e.g. search engine, article site or other incoming link.

Much of the data in these categories is broken down by hour, day, week and month. Statistical averages are also available by category and period.

Important Note About Accuracy

Like everything on the Internet, or in life for that matter, there are no absolutes. Data and statistics are never 100% accurate. There are variables beyond your control that will always affect the results.

For example. A visitor can disable her browser from accepting cookies. She can also delete them entirely from the browser cache. Therefore, in a situation where cookies are used for tracking, a return trip by that visitor to your site would be erroneously recorded as a first time visit.

Also, since the cookie originally assigned to that visitor has now been removed, the data attached to her activities as a unique visitor, will be skewed over time. It's not a perfect world.

Still, it is not unreasonable to assume a degree of accuracy hovering around the 90% - 95% range. That gives web analytics very high marks for reliability.

Even though the data is an important indicator of your site's performance, always be aware that figuring out what the data is telling you and acting on it correctly, is actually more important than the data itself.

About the Author

Hermas Haynes is an experienced marketer and founder of the popular online resource - http://eBizInfoCenter.com - where you can find more marketing articles, ideas, tools and strategies to help you advance your Web business.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Few Tips How To Move Your Website To Another Web Hosting Service Without Problems

by Bedrich Omacka

If you signed up for a bad web hosting service when you intended to promote your business with the help of a site and now troubles occurred you have to change the service. The usual reason why site owners change their web hosting service is because their website needs expansion. In these conditions, if the web hosting service does not provide a high technical support and does not offer enough web space and bandwidth then you should to move to a new web hosting service. There are some information you may to take into account when moving your website to a new web hosting service so that the change would be made properly.

The first thing that must be done when you are going to change your web hosting service is to make copies for anything concerning your website and to check whether the archives to the content on your website are well done. Archiving you websiteĆ¢€™s content is not a task that should be completed only when you move to a new web hosting service. This must be done every once in a while because that way you will avoid losing the information in case problems like hardware failure occur. This is a simple way to maintain the integrity of your website and will make it easier for you to change your actual web hosting service.

After these steps are completed you can start searching for a new web hosting service. The most important thing when you do that is to make sure that the new company can offer you web hosting plans that are at least as good as the ones provided by the old web hosting service. You do not need to move to a service that offers you less than what you already have. Then, try to find something to suit your new needs that the old web hosting service could not anymore. You can use different search utilities to see whether a web service can offer you the customer support that you need and if it can fulfill your new requirements.

After you choose a new web hosting service you should to upload the archive that was mentioned above. When all the files are transferred to the new service they will provide you a new IP and then you have to transfer you domain name to the new web hosting service. This transfer requires a period of time between 1-2 days. This is the reason why you should still keep your old site in this period. In all this time you have to do different experiments to verify if the site works as needed. This means that you must keep both your old service and the new web hosting for a while.

The moment when you leave your old company should be the moment when you stop receiving e-mails on the old account. Until that moment you have to verify all the e-mails that come to both your old and your new account. As you can see, transfering websites to a new web hosting service does not imply too many troubles if you consider each step. If you wait and see how your new site is during the transfer and perform some tests you will move it to a new web hosting service without having troubles.

About the Author

Article author works as writer for web hosting service provided by MarbleHost.com.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Build a Better Business Site

by Lauren Hobson

A good web site is one of the most important assets a small business can have, but what exactly makes a business web site "good?" To some extent, the answer depends on what type of industry you are in. But certain elements are common to most business sites, and should be implemented regardless of your type of business. To ensure that your business web site is professional, credible, and relevant, be sure it follows these basic principles:

Stand out from the crowd. Make sure your site is unique and doesn't look like everyone else's, and don't rely on pre-canned templates. Templates are almost always a bad idea for business sites, since they are too cookie-cutter and don't deliver anything compelling or unique to your users. Be intentional about the message that you are sending to your visitors, and make sure your site is an appropriate reflection of your business.

1. Use consistent, user-friendly navigation. Make sure the navigation system appears on every page so users can easily find their way around the site. Try to keep information only two or three clicks deep, and use drop-down menus to organize information and keep things simple.

2. Give readers something to read! First and foremost, great content gives visitors a reason to come your site. It provides them with something of value, and can result in word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and colleagues. Don't waste your readers' time with boring, irrelevant content that is too company-centric. Readers don't really care about your business, they care about how your business can help them solve their problems. Great content is the most important part of a business web site, so don't skimp on providing readers with excellent content.

3. Provide complete contact information. Few things are more frustrating than not being able to find out where a business is located or how to contact someone in the company. Make sure you have your complete contact information on your web site, including a physical address, and provide users with multiple ways to contact you (phone, email, etc.). Providing detailed contact information reassures visitors that your company is real and gives your business additional credibility.

4. Present a strong call to action. The purpose of having a web site is ultimately to get visitors to do something, whether it's to buy something, contact you, join a mailing list, or remember your company the next time they need products or services. Whatever it is that you want your visitors to do, you should always present a clear, strong call to action and make it easy for them to actually take that action. Be specific, and don't be afraid to be direct. For instance, a link that says "keep reading here" is a call to action, as opposed to a more neutral link that says "continued." Even something as simple as "Buy Now" invites action because it is so direct.

5. Give readers something of value. Readers need a reason to follow your call to action and/or come back to your site again. Offer them a coupon, a tip sheet, free advice or information, or something entertaining like a crossword puzzle. This can also help build credibility with your audience and set your business apart from your competitors, too.

About the Author

Lauren Hobson is the Editor of Biz Talk Newsletter and the Five Sparrows Marketing Blog from Five Sparrows, LLC. Read the most recent Five Sparrows articles on small business websites and marketing or subscribe at www.fivesparrows.com/biztalk. Copyright 2007

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ten Tips for Building a Successful Dental Website

by Nicole McCullum

Dentists, who previously relied primarily on the Yellow Pages for promotion, are learning the advantages of building a website for their dental practice. They understand that by having a dental service website, they are expanding their options to grow their practice. This is because over 70% of U.S Residents now turn to the Internet as a key resource for finding professional service providers such as dentists. Dentists now have a variety of new tools at their disposal, such as being able to submit their website to thousands of online directories and search engines that link back to the dental website, increasing awareness of their dental practice and increasing the possibility of acquiring new patients through the Web.

But how do you capitalize on such a vast opportunity? The first thing to keep in mind is that your website must be carefully designed and positioned to provide your prospective patients with the information that they need to make a well-informed decision. Following are some things that should always be included when designing and building a website for a dental practice:

1. Biography of Each Dentist - Unlike the Yellow Pages, a website gives you the opportunity to list your credentials and work experience, helping a prospective client to be more comfortable in choosing your practice. Make your site more personable by adding a photo of each dentist next to his or her biography.

2. Areas of Practice - Always highlight your specialties so prospective patients can determine whether or not you're a good fit for their specific needs.

3. Before and After Images - They say "the proof is in the pudding." If you're a cosmetic dentist, be sure to include before and after images of successful work that you have done.

4. Testimonials - Going to the dentist has long been a fear of many, from toddlers to adults. Be sure to include testimonials that emphasize a good "bedside manner" with your patients.

5. Request an Appointment Link - One of the greatest things about having a website is that it markets your business 24 / 7 / 365. Busy parents or adults can research new dentists in their free time, most likely after they put the kids to bed or in the late evening. That can make it difficult for them to call to set up an appointment with a dentist's office when their available time doesn't coincide with office hours. Having a "request an appointment" link will alleviate that concern by making it convenient for a prospective client to contact the office with an appointment request, leaving their contact information for a confirmation.

6. Hours of Operation - Your website should answer all questions that a prospective patient might ask, and your hours of operation are a significant and common question. If you offer alternative appointment arrangements, be sure to include it as well.

7. Payment - List all of the insurance providers that you accept, including credit cards, cash, and other payment methods.

8. MapQuest - Technology now makes it so easy to get directions. Why not make it easy for your patients by linking your address to MapQuest so that your new patients can find directions to your office (including an approximate travel time and distance). This will be especially helpful for new movers - a great target market for a dentist looking to grow their practice.

9. A Dental Blog - A blog is a great avenue to highlight your expertise and develop a rapport with your patients and prospective patients. You will be able to provide answers to questions as well as update your audience on the latest developments and dental technology being used in your office.

10. Print Page Option - Having a website can save you a lot of time and money. Take advantage of it by directing prospective patients to your dental practice website rather than sending out brochures. Ensure that visitors can print the pages so that they have the option to learn more about your practice and what it offers when they're on the go. The print page option should offer the ability to print content without complicated formatting or extraneous images.

About the Author

Nicole McCullum, is the Director of Business Development for Captivate Designs ( www.CaptivateBusinessWebDesign.com ) a leading Web Desigm and Graphic Design and Internet Marketing firm dedicated to helping small and mid-size businesses achieve online success. You may reach her at Nicole@CaptivateDesigns.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Finding Affordable Custom Website Design

by Gene Schwerman

So it is time for your business to get a website. In fact, it was actually time a year or two ago. So now you might call it a little bit past time for your business to get a website. So, what kind of a website do you want? You certainly don't want a template site. You don't wish to blend into the forest of other websites by looking exactly the same as all of them. So as we are about to establish here, you probably want that elusive "affordable custom website design."

In fact, not only would you like to stick out a little bit from the crowd, you wouldn't mind being visually attractive and interesting as well. So rather than ordering up a template site, kind of like getting on the phone and ordering a pizza, you decide you need a web designer. You are going to want a website designed specifically for your business. It will actually be a custom-designed website that highlights the nuances of your business in a pleasing and interesting way and allows you to stick out from the crowd.

So let's see what else does your website need to be? Your website needs to be complete enough to address all of the options that are available on the Internet. Perhaps you even want to include a blog on your site or set up the site for e-commerce. Certainly you want an interesting, attention-getting graphic that makes your homepage pop off the screen and sizzle. You want the appropriate search engine optimization to help move yourself up in the search engines. You want some fairly slick navigation. It suddenly occurs to you that a number of the things that you're hoping to put into your website are going to be expensive. You don't have a real good handle on exactly what the costs might be. But you know good and well that you can't blow your entire advertising budget for the year on this website. So it needs to be affordable. Inexpensive would be even better, the word cheap also comes to mind, you just don't want it to look cheap. Hmmmm... it's a challenge.

So what do you need to look for in order to get an affordable custom website design that fits your business to a T and fits your budget as well. Well, you almost certainly need to find a small independent web design firm with low enough overhead to keep your site affordable. However, since you want exactly what you want, you're going to have to do your homework to make sure the company that you pick is able to deliver both the graphics, the SEO and the subtleties that you want, that will set your site apart from the crowd. You're going to have to break your heart and get on the phone and actually check some referrals. You need to examine numerous sites from the several companies that you are investigating in order to make sure that the diversity that you need is displayed within the sites that they have already built.

Having now done your homework, it is time to select your affordable custom website design company, but your work is not yet over. Perhaps the most important thing required of you, in order to get the exact type of site that you want, is the work that remains. You must now give your Web designer as many exact ideas and instructions as you can, as well as samples of sites that you have chosen that are close to what you want. Failure to do this important last bit of extensive input may be the single most often neglected requirement when it comes to getting the website that you want.

My father, God rest his soul, used to put it pretty well. When he found someone inept or downright clumsy, he would say about the person "he couldn't pour piss out of a boot, with the directions stamped on the heel." It wasn't particularly kind, but it did get the point across pretty well. Don't give your Web designer the instructions after he is already made the mistake, give him the instructions that he needs in advance so as not to waste his time or yours. The less specific your instructions are, the more decisions your Web designer will have to make on his own. The more unclear or nebulous your directions are, the more your Web design company will have to interpret and try to figure out your directions.

Finally, it is incumbent upon the website owner to stay in constant contact with his Web designer during the entire process of building the site. Of course, the Web designer himself should help in this process, because it is in both of your best interests that as much communication as possible take place at this point in time. Regular, even daily reviews of the site as it is being built will eliminate the possibility of your Web designer going off into the wrong direction and then coming back to blame you, because he didn't have the right instructions.

In the end, you should be looking at a truly affordable custom website that immediately enhances your business, facilitates communication with both customers and vendors and quickly becomes a lead source for new business generation. Done properly, you'll scratch your head and say, what in the world took me so long in getting around to getting this website up. You will be proud of what you see every time you go to the Internet. You will probably end up referring your Web designer to many of your business associates over time. In this scenario, everyone wins, because you took care to see that you did your own homework and to help your Web designer to help you. In retrospect, you may look back and say "this darn website was not only affordable, it was downright inexpensive, in fact, if it didn't look so good, I would actually say it was cheap."

About the Author

Gene Schwerman is founder and head marketing consultant for Truly Unique--Small Business Website Design. Truly Unique provides a wide range of SEO and website design services.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Internal Site Search 101

by Justin Palmer

Google has raised the bar. If you misspell a word, it tells you. If you perform a search returning millions of results, they prioritize the results by showing you the most relevant page (usually). Compare that to most internal site search features on eCommerce sites. Not only can they not handle misspellings, they usually to a poor job of ranking results. Combine a poor site search feature with a confusing navigation, and you've got a usability nightmare.

Why optimize your internal site search? For one, some research suggests internal site search users convert 3 times better than users who don't use search, assuming their query returns relevant results.

Below I've gathered up 11 ideas for improving your internal site search feature.

  1. Know What Visitors are Searching For: Optimizing internal site search begins with understanding what visitors are searching for, how often, and why. Do users resort to site search because of poor site navigation? Are certain queries performed over and over? Your website analytics must answer these questions (Google analytics recently launched a site search feature). In addition, track what percentage of search queries return no results. As you improve this feature, you'll have a metric to benchmark your progress.
  2. Intelligent Search Suggestions: An intelligent site search feature, that suggests common searches as you type, is an excellent usability feature that can prevent website visitors from making queries that return no results or irrelevant items. Checkout Foodnetwork for a great working example of an AJAX intelligent search feature.
  3. Show Non-Product Results: If you analyze your log files, you'll likely find that many search queries using your internal site search are not related to products. For example, visitors will commonly search for terms such as "return policy" or "employment." Make sure your site search can display results from your site content as well as your product database.
  4. Handle SEO Keyword Searches: If you rely on SEO or PPC to drive site traffic, make sure that your internal site search can return results for the keyword phrases you rank for or bid on. For example, if your site ranks for "ipod accessories", you may find that visitors immediately perform that same query on your internal site search. If the search returns no results, you'll probably lose your visitor.
  5. Filter by Department, Size, & Color: It can be frustrating when a site search query returns too many results. Allow your visitors to filter down the results to increase the relevancy. Common filter criteria are age, product department, color, and size.
  6. Sorting by Price, Age, & Rating: At times, prioritizing search results is more important than narrowing them down. Many customers will expect to be able to sort by price, the newness of the products, or user submitted ratings.
  7. Handle Misspelled Search Terms: By analyzing searches that return no results, you should be able to identify commonly misspelled search terms. Because search engines such as Google have become sophisticated enough to suggest corrected spellings of words, your customer may expect the same from your site.
  8. Eliminate Expired Page Errors: There's nothing worse than hitting the back button on a browser, and getting "This page has expired" error. This preventable error occurs frequently on search pages that submit queries via the "post" method.
  9. Search by Item Number: Make sure your site search can handle item number queries. When a user enters an item number that matches a product in your inventory, take them directly to the product page rather than the search results.
  10. Show Last Search Query in Search Box: After a user performs a search, populate the search form field with the exact query the customer entered. This will allow them to realize if they make a typo when searching, and easily adjust the search query.
  11. Focus on Short Tail Searches: While long tail searches have been the focus of organic SEO for quite some time, you may find it more effective to optimize for more frequently searched keywords. You may find that a small percentage of unique queries make up a large portion of overall queries. In other words, grab some low-hanging fruit by optimizing for the most frequently searched terms on your site.
About The Author

Justin Palmer is a Web Marketing consultant who writes an e-Commerce and Website Marketing blog. Justin offers informational internet marketing products such as an eCommerce optimization tips guide and an Email White listing Guide.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tools to monitor your website

by CL Talbert

You can't just put your website on the net with right keywords and all the right touches and expect your traffic and ranking will remain constant. As the web is an ever changing landscape, you have to keep track of your own web results like what is happening with the competition and also the best and highest ranked sites. There are many useful tools to help you find out what exactly is happening.

1. A tool which you can use to test your own website links or other websites for broken links: http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html

2. With this tool you can check search engines for the number of back links to your URL i.e. other web pages linking to your site: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/backlinks/

3. It sometimes becomes important to know where the servers of your hosting company are physically located. Because, some search engines like Google have the ability to filter search results based on their physical location called geotargeting. This could be used to determine why your site is showing in only a certain country. This link can also be used to research the country location of a particular competitor's website: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/website-country/

4. In order to track the location of the visitor or a customer to your website: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/geovisitors/

5. In order to check the Yahoo! web ranking of your's or your competitor's website use : http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/webrank/

6. Here is a link to check the web ranking of a website using a Mac or Apple computer: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/pagerank-mac/

7. You need a Google AdSense account for using this. This link provides you with charts and reports which will help you analyze traffic, clicks, and results from your AdSense advertising http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/adsense-charts/

8. If you have an AdSense account, you can analyze your website address or another website address to see what Google ads will be displayed when the customer selects certain website names or keywords: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/adsense-sandbox/

9. This link will take you to a cooperative advertising network where you can join to display and share your ads with other website owners: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/ad-network/

10. You can add the Search Functionality on your website which uses Google. This works only if your site is listed in the Google Index. http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/search/

11. Here are some links to free website counters which you can use on your website to track your traffic and hits: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/counter/
http://www.amazingcounters.com/?ref=gad033

http://www.cyber-counter.com/signup.php

http://www.statcounter.com/free_hit_counter.html http://www.free-counters.net/

About the Author

If you could easily build real content web sites that each made you between $5. and $100. per day... How many sites would you build? Visit http://www.articleunderground.12w.net/ for a free special report.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How to use Google Adsense to Make Money

by Andre Sanchez

There is more to knowing how to use Google Adsense to make money than just placing a few Adsense blocks on some of your websites. That is fine if you want to make a few dollars a month from your website for little effort, and get a $100 check sent to you every now and again, but not if you want to make more substantial money than that.

If you are designing a site specifically for Adsense, you must first find a suitable niche with good keywords that people are paying substantial amounts for in the Google Adwords program. That is because it is the Google Adwords adverts that are used by Google on your Adsense site. If there is a fair number of high cost clicks in your niche, then you have a good chance of these appearing on your website.

Be prepared to design a decent website that people are going to want to visit, since adsense or not, it will be difficult to get your website listed on Google if your site has a low level of relevance to the search terms, or keywords, used by people using Google for their search. There is little point in using Google Adwords to advertise a site monetized only with Google Adsense! If you are selling popular products, then the Adsense might just pay for your Adwords campaign, but it is very unlikely. The best combination is a reasonably expert site, with some products or services offered, and also some Adsense blocks.

Some pages on your site could consist of articles with accompanying Adsense blocks, and others of sales pages offering your products or services without the distraction of Adsense. You should not place Adsense on your sales pages or squeeze pages because that will distract visitors to your page, and once they click on the Adsense ad, they will be off. Adsense should ideally have a page to itself, where it doesn't matter if the prospect leaves or not. By then you should have offered them your opt-in page.

Your niche rarely matters since most niches have a range of high and low prices. What matters is designing a page round each of the keywords you want to use. Once you have a list of keywords - say 20 or thirty plus, then enter each one into it

To find the better Adsense keywords, enter your keyword into the Google KeywordToolExternal and check the Adwords prices the tool provides you with. Do that with each of your keywords and select those that cost most. Your income per click will be related to the cost per click paid by the advertiser. Once you have selected your keywords, then write information pages based on each of the keywords, and optimize each page for the relevant keyword.

It is important that your visitors see a professional looking website, containing useful content and information. Offer some products if you can, and if your visitors do not see anything they want they will have the option of clicking on an Adsense ad. Hence you can make money in two ways. You visitors will prefer it that your site offers more than just a page full of adverts as many Adsense sites do.

Google, however, are slowly working their way through such websites and dropping them from the listings. This will not happen to your site if it provides good content relevant to the keyword of each page. At least this is true unless you are copying content, in which case your web page might never see the light of day. Many web pages are generated automatically by software that can be generating exactly the same pages for other users as it is for you. You should write your own content or have it written for you by a professional ghost writer that will not offer your work to anybody else.

If you follow the above advice, then you will have a better chance of making money from Adsense. However, if you really want to know how to use Google Adsense to make money, then the secret is in duplication. You might make only $5 daily from one website, but if you had 40 other websites doing the same . . .

About the Author

How to use Google Adsense to Make Money was originally published at http://www.affiliatemarketinglife.com

Monday, January 14, 2008

Web Pages to Have on your Internet Marketing Website

by Andre Sanchez

If you intend using your own website in internet marketing, and it is just about essential if you want to make a living from it, then there are a number of different types of page that you can include.

The first is a squeeze page, necessary if you want to build a good list of email addresses. The whole purpose of a squeeze page is to persuade visitors to give you their email address and at least their first name before they leave your website. You can then keep in contact with them, rather than lose them for ever. The squeeze page should give visitors a good reason why they should fill in the opt-in form that is the main feature of the page.

This can be a free course of e-lessons over a number days that you have pre-programmed into your autoresponder, a free ebook or a free newsletter that provides regular information on the subject of your website. In return, the visitor must provide their email address so that you can send the offer to them. You should also make it clear that you will be sending them information and special offers when appropriate.

You should also have a "Contact" page. This provides information as to how visitors can contact you if they wish. Without a means of contact, visitors will be unlikely to trust you. The page can simply be a single line email address, or can contain a full postal address, fax and telephone numbers, a mobile number and an email address. The more information that you provide on your Contact page the more you will be trusted, and you will have demonstrated that you have nothing to hide.

Your "landing page" is also important. That is the page to which visitors will be directed when they click on links to visit your website. If you use article marketing to promote your site, you might have several landing pages according to the topics of the articles. Each landing page must relate to the topic of the relevant article. These pages should link back to your home page, but should not be reachable from any other page on the website unless you want it to be. It is intended as a landing page with specific information relevant to where the click came from, and designed to maintain the readers interest in the transition from article to webpage.

If you take information from people who visit your site, such as name and address or credit card details, then you must have a "Privacy Policy". This should be properly stated, and there are plenty lawyers offering them on the internet. They only cost a few dollars and are worth the expenditure. If you see one that you like on another website you could copy that. There should be a link to your Privacy Policy from every page on your website.

Another useful page is the "About Me" page, that lets the visitor know a bit about you. It can take the form of a short biography, or simply demonstrate how you are qualified to say what you do on your website. Its intention is to let the visitor see that you are authoritative on your niche, have a proven track record and/or are reputable in what you are doing. The better people get to know you the more likely they are to buy from you.

Many people put a disclaimer on their website, again viewable from every other page. This will be particularly useful if you offer products that can cause harm if wrongly used. Medical products or advice, for example, must be provided with a disclaimer of responsibility for the results of using the product or taking the advice. You must include a disclaimer against any inferred income for marketing products you sell. Although such disclaimers may not always stand up in court, you are leaving yourself open to litigation without one, and disclaimers should always be professionally compiled using the specific information or products that you offer on your website.

A site map is a useful page to have since your visitors can check it out and use it like a contents page. Few websites think of adding a contents page, and if they did it would not mean much if the linking structure was not also shown. This is what a site map is: a map of your site showing all the link paths from your home page. When you come to submit your site to Google and Yahoo, you will have to generate site maps for these search engines. That is different to this, so do not confused your personal site map with a search engine site map. A link to your site map can also be provided on each page of your website.

These are the most useful types of web pages to have on your internet marketing website, and if you use as many of them as possible you will not only improve your chances of making money, but also provide a service to your customers that they will appreciate.

About the Author

Web Pages to Have on your Internet Marketing Website was originally published at http://www.affiliatemarketinglife.com

Friday, January 11, 2008

Website Blunders - A Complicated Navigation System

by Lorna Findlay

One of the worst mistakes you can make with a web site is to have poor or complicated navigation. The best web sites are those with the simplest navigation methods. Simple navigation does not mean a simple-looking web site. In fact, the most professional websites often have the least complicated navigation systems.

One of the biggest drawbacks to having a complicated navigation system is the probability that some of the links will break down. It becomes very hard, if not impossible, to make changes to a website that has such complicated navigation. Making a change to content on one page can mess up the links if you aren't careful. One of the worst things you can do is have your potential customers try to click on a link that goes nowhere.

Eliminate the chance for problems with navigation by using simple navigation systems. If you are making your own website always plot it out in flow-chart form before implementing it. This will help to ensure that everything links properly. Have someone else look at your chart before you use it to ensure that it not only works properly but also that it will look good.

One of the best ways to provide a clean looking and smooth running site is to use the same set of navigation buttons throughout the site. Place the same buttons on each page so that the site can easily be navigated. Users will get a quick understanding of the working of your site and can concentrate on the content instead of looking for how to get around.

On each page be sure to put a link to the home page. If you have many pages of content it is easy to get lost far away from the home page. Instead of using the "back" button on the browser it is much easier and efficient for the users to click on the "home" button so they can start over if need be. Don't provide too many buttons or places for users to click. This can get confusing and muddles up the site making it look unprofessional.

Research other sites with similar content to see how they deal with navigation. You may be able to combine certain areas under one button and then break them down later on in the site. Most people can easily deal with about 5 buttons to click on. As you add more than that you are adding not only more complexity to the site but are also risking the integrity of the function.

About the Author

To discover the Top 30 Website Blunders and how you can avoid them when launching your next website, please visit http://www.7dollarguides.com/blunders

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Increased Web Site Traffic With My 10 Secrets

by Sean Saunders

1. Make it a habit to update your website with fresh content once or twice a weak. Search engines don't like static sites that never change, so they drop them faster than you can say "where'd my site go?" You don't have to update every page of the website; just the most active area. Placing a small script counter on the page may help to show people when it was last updated; visitors appreciate this.

2. Allow your customers to opt-in to a special "customers only" newsletter. Or, you could let them opt-in for discounts and special monthly coupons. Make sure that every page has some reference to the newsletter or free discount/coupon membership.

3. Add a "Bookmark This Page" script and place it on every highly visited section of your site, as well as the homepage. Make the hyperlink something more exciting than "Book This Page". Try "Don't Take a Chance & Lose This Website! Add Me To Favorites Now!" or something even more creative.

4. Openly ask for partners and affiliates. Tell visitors and potential partners that you will list their product and/or website on a special section of your website; if of course they do the same for you. Be careful doing this though; after all, you don't want to promote your competitors products.

5. Make your website familiar to your visitors. Use the same colors, logos, and design throughout the majority of your website. And to be safe, always have a "Contact Us" link on your website, preferably on every webpage.

6. Use keywords and titles that your customers & visitors will remember. This will ensure that they won't get lost while exploring your site. Either that, or it will just come in handy in case they somehow lose their bookmarks.

7. Get you hands on an "E-mail A Friend" script and put it in the most popular areas of your site. Most of these scripts allow you to have the "E-mail a Friend" form already filled out for the visitor, so all they'll have to do is click & enter in their friend's email address.

8. Make sure your website has a clear and concise "Policy" page. Be sure that it defines your websites policies and how you conduct business. The more information, the better.

9. Create an in-depth FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. Make sure it addresses the most common questions and gives clear understandable answers. If there are any doubts about your website in the minds of the customers, a FAQ page will help remove them. A FAQ page will rarely answer everyone's questions, so be sure to place a big contact-us link; something like "If Your Question is Not Answered Here, Please Contact Us"

10. Don't spam a newsletter or discount subscriber with lots of offers and/or "great deals". Most subscribers only want what they signed up, not bogus spam. And if a subscriber does choose to opt out of your list, honor their request. If you want to have a reputable website & business, then you have to treat your visitors and customers with respect.

About the Author

Would You Like Additional Information On How To Generate More Web Site Traffic? If So, Visit http://GetFreeTrafficHits.com To Get Immediate Access To Over 70 Unique & Extremely Powerful Website Traffic Tips.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Use Domain Free Web Hosting For a Quick and Easy Web Presence

by Fei Lim

Anyone can have a website with domain free web hosting. You don't have to be experienced with website design. Neither do you have to have any money. If you know what you want to say on your website and have a general idea of the image you want to project, you will be able to create a free website using professional online web creation tools. Furthermore, with the right hosting company you won't have to pay to get up and running.

There is a vast range of free web hosting options. It is important to carefully read the terms and conditions of service to fully understand what you are agreeing to. For example, many free hosting services will place advertisements on your web site as a form of payment. If you have no control over the types of advertisements on your site, you can end up being embarrassed when they are totally inappropriate. Can you imagine a church website with a large, colorful gambling banner advertisement flashing across the top of it? That's a real example of the pitfalls of free hosting with the wrong hosting company.

If you need a web presence but don't expect high traffic, domain free web hosting is a quick, easy, and free way to get started. A number of very reputable hosting companies offer free hosting and an online website creation tool with the obvious expectation that as you grow you will need to pay for hosting. This is because higher traffic sites need a greater bandwidth to function properly. If a site is too slow, visitors will click away and never see your message.

Whereas in the past, free web hosting generally came with basic, unprofessional looking sites, this is no longer the case. It pays to take your time and compare quality, upgrade prices and services of companies offering a free hosting option. Yahoo is now offering such a service and there is talk that Google is planning to do the same. In fact, Google has already introduced what they call small business starter pages. These are free website pages which allow a small business to get a free website presence, however they will have to pay to activate Google Adwords on their mini-site and their ability to market through the site is limited.

If you are seriously considering creating a professional looking website and you want to get your feet wet with free hosting, Weebly.com would have to be one of the best options available, if not the best. Their website creator is easy to use and the result is a professional, clean looking site. Best of all, they don't put ads on your site. You can purchase your own domain name through them and upgrade easily to paid services whenever you want.

Some hosting companies offer free hosting for domain names purchased through them. However, this form of domain free hosting can ultimately be costly if the hosting services are inadequate and ongoing costs of upgraded services are expensive. Domain names can be purchased relatively inexpensively so the primary consideration in choosing a free hosting provider should be the long term as well as short term benefits they are able to offer you.

Free web hosting provides a wonderful opportunity to get a professional looking website up and running quickly and you don't have to wait until you have a decent internet marketing budget. However, it is important to choose a hosting company that has reasonably priced, high quality, paid services for when you want to upgrade. You also need to know whether or not the website will be transferable to another hosting company in the future. You may find you are permanently locked in to a hosting company, particularly if you are dependent on their website creation tool.

Free web hosting with the right hosting company can give you an almost immediate web presence. Choose your hosting company wisely and you won't look back.

About the Author

Fei Lim is the CEO, Founder, and Owner of Flizard Technologies. Flizard Technologies offers unlimited web hosting, affordable web design, and affordable domain name registration services.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pros and Cons of Flash-based Sites

by Bo Sandkvist

Flash-based sites have been a craze since the past few years, and as Macromedia compiles more and more great features into Flash, we can only predict there will be more and more flash sites around the Internet. However, Flash based sites have been disputed to be bloated and unnecessary. Where exactly do we draw the line? Here's a simple breakdown.

The good:

Interactivity

Flash's Actionscript opens up a vast field of possibilities. Programmers and designers have used Flash to create interactve features ranging from very lively feedback forms to attractive Flash-based games. This whole new level of interactivity will always leave visitors coming back for more.

A standardized site

With Flash, you do not have to worry about cross-browser compatibility. No more woes over how a certain css code displays differently in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. When you position your site elements in Flash, they will always appear as they are as long as the user has Flash Player installed.

Better expression through animation

In Flash, one can make use of its animating features to convey a message in a much more efficient and effective way. Flash is a lightweight option for animation because it is vector based (and hence smaller file sizes) as opposed to real "movie files" that are raster based and hence much larger in size.

The bad and the ugly:

The Flash player

People have to download the Flash player in advance before they can view Flash movies, so by using Flash your visitor range will decrease considerably because not everyone will be willing to download the Flash player just to view your site. You'll also have to put in additional work in redirecting the user to the Flash download page if he or she doesn't have the player installed.

Site optimization

If your content was presented in Flash, most search engines wouldn't be able to index your content. Hence, you will not be able to rank well in search engines and there will be less traffic heading to your site.

Loading time

Users have to wait longer than usual to load Flash content compared to regular text and images, and some visitors might just lose their patience and click the Back button. The longer your Flash takes to load, the more you risk losing visitors.

The best way to go is to use Flash only when you absolutely need the interactivity and motion that comes with it. Otherwise, use a mixture of Flash and HTML or use pure text if your site is purely to present simple textual and graphical information.

About the Author

BR Web Marketing www.bosandkvist.com

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pay-Per-Play - A new revenue stream for webmasters?

by Simon Cooper

We have all heard of pay-per-click (PPC) and have seen it rise to become the primary form of online advertising in the space of only a few years. Most webmasters carry PPC ads on their sites these days, be it Google or any of the other PPC providers such as Yahoo or Miva. But how many people have heard of pay-per-play (PPP) and will it work?

As the name suggests, rather than getting paid for each ad-click, webmasters will get paid for each ad-play. A play consists of a five second ad each time a page is loaded that has the PPP code installed. It is a sound based ad that will be based around brand advertising rather than trying to sell a particular product. If the user stays on the page they will not continue to get ads, it is the just the single five second ad, unless they refresh the page.

The million dollar question though is, will PPP work? Sound can be really irritating for website visitors, especially when they are not expecting it. This in itself might deter some webmasters as it might scare their visitors away. On the other hand, it is only a five second ad and if enough websites adopt it, maybe it will become the norm and people will just get used to it.

As a webmaster myself I can see an immediate opportunity to make some quick cash from PPP via traffic exchanges and in particular, auto traffic exchanges. Most traffic exchanges require a page view for between twenty and thirty seconds and we all know most surfers are simply trying to build up their surfing credits. If I put the code on a page explaining what PPP is, surfers will get an ad alongside an explanation and on an auto traffic exchange that page could easily get hundreds of views per day. Each time an ad plays, I am earning a commission. And there are plenty of traffic exchanges that allow sound, so I can't imagine this will do anything but earn me some bucks.

However, I will still need to be convinced of the risk/reward of putting the PPP code on all my website pages. I'd be really interested to see what other webmasters think about the risk/reward of PPP ads. The risk as I see it is that my visitors will be scared off. The reward is a commission for each ad played. While I intend to take the opportunity of earning some money from the traffic exchange concept, I am not yet ready to dive on in and put the code all over my site.

And what about the advertisers?

Most advertisers looking to promote a brand will be fairly large corporate type advertisers. They will only be attracted by PPP if it is widely adopted by webmasters. They are unlikely to experience the benefit if their ads are primarily being played in traffic exchange type environments. Corporate advertisers will want mainstream coverage. But they will only get mainstream coverage if webmasters are prepared to adopt the concept for the majority of their sites.

We seem to have reached a classic catch 22 scenario.

So are there any other considerations? The website that is currently signing up webmasters for the PPP launch on 1st February 2008 has an Alexa rating of 25000 but a Google page rank of 0. That means some serious marketing is going on behind this program. The website hasn't been around for very long as borne out by their page rank but already they have enough traffic to put them in the top 25000 websites on the internet. Sure, a three tier affiliate program will help but nonetheless, there must be some serious money behind them. Further, they claim to be backed by a major search engine, as yet unnamed.

In short, I am yet to be convinced by PPP and whether it will work over the longer term. However, on the basis that it might work, I'd like to be a part of it. I'd also love to hear the views of other webmasters.

About the Author

Simon is the webmaster of the netSuccess Directory and a pay-per-play affiliate

Friday, January 4, 2008

Web 2.0 Concepts to Keep Your Members Coming Back

by Jeremy Gislason

Web 2.0 may be the most overused, and misunderstood, term of the decade. What it means, in a nutshell is providing a user driven website. Basically many membership marketing websites are Web 2.0, especially social networking sites. The users determine the content in the form of forums, blogs, article posting, reviews and so on. To further enhance the usability of your website and thus the benefit to your members, here are a some ideas to provide a few interactive extras or member benefits.

Training courses are an excellent tool to provide benefit to your members. There are multiple forms for delivering your courses. You could use email - text or html or both, pdf downloads, website content pages, streaming & downloadable videos and audios.

E-mail training courses - Getting your members to sign up for an e-mail training course that takes place over perhaps eight weeks, is a great way of keeping your members engaged with your site over a period of time. You could make this a free course, a paid course or both. Maybe give them a few lessons for free and ask them to pay for the rest of the course once they are into it.

However, to get maximum exposure giving away an entire course or even multiple courses of good quality for Free will really get people coming back to your site. We do this with some of our own membership sites including MembershipMillionaire.com.

Video tutorials - This is a very effective form of training as it is much easier to show your members what you are doing, rather than trying to explain it. It prevents your students becoming frustrated when they can't understand what you are explaining, and reduces misunderstanding.

You could do the videos yourself using software or you could hire experts in video creation if you are not comfortable using software or doing videos. You could do simple power point slideshows and narrate them or you could stand/sit in front of the camera and talk.

With many Internet users on broadband or ADSL nowadays and computer processors getting faster and faster videos are now going mainstream.

Teleclasses - Teleclasses are similar to conference calls and are conducted over the telephone. They are an excellent way for your members to take part in live learning, as well as having personal interaction with you and other members of your site.

There are many services out there that provide teleconference lines for you to use. Some are free and some have paid services, you should decide what is best for your business needs. You could even record your calls, have transcripts made and then sell that as another product in itself. To top that off you could offer reprint or resell rights to those calls and sell licenses.

Product reviews - Reviews posted by other members is a fantastic interactive medium. It could also engage heated discussions! Nothing gets traffic faster than controversy whether good or bad. Let your members speak their mind about products and services they've used. This will not only help other members and visitors out but it will add lots of content to your site that the search engines love. Sites such as Amazon.com, SureFireWealth.com and others do this on a regular basis.

Guest interviews - Guest interviews with a well known personality who is connected with your niche subject will add huge credibility to your site. Promote guest interviews on your website and in your newsletter. This is a quick way to get great content.

You could post the interview on your site as website content. Or you could have the streaming audio or video up and even let your members download the interviews. Let them post reviews and comments to the interviews and you've got even more content.

Forums - Forums are a type of virtual community and provide the opportunity for people with similar interests to talk to each other. Your members will already have a shared interest in your niche subject, so creating active discussion forums won't be too challenging.

Here's a tip, have good forum monitors and admin in place to keep things smooth. Having multiple monitors can help you get your new forum started as well as keep discussions ongoing. You could keep your forums open to everyone. That will be better for search engine traffic but it can also attract spammers and forum hackers. Having a private forum for your members only can keep things more secure and full of like minded individuals.

Competitions - Encourage your members to post on your forum or blog by running a competition. Award a prize each month to someone who has made the best post on your forum, and each individual posting would be an additional entry into the prize draw. Or maybe give a prize to the member who writes the most reviews or posts the most comments each month to your site.

Involving your members in polls and surveys

Member polls - Asking your members to answer a simple question relating to your niche subject is a simple and effective way to get them involved in the site. Have a regular monthly poll and publish the results of the previous month's poll above the question for the current month.

Surveys - Some niche subjects lend themselves well to surveys. If yours does not you could conduct a survey about your membership site itself. This gives your members the chance to express their views and let you know what changes they would like to see.

Getting feedback can also let you know where to take your membership site. By allowing your members to tell you what they want you can just simply give it to them. We've taken surveys ourselves over the years and they can be very insiteful. The poll or survey data you generate can be gold to your customer feedback system for the future of your business.

Newsletters - Newsletters may be used to highlight forum posts, questions that people have asked, blog posts and even case studies, survey results, success stories and more. Get your community involved in the content both online and in your newsletter. They'll be invested in the results. We'll get more in depth about newsletters in another article.

For now I hope these gave you some ideas to get going with.

About the Author

Jeremy Gislason is a leading expert on membership sites, marketing and online business. Do you want to market and sell all of your products faster? Free how to business and marketing courses at: http://www.MembershipMillionaire.com