Friday, July 31, 2009

Online Advertising Strategies That Can Create Revenue

by Hilal Abdelwali

Everyone wants to know how to make money online, and yet few people really take the time to research the topic. While many of the following options can make you money, you have to be serious about getting involved and learning everything you can to be a successful online marketer. However, the beauty of doing this is that it can create residual income that pays off year after year, not just in knowledge but in income too.

The List Of Online Advertising Possibilities

Affiliate Advertising - Everyone knows about Google's Adwords or pay-per-click mechanisms to make money through online affiliate advertising. However, there are so many different companies out there that offer affiliate advertising, with different options like cost-per-action (CPA) that you got to investigate all your options before you decide it's not for you.

Sponsored Advertising - This can be harder to get as you have to have someone interested in advertising on your blog, your website, or elsewhere and they sponsor an ad to be placed somewhere. The fees depend on how much traffic you have coming to your sites.

In-Text Advertising - There are numerous companies that sell inline text links that you can add to your websites. It may be a little distracting for your readers, but it is a good way to generate some additional income.

Pay-Per-Lead Advertising - If you join a CPA network, you can actually make money from getting people to fill out a form, a survey, or adding themselves to an advertiser's email list. In a recession, this can be easier to do than trying to get someone to buy a product or click and ad when they have no money to spend anyways.

Social Networking Ads - Why not try creating a campaign that uses the ads sold on a site like Facebook? They use Social Ads that can be combined with your own affiliate offers to help you generate interest without having your own website.

Advertise Your Own Products - If you have the time and the creativity, why not create a few infoproducts and try to market them online through third party vendors? Pay them a small commission and you can even set up instant delivery over the Internet, pocketing the extra income.

Buy A Print Ad - You can still try advertising your affiliate or your own products using print ads in specialty magazines, a church's newsletter, or even a national magazine. Just be sure you don't commit to a budget that is going to wipe out any profits you get from sales. Also, if you do it with affiliate offers you are going to have to be sure it doesn't conflict with your terms of service before you try to create a campaign this way.

Advertise For Free Too - Since this is the Internet, there's plenty of places you can advertise for free too. You can advertise on Craigslist or other free meeting areas, as long as it doesn't violate the terms of service.

About the Author

Hilal Abdelwali is the creator of http://www.CPAMoneyMagic.com - which offers one of the best courses in CPA marketing. This course teaches you how to earn money as CPA affiliate, as a CPA advertiser, and as a CPA network owner. For a limited time Hilal offers a FREE report which will help you to earn money today. Download it NOW before it is gone forever. http://www.cpamoneymagic.com/FreeReport.html

Thursday, July 30, 2009

5 Ways To Improve Your Adsense Earnings

by Rainheart

If webmasters prefer to monetize their websites, the great way disruption it's through Adsense. There are lots of webmasters struggling hard to earn some good money a day through their sites. Then again some of the "geniuses" of them are enjoying hundreds of dollars a day from Adsense ads on their websites. What makes these webmasters different from the other kind is that they're different and they think out of the box.

The ones who have been there and done it have quite some useful tips to help those who'd prefer to venture into this field. Some of these tips have boosted quite a lot of earnings in the past and is continuously doing so.

Here are some 5 proven ways on how best to improve your Adsense earnings.

1. Centering on one format of Adsense ad. The one format that worked well for the majority is the Large Rectangle (336X280). This same format have the tendency to result in higher CTR, or the CTRs. Why choose this format out of the many you'll be able to use? Basically because the ads will look like normal web links, and people, being wont to clicking on them, click these types of links. They may or may not know they're clicking on your Adsense but as long as there are clicks, then it will all be for your advantage.

2. Create a custom palette for your ads. Choose a color that will go well with the background of your site. If your site has a white background, try to use white as the color of your ad border and background. The idea to patterning the colors is to make the Adsense look like it's part of the web pages. Again, This will result to more clicks from people visiting your site.

3. Remove the Adsense from the bottom pages of your site and put them at the top. Don't try to hide your Adsense. Put them in the place where people can see them quickly. You'll be amazed how the difference between Adsense locations can make when you see your earnings.

4. Maintain links to relevant websites. If you think some sites are better off than the others, put your ads there and try to maintaining and managing them. If there's already lots of Adsense put into that certain site, put yours on top of all of them. That way visitor will see your ads first upon browsing into that site.

5. Try to automate the insertion of your Adsense code into the webpages using SSI (or server side included). Ask your web administrator if your server supports SSI or not. How do you do it? Just save your Adsense code in a document, save it as "adsense text", and upload it to the root directory of the web server. Then using SSI, call the code on other pages. This tip is a time saver especially for those who are using automatic page generators to generate pages on their website.

These are some of the tips that have worked well for some who prefer to generate hundreds and even thousands on their websites. It's important to know though that ads are displayed because it fits the interest of the people viewing them. So centering on a specific topic should be your primary purpose because the displays will be especially targeted on a topic that persons will be viewing already.

Note also that there are many other Adsense sharing as is topic as you. It's best to think up making a good ad that will be somewhat different and unique than the ones already done. Every clickthrough that visitors make is a point for you so make every click count by making your Adsense something that people will definitely click on.

Tips given by those who have boosted their earnings are just guidelines they prefer to share with others. If they've somehow worked wonders to some, maybe it can work wonders for you too. Try them out into your ads and roll result it will bring.

If others have done it, there's nothing wrong trying it out for yourself.

About the Author

If you can't share your money, you can share your knowledge... please visit my site: www.interpedia.co.cc

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Link Building: Is Faster Better?

by Steve Shaw

Most human beings are fans of immediate gratification, especially when it comes to making a difference in their website traffic. We'd all like to see results *yesterday*, and if we think we can speed things along by embarking on a frenzied, short term effort with a big impact, then we're all up for it!

But when it comes to building backlinks to a website, is faster really better?

Or should you focus your efforts on a steady and long term campaign?

This article will tell you the most beneficial approach to take. Let's start at the beginning...

How Does Link Building Work?

Link building is an integral aspect of driving traffic to your website. When you build links to your website, you create two types of incoming traffic:

*Direct traffic.

This occurs when visitors click the link that was formed. For instance, if you're doing Article Marketing, each article you submit has a resource box that contains a link back to your website. When people come across your article, they can click the link in your resource box which would then take them to your website. That is direct traffic--your visitors are finding you directly from the link itself.

*Indirect traffic.

An increase in backlinks can dramatically affect your search engine ranking over the long term. This means that when people go to Google and do a search for your keyword terms, your website appears higher up in the rankings.

The higher your website appears in the search engine results list, the more likely people will click through to your website. If your website appears on the first page of Google's results page (or better yet, at the top of the list), then the traffic to your website will increase because more people are finding you via search engines.

While both of these types of traffic are beneficial, the main benefit of link building is in SEO--your website appearing higher in Google when someone does a search for your keyword terms. Traffic from search engines can make a dramatic impact on your website over the long term, while the direct traffic you'll receive from your articles is more of a short term thing.

Link Building: It Takes Time To See Results

When you're building links and waiting on results, you should be looking at your calendar and not your watch.

Search engines do not re-evaluate incoming links on a daily or weekly basis. Most search engines will re-calculate your backlinks every 3 months or so, and at that time make adjustments in your search engine ranking.

So, when you're marketing your site do not expect to see major or lasting results for several months.

When you build links, you can of course reap some benefits before this time--when your article is published at article directories and other publishers you can receive traffic from those sources even before there is an impact at the search engine level.

If your article is published in a popular e-zine, you could even receive a substantial burst of traffic from that one appearance. Keep in mind that this is short term traffic--most of the time your biggest boost of direct traffic (via ezines, article directories and other publishers) from an article will be in the first few days after it has been published.

Should You Try To Build Links Fast?

If you are interested in long term and lasting results (as most website owners are), your best bet is to undertake a link building campaign where you accumulate links steadily and consistently over time. The results from this type of long range approach are more likely to be beneficial to your website than trying to build an onslaught of links all at once.

If you were to take the "fast and furious" approach, a rapid accumulation of links could damage your SEO, which would in turn negatively impact your long term traffic trends.

The goal is not to do a week or two (or even a month or two) of frenzied marketing and link building and then quit--that is not how SEO works. Building traffic to a website takes consistent work, and it's not done overnight.

As a website owner who wants more targeted visitors to your website, your best bet is to develop a link building campaign that gradually builds links over time. Your main marketing activity should be something that you can do on an ongoing basis.

About the Author

Article marketing is a great way to gradually build links, especially if you use an article submission service. Steve Shaw created the web's first ever 100% automated article distribution service, SubmitYOURArticle.com, which distributes your articles to hundreds of targeted publishers with the click of a button. For more information go to=> http://www.SubmitYOURArticle.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Writing an Effective Resource Box so it Makes People click

by Bennie

The internet is filled with people searching for information and a well written resource box can be a powerful tool to provide this information. In today's online market anyone who can successfully supply this information can make a good living online. People who are searching the internet can be subdivided into several groups but the vast majorities are searching for information. Whether for social networking, business, fun or anything else the internet can provide us with valuable information.

Many internet marketers have discovered a powerful secret to obtain Search Engine Optimization. More and more marketers are using articles to effectively drive traffic to their sites. Some have even created Squidoo lenses and blog sites devoted entirely too providing articles to be read by their website visitors.

Here is how it works, the site features an article about a hot topic that you have researched and know people are interested in. When a website visitor reads the article they have searched for, they will find at the end of the article a resource box that has a link that they can click on for more information or to receive a free giveaway. Let's say the article is about how to become a wealthy affiliate, the resource box will link to a site that sells information or other products related to affiliate marketing.

A resource box is usually found at the end of an article. It will usually contain the name of the author, a brief bio of the author, a brief description of your main site and a link to that site. If a reader likes what they read, they would have the tendency to find out more information and click on the link. A well written resource box will entice the reader of the article to go to the site and do some more reading or research for the subject or topic they are interested in.

Even thought the resource box encompasses a small amount of space it needs to be written in such a way as to demand the attention and interest of the reader. This can be accomplished by providing the right keywords and content that provides real value.

Never underestimate the power of the resource box. It may be small in size but it will provide a significant aid in driving traffic to your site. A boring resource box will never get the job done. But a resource box that is fun and creative and at the same time shows that you have a great deal to offer will certainly get the readers attention. Remember the overall goal of article marketing is to generate traffic and make sales. In article marketing, the Resource Box is the most important part of the article because this is where you get to capture lifelong customers, increase your web traffic and generate sales.

About the Author

Would you like to turn on your computer every day and start your work from home? Discover how you can have more security than most do in there 9-5's and build a great stable life and future for your family. Click Here for more information: http://empowermenthomebiz.com

Monday, July 27, 2009

Choosing Your Autoresponder Software

by Otello Zorina

It can be a somewhat difficult and time consuming task to find the right autoresponder. There are a lot of choices available on the Internet, each one ranging in price and features. Before you decide to purchase your own autoresponder, you should first think about your budget as well as your requirements. This way, you'll know what you want and how much you are willing to spend.

First, you'll need to decide the features you want. Next, you'll need to take a look at some of the different types of autoresponders available on the market. You'll also need to decide which type is right for you, and which brand name you think would work the best. You can answer these questions by comparing different brands, prices, features, and licensing restrictions.

For a business, autoresponders can be great. As most of us already know, autoresponders are programs that will send out an automated response via email to a specified address. In most cases, the response you get back from an email autoresponder is short and sweet, normally letting you know that someone is on vacation, away from their computer, or that they have received your message.

The only real problem to autoresponders is the fact that they will replay to any email that they receive. If you are subscribed to a mailing list and used your autoresponder address to sign up, it can easily create a problem. Anytime someone sends you an email to your responder address it will send an automated reply. It can also lack important features that you need to follow up on your clients or subscribers as well.

For the Internet marketing guru, there are sequential autoresponders. These types of autoresponders are designed to collect different email addresses then send out a variety of pre determined messages through email to subscribers that you have on your list. If you have a sequential autoresponder and use it correctly, it can help you bring back more visitors. It can be a very handy tool to have around, especially if you work with a lot of clients. It can help you keep track of subscribers, as well as keep them informed about what is going on with your business.

All across the Internet there are many types of autoresponders. They range from web based programs to scripts or programs that run through your computer or personal server. An autoresponder will be a major part of your online business, which is why you should always put forth the time and effort to find the best one for your money. If you put the proper research and time into finding your ideal autoresponder, you'll save yourself a lot of time and headache in the long run.

Basically, there are three main types of autoresponders that you can choose from - remote hosted, locally hosted, and desktop hosted. Remote hosted are hosted on someones server or website. Locally hosted will allow you to work programs for your own web server. Desktop programs on the other hand, will allow you to work from your own computer. Most people choose to go with locally hosted, as it makes things a lot easier.

Before you decide on which type of autoresponder to purchase, you should make sure that you understand what each type will offer you. There are a variety of autoresponders to choose from, meaning that some may not offer what you need. You can always research each type, and then compare prices and features. This way, you'll know which type of autoresponder will work the best for your needs as well as your business.

About the Author

I just make some blogs that may be useful for you. That is about the Web Traffic, SEO Optimization, and Home Business Opportunity. If you are interested you can visit my blog and get all the information about the topics. Thanks You.

Friday, July 24, 2009

5 Forms of Black Hat Marketing and How to Avoid Them

by Carol Palmatier

The term "black hat marketing" may be unfamiliar if you're just learning about search engine optimization. Think for a moment about Westerns and how good guys wore white hats, bad guys wore black hats. That concept is how black hat marketing got its name.

Any marketing that uses dishonest or illegitimate methods to increase traffic is considered black hat. Black hat SEO may work for a while but is not considered legitimate by search engine terms. It is used primarily by people who expect their website will be banned at some point.

Websites that specialize in scamming people or performing some other illegal activity most often use black hat techniques. This drives a lot of traffic to their site very quickly. They make their money then the website is banned.

Spamdexing

A number of methods are included in the broad term spamdexing. Search spam and search engine spam are two other popular names for this form of black hat marketing.

Search engines use specific algorithms to determine the relevancy of links and text in a website. Relevant text is legitimate, irrelevant text is not.

Keywords are necessary for proper indexing by search engines. When used in a legitimate manner, keywords bring traffic to a website and help increase page rank. Repetition of words or phrases on a single page is considered a form of spamdexing.

Avoid spamdexing with well-written web content that is honest and to the point. Never create disillusionments for your reader. Successful businesses thrive on honesty.

Link Farms

Link farm popularity began in 1999. Inktomi was a popular search engine that indexed websites based primarily on link popularity. The more links your website had, the better.

As time and technologies change, so did Inktomi which was later bought by Yahoo! Algorithms changed and link popularity became second to other indexing methods.

Link farms were very effective in the late 90s through most of 2000. The method was very simple. Find a link farming website, list your domain and link back. Link sharing was much more effective 10 years ago as well.

Avoid link farms by simply not using them. Create a link building campaign by getting involved in blogs that allow comments and message forums. Always create links from websites that are relevant to your own.

Keyword Stuffing

Keywords are a great thing for search engines. Unfortunately some people go overboard. Proper keyword density should be no higher than 3 percent.

Make sure each page on your website has no more than 2 instances of a specific keyword per 100 words. A 500-word web page should never contain more than 10 instances of a single keyword or phrase. Keyword stuffing carries a negative impact on a website.

Avoid keyword stuffing by using well-written content. Hire a writer who is familiar with proper keyword use and techniques to help raise your page rank. Don't use words that aren't relevant to your content.

Hidden Text

Text can be easily hidden by making the text the same color as the background of the website. People who use spamdexing as a form of marketing often use hidden text. Spiders and crawlers find the words and index them but they're not obviously visible to the reader.

Hidden text is not a legitimate form of marketing and runs the risk of banning or other penalties. To reveal hidden text, you may use a text-only browser or highlight the entire page using your mouse. Just left click and drag the mouse cursor down the page.

Avoid using hidden text if you plan to SEO your website and increase traffic. Hiding extra keywords may temporarily increase traffic but search engines will discover it and penalize your site.

Doorway or Cloaked Pages

Doorway pages are single web pages that redirect visitors to another page without their knowledge. They're often advertised in several ways with many different keywords. When someone clicks it from a search engine, they're redirected with a quick meta refresh.

The refresh happens so quickly that most people don't even notice. Clicking on a link from a search engine results page and landing somewhere completely different is an example of a doorway or cloaked page.

Avoid using doorway or cloaked pages. You may receive a great deal of traffic right away but the overall consequences are not desirable. Your website could be banned.

About the Author

Carol Palmatier is Vice President of Marketing for the http://www.articlemarketer.com premium article distribution service; Article Marketer, and a "Word of Mouth" marketing expert. Learn how to get quality backlinks here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

7 Secrets to Successful Keyword Research

by Donna GunterAs people search for information online, they use a series of words, what are referred to as keywords, to find the information that they are seeking. Keywords are the core of any market research conducted by an online business owner. Just like the Yellow Pages Directory groups listings by category, like "auto body shops" in the "automobile repair" category, search engines like Google and Yahoo sort by keywords so that auto body shops are found under "auto body shop" in their database.

In order to be found online by your target market, you need insight about the terms that they are using to search for a business like yours. The quickest way to gain that insight is by conducting research on possible keywords they use. However, so many of my clients conduct only very basic keyword research and miss many keywords because they don't really delve into the problems and needs of their target market, which contain prime, keyword-rich topics they can use to be found online.

Here are 7 secrets to a successful keyword research campaign:

1. Define your target topic or interest. Use 1-2 words to describe your topic. In this case, let's say our interest is pest control businesses because you're seeking to target owners of this type of company.

2. Define synonyms for your topic area. Use an online thesaurus or Google Sets to help you brainstorm synonyms for your topic. In this example, similar terms for pest control business might be exterminating business, rodent control, insect control, bug business, and pest control company.

3. Use "how" to help define problems in your topic area. When people search online, many times they're seeking answers to their problems, and they seek answers to these problems by asking "how" questions. I use Google's free Keyword Tool to help me define some of the problems of a pest control business. I plug in the synonyms brainstormed in step 2 to help me come up with this list. In this case, common questions might be things like how to do one of the following in a pest control business: start, grow, train employees, find employees, market, advertise, price services, bill customers, bid for contracts, buy, insure, find supplies, and write a business plan.

4. Record your action terms. Note the action terms that were used found in this example -- starting, buying, growing, marketing, training, advertising, billing, bidding, etc. These are terms that people use to help them solve the problems they have with their pest control businesses. Create a list for each of these terms and brainstorm synonyms for these terms, as well.

5. Group and research. Now, return to your keyword tool and enter your action term combined with your target topic and see what people interested in this topic are actually searching on. For example, for the term "how to start a pest control business," you would see results like: mosquito control, electronic pest control, ant extermination, roach extermination, how to kill fleas, pest control software, pest control license, etc. Organize the keywords into groups according to the problem being solved or action being taken.

6. Count the searches. Look for the largest clusters in your groups and count the searches on the terms in the groups. A large cluster with lots of searches will contain the initial terms on which you will want to focus. However, don't overlook the groups with smaller searches, as many times these contain keywords that are less competitive and thus become easier for you to use to rise to the top of the search engines, rather than being one of millions competing for a very competitive term. These keywords with smaller searches are referred to as "long-tail keywords," and I believe that the traffic you get from high rankings on numerous long-tail keywords is equivalent to and quicker and easier to achieve than entering the contest for very competitive keywords.

7. Use the keywords. With this research you can write articles on these topics, create blog posts about these topics, upload web pages on these topics, update the meta tags on your web pages, make videos on podcasts about these topics, create information products, write pay-per-click campaigns, and design classified ads, to name just a few of the uses for this research.

Have you conducted thorough keyword research for your target market? If you haven't, you may be missing key opportunities for your target market to find you online. Set aside 2-3 hours one day and discover all the other options at your disposal to help your target market solve their problems.

About the Author

Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps baby boomers create profitable online retirement businesses by demystifying the steps needed to successfully market a baby boomer business online. Would you like to learn the specific Internet marketing strategies that get results? Discover how to increase your visibility and get found online by claiming your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, at ==> http://www.OnlineBizU.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

5 Simple and Powerful Ways to Use Google Analytics

by Anna Williams

If you haven't begun using Google Analytics on your website(s) or blogs, I highly highly recommend that you do. If you have an account but rarely look at it - I recommend you start looking.

First of all - what is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free analysis tool which gives you information on where your website visitors are coming from, which pages they visit, how long they stay, and a lot more. There are plenty of paid stat counters available which present data in different ways, but Google Analytics is one of the best, and it's free.

One can over-analyze or under-analyze any website. Some people spend too much time checking stats, analyzing, and planning, and don't spend enough time writing good content and getting new readers to their blogs.

On the other side of the pendulum, you could go on week after week, blindly publishing content and flailing along with offsite promotion, without seeing what results your campaigns are getting, which types of content is the most popular for your visitors, and which traffic-generation techniques are getting the best results.

The first is like tuning your car's engine every day without ever turning on the ignition, the second is like driving in the dark.

In between, we have a happy balance.

I find that the best times to check stats are when I don't have a lot of time to do a more intense project, or when I am a bit too tired to do anything more "heavy." Sometimes just before I go to bed at night is a good time to check into what has been happening between my visitors and my websites' pages. I can browse and poke around in my Analytics account and learn quite a lot - even with minimal energy.

Here are five simple and powerful ways to use Google Analytics:

1. Find out which of your website's pages are getting the most traffic, and optimize those pages.

If you are running ads on the pages, make sure they are properly placed and updated. If you are linking to affiliate products, make sure your links are up-to-date and that you aren't missing any links or new products which should be there. If you are using that page for some other purpose, such as to generate subscriptions or whatever the case may be, make sure that the page is laid out as well as possible.This can be helpful if you have a large website which has a long "to do" list and many things to optimize or tweak. By just starting with the most heavily-trafficked pages, you will get the maximum results from your efforts and also know where to start.

2. Find out which referrers are generating the most traffic, and continue to generate traffic from those referrers.For example, if you see that Twitter is generating a large amount of targeted traffic, you can increase your activity on Twitter. If you see that your article submissions are getting new visitors from article directories, you can take a note not to drop those out - or possibly increase them. Conversely, if you see that you have been spending time/money on a traffic-generation method which is not getting very far, you can stop wasting your time on it (presuming you have given it time to take effect).

3. Find out which keywords you are ranking best for, and see which ones you can "push to the top."

If you had a website on dogs, for example, and found that you were ranking at #30-#40 on Google for many keywords, but ranking #11 for, lets say, "dog chew toys," you might want to work on increasing your rankings on dog chew toys and focus more of your SEO efforts on this term (of course there are other factors you would consider as well, such as the searches and competition for this term). Climbing from position #31 to #20 will generally not get you a huge increase of traffic, but climbing from position #11 to position #3 usually will. Focus first on keywords or key phrases that have the best chance of ranking high in the near future, and then move on to the others.

4. Find out which pages keep your visitors the longest.

If the average visitor on Page A stays for 5 seconds, while the average visitor to Page B stays for 150 seconds, the likelihood is that your visitors find Page B's content more interesting than Page A's.

5. Look at the graph of your bounce rate.

This tells you how many people left your site without visiting a second page. Depending on the website and the page, this may be a good or bad thing. But if you have a blog or a content site, it is usually a good sign if people stick around to see more of your posts and content, before they leave.If your bounce rate increased or decreased after you made a certain change, you can opt to revert that change or keep it. For example, if I changed the theme of my Wordpress blog and then noticed a date-co-incident increase in my bounce rate, I might consider changing it back :) This statistic can be used in many ways - it will depend on the nature of your blog.

There are many, many other ways to use Google Analytics. The above are great ways to start, if you aren't familiar with or used to using this tracking system. Google Analytics can give you a far greater understanding of what's happening on your site and can guide you to continue on successful actions and drop the unsuccessful.

About the Author

For more information on how to use Google Analytics, including video tutorials, and links to free information including a free eBook download on this subject, visit Anna's blog, at How to Use Google Analytics

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Search Engine Optimization Rules - Three Rules To Help You Top The Search Engine Rankings

by Keith Garrow

Search engine optimization is probably the most important aspect of website development. No matter how much you pay for a fantastic looking site, you can still have no visitors for it if you do not address the basic requirements of search engines. You can, of course, get visitors by paying to advertise on other websites, but this is an ongoing cost and as soon as you stop paying, the visitors stop coming.

There are many different aspects to search engine optimization, but the following three rules will get you off to a good start and save you a lot of time and money.

Rule 1 - Get it right from the start

If you create a website first and then try to deal with search engine optimization, you will face an uphill struggle. This happens to lots of people because they often have not even heard of SEO until after they have built a site and found that no-one is visiting it. The most important thing you can do when developing a new site is to build in your SEO right from the start.

To succeed online, your website should be designed right from the start with search engines in mind. This will govern the whole structure of your site, the names and keywords you use for pages, the file names and alt text you select for images, the subjects you choose to cover on your site and even the whole theme of your website. Putting these things right afterwards is sometimes impossible, particularly if your site is not small.

There is one option open to you if you find that you have a site which you are happy with, apart from the fact that you have no visitors. In this situation it can be best to set up a new well optimized site which attracts lots of visitors and funnels them direct to your old site to deal with sales, etc.

Rule 2 - Learn From Your Competition

When you know what key phrases are most important for your website, check out which other sites are in the top ten positions for these phrases now. You need to analyse these sites carefully, because whatever they are doing is what you need to be doing too.

A good SEO tool will help you analyse your competing websites quickly and easily, covering all the different aspects of your competitors, such as who is linking to them, what keywords they use on each page, keyword density, etc. A large part of why the other sites are at the top of the search engine results pages will be the sites who have added links to them. You need to be able to quickly assess all of these links and pick out the ones that are doing the most good in terms of adding PageRank, and target those to get links for your own site.

Rule 3 - Automate as Much As You Can

The problem with SEO is that so much of it is a time consuming business. There are lots of separate jobs that each require careful research and then many repeated actions on your part. I am thinking of keyword research and analysis, submission to directories, seeking link exchange partners, article submission, etc.

If you were to do all of these things manually, it would take you forever just to deal with one website. The only way to make SEO tasks practical is to automate as many of them as you can, using shortcuts wherever possible. This is what SEO tools are designed to do. You can get specialist packages and services to deal with link building, or directory submission, but a good SEO software package will deal with all of these together, making your SEO efforts much easier to manage and co-ordinate.

About the Author

Read SEO Tools Reviews on the author's website now. Keith Garrow is an artist whose website also offers free advice and guidance on web host reviews and how to create a website.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Link Building: Who Is Your Website's Biggest Competitor?

by Steve Shaw

Have you ever noticed that competitive runners achieve their best race times when they are pitted against worthy competitors?

You can be an excellent sprinter, but odds are you will not run your personal best on a track by yourself--most of the time it's the spirit of a heated race and a determined runner breathing down your neck that makes you dig down deep give it all you've got.

The quest for a higher search engine ranking and more website traffic is much like athletic competitions. When you're trying to get your site ranked higher in Google, you are not operating in a vacuum--you have competitors, whether you acknowledge them or not.

Your progress is not only dependent on your own efforts at marketing your site, but the efforts of your competitors--if other website owners are more consistent, more reliable, and more focused in their marketing, there's a good chance that they will outrank you.

With website rankings, there is a constant jockeying for position, so it is extremely helpful when you're trying to market your site and get a higher search engine ranking if you will use your competitors to your own advantage.

Before you start your next link building campaign, take a look around the playing field and gather some intelligence about those you're running against.

How Can You Tell Who Your Competition Is?

It's actually quite easy to tell who your top competitors are--just do a search for each of your keywords in Google.

What site is at the #1 position?

Unless it's you, that website is your top competition. Repeat this search for each one of your keywords.

When you're starting out, you may want to limit yourself to 3 main keywords whose competitors you're keeping track of. That way you have 3 competitors to keep track of, and that will give you a good idea of how you're progressing and also how far you need to go to catch up to the #1 position.

What Type Of Information Should You Keep Track Of?

Alright, now that you know who your top competitors are, it's time to do a little investigating. Here are the main bits of info that will help you get an idea of where your site stands in relation to site holding the #1 position.

1) How many backlinks does the competing website have?

You can do a backlink check by typing the word "link:" (following by a colon) and then the competitor's URL into the Google search box. The results will be a listing of sites that are currently linking to their site, and at the top of the page you can see a total number of backlinks.

2) What is their search engine rank for the keyword?

For the first month at least, their ranking is #1.

Another thing that will be interesting to you is to see how the site that is ranked at #1 can fall if they are outdone by another site further down in the ranking. If you are consistent with your link building campaign, you can see your site climbing up the rankings each month, until finally your #1 competitor drops from the number one position and your site takes over.

3) What is the other site's PageRank?

PageRank (PR) is a tool Google uses to reflect the authority of a web page. The rankings go from 0-10, where 10 is the best. You'll likely notice that a website does not need to have a PageRank of 10 in order to hold the top ranking for a keyword--many times sites with lower rankings hold the top position. Why is this?

Remember, it's all about competition--the top ranking website may have a PR2, but the other sites who are competing for top listing for that keyword have lower authority. Of course, there are many other factors that go into determining who has the top rank in Google, and only Google knows all of their criteria for judging.

At any rate, it is helpful to know the other site's PageRank, especially in comparison to your own. If you see that the competing site has a PR4 and your site has a PR2, you can set a goal for yourself to achieve PR4 or higher.

With all of these indicators, it's nice to get an idea of what you're shooting for. Being aware of your top competitor's stats can help you strategically jump up the rankings and keep your motivation going to earn the #1 spot.

About the Author

To supercharge your link building results, it's a smart idea to enlist the services of a trusted article submission service. Steve Shaw created the web's first ever 100% online-based article submitter, SubmitYOURArticle.com, which distributes your articles to hundreds of targeted publishers with the click of a button. For more information go to=> http://www.SubmitYOURArticle.com




Friday, July 17, 2009

Creating effective Web designs through the use of Grids

by Lilo Website Design

Mathematics is often closely related to the arts. Unfortunately many people are under the impression that structure and method will limit creative expression when in reality the two often compliment one another.

In Web Design, mathematical principles such as grids can aid the designer during the creative process. Using grids for arranging layout types and structuring content is a well-known method that is gaining popularity in the field of web design.

Intentional design plays an important role in Web Development and in this article we look at the benefits of grid systems and the effective use there-of in design.

What is a grid? In basic terms, the grid is a system used for aligning visual objects on a framework of regularly spaced vertical and horizontal lines. Grids enable designers to find an initial visual platform for the layout and design of graphical elements on a page.

Using grids in Web Design: In web design, functionality and aesthetics go hand-in-hand. One of the advantages of using a Grid-system during the design process is that it creates visual balance, enhancing the overall appeal of your site.

As with any other art form, mastering the usage of the Grid is something that requires both time and practice. The benefits of grid-based Web Design:

Grids are useful for rationalising nonsensical visual content and if used properly it can enhance site-usability and impact. If the appearance of your website is accessible and appealing to online users, very little will prevent them from using your website as a platform for decision-making. Listed below are some of the benefits related to the use of grid design:

* Using grids will help you to think relational about the different elements on your page.

* It introduces systematic thinking into the creative process.

* Grids will prevent you from isolating elements in your design -forcing you to come up with a solution that will work as whole. * The grid functions as a valuable reference point from where you can exercise better control over your design as a whole.

Approaching grid-design The Rule of Thirds "The Rule of Thirds" enables you to divide a space into thirds, both vertically and horizontally through a grid of rectangles. It is widely used as a compositional theory in photography, film and fine art.

"The Rule of Thirds" is a simple way in which you can construct a grid - but the following factors should be considered before you start with you design:

1. Targeted Audience: Understanding the nature and habits of your online audience will make your design intentional.

2. Content: The content of the website will help you to choose an appropriate grid for your design.

3. Images and Icons: Your grid must be designed to make those icons and images on your website as user-friendly as possible.

4. Format: Once you have a clear understanding of all the above, you can begin to make choices about the format of your design.

5. Fonts: Using the correct font in web design is extremely important. The font should enhance the general site content and not divert users from taking in the content.

There are many different ways of designing a grid and the nature of your grid-design will vary from one project to another. Grid-designs can be exciting and there is no reason for you to re-use the same familiar grid-template when you are given the creative leverage to come up with something fresh and unique.

About the Author

Lilo is a multidiscipline agency delivering expert and cost effective solutions. Our service offerings include usability and design, web development, e-Marketing, application development, e-Commerce, search engine optimisation (SEO), hosting and a range of other interactive products.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So Many Affiliate Programs! Which One Do I Use?

by Arya Saleh

Ask questions first before you join an affiliate program. Do a little research about the choices of program that you intend to join into. Get some answers because they will be the deciding point of what you will be achieving later on.

Will it cost you anything to join? Most affiliate programs being offered today are absolutely free of charge. So why settle for those that charge you some dollars before joining.

When do they issue the commission checks? Every program is different. Some issue their checks once a month, every quarter, etc. Select the one that is suited to your payment time choice. Many affiliate programs are setting a minimum earned commission amount that an affiliate must meet or exceed in order for their checks to be issued.

What is the hit per sale ratio? This is the average number of hits to a banner or text link it takes to generate a sale based on all affiliate statistics. This factor is extremely important because this will tell you how much traffic you must generate before you can earn a commission from the sale.

How are referrals from an affiliate's site tracked and for how long do they remain in the system? You need to be confident on the program enough to track those people you refer from your site. This is the only way that you can credit for a sale. The period of time that those people stay in the system is also important. This is because some visitors do not buy initially but may want to return later to make the purchase. Know if you will still get credit for the sale if it is done some months from a certain day.

What are the kinds of affiliate stats available? Your choice of affiliate program should be capable of offering detailed stats. They should be available online anytime you decide to check them out. Constantly checking your individual stats is important to know how many impressions, hits and sales are already generated from your site. Impressions are the number of times the banner or text link was viewed by a visitor of your site. A hit is the one clicking on the banner or text links.

Does the affiliate program also pay for the hits and impressions besides the commissions on sales? It is important that impressions and hits are also paid, as this will add to the earnings you get from the sales commission. This is especially important if the program you are in offers low sales to be able to hit ratio.

Who is the online retailer? Find out whom you are doing business with to know if it is really a solid company. Know the products they are selling and the average amount they are achieving. The more you know about the retailer offering you the affiliate program, the easier it will be for you to know if that program is really for you and your site.

Is the affiliate a one tier or two tier program? A single tier program pays you only for the business you yourself have generated. A two tier program pays you for the business, plus it also pays you a commission on the on the sales generated by any affiliate you sponsor in your program. Some two-tier programs are even paying small fees on each new affiliate you sponsor. More like a recruitment fee.

Lastly, what is the amount of commission paid? 5% - 20% is the commission paid by most programs. .01% - .05% is the amount paid for each hit. If you find a program that also pays for impressions, the amount paid is not much at all. As you can see from the figures, you will now understand why the average sales amount and hit to sale ratio is important.

These are just some of the questions that needed answering first before you enter into an affiliate program. You should be familiar with the many important aspects that your chosen program should have before incorporating them into your website. Try to ask your affiliate program choices these questions. These can help you select the right program for you site from among the many available.

About the Author

Arya Saleh is an affiliate marketing coach and provides Free information of how to just copy and paste the successful campaign. Get by yourself at http://empoweronlineentrepreneur.com

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Diagnosed with Duplicate Content: How to Cure Your SEO

by Jon Sparks

There's a lot of talk in the SEO community around the duplicate content issue, mainly because of the Google's filter that applies to webpages that have overly similar or identical content. When content gets replicated in several places on the web Google will only display the pages it considers to be the original source, which is not always the case. The algorithm is not perfect and will often give the credit to the site that has more authority and trust even though it didn't author the work. Getting your website dropped out of the main search engine index means a critical decrease in search traffic. That's why it's important to make sure you're not having any duplicate content issues.

There are two types of duplicate content external (on different domains) and internal (on different pages of the same domain). Let's see what causes each type and how you can protect yourself from it.

External Duplicate Content

While some of us will work hard writing articles and creating content that offers value, others will just go and steal someone's work without dropping a sweat and with no remorse whatsoever. There are a lot of scrapper sites out there living entirely off other people's content. The worst thing is that sometimes it's your site, not the stealing one that gets penalized.

Cure: If you see that your content was reprinted without your permission elsewhere on the web the first thing you can do is contact the webmaster of the offending website and request that they remove your content or put a link to you as the source. If you don't get a positive response you can report the website to Google under DMCA regulations.

Internal Duplicate Content

Often webmasters will accidentally create duplicate content on their websites. This is typical of big e-commerce sites with hundreds of same product descriptions on multiple pages as well as different session-specific URLs with the same content. Blog structure is also prone to create duplicate content: you can have the recent post on the home page and on the direct post URL. Duplicate content a big stick in your search engine optimization wheel but some simple SEO methods will do the trick.

Cure:

1. Rather then letting Google decide which of the pages to include in the index use robots.txt file to tell the search engine spiders not to crawl the duplicate pages. 2. Check your internal linking structure to make sure you always link to one and the same URL. 3. Specify the preferred domain in Google webmaster tools to let the spider know which way you want your site to be indexed.

Following these guidelines will help you minimize the duplicate content on your website and avoid penalties from the search engines.

About the Author

Jon Sparks is an SEO and marketing expert, author of many articles on Search Engine Optimization, link building, website promotion, SEO Software and search engine trends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SMO Provides Unique Marketing Channel

by Julie Ann Ross

While SEO and SEM are the most frequently used methods of reaching a targeted audience online, social media optimization (SMO) is gaining momentum. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and similar properties that form the springboard for communities of like-minded consumers have reached a tipping point. Once a novelty, they have quickly dominated popular media. In the process, they have become the focus of social media optimization.

One of the reasons social media optimization has gained significant traction with companies is because it provides a unique marketing channel. Rather than depending solely upon traffic generated from specific search queries on Google and Yahoo!, a site can be positioned to enjoy a grassroots - and often, viral - marketing momentum. But, this strategy is not without challenges. To that end, here are the four basic tenets for a savvy social media optimization (SMO) campaign.

Tenet #1: Encourage Community Links

Consumers are starved for compelling content. White papers, blog posts, video and news feeds that inform or entertain (ideally both) are perfectly positioned to attract attention. Once such content is discovered, entire communities descend upon it and spread the word. As a result, a company's exposure and link profile can expand rapidly. Community links are one of the underpinnings of an effective social media optimization campaign. As the members of a community spread the word, inbound links grow. And with it comes a growth in organic traffic.

Tenet #2: Leverage Tags And Bookmarks

When sharing content with others in their community, people will always gravitate toward the path of least resistance. In the context of social media optimization (SMO), leveraging tags and bookmarks from popular social networking sites is critical. There is no shortage of plugins and scripts that allow your audience to share your content with a single click. Whether "tweeting" to their thousands of Twitter followers or seeding your content on YouTube, Flickr, or Facebook, these tags and bookmarks can help trigger a groundswell of exposure.

Tenet #3: Identify The Best Opportunities

Not every social networking site offers the same potential for a social media optimization project. Some sites cater to a younger audience. Other sites cater to a professional audience. The key is to properly isolate the target community given a company's product line. For example, a financial services company geared toward high net worth individuals would find limited success on MySpace. On the other hand, a social media optimization (SMO) campaign that targeted professional communities on LinkedIn might be more appropriate.

Tenet #4: Integrate Social Media Optimization

The advantages of a social media optimization project, while significant, often distract companies from leveraging SEO, SEM, and ORM. It's important to realize that effective online promotion is a confluence of all strategies. Not only does each use a different route to increase a company's exposure, traffic, and sales, but all blend seamlessly with one another. In effect, SMO- social media optimization should be integrated as one of several best practices.

The basic tenets that we've provided above do not comprise an exhaustive list. Indeed, they merely form the foundation of a social media optimization project. When carefully crafted, SMO can be used to gain access to communities that would otherwise lie beyond the reach of traditional marketing strategies.

About the Author

With 20 years in marketing, advertising and 10 years in internet marketing, Rostin Reagor Smith has refined the SEM SEO Expert Formula. Hundreds of internet marketing case studies have combined to build the formula that drives search engine ranking through Social Media Optimization, Online Reputation Management, Social Marketing and web 2.0 communities and resources. http://www.rostinreagorsmith.com

Monday, July 13, 2009

Keyword Research - The How 2 Guide.

by Michelle Dale

Keyword research is an essential tool. It gives you the ability to find and research specific search terms which people individually enter into the search engines when performing any sort of search for information, products or services. This is extremely useful for optimising websites, because if you know what people are trying to find, then you can easily structure your site and its content so that the search engines index your chosen keywords. This will make all the difference in driving traffic toward your website. It's not complicated, and there are a few really easy to use applications out there to help you perform this kind of research.

As a Virtual Assistant, you'll want to optimize your own sites, and it's also more than likely that several of your clients will ask you to carry out research for them too. If you find that you're undertaking regular keyword research, then you may want to invest in a program that will do some of the legwork for you. However, you should always know how to do it manually, as these programmes aren't infallible, and it's always good practice to check the results you're getting periodically.

Here's a simple guide on how to perform a keyword search using Google:

1. Go to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You don't need to be signed up for AdWords to do this. It's an external search that you can carry out for free.

2. Enter the Keywords that you want to search for - in this case I am using "Virtual Assistant", then type in the captcha character text (if necessary) and press the Get Keyword Ideas button.

3. You will be given a list of suggested keywords and related keywords from the starting keyword that you entered.

4. As you can see, the tool has returned a list which I have sorted by local search volume for April. This tells us that there is very high competition for the word Virtual Assistant, and it also tells us that there were 135,000 searches against this term in April. We're looking for a word that we can use to get ranked high up in the search engines so we can get more traffic to our site. So if we view this list, a good target is to locate a word with at least 100 searches per day. The competition for Virtual Assistant Services is still fairly high, but if we now go over to Google, we can take a look at our potential competition.

5. So, let's do a search on "Virtual Assistant Services", and make sure you use the quotations marks or you'll get results returned for any combination of those words.

Here, as you can see this page tells us that there are 57,700 pages ranked for this combination of words. This is not too high for you to be able to compete to get your page ranked for this word - with a little work of course.

I'm not saying that this is the ideal term for you to attempt to rank your Virtual Assistant business. This is just an example of what you might want to look at. Be creative and 'think outside the box' with your ideas. What terms do you think your clients would search for? You're going to want to repeat this process to find several keywords that you can utilise for establishing your Search Engine Index niche.

About the Author

Michelle Dale is The Managing Director of Virtual Miss Friday, an Experienced Executive Virtual Assistant who collaborates with businesses and individuals with the sole aim of accomplishing their professional goals. Want to learn more about these comprehensive online business building success strategies? Join the Campaign for FREE Virtual Assistance right now! http://www.virtualmissfriday.com

Way late

Way late posting tonight, folks, because we picked up a little senior chihuahua mix from the Humane Society this afternoon that needs some fostering TLC. Hopefully the article will be posted at a more normal time tomorrow.

Sorry about that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

5 Google Tools For Researching Your Market

by Pete Moore

Internet marketers and webmasters have always had a love/ hate relationship with Google. Whatever you think of them they do provide website owners with some great market research tools.

No matter what market you are in or plan to be in, you will find these free tools provided by Google very useful when researching your market. You should be researching your market constantly, NOT just when your setting up your site. The internet is ever changing and if you're not keeping up with those changes you will be left behind.

Market Research Tool 1 - Related Searches And Wonder Wheel

When you start typing in the main Google search box you should see a drop down box appear giving you some alternative search terms related to the word you typed. Note these phrases down in a notepad file or write them on a piece of paper. They will be useful as you part of your keyword list used in the next tool. You will also see more related search phrases after you click search, scroll to the bottom of the results page you will see "searches related to:" note down any new phrases shown there.

Recently Google has released Wonder Wheel which is also a related keywords tool but is shown in a mind map format. You can also click on the related phrases to find more useful search terms. To access wonder wheel: enter your keyword in the standard search screen, then at the top of the results on the left you should see a show options link. Select that and it will reveal a menu, near the bottom of the menu you should see wonder wheel.

Market Research Tool 2 - Adwords Keyword Tool

We all know how important keywords and search phrases are, let's face it it's what drives the internet. Google have provided us with a tool that tells you what keywords and phrases people are using to find what they are looking for. You are able to search an individual country, more than one if you hold down the ctrl key on your keyboard as you select or all countries.

The adwords tool is now more valuable due to the fact it shows actual search numbers. Previously you only had a green bar to indicate how much traffic the search term received. You can also see how competitive each keyword is amongst adword advertisers, showing us which keywords are commercially viable.

Market Research Tool 3 - Google Trends

Now we have an idea what keywords our market are using you can use the trends tool to check the history of that keyword / phrase. Google trends supplies data for the last 5 years giving you an idea if the search term is consistent. We can also see if the search term is popular at a certain times of year also known as a seasonal keywords.

Another important function of trends is the section that tells us what countries, cities and language the keyword is most popular, very useful if we are targeting particular countries or even cities. Market Research Tool 4 - Google Alerts

Alerts is underused by webmasters. If you want to stay in touch with what's hot in your market you can, by using Google alerts. All you have to do is enter the most popular phrases in your market Google will then send you links via email depending on what type you select.

The types are news, web, blogs, video and groups if you would like a mix of all you can select comprehensive. You can decide how often you want to be updated by selecting either: as it happens, once a day or once a week. I hope you can see how powerful this is if you want to be seen as an authority in your market. Market Research Tool 5 - Google Websearch

Last we have Googles standard web search which is not standard in my eyes it tells us lots of information if we know what to look for. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of running a website. By performing a search of your market keywords Google will tell you what type of content it sees as important.

If you see videos, blogs or images this gives us another way to reach the top 10 of Google. If you see web 2.0 style sites such as digg that could be another avenue. If there are adword ads on the right side of the screen that tells us the market is commercially viable and more importantly that the keyword we entered is good enough to pay for especially if there are 10 ads or more.

As you can see even if you don't have money to buy the latest tools. I have shown you there is a way to get some very important information using free tools from google, are you starting to love them now.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

Do you need content and products for your website, if the answer is yes check out http://www.publicdomainresource.com . We show you how to profit from public domain information in our FREE Public Domain Profits Report here http://www.publicdomainresource.com/public/134.cfm

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Website Headers - 10 Tips To Make Them Benefit Web Designer's

by Kabir Bedi

Headers are an intrinsic part of website design. They occupy one of the most prominent and most viewed areas of the web pages and hence can contribute highly to communicate with the visitors. Here are some tips to improve the effectiveness of headers and in turn enhance the user experience on the website.

Highlight the Headers

The headers need to stand apart from the content of the web pages. Therefore, you need to highlight them accordingly. The idea is to make the headers look distinct and therefore more noticeable. You can use a different set of fonts or colors to bring about this difference.

Use Bright Colors


Headers are supposed to attract attention. Therefore, make sure they do that. Use bright colors like red, yellow, orange etc. that are aggressive and attention grabbing and stimulate reaction in visitors. These colors appear to stand out from the regular scroll of the web pages.

Make them Bigger in Size

To enhance the prominence of the headers, one thing that you can do is to increase the type size of the headers. This will increase its visibility as well as inform the visitors about its importance.

Do the Correct Labeling

Just because the headers enjoy more importance, it becomes necessary that they are used correctly. Label the sections of your website correctly. However, make sure that you don't use trendy titles that serve to confuse the visitors. Labels of the headers should explicitly explain the content that follows.

Keep them Crisp and Concise

The headers should be short and crisp so that they attract visitor attention and at the same time impress them with their crispiness. Omit any articles like 'a', 'an', 'the' etc. The headers should essentially aim to inform all about the following contents in the least possible words, ideally a phrase or something.

Include the Correct Semantics


When headers are concerned, don't skip from H1 to H6 straightforward. H1 heading are the most important followed by the subsequent ones in descending order of importance.

Maintain Consistency

There are generally many headings in the web pages and everyone of them can have a different style. But that is not advisable if you need to maintain a professional look and feel of the website. Moreover, consistency throughout the header design create a feel of familiarity and makes visitors feel at ease.

Place Headers near the Content

The placement of the headers is very important. Generally, web users expect to see the relevant content very close to the headers. Don't disappoint your visitors by making them guess too much. Place the headers and the related information in close proximity to one another. When the visitors pause to look at the headers, they shouldn't search to find the following information. It should be right there.

Separate Headers from Unrelated Content

If the headers point to the wrong information, it can be very harmful for your website. Therefore, create clear demarcations between content headers and actual content. Make sure the headers are followed by relevant information only.

Include Keywords

Even search engine place increased importance on the headers of the web pages. That is why it is a good idea to include keywords in the headers. Not only will it capture the attention of visitors but also the website will have high ranking in search results.

About the Author

Kabir Bedi is a senior web consultant at LeXolution IT Services, a professional web design company based in India. He leads a team of Indian web developers and advises them to create powerful web solutions for their clients.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SEO Analysis and Research: The First Step to Web Marketing

by Collyn Floyd

Research, planning and analysis are paramount to successfully starting any business endeavor. Think about this: architects draw up blueprints before building structures, physicians order tests and x-rays before operating, athletes create game plans and survey the competition before game day, and retailers scout out the best locations before opening up shop.

Similarly, before starting a Web Marketing campaign, you need to create a marketing "blueprint" for your website through research and analysis. This is an important first step in any Web Marketing campaign because it helps identify key issues and metrics within a website, helps you make better informed choices moving forward, and makes creating an accurate marketing plan much easier.

From keyword rankings to website structure to competitive research information, a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) analysis should give you an excellent idea of the size and scope of the web marketing campaign you'll need. If done correctly, an SEO analysis should give you a good idea if your site needs "the works" or just a few tweaks, and if your level of investment will be large, small, or somewhere in between.

If you want to improve any of the following on your website, then you should seriously consider a website analysis:

* Keyword rankings in the search engines

* Branding/online visibility

* The quality and amount of traffic to your site

* Overall appeal and ease of use of your site, including site architecture, copywriting, etc.

* Sales and lead conversions

A good SEO analysis to assist you moving forward should also include the following detailed information:

* Keyword rankings: Does your site just need a little nudging to get to the first page of Google? Or are you nowhere to be found? Find out where your site ranks in the Big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN), as well as if you are targeting the best keywords for your site. You'd be surprised how many businesses unknowingly target the wrong set of keywords. Knowing this information will have a dramatic effect on the type of campaign you'll need moving forward.

* Online competition: Who are your competitors? Are they aggressively using the Web? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Knowing this information gives you powerful information that can give you a head start on the competition.

* Problem areas: A good site analysis should uncover areas of your site that may be hindering you in the search engines. Maybe pages of your website aren't being indexed by the search engines or you have navigation that isn't user-friendly. These are common examples of problems that are identified in a site analysis.

* Analytics: Who is visiting your site? Where are they coming from and how long are they staying? What pages are visiting most frequently? Analytics programs, such as Google Analytics, help provide answers to these questions

* SEO recommendations: A good SEO analysis should give you recommendations and suggestions to use moving forward. Just like an architect's blueprint, this should guide you as you undergo your Web Marketing campaign.

A reputable SEO firm is the best place to go for this type of reporting because they have access to the best, most reliable tools, not to mention the needed professional and analytical experience.

If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your Search Engine Optimization campaign, it's critical for your success that you begin by doing SEO analysis and research on your website and your competitors. Remember: if you don't know where your site stands currently, how can you successfully gauge where to go next?

About the Author

Collyn Floyd is a marketing and public relations specialist with The Karcher Group, a web development and search engine marketing firm based in North Canton, OH. She is passionate about helping The Karcher Group's clients achieve greater online traffic, leads and sales through search engine optimization and marketing.