15 July 2009

Plan for Success

The best way to create a user-friendly, powerful web site is to plan for it. If you're going to invest time in building and promoting your site, you want to be sure that once visitors get there, they're converted into buyers. Start by analyzing where you are at the present, where you want to go, and what steps will take you there.

If you compare the internet to a mall, then your web site is a store in the mall. A profitable store includes a well-trained staff, attractive displays inside, a nice sign out front and a killer window display. A store alone won't make sales. You have to attract people inside, convince them you have something they need, and encourage them to act.

The same is true for an internet business. You have to attract customers and then sell them your product or service.

So, in this example, the store is your web site, the sign out front is your domain name, the knowledgeable staff is your content and the in store displays are the photos on your site. All you're missing is the window display. And that is your marketing plan. It is the "it" factor that draws people in. And there are many ways to do this online:

* Banner ads

* Ezine Ads


* Search Engine Marketing

* Joint Ventures

* Affiliates

Identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

This statement is the headline for your web site and all other marketing material where your business name appears. It communicates the benefits of doing business with you and identifies what differentiates you from your competition. In short, why should they do business with you instead of someone else.

A strong USP is worth its weight in gold. Here are a few that hit the jackpot:

"Fresh, Hot Pizza Delivered to Your Door in 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed," Domino's Pizza

"The Ultimate Driving Machine," BMW

"Glasses in about an hour," LensCrafters

Your USP should instill excitement about doing business with you or finding out more about what you offer. Position it at the top of your home page and underneath your logo throughout your entire web site.

USP Tips

Avoid general statements and vague terms like "the best," since anyone can make that claim. Instead, speak directly to your ideal market, and address their wants. Explain what it is that makes you the best or what you do better than others. And use this USP in all of your marketing materials for greater consistency and overall impact. Not only does it help your prospect gain a clear view of your company it can help you stay focused when making key decisions.

The Difference between Features and Benefits

A feature is something the product or service has. The benefit is the emotional statement to show prospects what they will get and how they will feel as a result of using your product/service. Example of feature statement: Health Food products made with all natural ingredients.

Example of benefit statement: Natural health that keeps you fit and younger looking.

Write for Your Target Audience

Know your target audience. Are you B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer)? It makes a difference. Do you sell wholesale or in bulk? Do you only take small orders or large orders? Be specific, let people know what you do and if they are in the right place. Keyword selection is important in helping guide the proper traffic, but we'll address that in depth later.

To start, just assume that people are going to come to your site confused and uncertain. Guide them through the site and show them exactly what you have for them. If they are unsure, they're out the door. If you convey immediately what you have to offer that perfectly fits their needs, you have your chance to win their business.

As you pull all these things together remember that your site should not cater to your preferences, but to your visitors' preferences. If it isn't converting, reexamine it for flaws and try testing to determine what brings in the best results.


Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of http://www.EcomBuffet.com Since 1998, her expertise in online marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer can be reached at Jennifer@ecombuffet.com
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03 July 2009

Joan Ryan MPs Expenses Scandal

London MPs flipping their second homes for financial gain have been some of the worst examples of the MPs Expenses scandal. Forget the comical claims for toilet seats and the like - when an MP gets the chance to avoid tax in this way, they can make £000s.

MPs like Joan Ryan, the Enfield North MP who nominated her London flat as a her main home, have been claiming for decorating, furniture and fittings - even the costs of hetaing and lighting. Then when they sell the property they get the profits tax free. Later they have switched back to call the constituency house their main home, so they will also avoid tax whenever that property is sold.

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01 July 2009

Optimization problem

All Optimized and Going Nowhere?

It happens sometimes. Here are some of the common reasons you may not be indexed:

Index Time: It hasn't been indexed yet. The amount of time before the engine indexes your site should be listed on the search engine's submission page, but these aren't always accurate or may be out of date. On the average, index times range from one to eight weeks depending on the engine. Some engines like AltaVista and Inktomi offer paid options if you wish to be indexed more quickly.

TIP! Time frame and expectations: Allow up to 4 months, if you are number 10 and want to be number 1, then it may just be time that is needed - but if you aren't showing up at all, then you need to look at keywords, content, title, description and keyword tags.

Already Indexed: The major engines won't tell you if you're listed; it's up to you to find out. The method to discover if a page or domain has been indexed varies from one engine to another. Never assume you're not indexed just because you searched through keywords and you never came up in the first few pages of results. You could still be indexed and end up at the bottom of the heap.

Roadmap from Home Page: Some engines have been known to drop pages that cannot be traveled to from the home page. HotBot has been rumored to do this. Think of your site links as a series of roads from one page to another. If there's no road from your home page to the page you want indexed, a search engine may decide the page is unnecessary.

External Links: Some search engines like Google and HotBot have been known to refuse to index Web sites that don't link to any other sites. Or, they may index your home page but refuse to index any other pages unless there are links from another domain. Or, they may index you for a while but then "prune" their database later because you didn't achieve any external links after a certain period of time.

Frames: Content inside of HTML frames can cause problems with submissions because the search engine may index the main content of the page, but not the surrounding menu frame. Visitors to your site find some information but miss the associated menu. It's generally better to create non-framed versions of your pages.

Spider Blocks: Search engine spiders cannot index sites that require a registration or password, and they can't fill out forms. This also applies to indexing of content from a searchable database. The solution is to create static pages that the engines can find and index without performing a special action on your site. Depending on your database system, there are both utility programs and companies that can assist you with this.

Free Sites: Because of all the "junk" submissions from free web sites like Geocities, many engines choose not to index sites from such domains or limit the number of pages they accept.

Guilt Through Association: If your Web site shares the same IP address as other Web sites on your host's Web server, you may find your IP quietly banned because of something someone else did. Ask your hosting service if your domain name has its own unique IP assigned to it. If not, ask them to move it to its own IP to avoid being penalized because of someone else.

Dynamic Pages: Dynamic pages with URLs containing special symbols like a question mark (?) or an ampersand (&) are ignored by many engines. Pages generated on the fly from a database often contain these symbols. In this situation, it's important to generate "static" versions of each page you want indexed. Fancy scripts and code on a page can hurt your rankings. When it comes to search engines, simple is better.

Large Pages: If your site has a slow connection or the pages are very complex and take a long time to load, it might time out before the spider finishes indexing. To avoid this, limit your page size to 50K or less. A good rule of thumb is that: page size + cumulative image sizes on the page ≤ 50K-70K If it is greater than that amount, visitors with dial-up connections will leave before the page fully loads.

Unreliable Hosts: It pays to have a reliable hosting service. If your web site doesn't respond when the search engine spider visits, you won't be indexed. Even worse, if you are indexed and they pay a visit when your site is down, you could be removed from the database.

Spam: If you use questionable techniques that might be considered an overt attempt at spamming (i.e., excessive repetition of keywords, same color text as background) an engine may ignore or reject your submissions.

Redirects: Redirects or meta refresh tags sometimes cause the engines to have trouble indexing your site. If the engines think you are trying to "trick" them by using "cloaking" or IP redirection technology, they may not index the site at all.

Proper Directory Submissions: When submitting to a directory site like Yahoo, Open Directory, LookSmart, and others, a live person reviews your site. They decide if the site is of sufficient "quality" before they list it. These directories can help you get listed with other engines, so make sure you give your directory submissions the attention they need.

Page Limits: Search engines will only spider so many pages of your Web site. This could be a few dozen or three or four hundred depending on the engine. Google is one engine that tends to crawl deeper into your site. How deep they go may depend on factors like your link popularity. Sites with higher link popularity are deemed "worthier" of more thorough indexing.

Random Errors: Sometimes the engines simply lose submissions at random because of bugs and technical errors. Mistakes happen - remember, they're managing a database containing hundreds of millions of pages.


Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of http://www.EcomBuffet.com . Since 1998, her expertise in online marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer can be reached at Jennifer@ecombuffet.com

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