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Archive for the Internet Marketing Tips Category

How to Find Customers on the Internet

How to Find Customers on the Internet

One of the best ways to find customers on the internet is target customers that “look like” your current list of best customers. To do this, identify and analyze your most valuable customers then use this information to find customers on the internet with similar demographics. Here is the step-by-step process to find customers on the internet with the highest value: First, use the 80/20 rule (The Pareto Principle) to create a current list of your most valuable customers. The Pareto Principle, for this situation, tells us 20% of your customers create 80% of your revenue. These are your best customers. Who doesn’t want more of these, right? You can identify them by the current amount of money they are spending with you. Or drill down and calculate their Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV = Average Value of a Sale X # of repeat Transactions X Average time a customer

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How Google uses Close Variants to Help Connect People to What They Are Searching For

How Google uses Close Variants to Help Connect People to What They Are Searching For

To make it easier for your business to reach more customers via their search engine, Google is expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords. Last week Google announced that over the next few months they are going to begin ignoring extraneous prepositions, conjunctions, and articles (ex: in, to, for, but, a, the). You know, those functional words that generally don’t change the intent behind a search query. For example, “Vegetarian restaurant in Fort Worth” vs “Vegetarian Restaurant Fort Worth”. According to Google, they will only be ignored when it won’t change the meaning of your keyword. This is good news for AdWords users who are exhausted by building long lists of keyword phrases for every conceivable combination of search phrases. Additionally, they will begin treat search phrases the same when the order of the words doesn’t change the meaning. For example: “pink party hat”

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Collecting Sales Tax in Texas – A Guide For Sellers

Collecting Sales Tax in Texas - A Guide For Sellers

Do you sell goods in Texas? Our Comptroller’s office has updated the guidelines for collecting local sales and use tax. The guide has been updated with current information and can be reviewed online here: http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/taxpubs/tx94_105.pdf Overview: When you sell taxable goods or services in Texas, you must collect the 6.25 percent state sales or use tax and the appropriate local sales or use tax. In general, local sales tax is based on the location of the seller’s place of business. Local use tax is based on the location where the customer receives the item. If you ship or deliver goods to your customers, you may have to collect local sales tax, local use tax or both. The local tax due cannot be more than 2 percent, so the most tax you can collect is 8.25 percent.  In-Store Sales: When a customer buys something in a store and leaves with it – for example,

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Medium: A Hot New Platform That Shares Your Blog Posts and Expands Your Audience

Medium: A Hot New Platform That Shares Your Blog Posts and Expands Your Audience

There’s a new player in the social media sphere that’s getting a lot of attention from broad audiences. Medium is also getting noticed by thought leaders and business execs for its open-range style, a space where they can talk shop … but in more of a story-telling and personal way. In terms of networking, think of Medium as a hipper version of LinkedIn. For entrepreneurs and other small businesses who depend on reach larger audiences to stay in the game, it’s worth a look-see. Is a Twitter … Is It a Facebook? Is It LinkedIn? No … It’s Medium! Medium is a combination of the major social media platforms and a stand-alone publication. It’s classed as “social journalism,” which merges contributor and reader content. You could call it a hybrid that has some of its own bells and whistles added, which all together, give it super powers. Before getting into

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Users Benefit from SiteGround’s WordPress Recommend Listing

Users Benefit from SiteGround’s WordPress Recommend Listing

As a WordPress website designer, I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate a lot of hosting companies over the last ten years. Since switching to SiteGround three years ago I’ve been impressed by their customer service, backup services, and security features. In my book, SiteGround is the leader in shared hosting for WordPress users. WordPress.Org apparently thinks so too. They’ve recently placed SiteGround on their list of recommended hosting providers. The user wins when web host providers perform with excellence. It affects the hosting industry, causing other providers to “up their game” in order to compete. For instance, SiteGround’s managed WordPress service options have prompted hosting titans GoDaddy and HostGator to follow suit. “There are hundreds of thousands of web hosts out there, the vast majority of which meet the WordPress minimum requirements, and choosing one from the crowd can be a chore … WordPress works best when it’s in a

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Is your marketing telling a story or just selling stuff?

Is your marketing telling a story or just selling stuff?

“Content without strategy is art. Content with strategy is advertising,” says Joe Marchese in a talk at The Future of StoryTelling summit, offering his take on where advertising is headed in today’s interactive, on-demand world. Marchese reflects that marketers live in interesting times, where they are trying to determine just how much human attention they can capture and how. When there are so many competing interests, how does one go about capturing that attention and how do they do so effectively using the right strategy and the right price? Follow along as Marchese gives a brief insightful talk that opens the subject of how marketers are reinventing storytelling to deliver their message and at the same time deliver a great consumer experience.  

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Why redesign your website?

Why redesign your website?

If your website is more than five years old you could be missing out on changes in website technology. You may have pages that are not optimally responding or don’t respond at all. Now is a great time to refresh and modernize with new content, updated content, new photos and videos, boost SEO … breathe new life into your online presence. The results of even small changes can often be significant. Refreshing your page content gives your site a new, fresh look. Adding engaging text and visuals that apply the latest SEO techniques and fix possible coding snags keep your site optimally recognized by Google and responsive to all devices. Makeovers are important; it’s not just applying lipstick. They are ongoing tasks that help you keep up with digital technology and modern marketing and design. Your website and blog will sparkle with renewed life. There’s a lot of bang-for-your-buck in

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Funny Marketing Video

Funny Marketing Video

This light-hearted video was a fun way to showcase my client’s talent, the services she offers, and her great sense of humor.  The project was filmed using my iPhone 6 Plus on one tripod and my Canon Rebel T5 on a second tripod. The footage was edited using Final Cut Pro and the stock sounds and audio.  This was a fun, and easy project that my client was able to repurpose in multiple ways including her:  YouTube channel Blog post Social Media Post If you would like to learn more about how video marketing can help your business give me a call at 817-922-9077 for a complimentary consultation and custom quote. 

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Tips for Taking GREAT Headshots

Tips for Taking GREAT Headshots

If you are a small business owner with an “about” page you probably need a headshot. Here are the few tips I’ve learned over the years that will help you prepare for your photo session.  1) Clothing – Wear a shirt that is simple and one color. Maybe a color that matches your eyes. Stay away from complicated designs or patterns. Don’t show a lot of skin or cleavage.  2) Jewelry – keep it classic and stay away from trendy stuff. (Notice how none of the models in this sample are wearing necklaces.)  3) Makeup – go easy on the eyeliner but do wear mascara. Same with lipstick, wear it, but not your brightest red.  4) Photographer – Try to find a photographer that knows you and can capture your personality, gets your vibe. If they try to pose your hand on your face, punch them in the throat and run!  IMPORTANT: before you hire the

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DIY Video Kit

DIY Video Kit

These are the tools I use to record videos at off-site locations, in my home-office, and at my client’s locations. You too can get the same setup and do your own recordings – it’s easy! Lights, Camera, Action – let’s do this!! Lavalier Microphone & Extension Cord I like the RODE SmartLAV+ Lavalier Mic. (approx. $80) It’s great for field work, plugs right into your SmartPhone, and can easily be hidden under clothing.  The RODE smartLav+ is a broadcast-grade wearable microphone designed for use in a wide range of film, television and broadcast scenarios, or wherever broadcast quality audio is required in a discreet, portable format without the complication and expense of additional wireless equipment. I also recommend buying an extension cord if you need more than a few feet between you and your subject. CAUTION: I purchased TWO different extension cords that didn’t work correctly on a consistent basis. I met the Rode guys

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How to start a business in Texas

How to start a business in Texas

Do you want to start a business in Texas but you aren’t sure where to start?  Below are the 10 steps (in sequential order) I took to start my business. One question startups often ask is if they should incorporate. While incorporating isn’t required, it does help minimize your personal risk and has other benefits. If you are an entrepreneur, who wants a for-profit business AND wants to serve a greater good, i.e., a hybrid of both for-profit and non-profit motives, you might want to consider incorporating as a Social Purpose Corporation.  I recommend meeting with an attorney, and also an accountant, to determine which legal entity is best for you and your unique business. 10 Steps to Start a Business Step  Action Time 1 File for an LLC, preferably through an attorney. 2 – 7 days 2 Find out which of your services are taxable by calling the Texas State Comptroller’s office at

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How to become an industry leader

How to become an industry leader

If you’ve ever wondered how you can become an industry leader quickly and easily then this is the post for you! Unfortunately, you might not like what I have to say… Recently a client emailed me with the following request: Dear Paula, I want people to find me. I want business to find me. I want a significant label as an “ ____ industry leader”. I’m too busy to  meet with you, so if you could just tell me how much it will cost that would be great.  His request also included a long list of website bells and whistles including a membership shopping cart, a survey tool, a scheduling calendar, detailed analytics, and video based courses. Plus he asked for it to be built in a tool that someone with zero Internet experience could manage by themselves. While what he was asking for is possible to create, it’ll be challenging to execute without

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Website Rank is a fickle measure of success

Website Rank is a fickle measure of success

What you see as your website rank on any given day may be very different from what I see. Interestingly what you see on your search engine results page (SERP) is not necessarily what your neighbors or friends will see. Did you know Google’s algorithm, which includes over 200 variables, incorporates things like your search history, your location and even what type of device you are using to search the web? All of which affects how your site ranks in an individual’s Google search results page. For example: Search History: A user’s SERP can vary depending on what websites they’ve visited in the past!!! If you search for “reviews” then search for “vacuum cleaners”, Google is more likely to show vacuum cleaner review sites higher in your SERPs. Geography/Local Results: Google serves up different SERPs depending on the location of an individual and where they live. For example if you

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Spartan Up! and start blogging already!

Spartan Up! and start blogging already!

Client: “How often should I blog?”Me: “How successful do you want to be?” It’s no secret regular blogging using WordPress, the world’s most efficient blogging and CMS tool, will… help increase your Search Engine rank drive new traffic to your site increase your affiliate link sales make your website look awesome help establish you as an expert in your field educate, inform, and entertain your current clients impress your potential clients make your competitors envious …but will it make you a better person? After reading Joe De Sena’s book, Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life, I’m convinced it will.  In his book De Sena, the creator of the popular Spartan Race, a grueling obstacle race that pushes both your mental and physical limits, offers this simple philosophy: commit to a goal, put in the work, and get it done. If you apply this

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What is Keyword Research

What is Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of developing a list of keywords that represent your unique business. When a user visits a search engine (think Google, Bing, or Yahoo!), they type words into the search box to find what they are looking for. The search terms they type are called keywords and combinations of keywords are called keyphrases or keywords phrases. Ideally you should undertake keyword research before you buy a domain name, build your website, or write your content. Optimizing your site with your keywords prior to publishing it will help Google and the other search engines understand what your site is about. If you already have a website, periodically conduct new keyword research to ensure you are targeting the correct terms, discover popular new key phrases, or before starting an SEO campaign. Once we have developed a list of keyword phrases that perfectly describe and represent your business, they

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An Introduction to WordPress Themes

An Introduction to WordPress Themes

If you love WordPress themes or want to learn more about themes then join me next Tuesday for the Fort Worth WordPress Users Group meetup. Be sure to RSVP on Meetup.com to reserve your spot! This month’s topic is Inside WordPress Themes. The meeting will start with an overview of Themes (great for newbies) presented by me. Followed by a more advanced introduction to WordPress Theme Development by a seasoned theme developer. Can’t wait for next Tuesday’s talk on WordPress themes? Then check out this talk from Ian Stewart, lead Theme Wrangler for Automattic, from WordCamp San Francisco 2013, titled: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding 
 This is an inspirational talk about the beautiful and amazing future of WordPress themes. The aim is to excite the imagination and passion of WordPress themers while encouraging the next generation of themers to take a stab at theming through stories of

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Does Google penalize you for having too many links on a page?

Does Google penalize you for having too many links on a page?

In this video Matt Cutts answers the question: “Is there a limit to the number of links you can have on your web page?” Bottom line:Once again, it comes down to the user experience. Just focus on providing value and you’ll be okay.   Be sure to watch the video for a bonus explanation on how Page Rank flows through links on your page to other pages. [youtube http://youtu.be/QHG6BkmzDEM] 

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Is hosting on the same IP with spam sites bad for your website’s ranking?

Is hosting on the same IP with spam sites bad for your website's ranking?

A student in last Website Design class asked a similar question to this one: “If my web host has a lot of spammy clients, will that influence my site’s ranking?” Basically they were wondering if shared hosting at a company like HostGator is safe and if they are sharing space with spammy sites will it decrease a website’s search engine ranking.   The short answer is NO, although there are a few RARE exceptions.  Here is Matt Cutt’s (leader of the Webspam Team at Google) answer:  The reality is most of the Internet’s websites use shared hosting because it is inexpensive and generally provides the same features and functionality that dedicated hosting does. Your biggest concern, when it comes to shared hosting, is up time (for obvious reasons) and site speed which is an important factor impacting your site’s ranking is the load time of your website.  If there are too many other

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Blogging with WordPress

Blogging with WordPress

Blogging with your WordPress website is a valuable component to any inbound marketing strategy and a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. “Businesses that blog average 55% more website visitors than those that don’t.“– Hubspot Google spiders love fresh blog meat! Blogs create fresh content and more pages of content for the spiders to crawl and index which helps your SEO. Keep those spiders coming back with regular postings on your WordPress Blog. Social Media sites love WordPress Blogs! WordPress blogs are easily sharable to popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ which helps drive more traffic and leads back to your website. If your blogs get re-posted on other websites you can get valuable inbound links that also help your SEO. Potential Clients Need Validation Regular blogging helps establish you as an expert. While potential clients may not read every post on

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Interruption Vs Permission Marketing

Interruption Vs Permission Marketing

The average person is inundated with over 2,000 marketing interruptions per day!How are YOU communicating with your customers? Are you blindly pushing your marketing messages to the masses with old fashioned techniques hoping they resonate with your target audience? Or are you embracing permission marketing (i.e. Inbound Marketing) methods and creating interesting content that your customers want to see?Here’s a breakdown of the two different marketing strategies: Interruption Marketing VS Permission Marketing Interrupting someone’s day in order to push product or services on them   Earning people’s interest naturally, without interrupting them Communication is one-way   Communication is two-way The marketer’s focus is on making the sale NOW   The marketer’s focus is on VALUE through entertaining or educating < 10% of clicks on the web   90%+ clicks on the web Powered by budget & repetition   Powered by creativity & effort   PROS:   PROS: Gives quick results

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Choosing Images for Your Messages

Choosing Images for Your Messages

Images are a powerful part of your messaging but you need to choose wisely. Adding pictures to your email newsletter, blog posts, web pages, and even your Facebook posts is a powerful marketing technique. A great photo will help draw people into your article, explain your message, and sometimes even evoke an emotional response. There are three general types of imagery you can use in your marketing: Custom or real imagery (best choice) Stock Photography Clip art (avoid at all costs) Stock images are seen everywhere. But are they good to use? Yes and no. We love them because they are readily available, professional looking, and inexpensive. Unfortunately the best photos, and the best looking models, tend to be over used. For example, have you met the most amazing man on the planet? I’m sure you have seen his photo…he is a successful tax accountant, business manager, AND a doctor.

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What is CSS?

What is CSS?

WordPress websites are built using Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS as they are more commonly known. CSS was invented by lazy (bless their brilliant geeky hearts) coders who didn’t want to keep typing the same boring pieces of code over and over. Instead they write the code once and have it cascade throughout the site. CSS has many great benefits including: Complete control over the look of your website Site-wide changes by just editing one sheet Separation of the design and the content of your site The main benefit when it comes to using CSS on your website is that it allows you to keep its content separate from its structure. This makes for higher content weighting, which helps your site increase its relevance to the search engines. If you have built your site using either GoDaddy’s Website Tonight  or Google’s “Get your business online”  via Intuit’s builder, and it’s

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Which social media sites are BEST for your business?

Which social media sites are BEST for your business?

Have you ever asked yourself… Which sites are worth investing time in? Should I learn Pinterest? Would it be better to spend more time on LinkedIn? Time is a precious commodity and you shouldn’t waste it on a social networking site that isn’t a good fit for your industry or business. Here are five questions to help you evaluate which sites are going to give you the highest return on investment for your time. The ROI Top 5: Is this someplace my potential clients/customers might find me? Are my competitors active here? Does this platform have a sufficient number of users to be worth my time? Does this platform do something unique? (i.e., LinkedIn vs. Plaxo) Is this platform a good fit for my personality and lifestyle?  Example #1: If both your target audience and your competitors are active on LinkedIn then there is probably a good reason why =

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Does your site look DUMB on SMART phones?

Does your site look DUMB on SMART phones?

According to the Pew Research Center, Smartphone ownership in the US is about to pass the 50% mark. Up from 35% last May, their research also revealed every major demographic group “experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration over the last year.” In particular smartphone ownership has crossed the 60% mark for: College graduates 18-35 year olds Individuals earning $75,000+ a year Add to this the estimated 25% of Americans who also own and use tablets and iPads and chances are extremely high someone is going to be looking at your webs site (a.k.a. your 24/7 unpaid salesperson) on something other than a traditional web browser. So how does your site look on a Smartphone? Have you tested it on Android, Apple iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy? How about Palm Pre, HTC Evo, or BlackBerry Storm? While it’s relatively easy to check how your site looks on different browsers, testing your

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How to get more testimonials

How to get more testimonials

Testimonials are invaluable to getting new business. It shows potential customers that other business owners, just like them, are satisfied with your work. Plus if you date your testimonials it proves longevity and that you have a consistently good track record. Benefits of getting testimonials: You might find a great tagline – a local branding expert received a testimonial from a client who dubbed him the “brand whisperer”. The tag stuck and now his is known as The Brand Whisperer. Helps build credibility – Social proof makes a difference: if you have a choice of two businesses, with no clear differentiator, and the first one has several glowing recommendations and the second one has none, chances are you will pick the first business. It’s good for your customer’s too – Don’t forget to remind your customers that giving a testimonial can help them increase their own visibility because you will

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How to write a testimonial

How to write a testimonial

Periodically service providers will ask you to write a testimonial for them. Before you groan at the thought of having to write (horrors!), be creative, or come up with something unique, consider this: giving a testimonial is a great way to get free publicity for your business! If you write the testimonial on a service provider’s LinkedIn profile, or a business owner’s Google Places listing, your name and business will be displayed online thereby increasing your online exposure. If they post your recommendation on their website ask them to give you a back-link to your website or blog (a great tactic for boosting your Google PageRank®) More good news – your testimonial doesn’t need to be long to get the job done – three to six sentences are enough. Follow my proven formula for writing recommendations and you will be amazed at how quickly you can crank out a sincere

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How to Get Started with Email Marketing

How to Get Started with Email Marketing

If you have read about the benefits of email marketing but you’re not sure where to begin, a good place to start is by answering some fundamental questions about your business, your customers, and your goals, including: Who is your primary target audience? This is typically the same as for your business, but don’t forget to include your referral partners, suppliers, and strategic alliances. And your mom – she like to brag on your success. What is the primary goal you wish to accomplish with email marketing? Increased sales? Increase brand awareness? Drip Marketing? To establish yourself as an expert in your field? What type of content or free offer would entice your target audience to subscribe to your email list? Free tips? Exclusive discounts? A special report or white paper? What ongoing messaging can you share with your audience that will be of VALUE to them? Information about your

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Help! My email was marked as SPAM

Help! My email was marked as SPAM

The following is an email I received from a small business owner who sends a monthly email marketing newsletter: Paula,Thank you for the information about the CAN-SPAM act.  I had one person spam my email newsletter last month and one this month.  I was so freaked out, because all the people on my list were either business people that I was comfortable with who gave me their cards, were part of the same network or visited each other.  The others were family and friends.  I called my email marketing service provider and they said to not worry, because it was just one and I had good open rates. It’s sad, I wish they would have just unsubscribed, afterall the unsubscribe link is on the email…also, we aren’t allowed to know who spammed us… Lisa Giesler Professional Organizer and Life CoachAuthor of My Life is a Mess: Organizing 101A Time and

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CAN-SPAM Act Requirements

CAN-SPAM Act Requirements

The best way to keep from being labeled a “SPAMMER” is to know the legal requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act and to stay in compliance. History and Penalties: CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing. It is federal legislation signed into law by the 2nd Pres. Bush and describes the legal requirements that must be fulfilled by senders of commercial email. The Penalties are $250 per email, with a cap of $2 million that can be tripled for aggravated violations. But don’t worry, this law is largely unenforced and is so poorly written it’s commonly referred to as the “You-Can-Spam” Act because the bill explicitly legalizes most email! In particular, it does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages. Go figure! Legal Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003: Use a legitimate return email address. Provide a valid physical address. Clearly label

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Google Places Workshop

Google Places Workshop

Get found on Google for free! Google Places is the most effective FREE tool for getting your business found on Google! 97% of consumers search for local businesses online and 40% of all searches are location based; yet only 2% of all business owners have claimed their Google Places listing and even fewer have strategically optimized their listing. Learn insider tips and tactics to enhance your listing for maximum effectiveness Learn how to add photos, videos and promotional offers to your listing to help you stand out from the crowd Learn how to collect positive customer reviews in Google Places and manage your Online Reputation Discover insights about your business and what keywords your customers used to find you This seminar will give you the tools and strategies you need achieve premium exposure and visibility using Google Places! DATE/TIME: Tuesday, September 27th, 5:30 to 6:30 pm PRICE: $10; Registration required

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Keyword and Competitor Research

Keyword and Competitor Research

I love this quote by Market Samurai: It takes the same amount of work to build an unsuccessful business as it does to build a successful business.” Unfortunately many people rush into business and start marketing without doing any research and simply how for the best. Unfortunately hoping for the best won’t get you ranked on Google. And if you don’t have rank, chances are people won’t click on your link. Studies show 90% of the time searchers will only click on the natural listings on the first page of Google AND 60% of those click-throughs come from the first three listings! If you want to rank high on Google, it’s critical you know the right keywords for your business and optimize for them.However, conducting keyword research alone isn’t enough –You also need to look at what your competitors and the leaders in your industry are doing. The process of

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Relevancy and SEO Defined

Relevancy and SEO Defined

Do you ever wonder how relevancy is determined by Google? Why some websites quickly rise in the SERPs (search engine result pages) and others don’t? The Google algorithm, which is used to determine relevancy, considers 500 million variables and two billion terms. That’s way to much information for the average small business owner to keep up with. Instead try focusing on these top five factors influencing SEO: Content & Keyword Relevancy Traffic Levels Quality back-links to your site Fresh and unique content Domain age SEO Defined: “SEO is the process of designing and modifying websites, as well as updating on-site content in order to gain top positions in the Search Engines for specific keyword searches.” SEO basics include:  Adding and improving website content to ensure it is targeting the right audience and keywords. Improving site structure and navigation to make it ‘Google Spider’ friendly. Optimizing the HTML source code Link

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Overview of Organic SEO principles

Overview of Organic SEO principles

People often think Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is complicated, difficult, and only reserved for the “experts of experts.”  The good news is there are fundamental principles you can apply that will: Help you build great visibility on the Internet Get top listings in Google Protect your Online Reputation (ORM) Grow your website traffic and business. This month I will give an overview of Organic SEO principles and how they impact your online reputation at Michelle Martin’s, C3 for Women’s July Success Event. Later in the month I dive deeper into this topic at Knowledge For Success. Some of the topics I cover include: The definition of: SEO, SERP, SEM, Pay-Per-Click and ORM Easy and safe tactics to promote your website online Common, yet costly, mistakes to avoid How to avoid “Black Hat” or disreputable SEO con-artists How to pick a “White Hat” or reputable SEO consultant How to use SEO

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Online Marketing – Choosing the right mix for your business

Online Marketing – Choosing the right mix for your business

When it comes to marketing your business online, a lot of business-owners say the same thing, “I’d love to, but I just don’t have the time.” Unfortunately, saying you don’t have time to do any online marketing is like saying, “I don’t have time to save a ton of money on advertising.” While saying you don’t have time for social media says, “I don’t have time to listen to what any of my customers have to say.” Online marketing and social media are some of the greatest tools to come along for small business in decades. But just like the other business tools available, you need to choose the right mix for your industry and business. Foursquare, for example, is a fun FREE tool for business owners who want to encourage loyalty and repeat business. It’s tailor made for restaurants and many retail outlets, but a poor choice law firms

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Email Marketing Best Practices

Email Marketing Best Practices

There is an adage: “The money is in the list!” This is especially true for email marketing. The number one, real way, to have consistent and long-term success (i.e. making $$ online) is by building a list and regularly marketing to it. Potential clients/customers are more likely to buy from someone they’ve established a “relationship” with rather than someone who sends unsolicited, or spammy, emails.

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Why do internet start-up businesses fail?

Why do internet start-up businesses fail?

The US Small Business Association (sba.gov) claims >50% of start-ups will not survive their first five years in business. In the internet space this percentage may be even larger considering the low barriers to entry and low costs of starting an online business. Don’t be another statistic! Reviews these nine reasons businesses fail and take affirmative action! [list style=”list5″ color=”blue”] Saturated Market – Who is your competition? How much competition do you have? Many businesses fail because they do not take the time, or know how to, conduct a   competitor analysis. Lack of Planning and Organization – The cure to this is solid strategic planning, developing systems and processes for ALL your business activities,  and effective marketing planning. Poor Management / Leadership / Team – Are you trying to do everything yourself including the accounting, sales, marketing, management, human resources AND produce products? Are you trying to run a professional

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Do QR codes work in email marketing?

Do QR codes work in email marketing?

A client recently emailed me the following question: “These square bar codes are popping up everywhere. What are they, how do I get one, and should I put one on my online marketing and in my email newsletter?” QR 101 First, in case you don’t already know, QR stands for Quick Response and is a 2D bar code that can only be read by scanning software on a SMART camera phone. (Think iPhone and Android…don’t bother with Blackberry as their QR app doesn’t work properly.) To make it work you need to download an app to scan the codes; search “QR Scanner” in the iTunes or Android app store. QR codes are a brilliant addition to print media. They are a great way to drive offline customers to your website, or to give them information they can read, or store in their phones .    What information should I include

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Understanding Bounce Rates

Understanding Bounce Rates

Check out this great video explaining Bounce Rates. The instructor suggests that anything <40% is a good bounce rate, 40% to 60% is an average bounce rate, and anything greater than >60% is undesirable.

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How to Recycle Your Email Newsletter Content

How to Recycle Your Email Newsletter Content

Your monthly email marketing message is filled with interesting insights, articles, and valuable offers for your clients and potential clients and you want to make sure it is read by as many people as possible! Here are three great tips to “recycle” that message: First utilize Social Media sites – The tool I use for email marketing, automatically pushes your content out to Twitter and FaceBook. Plus, LinkedIn can be configured to display your Twitter feed. This way all three of the major social media sites receive your content automatically. Second repurpose our content for the web – Most email newsletters have multiple messages for example an article, an announcement and a discount offer. These can be split into individual posts and added to your website or blog. WordPress blogsites make this very easy. Since the content is already written, re-purposing is as simple as cutting and pasting. Third maximize

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Stop trying to dazzle your customers and just fix their problems!

Stop trying to dazzle your customers and just fix their problems!

Dazzling clients and potential clients does not build loyalty; reducing the amount of time, money and effort, aka the work they must do to get their problems solved, does! Growing up in the corporate world I was taught to always “exceed expectations”. But a recent article from Harvard Business Review points out that this only marginally increases customer loyalty. Too often we “spin our wheels” unnecessarily in our efforts to delight when simply focusing on meeting our customers needs with practical, low-cost, and efficient solutions for their problems is a better strategy. The truth is we are in a hellish recession/depression and clients aren’t interested in buying circus acts; instead, try to anticipate your client’s future needs: Give them a free tutorial Documents the processes you do for them in case there is an emergency and you are unable complete ongoing assignments Suggest logical next steps for your clients that

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5 Tips for Scheduling Email Newsletters

5 Tips for Scheduling Email Newsletters

Small business owners often tell me they can’t find the time to send email newsletters. Fortunately creating a schedule is a great way to save time, make sure you don’t miss sales opportunities, and build relationships with your clients and potential clients. Here are 5 tips for scheduling email marketing newsletter: When considering how often to send your newsletters, pick a schedule that is comfortable to you. Consider sending one a month – twice a month max. This will not only help you consistently send email newsletters, but more importantly your customers will begin expecting them from you. Don’t be too aggressive with your schedule. Your clients and potential clients don’t need to hear from you every day. In fact, they may get irritated if you email them too frequently. Create an ANNUAL MARKETING CALENDAR and include other marketing activities that you have going on including speaking events, special offers,

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Inside Your Search Engine

Inside Your Search Engine

Here are two core concepts regarding Search Engines, which need to be understood before developing a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan. Spiders and Bots – Spiders, robots, and crawlers are programs that scour the web and catalog information about each URL they visit and store that data in massive, interconnected databases. How this data is arranged and ranked is based on proprietary search engine algorithms. Search Algorithms – the procedure(s) the search engine uses to retrieve and produce the information cataloged by the spiders. Retrieval and ranking of data are part of the search algorithm. There are many types of algorithms including list search, tree search, SQL search, etc… Keep these two simple concepts in mind while writing your content and remember that while innuendos, colloquialisms, and slang are entertaining they may just confuse the spiders and reduce your page ranking. For example, if you are targeting 1970’s Barbie Dolls,

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Why its better to ask permission, not forgiveness!

Why its better to ask permission, not forgiveness!

What to do with all those business cards… Have you ever attended a networking event and came home with a handful of business cards; most from people, which you only briefly met? You might ask yourself: “Is it okay to add these people to my database?” No. Unless they explicitly give you permission to add them to your distribution list, DON’T DO IT! People are much more likely to mark your email as SPAM if they didn’t give you permission, and if you receive too many SPAM notices the ISPs will block your email via a tool called CloudMark. Studies show PERMISSION based email is much more effective than non-permission based email campaigns. So don’t just add those business cards to your database – ask permission first! Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s a terrific opportunity to follow-up in a meaningful way with your prospect; and

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Hard Bounce Vs. Soft Bounce

Hard Bounce Vs. Soft Bounce

A “bounce” means the email didn’t arrive, for any of a number of reasons. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the email address is bad. Good addresses can bounce if the mailbox is full, the server is having temporary issues, or if it gets blocked or put in junk folders.  This is called a soft bounce and is considered a temporary error, most commonly “Mailbox Full.” So, this does not necessarily mean the email address is bad; RatePoint will keep trying and will not automatically remove this address from your contacts list. A hard bounce typically means the email address itself is bad. In general a SOFT BOUNCE = Temporary error, and a HARD BOUNCE = permanent error.

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Directories Vs. Search Engines

Directories Vs. Search Engines

This simple table helps explain the difference between Directories (think search.yahoo.com) and Search Engines (think google.com):

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Blog Post Checklist

Blog Post Checklist

Do you ever wonder if you are including everything you should in your blog posts? To maximize the effectiveness of your  posts make sure you include most, if not all, of the following: Write a paragraph or two on a topic that is of interest to your site visitors. Where appropriate include the keywords you are targeting on your site. Include a photo that is relevant to the topic and also eye-catching.  Tag your photo with your target key words. This is easy to do in WordPress in the “edit image” customization box. Write a catchy, but also specific title for your post. Link to related posts and pages within your site. Link to websites related to your post. Don’t forget to include a killer “call to action”. (aka: asking for the sale) Pick appropriate post category and tags. Push your blog post out to your email distribution list, Facebook,

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The Right Way to Unsubscribe a Contact

The Right Way to Unsubscribe a Contact

I manage several email marketing campaigns for clients and occasionally their subscribers request an email address be removed from the distribution list. There are two ways to handle this: REMOVE and DO NOT MAIL. Always use the DO NOT MAIL option, because if your client accidentally resubmits their name to be added to the database you have used the REMOVE option then they will be reinstated. For example: client hands you a big stack of business cards to add to the database of people she met at a networking event. In the stack is the card of a person that has previously asked to be removed from the list. Had you used the DO NOT MAIL option to remove them in the first place, then that person will not be added back into the database. Remember – all e-mail distribution lists must be permission based

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Bigger Business Blogs are Better Lead Bringers

Bigger Business Blogs are Better Lead Bringers

Fantastic article! I’m so happy HubSopt did the research to prove what we have known all along: blogging about your business generates leads that convert to sales! Read this article then take a few minutes today to write a blog post about your business. Bigger Business Blogs Better Lead Bringers. Business blogs begin generating significantly more leads when they have a median of 24 or more articles posted, according to research by internet marketing firm Hubspot. Businesses with blog article numbers above this critical threshold are likely to have enough content to make a significant impact on search engines through additional indexed pages and new keywords with which to associate. In addition, other sites are more likely to link to a blog that offers a steady stream of content. Businesses with blogs of 24-plus articles are more likely to be committed to updating their blog frequently and, thus, are likely

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How to Profile YOUR Perfect Client

How to Profile YOUR Perfect Client

Instead of trying to “be everything to everybody” why not target clients and customers that are perfect for you? By taking the time to get really clear in your own mind on who you are best positioned to assist you will end up giving better service. Some of the questions I ask when “profiling” clients/customers are: What does my potential client do for a living? Can they afford to outsource? What industry(s) do they work in or serve? What are their strengths? And weaknesses? Do my strengths and weaknesses compliment theirs? What do they require? What skills do they lack, that they need to succeed? Where are they located? Can they plan ahead and delegate? Not every potential client who contacts you will be right for your business. It’s important to take the time to logically analyze the characteristics of your “perfect client”. By knowing what you are looking for

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6 Tips for using Outbound Links

6 Tips for using Outbound Links

Did you know that linking to other sites affects your search engine ranking? Many different factors go into the search engine algorithms including the outbound links embedded in your site content. However, overuse or misuse of links can be detrimental. Here are several questions to ask yourself when using outbound links. Does the link enhance the reader’s experience? It’s crucial that the link be relevant to the content and its inclusion add value to the reader. Have you included TOO MANY links in your page or post? Overuse can irritate your readers. Also be careful not to dilute the value of you outbound links; fyi, the value of each link is divided by the total number of outbound links. Did you use descriptive keyword anchor text when creating your link? Don’t ever use “click here”….its overused and doesn’t help the spiders index your content. Have you checked out the site

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Google is a Fickle Lover

Google is a Fickle Lover

After months of reading SEO books, listening to podcasts by SEO professionals, and reading dozens of blogs on the subject I’ve learned the following: 1) Google is a fickle* and sometimes cruel lover, therefore we should focus less on trying to please Google and more time romancing our site visitors. 2) People drive themselves insane** obsessing over Google algorithm variations when their time (think ROI and the dollar value of YOUR time) would be better spent focusing on the basics like writing helpful and compelling content, link building, and good clean presentation. *Google does not disclose their algorithms (although they occasionally issue partial information that is subject to change) and apparently parts of the algorithm are only triggered in some situations. **Website developers and SEO experts freak out every time Google issues a statement even though they know the information is designed to discourage folks from manipulating the system. So

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Hacking out “Comments are closed” in WordPress

Hacking out "Comments are closed" in WordPress

If you use WordPress as your primary web site you may have static pages on which you don’t want site visitors to add comments. Here is one fix (or hack), that might work in your theme, to edit the  “Comments are closed” text that appears at the bottom of the page. From your left navigation sidebar go to the “Appearance” drop-down menu and select “Editor“. Look for the theme stylesheet titled: Comments (comments.php) Go to your site and copy to your clipboard the unwanted text that is appearing. Typically its something like “Comments are closed” Go back to the stylesheet and using your Internet browser’s search function search for the unwanted text. Delete the text and leave a space. It will look something like this: <?php else : // comments are closed ?> <p>Comments are closed.</p> Change it to look like this: <?php else : // comments are closed ?>

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3 SEO Tips for Submitting Press-releases

3 SEO Tips for Submitting Press-releases

When writing a press-release for on-line publications follow these three easy SEO steps to ensure your release will turn up in a Google search. 1) Build links into your document BEFORE you send it out. Journalists are begging for links in press releases…it keeps them from having to look information up. The general rule is no more than one link per every 100 words. 2) Write good content, and be sure to use italics, bold, bullets, etc. to make your content more readable. It’s simple really: easy to read content + good content = content that will be shared on social media sites, posted on other bloggers sites, linked to, etc. 3) Remember you are writing for both reporters AND robots; however, respect the reader and don’t go overboard with the tags or links.  

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5 things I love about WordPress

5 things I love about WordPress

1) Accessibility: WordPress gives me the ability to assist clients who otherwise would not be able to obtain or maintain a website.  2) Plugins: My current favorite is the SEO Plugin developed by Yoast 3) Ease of Use: Just about anybody can learn how to set up and maintain a beautiful blog site. 4) Vibrant developer community: Word Camps, Meet Ups, and lots of online communities. 5) Fun factor: Blogging, expressing yourself, and promoting your business has never been more fun.

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The 4 Major Aspects of SEO for Ranking

The 4 Major Aspects of SEO for Ranking

The primary purpose of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to improve where your site is displayed on a search engine results page.  Google, and the other search engines, rank these sites based on a combination of the following: Click-throughs – aka, how popular your site is in comparison to similar sites. Search engines monitor the number of clicks each search result receives. It’s just like high school: jocks get picked for the team based on their ability to deliver the ball. Similarly websites that deliver the goods get picked more often and subsequently rise in the rankings. Frequency – how often a key word appears on a page affects ranking but don’t be greedy and think you can type your keyword a dozen times in tiny print at the bottom of the site. The spiders can, and will, discover your deception and ban your site. In fact they have given this practice a

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WordCamp Dallas 2009

WordCamp Dallas 2009

I’ve been indulging my inner geekess the past two days at WordCamp Dallas 2009 (or #wcdfw09 for you twitter freaks). I have to admit it was a mind-blowingly good time for $30; outstanding speakers, great food, free Wi-Fi, genius bar, and awesome door prizes. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the weekend: “We all work for money, but making an impact is what gets me up in the morning.” – Matt Mullenweg “Make sure to keep your plug-ins up to date. If not, could be a security leak for your site to be hacked.” – Tip from panel “Wi-fi is like air; it’s not important unless you aren’t getting any.”  – John P.

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