Jan 272011
 

I’m going to jump off the topic of Backlinks for a minute, but I will be back on that subject in the next entry as I have some more information to share. For example, info. about paying for backlinks, and also on backlink stacking (VERY important stuff!! – I promise to follow up on these topics ASAP). In this blog we’ll talk about a few great WordPress plugins and one Firefox plugin I think you should know. By the way, WARNING -the next paragraph is a small (large) rant.

Let me acknowledge for a minute that my brain is literally (figuratively) exploding from all the new information I’m soaking in. My monetization strategy is not in effect yet but the plan is shaping up. I will tell you this, currently I don’t have plans to monetize this blog because I really don’t want to be a blogger/internet marketer marketing to other bloggers/internet marketers, selling blogger/internet marketer useless products to stupid bloggers/internet marketers, who can then pass that trash along to the next person. I’m beginning to see that most tools that exist to help you with SEO and internet marketing are FREE. Most of the systems I see being rammed down people’s throats are just some creative compilation of FREE tools. Starting a blog of this nature (about Social Media Marketing, SEO, Blog Marketing, Facebook Marketing etc.) is almost a trap. Because you are researching all the tools that come with this industry, you will inevitably run into all the internet marketing SPCAM (this is a term I’m coining for Scam Spam – don’t ask how to pronounce it because I don’t know) products. You think, oh, I have readers also interested in blog/internet marketing, maybe I could start to sell this trash and make a profit. These products in my mind are basically the same thing as any Get rich quick, lose weight fast, enlarge certain parts of your body, blah blah blah scheme. They target people sitting at home thinking they could make thousands of dollars a day while watching daytime Soaps and sucking down cheezwhiz straight out of the can. For $47 this, for $27 that – don’t buy into it. If these plans were so great, why share them? Why not just hire staff and rake in millions upon millions? Logic people. There might actually be some useful tools out there, but in all honesty, the more I search, the more I find that if you want to pay for the convenience of someone organizing all your tools in one place, it may be worth it. Be VERY selective. The point of this blog is to share and document the process and along the way, and hopefully also to meet some like-minded people. I am looking for real, helpful tools, and most importantly, GOOD information. Many of these SPCAMmers also keyword target “is product X is a scam?” – where product X is their product. They also target, “product X reviews” – so they can give themselves their own reviews. My advice is to do a lot of research before actually spending money on something – especially if you’re currently not earning any money through online marketing. If you have so much money, earning interest so fast, that it’s impossible to get rid of it unless you throw it at a bunch of internet marketing jackals then go ahead I suppose. Or give it to charity.

If you are just looking to mutually share good information on internet related topics, feel free to contact me as I hope this blog will serve as a way for me to make some real connections, with real people. Ok, after the picture we’re on to business…
(This is an image of a chandelier taken from inside a Church – Tampere, Finland)

4 (More) Great WordPress Plugins to consider:

So I’ve been tinkering a bit with the layout of this blog and adding some new WordPress plugins. If you missed my first post about 4 essential plugins for a WordPress.org blog make sure to check it out. Thought I would also share a few more as I think they are also quite useful. I’ll talk about WP-supercache, YARPP, WP-dbmanager, and Commentluv. I have so far been only trying to work with free plugins and themes for WordPress, but I have to say, I am considering paying for a WordPress theme. Currently I am running the Suffusion theme, and while it’s starting to come along and look more like what I wanted, it hasn’t been easy. Since I don’t know how to actually modify the code I am limited to the options they provide for customization (which is not everything). If anyone reading this has any experience with WordPress themes, please shoot me a comment or email with what you recommend.

WP-Supercache

From the plugin site (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/), they state “This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.”

What you need to know in practice, is this will make your site load faster. I found my site was loading relatively slow due to the large size images I have been using. I added this plug-in and also changed the format in my theme so it would start only showing a few full length blog entries – the rest show up as just excerpts where you have to click to read more. Previously I had been showing 10 full length blog entries on my homepage. Because I have a really fast internet connection I didn’t really notice how bad it was until I tested the site on a slower connection.

Implementing WP-supercache is a good idea for any site because there is really no downside. Additionally, if you plan on expanding your site and getting more visitors, you should definitely be prepared in advance. If you have just a basic hosting package, a surge in visitors could drastically slow your site.

YARPP – Yet Another Related Post Plugin

You can find the website to download this plugin at: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/yet-another-related-posts-plugin/. YARPP is a great plugin for automatically displaying related posts. After a reader gets to the end of your post, they will see other posts, ranked in order of relevance to the post they just finished reading. You can also add the related posts to your RSS feed which is a good way to get people off their reader, and back to your website.

Since my site is relatively new and I don’t have very many total posts, I set the “Match Threshold” to 1. This means YARPP will pull almost any article, even one that has very minimal relevance. If you have a lot of content, you can get pretty specific about what posts YARPP will show. For example you can disallow certain categories or disallow certain tags. You can opt to only show recent posts (like those from within the past 12 months). You can decide how many posts to show, and whether or not to show their relevance score.

All in all this is a very easy tool to get started with and hopefully it will immediately improve your number of pageviews.

WP-Database Manager

You can find this plugin here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-dbmanager/ After the even small amount of work I have put into Eiconnectlink blog, I started to realize if anything happened, I had no back-ups of my posts and other files. I did manual back-ups through wordpress, and backed up my files on an external hard drive. However, it still would take some work to get everything back up and running.

This plugin is really all you need to take care of everything (unless you’re very paranoid like me!) It “Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database , drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up and optimizing of database.”

Never hurts to be prepared.

CommentLuv

So if you read my last post about 7 ways to Build Backlinks and increase search engine rank you will notice that one of the tips is to leave comments on other blogs. Commentluv is a way to encourage people to leave comments on your blog!

“This plugin will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieve a selection of their last blog posts, tweets or digg submissions which they can choose to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit.” Meaning you can actually comment on this website, right now, and leave yourself a nice fat link to your latest blog post (or if you register at Commentluv you can choose one of your last 10). Pretty cool huh?

This is a tactic I have decided to try as I think it will be a good way to get people talking. I see in the analytics this blog has a decent amount of readers, but there’s not too much comment action. I don’t know if it’s because these posts are so long, but whatever. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I just want to discuss internet marketing issues. I see a million blogs out there where people post a bunch about how much money they are making etc. etc., establishing themselves as an authority. I’m pretty sure most of them are full of shit, but suddenly they have a huge following of desperate wanna-be internet SPCAMmers filling up their comment walls. I can tell you I probably made way more money when I worked running a legitimate ecommerce business – so I also know a thing or two about the internet. I’m just not really here to sell – I’m here to learn. I am happy to pass along some link juice if you leave a comment – but I’m more interested in what YOU actually have to say :) (Sorry got a bit ranty again there for a minute).

Try out commentluv on your site and you may find an improvement in the comment activity.
________________________________________________________________________________________________

Now, I just want to briefly mention a great SEO tool. It’s called SEO Quake and you can download the plugin for Firefox at Seoquake.com Oh, by the way, I also tried this tool out for Chrome but I found it didn’t work nearly as well in Chrome – I don’t think all the bugs are worked out yet as even their homepage claims that it’s still “new.” This tool is FREE! Don’t pay for other SEO tools until you have tried this one first. If you are a beginner, this tool has more than enough functionality for you. As you get more advanced, you may want to consider paying for other tools, but for now start with this!

Download this plugin for Firefox as it has a LOT of really great features for analyzing websites. You can check a site’s PR, alexa rank, number of links from social sites, number of links to a page (L), number of links to the entire domain (LD), number of pages indexed, keyword density, and a lot more customizable options. This is a great way to look into what your competitors are up to. Where they are getting backlinks, how strong are their backlinks, what keywords are they targeting, etc. This is the sort of information you will need to know if you want to outrank them in the SERPs.
________________________________________________________________________________________________

OK, that’s a long post! If you made it through leave me a comment, tweet, share, you know the drill! Thanks :) Nick

Jan 202011
 

Check Out these 7 Great ways to get Backlinks, increase your Search Engine Rank, and get traffic!

So you’ve set up a site and you want some traffic. Better yet, you want some FREE traffic. Getting backlinks is the internet marketer’s equivalent to having a squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease-having-a-toddler-type-temper-tantrum so Google pays attention to you. Social Media Marketing involves getting backlinks to rank your website. eMarketing is a war that must be fought on many fronts. Blog marketing strategies, eCommerce marketing strategies, internet marketing strategies, etc. all must be wary of the weight that Google places on backlinks and their importance in affecting your search engine rankings. Backlinks serve as endorsements for your site. To read some more, check-out Backlinks and strategies for building the perfect Back link. Once you have understood that your web presence and social media marketing strategy demand that you build some backlinks, the obvious question that comes to mind is: how to build backlinks? You will soon realize (like me! haha) that your site is probably 10x better than others out there in its niche, but it is no where to be found in search engine results. You know what the perfect backlink is, but you have no hope of getting any of those for free (at least in the early stages of your websites existence) – so where do you start? Start at the beginning and keep reading! This article will teach you some great ways to build FREE quality backlinks to your website.

(This is in Estonia – It’s some ducks hanging out in the snow! Never seen that before…)


 

 

Internal backlinks

Internal backlinking seems a lot like getting a job recommendation from your Mom, however a recommendation is still a recommendation. Just because you recommend yourself, doesn’t mean this is completely irrelevant. Think of it as being confident. If you don’t have any faith in your own site, why should others? At least from Google’s standpoint, a website with good internal, anchor text linking, can give the search engines a better clue that your site has good information to offer, and that your overall site content might be also useful. Google can be more confident that if send an information seeker over to your site from the organic search, that user will likely be pleased at all the useful and amazing content on your whole website, not just the page they land on. Internal linking tells Google that you KNOW the entire site will be relevant because you are linking between pages yourself.

 

 

Blog Commenting

Blog comments are another way to get your greedy hands on some juicy, low-hanging backlinks. First off, to employ this tactic, you must learn the difference between a “do-follow” link and a “no-follow” link. No-follow links are links that the webmaster of the site you are on has told Google “I don’t know what the hell these links are, don’t assume I’m recommending them.” It turns out, Google will follow them anyways, but “generally” won’t give them too much weight. Keep in mind, no-follow links in a highly relevant niche may have a positive effect.

A do-follow link is really what you are looking for. If you leave a comment on a do-follow blog, this will transfer a little of that website’s PR juice over to you (as it acts as a small endorsement of your site). Keep in mind, if there are a lot of comments, the benefit to you will not be very great as the PR will be spread out amongst all the commentators. With some persistence and hard work, commenting can help your search rankings. It also is a good way to get involved in the community your website deals with – so in some ways blog commenting can accomplish two things at once. You learn, network, interact, and also benefit your search results.

http://followlist.com/ Is a helpful site for finding do-follow blogs to comment on.

Keep in mind, Only getting do-follow links will look un-natural. When building links you want to look as natural as possible and get a variety of links from all types of sources. Blog commenting can be beneficial in many ways, so don’t spend too much time worrying whether the comment section is a do or no follow. Just jump in.

Another idea is to comment on Squidoo lenses and Hubpages Hubs. Posting comments on sites like these can be a great asset to you, as Google tends to give them good page rank, which can transfer to you!

Another thing to consider, is if you’re commenting, the blog writer him/her self will probably click your link. If your site is truly fascinating and interesting, they might actually start following your work, and maybe even link to you directly in the future. So if you participate in commenting you may see greater benefits as time progresses.

 

 

Link Directories

Link directories are pretty easy. You can copy in your site and anchor text and get a backlink! If you submit to too many directories, too fast, with the same anchor text, you will run the risk of looking unnatural. Try varying the keywords in your anchor text (maybe targeting some secondary or tertiary keywords) and space out how many you submit each day.

The link juice from directories is not so great either, but a lot of low quality backlinks can add up. They are so easy that over you can definitely gain some easy link juice. Below are some good directories to start with. From what I have researched, the directories below seem to pass some juice on to your site.

DMOZ
Starting Point
Business.com
ExactSeek
Best of The Web
Librarians’ Internet Index

 

 

Article Marketing

Article Marketing is a great way to not only improve your backlink portfolio, but also as a way to drive traffic. If you write an article about the niche your website is in, you can put an anchor-text good ole fashioned back link directing readers to your site. Not only might you get some traffic from the readers of the article, but you will also get a strong anchored backlink for your website.

Just a note, make sure to vary your anchor text in your article marketing as it will start to look unnatural if every single article Google finds directs people to your site with the exact same text. If you’re confused about this part, read my previous article as it has a great section about The perfect backlink and information about good anchor text.

Also, if you write good articles, it’s possible that a webmaster or publisher will pick up your article. This could give you yet another backlink!

 

 

Forum Commenting

Forums are another easy way to grab links, however the problem is quite similar to comment marketing. If you make a comment in a forum that has 100s of other comments, you will get very little, if any at all, link juice. Another issue is that when forum posts fall into the archives, the page ranks drop and your one little comment on a 100 comment forum will be just about worthless.

However, don’t discount the validity of forums as a method to gain social proof. Using number of forum comments to imply authority can be a powerful way to get people to link to your site. Most forums track the number of posts you have made – and if that number is very high, you will appear to be a real expert. If you see someone in a forum with 10000 posts, and you are just joining, you will think they must know a lot. This is not always the case and you can take advantage of this fact.  Staying involved in a forum’s discussion, users will see your number of posts as well as your signature (with link to your site). This can drive traffic and possibly result in some natural backlinks if you’ve established yourself as an authority.

For a good place to find forums having conversations about what is going on in your niche, take a look through Google Groups.

A good side effect to using Google Groups, is that Google ranks the sites based on their perceived authority. You want your comments going up on the highest authority sites in your niche, so start at the top and work your way down.

 

 

Guest Posts

This is a great way to get your name out there as an authority in your niche in front of a friendly audience. If people are already following a blog, you will have social proof from the author (who they already respect) and will have a greater chance of actually getting your whole post read through to the end. By the way, if anyone has made it this far through this LOONNNGG blog post, please comment! Guest posting for a respected site is a great way to get your name (and website) recognized, and as a side benefit, you also get a very nice backlink. Because you are doing that blogger a favor by writing an amazing guest post, you are well within your rights to ask for a quality anchor-text backlink!

A guest post can be a great way to introduce yourself to the A-List, authority bloggers in your niche. Getting on their radar will be very beneficial, especially considering if they like your post and choose to share it, you have potential to reach a large number of readers. Not only would these readers probably already be in your niche, they also would see the authority blogger’s recommendation as social proof that you are an authority in your own right. If you are perceived as an authority, you are also perceived as “linkable” and you may end up with some additional natural backlinks.

 

 

Social Bookmarking sites

I did a post awhile back about Social Networking sites. Many of these are Social bookmarking sites. A personal favorite of mine is Reddit. If you happen to write a great article that goes viral and makes it to the front page of a site like Reddit, you will inevitably receive lots and lots of backlinks as people share the site. Also, as Google has recently stated that they will take Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter into account when determining search rank, having something you have written get Reddit front page exposure would work wonders for your search engine results.

If nothing else, social bookmarking is an important way to keep your articles and posts indexed by Google – but that is a topic for another blog post.

Google’s take on backlink building

Since in the end, by gaining backlinks you are trying to please Google, you might actually want to listen to what they have to say on the subject. Here’s a video actually made by Google with some ideas for getting backlinks in ways that do not violate Google’s policies.

Summary

These are some great FREE ways to build backlinks. There are a whole slew of paid ways that we can talk about in a future post. If you’ve had any success with paid back links, please let me know!

Internal backlinks
Blog Commenting
Link Directories
Article Marketing
Forum Commenting
Guest Posts
Social Bookmarking sites

Make use of all of these outlets and grow your number of visitors and expand your influence.  Once your site has some visitors your plan to monetize it might actually work!  A comprehensive Social Media Marketing strategy must include building backlinks.  Hope this post was helpful!  Please share, comment, whatever :) Nick

Jan 142011
 

A Learner’s guide to Backlinks: Everything you need to know to understand the importance of Back Links

When it comes to marketing your blog or website, there is no way to get around the importance of SEO backlinks. The easiest way to think about a back link is that it is like an endorsement for your website. The Google tarantula is a lazy spider. To save itself work, it would be happy to classify your site as “A-Okay” as long as some other people out there in cyberspace think your not a total hack (and link to you!) A quality backlink has several characteristics which this article will define. First we will examine what makes a good back link, talk about high PR backlinks, and look at the importance of anchor text backlinks. In a future post I will talk about how to find and build backlinks to your site. By the way, can anyone clarify if it’s backlink or back link (with a space)?

On a side note, I normally have been starting off each of my posts with a picture, entirely unrelated to the topic of my blog post (I started an image gallery page since many people have said they like the pictures). It’s my blog so if I want a picture I think is cool, I get one! However, it appears Google and the SEO gods might not be happy with my decision as I’ve read there is a lot of importance given to the first paragraph and title. Plus there’s the issue with meta-tagging the image. If I tag it with what it actually is, it will appear irrelevant to the blog post. If I tag it incorrectly big bad Google daddy will be mad. So I’m going to put the picture here!

(this image is taken in Sweden at an “American” Western store. I found this cool fake gun that was for sale and was playing around with it. I’ve got my sight’s set on Backlinks!”)

What makes for a good backlink:

So you may have a friend or fan or whatever who calls you up and says, “I love your site SOOO much, I decided to give you a backlink!” Well let me tell you, if you want to backlink my site, stand in line because I get that kind of call every day haha. Well first off, I would say thank you and accept the link. The reason being: Every back link is a good backlink. When you begin your quest to build backlinks, you have to go for them all – large or small. As long as it’s not some porn spam viagra weightloss crap site, every little thing makes a difference. The more backlinks you get, the more Google will like your site and the better your chances of ranking higher in SEO results.

However, there are some qualities which can make a backlink much better. So let’s look at this from a reverse perspective and try to work our way back to the perfect quality back link.

Links on a Sidebar or Footer:

So your super fan friend says, I gave you a back link in my Sidebar and/or footer. You should be happy, but not that happy. Google gives less importance to links that exist without context. Having a backlink is still good, but it would be better if the link were in a blog post or on an informational page that had something to do with your site/niche. If the context of the link makes sense, Google will be happy. Plus there’s more likelihood of someone following the link and landing on your site and actually being happy with the results if the link is fitted in to a context.

“Click here” backlinks and why Anchor text matters:

If your friend is a little smarter, he will already know this. So he’ll find a page on his site, and find the perfect place to put it. It will be a totally natural place to put the link within the context of a blog entry or something. You will be able to offer a valuable service to his readers that he himself cannot provide. However, what if he says in his post “to check out my main man Nick over at eiconnectlink.com he’s a ridiculous marketing genius: “CLICK HERE!” (where click here is the back link to my site)? That will be better than in case one, but it is still not so great in Google’s arachnoid eyes.

Google prefers the link to have an anchor text. Preferable an anchor text that flows seamlessly with the wording of the paragraph and one that not only explains what the name of the site is, but also contains some rich keywords about what kind of site it is. So a back link to http://www.eiconnectlink.com would be great, but it would be better if it said “go visit Nick for: “a How-to guide for Social Media Marketing, blog marketing, SEO, Web 2.0, back link and backlink tips, and article marketing!” Having a detailed anchor link with information about what kind of site that link will actually lead to will make Google a happy camper.

High PR backlinks – back links from an authority site:

Now let’s suppose this screaming beatles-esque fan happens to also have a high PR (Page Rank) authority site. Lets say it’s Paul Mccartney and he just loves Eiconnectlink. He thinks my information is just the best thing out there since Brad and J-Lo split (or whatever celebrity nonsense passes for entertainment these days) and he can’t get enough of reading my blog posts. A quick tangent, PaulMccartney.com is only PR 6 (wtf? some SEO people are asleep there). Let’s just pretend it was a PR 10 (the highest level). If he puts a great anchored text backlink to my site that would be wonderful.

However, lets consider a few things. The PR may be 10 on the main site, however Google is actually looking at the PR of the actual PAGE (page rank remember!) the link is on. If Sir Paul buries my link in some odd post about why Ringo loved to eat Octopus so much and it’s hidden somewhere in the archives where no one really sees it, the page rank might be significantly less.

Take this into account when you hear about people trying to SELL you backlinks on a PR8 site or some nonsense like that. Many scams start this way because the site itself may be PR8 on the front page but have significantly lower PR on internal pages. What if it’s Google? What if it’s Facebook? What if it’s the number one site on the internet they are promising to get you a backlink from? In the end, all the scam backlink seller will probably do is make a profile and throw up a link in the info section and call it a day. This link might as well be coming from a PR 0 or PR N/A site. This is NOT the same thing as being linked to from a high authority site.

**Remember, it’s the Page Rank of the ACTUAL PAGE the back link is on that matters, NOT the PR of the front page of that site.**

Now, even if Sir Paul gives you a big huge bolded anchor text link on his Front page in the context of an article about your niche, full of great keywords highly targeted to what you specialize in, it still won’t be the perfect link. Why not?

Relevance of the Authority Site:

Google would certainly give you a bump for having a high quality anchor text authority back link, however, as great as Paul Mccartney is (if you ask me I like John and George better but still) at writing songs, last I checked not too many were about Social Media Marketing (to use my own site as the example for now). I could be wrong, I mean maybe these days everybody wants a piece of the Facebook pie and Paul’s billion pounds or so might be hurting after his recent divorce, so he might decide to write a jingle or two about how great it is to network with all the people from your elementary school that you didn’t like then, haven’t talked to in years, and are generally annoyed at looking at their constant updates with pictures of their stupid ugly kids and their not as cute as lolcat pets…just to make some money – but I digress.

Paul is not an authority in your niche and Google knows it. They may be happy to see you have a link from a strong site like his, but it won’t be completely relevant. A site with a high PR in your Niche would be best.

So what’s better? A site with a 10 PR linking to you that has nothing to do with your industry, or a site with an 8 PR that is a perfect match? The answer is who the hell knows? Both are phenomenal and you would be lucky if your crappy little social media marketing site or make money online or whatever stupid niche you’re in got a back link that good.

However, a perfect link would be this:

  • A link from a perfect 10 PR authority site relevant to your niche
  • A keyword rich detailed anchor backlink
  • An anchored backlink in the context of a relevant related article

So shoot for the starts and try for the highest quality backlinks you can get. If you come up short for the perfect backlink, hopefully you’ll get a few stragglers who’d love to buy your products and look at your ads. You never know!

NEXT TIME!

Next time, Next time, Next time! We’ll talk about some strategies to build quality back links, get free backlinks, getting backlinks, finding backlinks, find back links, building good backlinks, high pr backlinks, and any other keyword term with back link or backlink that Google might appreciate. Crazy how Google has transformed journalism into a game of who can feed it enough of it’s special happy candy keywords (see Google News these days and all the money making scams that exist to get yourself featured). Gotta keep the monster happy or else risk being ignored.

Thanks for reading! If you made it through this ginormous article, why not like me on facebook! Or share or tweet or comment – I’ll take whatever you got! :) Nick

Jan 122011
 

This is one of my first posts where I’m writing more in my element. Having worked 5 years managing a successful eCommerce operation generating $1.3 Million in annual sales, I picked up a few tricks. The 3 tips below are some things that now feel obvious, but I remember how it was when I first started. I didn’t know ANYTHING. I was constantly thinking of new ideas, researching competitor sites, trying out new things, etc. These are 3 ecommerce tips I came across that made a real difference in sales. If you are just starting out (or already running an eCommerce site), hopefully these tips will be of some benefit to you.

(taken in Helsinki museum of modern art, this was an odd exhibit featuring these bubbles you could stand in.  There was a video being projected onto the bubble (the light from the projector is the green dot in this image).  The video was of sights from a city – this bubble was Budapest I believe.  The artist also tried to capture the smell of the city, so each different bubble had a unique scent)

Ecommerce Tip #1: Free Two-way shipping

The first thing to consider when running an ecommerce store is how to convert visitors into sales. For an eCommerce business converting a sale online really comes down to “what are the barriers preventing this online shopper from clicking the buy now button?” One of the largest barriers could be your online shipping policy. When a person adds an item to your ecommerce shopping cart and then sees a shipping cost. Shipping costs were a huge problem for us when it came to dealing with cart abandonment issues. If a customer goes to all the trouble of browsing your site, adding items to a cart, and then just leaving – you have a problem that must be addressed. You’re so close to the sale, what can push it over the edge?

Free Shipping is a start, but have you considered free two way shipping? First off, with free shipping you can just build the extra cost into the price of the item – so it’s really a no-brainer. When running an ecommerce business, battling over price is huge. It’s so easy to Google a product and see a large number of sellers offering the same item. How can you add some intangible value to make them want to click “buy” in your online shopping cart when they might have abandoned another shopping cart? Free two way shipping. If the customer is unhappy with the product, you will pay for them to ship back their return. They have nothing to lose! Offer a full refund and free two way shipping, and there will be no more barriers preventing them from clicking “buy.”

In my experience running an online business our revenue was approximately 1.3 Million dollars annually. We experienced a return rate of around 10%. About half of the returns were because the product was damaged or defective. We would have paid return shipping on these orders regardless. Another 2.5% was from people ordering a product that wouldn’t work for their application (we were selling home improvement products, so for example they ordered a faucet that wouldn’t fit). This can be combated by making sure all the necessary installation instructions are VERY clear. That leaves only around a 2.5% of returns coming from people just ordering something and then deciding they didn’t want to keep it. It only cost us the shipping fees in the case of these returns which was quite minimal. The benefits to offering free two way shipping far outweighed this cost.

Ecommerce Tip #2 Quote Generator

This is an idea I came up with for keeping people in the sales funnel. If someone was not ready to click buy, I figured I had a better chance of converting the sale at a later time if they were sent an email quote. Often, people search on Google for a product they want to purchase, look through a lot of sites, price compare etc. but are not actually ready to make the purchase. Especially selling home improvement products, we had many customers searching months in advance. People who were building a new house might need to purchase something like plumbing fixtures several months before they are actually installed. Their contractor would probably have given them a schedule for when they need the items, but they would have some time before they needed to order them. I wanted to capture those sales somehow.

I knew people would be browsing and might or might not bookmark your site. This means they might just find the product they want only to purchase it later from somewhere else. Especially when selling brand name products, people might only remember to search for the name of the product, only to find many other websites offer the same item. If they visited your online store a month ago, there’s no guarantee they will find your site again when they are ready to purchase.

We created a button using PHP in our shopping cart where instead of purchasing, you could click “Send me an Email Quote.” The quote would automatically be sent pulling the product data from our data base for the items that were in their shopping cart. The Email would have pictures, descriptions and a total price with links to pay by Paypal or Google Checkout, and also our phone number and offers to help with any questions etc. This gave us two benefits. One, we got to make contact with the customer – so we weren’t just another random site they found. They now had an email from us, with the name of an actual sales person to talk to. Second, it put them on our radar for potential customers. If they had just abandoned a shopping cart, we would never know who this person was or what products they were interested in. Any advertising money we paid to drive them to our online store would have been wasted. Having them in our system gave us the advantage of being able to follow up – aka tip number 3!

Ecommerce Tip #3: Follow up system

More important than you can possibly imagine! I can’t tell you how many orders we got because of following up with people. Once we implemented the quote generator system detailed above, we needed a follow up system. Using PHP for Email allowed us to set up a web system for following up at specified time increments all automatically. They system would notify us what quotes were eligible for a follow up email (after 1 week, then after 3 weeks). By reconnecting incrementally with people we were better able to be in the right place at the right time to make the sale. At first I worried people might get annoyed at follow up emails, however many people actually thanked me for following up and felt as though they were getting more personal attention. Using PHP and setting up a follow up system was important since we had so many emails to keep track of there was no way it could be done manually.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

I hope these tips have helped!  If you have any tips of your own to share, please comment.  I would also appreciate a “like” on Facebook :)  Nick

Jan 102011
 

So I’ve been reading a lot lately on the state of the internet and SEO marketing. This post will shed some light on what is currently going on. As many of you reading this may know, Niche site marketing is one popular way to make money online. The basic idea is you use keyword research to find a relatively competition-free area of the web (at least the Google web) and create a niche site. You populate the niche site with some affiliate products, then go to work on marketing the hell out of it. This generally means getting a crazy amount of backlinks to your site, which will then move you up in Google’s search rankings. How do you do this? Write an article, spin it a million times, submit to a million article directories, each article complete at the bottom with an anchor link to your niche site. Having more backlinks gives your site more authority in Google’s eyes but this method of gaining them is actually quite detrimental in more ways than one. Most speculation seems to point to the fact that Google with have to address this situation, but the other questions is, does Google really want to?

(view of a winter sunset through the trees – shot from Otaniemi, Finland)

Google’s search results are sometimes completely wrong. Here’s a fun game to try. Do a search for “Search Engine” in Google. You may be surprised to find what shows up first, second, third, fourth, fifth etc. Hint: It’s not Google! Isn’t that strange that if Google is supposed to be providing people with the best information, and clearly Google is the best search engine (at least for now), why would they not rank themselves first? Google’s algorithm gives a lot of weight to older sites, whether or not the result is relevant today (on a side note, many Internet marketers recommend purchasing an old domain name for exactly this reason). You can see some gaping holes in Google’s algorithm when looking at local results. If you do a search for many big US cities in Google for “big city name” locksmith, you will see an interesting result. For example if you search Los Angeles locksmith, the first result will be a site called los-angeles-locksmith, and if you check it out, you will find that this is not actually a local business. They can direct you to a local business, but why should you go through this extra step? In most cities I checked, I found this company lurking around somewhere on the front page. Most of their titles had the city name with hyphens separating the words (a hint that there is some real SEO thought going into this). Now there’s nothing wrong with this company doing what they are, but from Google’s perspective, shouldn’t they be trying to help their customer by directing them to a legitimate local business? If you spend enough time searching for random things and pay attention, you will find that for many search results, there are strange, unexpected sites showing up.

Now, from a marketers standpoint, this might be good. It means you can get your site ranked high on Google even if it’s not necessarily the best result. However many SEO experts are talking about how Google may be forced to change their algorithm as web SPAM becomes more of a problem. Google Webmaster tools has reportedly started to issue warnings regarding a “notice of detected unnatural links” and a separate warning about cloaking. This warning comes with a threat that “In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from (somedomain).com are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days.”

A new rival search service some of you may have heard of is Blekko. Blekko is a new site and most articles I’ve read suggest that it offers a lot to make search engine marketer’s job easier. Blekko has come up with a new idea for search using slashtags. Slashtags are a way that anyone can make a “vertical” search engine around any topic. For those not familiar with the term, a vertical search engine is one that lets you search in a specific area of interest, rather than across the “horizontal” spectrum of all interests (the way Google works).

Take a look at the video below to see how it works:

While right now you can see it’s not necessarily better than Google for many things. In fact it is lacking in some ways. It may have it’s uses especially as Web Spam becomes more and more of a problem with Google. Blekko’s founders are keenly aware of the problems Google is having with web SPAM. So much so, they have created a SPAM clock http://spamclock.com/ You can watch the number of SPAM pages being indexed by Google rising at an alarming rate. Of course the goal of this traffic is not to inform, but to monetize users through a variety of ad networks.

Marksonland.com blog states in regards to the amount of SPAM created daily “Think about that 1 million pages an hour. Wikipedia is 3.5M articles. Every 3.5 hours a new volume of text the size of wikipedia is unleashed on the internet and unsuspecting users. Every 3.5 hours. 7 wikipedia size corpuses being created every day. Ugh.”

The co-founder of Blekko Rich Skrenta states on his blog Skrenta.com “Consider that in 2000 there were about 7 million hosts on the internet offering essentially all the content on the web. In 2010, the number of web hosts has soared to 250 million. How many of these 200 million plus hosts offer legitimate content? A small fraction. The rest is spam.” And he continues… “Which brings me to my larger point. This spam on the web is creating REAL problems that are affecting much more than our ability just to find information. The energy and other costs for crawling, storing and serving this trash is soaring. I saw a recent estimate that 15% of the world’s energy consumption in 10 years could go to support Internet usage. A fair amount of that energy is being burned by the thousands upon thousands of servers at incumbent search engines. Making search greener by weeding out spam could have a significant impact on energy consumption.”

It’s yet to be seen if a service like Blekko can really do anything to impact the way Google behaves, however I think it’s safe to say, with pressure coming in the form of Blekko, Google may very well re-examine the way it currently ranks pages.

So what does this mean to you (and me)? Keeping this in mind, it is time to branch out and start to think about other techniques to market sites. While article spamming may still continue to work for awhile, it’s days may be numbered. Of course, Google still has a vested interest in delivering ad-delivering, profit-for-Google generating content. To be fair Google does a pretty good job, however at the rate the SPAM is increasing, can this be sustained? Keep an eye on Bing as they may have a better algorithm for SPAM detection and it could be an area where they can actually gain some ground on Google.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Please comment with your opinion! I’d appreciate it if you Like me on Facebook! Thanks for reading, Nick.

 

Jan 052011
 

*note* probably should have posted this right after new years. Maybe I should have added don’t procrastinate to the list.

So I decided since it’s a new year it might be interesting to start off learning some new things to make life easier.  Here are some of my tips for life!(Life hacks) along with some of my favorites I found online.

(image taken from a outside store in Tallinn, Estonia – see the streaks of snow? – it’s a man with some great ideas – who wants this thing in their house?!? I never did find out if the statue/light was anatomically correct in the front haha)

Tip#1: Cooking is the process of turning ingredients into Food.  Don’t buy any food from a box or a can or anything with a label that has any ingredients you don’t know (or can’t pronounce).  Stick to fresh fruits, meats, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts etc.  You will feel better, look better, lose weight, and be more productive.

Tip#2: Drink more water.  Helps with all sorts of things – higher energy levels, healthy skin, digestive problems, lowers, cancer risk, cures headaches, cleanses the body, lowers heart disease risk – AND prevents hangovers (anybody else forget that one this past new years eve?)

Tip#3: To-do lists.  I actually never used them, but my girlfriend got me into this.  It’s great because it’s a way to take things off your mind.  If you’re working on something but also trying to remember all the other things you have to do a list can get all of that clutter out of your brain.  Ta Da List is a good site for this.

Tip#4: Spend time offline.  Lately I’ve been ignoring this one.  I’ve been knee-deep in research on internet marketing, blog marketing, facebook marketing, social media tools, and social networking sites.  It’s hard to process all that information without some downtime.  In fact I plan to spend a good long time later today with a big piece of blank paper and a pen trying to structure everything I’ve learned making a Mind Map.

Tip#5: Single Task. It’s so easy to try to do a million things all at once. Give one thing all your attention until it is finished, then move on to the next. Chances are you will do a better job at a task while giving it your full attention. This is easier said than done! While working managing an eCommerce store I was always on the phone with suppliers and customers, while trying to read emails, manage my team, work on marketing and design, having meeting constantly being interrupted with phone calls etc. It’s a wonder anything got done.

Tip#6: If you’re reading this in a place where it’s very cold outside (as it is here in Finland) you can use outside as your refrigerator! Living most of my life in Los Angeles I never knew if you had warm beer, putting it outside would make it cold quicker than the refrigerator. A lot of people might already know this but to me it’s new! For extra points use a pile of snow to hold your bottles.

Tip#7: For people who don’t live in a cold place right now, there is another, more scientific way to get your beers cold in 3 minutes. Put the cans in a pot with ice. Add 2 cups of salt and then fill the pot with water. In 3 minutes the cans will be ice cold. You could scale this plan to work with a cooler also – never tried it but it might have some use while camping.

Tip#8: Have a system to not forget to bring important things. This would have helped me with my recent glasses situation. Put important things on your shoes, or with your keys so you can’t forget them. If you try to get in your car without your keys, you’ll be forced to go back and see the thing you were also supposed to bring! On a side note, a system for where to keep your keys is important. My mom is notorious for losing her’s even though there’s a key hook right near the door in my parents house. On a tangent, I also got her as a gift a little beeper thing you put on your key chain. You press a button on a small remote and go looking for the beeping. She proceeded to lose the remote *sigh (I still love her though!)

Tip#9: Staying motivated. If you want to get something done, there’s nothing better than bragging to your friends about it first. Then you will feel the pressure to actually do what you say or be subject to ridicule.

Tip#10: Find out how the hell people are making money online! Everything seems like some weird pyramid scam. I’m trying to figure out what is really going on because the best Life Hack I can think of is to be able to make money working from anywhere. I love traveling and want to work a flexible schedule (I’m a bit of a night owl so waking up for an early morning commute is rough). If you learn this secret please share it (with me only).

Bonus Tip: Like me on Facebook because I need fans – and it will help me help you (is that a Jerry McGuire reference? wow.) Thanks for reading! Comment if you have any other Life tips.

Jan 042011
 

Still on my quest to Monetize social media, I have been digging deeper into some strategies that might work.  To be honest, I have to admit I haven’t done this much reading and WRITING since college.  Wow, I never expected to be a professional writer, but I have to say, since so much of internet marketing seems to involve useful content, you have to get out there and create it!

(image of a snow covered tree with a background wall of bricks – the contrast of colors I thought looked quite nice)

Moving on with my strategy, I signed up for more services today.  Everything I’m signing up for is part of a directed plan of action to market affiliate products.  If you saw my blog yesterday on Social Networking Sites you MUST belong to then you can see that there is a lot to do when setting up your Web Empire (as I’ve fondly started to think of my project). I even had to devise a spreadsheet system to keep track of all my passwords, user names, etc.

I’ll get more into my research on Affiliate products in a later post, but for now I’ll share with you 9 Great Article Submission Directories.  Articles are a powerful way to gain backlinks for your website.  If you are interested in promoting a website, article marketing is a powerful SEO tool.  The more backlinks you have pointing to your site, the higher it will rank in Google.  Put on your writer’s hats and check out the links below.

*hint, click the image to be directed to their company website for more information – a few of the sites I added a some personal notes.


Ezinearticles is perhaps the top-choice directory, however it takes a few days to get your articles approved (at least before you have successfully submitted 10 articles)


Goarticles is a good choice if you don’t want to wait for Ezinearticles. Goarticles gets your articles published much faster.


Buzzle requires an author application where you actual have to submit some work – after I have a few articles submitted to other directories I will complete the application.


Isnare offers a unique service (which is paid) where they actively distribute your articles to hundreds of other article directories. I will play around with this idea if I start generating sufficient income with article marketing.


With Articleblast there may be a wait time for your account to be activated. I confirmed through an email link but it said my account is still under review. Perhaps this will sort itself out but I wonder if anyone else has had this issue? If so let me know please!

________________________________________________________________________________
The rest of these sites I didn’t have any specific likes or dislikes (at least immediately) As I start to use them maybe I will have more to say.












________________________________________________________________________________

Another great feature for these sites is you can use them as a publisher. You can grab any of the articles other people have written and post them on your site. In case you are having trouble generating enough content, this is actually a very good way to make sure your blog is constantly updated. Just make sure to share articles that you think your users would find helpful. Thanks so much for reading! Please comment and please like my Facebook page! I’m trying to get to 25 fans so I can get a custom URL

Jan 032011
 

**Note it goes without saying that the first 3 Social networking sites you MUST belong to are Facebook (please like my Facebook page – the link is on the right! I REALLY need some fans!), Twitter, and Linkedin** So today I started the laborious process of setting up accounts with some of the other social networking sites. I am doing this for two reasons. First, I am adding links to my website in the profile section of every site (if possible). This will generate backlinks and hopefully increase my Google page rank. I am also doing this so I can begin some article marketing with affiliate links. In order to get my articles noticed, I need to be able to promote them through social networking sites. This is a topic for another entry, however for now, I will show you which sites I joined.

(I arrived in Estonia for a weekend trip on December 7th.  It was snowing and the sky was grey.  These buildings looked oddly futuristic and out of place)

After some research about which sites are best, I decided to start with the following list. There are many many more, however not all seemed particularly relevant to anything I might actually write. I actually came across a site called Only Wire (http://onlywire.com/) which makes it easy to submit articles or blog entries to multiple social network sites all at once. I signed up for the free account however it appears to be rather limited in the number of submissions you can send. If you belong to 30+ social networking sites, the 300 free submissions they offer per month will be used up VERY quickly. I also was required to “like” their page in order to activate the free account. For the time being while I’m playing around with a lot of new ideas, I don’t plan on paying for their product until I test it out a bit so the free service will do for now.

If you happen to be a member of any of these sites, please add me!  Also, let me know what you think about their service.  Today has been quite eye-opening for me in terms of seeing Facebook is far from the only option out there.

 

http://www.jumptags.com/Eiconnectlink/

 

http://www.bibsonomy.org/user/eiconnectlink

 

http://www.bebo.com/Eiconnectlink



http://digg.com/eiconnectlink

 

http://identi.ca/eiconnectlink/



http://www.delicious.com/eiconnectlink

 

http://eiconnectlink.multiply.com/

 

http://eiconnectlink.livejournal.com/

 

http://www.mixx.com/users/eiconnectlink

 

http://eiconnectlink.newsvine.com/

 

netvibes.com/eiconnectlink

 

http://www.plurk.com/Eiconnectlink

 

http://en.netlog.com/EiConnectLink

 

http://www.linkagogo.com

 

http://www.reddit.com/user/eiconnectlink/

 

http://eiconnectlink.posterous.com/

 

http://www.myspace.com/eiconnectlink

 

www.scribd.com

 

http://pulse.yahoo.com/

 

http://eiconnectlink.typepad.com/blog/

 

http://eiconnectlink.tumblr.com

 

https://www.google.com/bookmarks/ (works through your Gmail account)

 

http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/eiconnectlink/

 

http://www.sonico.com/publico/Eiconnectlink

 

http://slashdot.org/~eiconnectlink/

 

I also signed up for http://www.clickbank.com which is a site where you can find Affiliate products to offer.

To get all this configured took me almost 8 hours – so be prepared.  The benefits however could prove quite great.  I will detail more what I plan to do in upcoming blogs.  Drop me a comment or email if you have any thoughts!  Thanks for reading, Nick