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One of the most under estimated assets a web site can have is a fast and accurate site search engine.  First impressions count when it comes to web sites, but that first impression can sour quickly if a visitor cannot find what they are looking for. While a well defined navigation menu is important, users are becoming sophisticated and rather than scrolling through a category to find information, they are quite happy to type it into your search window – if you have one.

That is the first big mistake made by web designers – not including at least a very basic site search capability. The second mistake they make is to hide the search window, often buried down near the bottom of the page. Having site search can make a huge change to your site’s performance. Some of the benefits include:

Reducing bounce rates – visitors only have to click through to another page and they are considered not to have bounced.

Increasing page views – a search box enables visitors to find more content related to their needs, thus increasing the number of page views.

Increasing conversions – a simple rationale – the longer a visitor stays on your site, the more opportunities there are to catch their attention. They may not convert today, however, there will be a brand impression left on them and a return visit probable.

Developing authority – the greater the amount of quality content that a visitor is exposed to, the more they will value your site.

Increase brand awareness – the longer a visitor is on your site, the more often they will see your logo, your business name, and the branding details of your site. The more often they see it, the more it will imprint on their memories.

It’s a very simple principle. Make your content easy to find, and your visitors will appreciate it. Make it hard to find and they will find it elsewhere. If you’re a business then you cannot afford to have that potential customer walk away. Be sure your web design includes a well placed site search engine in its web design – your visitors will most likely be looking for it.

Gaining traffic from social media is one thing, converting that traffic into dollars is quite another. One of the hardest tasks for any new business is that of converting traffic into sales.  Terms such as ‘targeted traffic’ is often mentioned in this context and it is one of the most important starting points. It’s not the only issue to consider, however.

There are four components to consider if you want to convert traffic from social media to sales. These are:

Context: The context of your content is important. You can provide content on a social media site that sparks and interest in finding out more about you, or you can provide content that sparks an interest in buying your products or services. They are both important. The first can help boost your brand and reputation, but it is the second we are interested in here – providing content that sparks an interest to buy.

Landing Pages: Once you have sparked that interest to buy you must have a landing page that closes the deal. To begin with, you may need several versions of the one landing page and a system that tests each of those pages.

Split Testing: One of the most under-utilized components of marketing is split testing. Often, this involves having several different landing pages then testing each one under similar circumstances. This provides an insight into which landing page has the highest conversion and profit rates.

Tracking: Being able to track a campaign is equally important. You need to know how well it is performing, what sort of conversion rates you are achieving, and what factors may be affecting your conversion rates.

Social media optimization is becoming an important aspect of online business. It’s no longer good enough to have lots of traffic. These days, you needs lot’s of the right sort of traffic – that is, traffic that converts in sales.

Local businesses are currently in the midst of a minor (r)evolution in search with local search receiving a lot of special attention from the search engines. Google have upped the ante somewhat with their rebadged Google Places offering small businesses more features on what seems a weekly basis. One feature that is being trialled certainly has a catchy name – Google Boost.

Although currently only being trialled in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, it has appeal and should prove to be popular with small businesses, especially if they are already involved with pay per click marketing. So what is Boost?

As you may have guessed already, Google Boost is a pay per click option for local businesses. Rather than going through Adwords to establish an ad unit, business owners can log into their Google Places account and set up an ad through their dashboard. The ads are easy to set up requiring just a short business description and a monthly spend budget. Google Places does the rest. I have not found any reference for the need of an Adwords account either, so businesses may be able to trial pay per click marketing without going through the steps needed for an Adwords account.

Like all things Google, there is a downside to this feature. Rather than selecting your own keywords, Google will do this for you based on the content of your web site.  The second downside is that the link in the ad unit goes only to your web site’s home page (or Google Places listing) and not to any deeper landing pages. What will be interesting to see is whether or not these two areas affect costs per click and conversions.

The benefit to local businesses is that their ad unit will appear in the sponsored links area just above search results.  How often your ad appears will depend on relevancy and ad quality. If you’re a small business that has struggled to find a foot in open pay per click markets, Google Boost may be a viable alternative. It will be interesting to see what feedback the trial cities offer.

Competitive intelligence is the art of digging up information related to your competitors. This information can then be used to try and gain an advantage over those competitors. The problem with an open statement like that is that the sky is the limit when it comes to collecting information.

Strategic competitive intelligence is the gathering of information related to one aspect of your business. For example, if you are about to embark on a Facebook marketing campaign the only information you require is that related to your competitors on Facebook, their marketing strategies, their products/services, and reputation, just to name a few.

In that example, the information you don’t need is that related to search marketing. Their PR, position in search results, and pay-per-click strategies are irrelevant and will most likely not affect your Facebook marketing strategy. To be effective, strategic competitive intelligence relies on several factors such as:

Determining who your real competitors are. Your competitors are not necessarily those selling products similar to yours. In some markets, as an example, milk could be a competitor of wine. Think laterally and not too narrowly.

Determining what information is important. You don’t always need every tiny piece of data. Look at information that is directly related to a specific activity.

Determining environmental factors. The general environment may well influence who your real competitors are on a day-to-day basis, especially when it comes to social media marketing.  Examples of this include beer, which is drunk more frequently in hot weather than wine, or hybrid cars that draw more interest when fuel prices are high.

If you take too broad a view of competitive intelligence you run the risk of flooding yourself with too much information. Instead, plan your activities, determine who your competitors are in relation to those activities, then determine what information you need. Rather than being overwhelmed with data, you should be in a position to use the information collected to good advantage.

Is the Internet about to explode onto television screens? Some will argue it already has and the technology has certainly been there for a while. There are a lot of gaming enthusiasts that hook their computers up to the wide screen TV, sit back, and enjoy the gaming experience right there on the big screen. But what about general surfing?

A couple of months ago we discussed Google TV and how it promises to change video marketing. Today, we’d like to offer an alternative view.

Google TV May Not Be A Game Changer, After All

So far, the Google TV concept has met with little enthusiasm from the general community, and judging from many of the statements made through social sites, internet and the television could remain separate entities for some time. There are a couple of areas where television and the Internet clash. Consider these issues:

  • Many users multi-task; that is, they surf the net, chat on Facebook, write their blog posts, or read their emails; all while watching their favorite television program.
  • Many homes only have the one large television set and most family members would take a dim view of one person monopolizing it to surf the net.
  • Most computer users are comfortable with monitors a foot or so away from their eyes. Using the computer with the screen four or five feet away will take some getting used to.
  • While new technology is being picked up quickly, cross technologies have a lower pick up rate. Just look at the user rates between mobile phones and the Internet. While growing, it is not growing as fast as some first predicted. The Internet and TV could face the same resistance.

Do our two views of Internet TV clash? Are the contradictory? We’ll let you decide. But think about this:

The Internet will come to TV, however, it is likely to be a slow transition. There are steps you can take to optimize your web pages for TV, but it may well be prudent to take your time so that the finished results look good. There’s certainly no rush to go out and optimize your web sites tonight.  The fact that your site may need some custom web designing for television could also be a factor to consider. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

Viral marketing is a strategy that many business owners look at then shy away from. It is a difficult strategy and as we have mentioned frequently here, there are more failed attempts than successful. While it is an online phenomenon that you are hoping to achieve, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real world opportunities that you could take advantage of.

Consider what it is that makes a marketing strategy go viral. In simple terms, it is a snowballing process where each recipient passes it on to two or more of their friends. This could be an image, a video, or a page of written text. The concept is the same no matter the material. What is important is that it is real people who are the recipients, and where do you find ‘real’ people? In the real world!

Offline marketing can be cost effective, especially when compared to click through rates of banner and search advertising.  The cost of a thousand pamphlets can be similar to the cost of a thousand ad impressions, yet conversion rates can be far higher.  The key to creating a viral marketing campaign using real world marketing remains the same – the material must be worthy. There has to be value to everyone along the chain.

By encouraging others to first go online to experience your campaign and, secondly, to have them send the details to others can be hard. It can also be as simple as offering a free sample or trial. Online marketing is not restricted to the online world. Viral marketing is certainly not restricted to the online world. Have a look around and see whether or not there are real world opportunities to market your business. You never know, you may actually be introducing people to a new experience, not just dealing with you online, but doing business online for the first time – make it memorable for them.

Scrolling through Yahoo! Answers today, it was quite a surprise to see some fairly serious questions. Generally speaking, the questions asked revolve around relationship problems, school homework questions, and diaper issues. While I am sure those questions are important to the people who ask them, it is the serious questions about business that are of more interest to us. As a business owner, these questions can be real gems when it comes to enhancing your reputation as an authority in your niche.

What sort of questions get asked? Here are a few examples:

  • How do I change the language on my HP Laptop?
  • I can’t attach my lens to my Canon AE-1; it won’t attach. Why is this?
  • Is there any way I can get free counseling?
  • What would be a good party for teenagers in the winter that’s not lame?

The questions are not rocket-science type questions, yet by providing a good accurate answer your are creating two situations – one instant, the other delayed. The instant situation – readers will ask ‘who are you’ and follow any links. The second situation? The more often your name appears in answer to these types of questions, the more respect you will earn. This will further enhance your reputation in your niche.

One mistake that most people make is to constantly link to the home page of their web site. Don’t. Link to internal pages that actually have the information related to that question. If you don’t have a page that answers that question, link occasionally to your Facebook Fan Page, or one of your popular social media sites. By linking to Facebook, readers may well follow and ‘like’ your Fan Page.

As a final thought, Yahoo! Answers can be a good place to generate ideas. If you cannot link to a page on your site that answers that question – why not? Time to create one. Yahoo! Answers is popular, it is the perfect place to prove your knowledge, and it can reward you with links, traffic, and authority.

So you’re new to the world of online business and you’re wondering how and where to start your social media marketing. First – welcome and join the club because doing business online is a continual learning experience.  Social media is not that hard to crack. As a social experience, however, transferring that to income generating traffic is not as easy.

There are several approaches that you can take to ease your way into social media marketing. Each requires a little time and effort, but each will over time help to build your reputation and your authority within your business niche. The following four approaches are tried and tested and work well for almost any niche.

Creating Your Own Business Blog
  – business blogs are underrated by many and perhaps overrated by others. However, a well written blog that informs or entertains readers will always develop a following of readers. Those readers can and will become customers over time. Just be sure to communicate with them when they leave comments.

Becoming Involved With Other Blogs
– find, read, and comment on other blogs within your niche. Don’t spam, and only participate in conversations where you can add knowledgeable value. Readers to that blog will, over time, come to check your blog and who you are.

Get Involved With Niche Related Forums – one of the oldest forms of social marketing is through a forum. In fact, forums were around before the internet as we know it existed. As with blogs, participate in conversations where you can add value to the conversation.

Create A Facebook Presence – a Facebook presence is almost a must today. You should consider creating a Fan Page where you can actively promote your products and your business. Facebook can be slower than the other three to generate a following, and traffic to your business will be slower as well. However, over time it too will develop a reliable following, all of whom are potential customers.

Those four social media marketing channels are not that hard to crack. They will require a little time and effort, but if you put in the hard time, the rewards will be significant.

Sometimes we are rained with statistics and oft times one set of data will totally contradict another. There is one set of statistics recently released by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies, which does at least make interesting reading. It relates to content sharing and how it is being shared.  What won’t come as any surprise to many marketers is that email and Facebook are the two biggest sharing channels.

If you read the full report, there is a lot of interesting data that could help you to narrow some of your marketing strategies. For example, only 4% of respondents in the survey used Twitter to share content. However, when it comes to age demographics, 11% of 18-24 year olds share using Twitter.

At the other end of the scale, over 70% of 18-34 year olds share using Facebook. This number drops to just over 50% for 35-44 years and drops even further for older users.  As people get older, sharing via email becomes the dominant channel. Overall, 86% of respondents shared through email, 49% through Facebook with the next best being the telephone at 25%.

Other data to come out of the study includes:

  • users didn’t differentiate between branded or branded content;
  • the content was more important than who created the content – if the content was good and important, it was shared no matter who wrote it;
  • while family and friends news dominated, funny videos, general news, blog posts, and coupons or discounts were the most frequently shared items.

Quoting statistics is fine, but what does it all mean to you, the business owner?  The report draws some useful conclusions although they are conclusions that have been discussed for many months now. These included:

  1. Create good content and people will share it
  2. You need to develop a concept of social sharing as part of a marketing strategy
  3. Deliver content that people find interesting, entertaining, and helpful
  4. Get to know what your audience wants and needs – then deliver it
  5. Make sharing an easy option for your customers and readers.

That last is the cream on the cake. If you don’t provide your visitors with a means to share then they most likely won’t. Installing predominantly displayed email, Facebook and Twitter share buttons should be an integral part of your social media optimization. People want to share – give them something worth sharing – and the means to easily share it.

You can read the reports summary here – you will need to sign-up to receive the full version, however, it does make for some interesting reading.

I guess that title may be a little misleading. SEO is an intrinsic component of Internet marketing. However, in today’s online world, none of the popular internet marketing channels hold up on their own any more. For many larger organizations, there is no such thing as Internet marketing, it is just one string in their overall marketing program.

While search continues to be a major supplier of traffic, it too is now using data from other channels, either directly in its algorithms or in its delivery of search results. User reviews and the effect they can have on placement in local search is one example. The inclusion of social media data such as ‘Likes’ is another.

Being active on social platforms may well deliver traffic to your site, but as other businesses enter the fray, this too will become extremely competitive. It may seem that I am placing a negative spin on SEO and social media marketing, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, to be successful into the future will require efforts across a wide area of Internet marketing instead of through narrow channels.

For an online business to be successful, it needs multiple streams of traffic. The Internet is in a constant state of flux and while you may rank number one in search results today – tomorrow you could be on page two. Likewise, while you may have a strong social following today, one slight slip of the tongue and they could all desert tomorrow.

It makes good business sense to protect yourself against any sudden change in online conditions. The best way to achieve that is by marketing your business through as many channels as possible. Of course, don’t spread yourself so thin that you achieve none of them with any success.

Video marketing has been popular for several years now and if you took a look at YouTube you may think it’s all fairly saturated.  You could be right, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that video marketing is not for you. We are reaching a point where quality is starting to count. In the past, you could put together a video using a web cam and still wow people. For business purposes, it’s no longer good enough.

That doesn’t mean you need to employ a professional video team. It just means you do need to create videos that look and feel a little more professional. So is video marketing worth pursuing for your business? Consider these points:

  • Do you have something to say? In other words, can you put onto a video what you have put down in words? For most businesses, the answer has to be yes!
  • Would a video provide value to your visitors? If you have any ‘how to’ instructions on your site then a ‘how to’ video should be your first consideration. If you don’t have ‘how to’ instructions – could you?
  • Can your products or services be shown to better advantage through a video? In most cases, seeing a product in use, in moving pictures, can be a great selling aid.

I could go on of course, but I think you get the picture there. Almost every business could gain some advantage by incorporating video marketing. However, I did say that YouTube was looking a little saturated. The mistake there is in thinking ‘YouTube’. Don’t – start to think blog, website and Facebook. These are ideal channels for displaying your videos. YouTube becomes simply the store room for your videos. If you gain any traffic from YouTube, so much the better.  Is video marketing worth pursuing? If you can put together a decent video – it most certainly is.

Have you considered geo-targeting your PPC advertising keywords? You can save considerably on your costs per click just by adding  local area place names. For example, if you were selling and delivering pizza to the Wynnewood (PA) area, you have a number of options. You could target ‘pizza delivery’, ‘Pennsylvania pizza delivery’, ‘Philadelphia pizza delivery’, or ‘Wynnewood pizza delivery’. Targeting ‘pizza delivery’ is out of the question – there are over 90 million pages to contend with.

You may, however,  be surprised to see what sort of results you received if you explored each of the geographical options. Pennsylvania pizza delivery returned almost 5 million pages in Google search results. The average cost per click was $2.86. Let’s narrow it down a bit and search Philadelphia pizza delivery – that’s a bit closer to home. That reduced the search results to 367,000. Even better, the cost per click came down to $1.44.

That’s still almost 10% of the cost of a delivered pizza. Let’s get even closer to our geographical area and see what Wynnewood pizza delivery returns – 32,000. That is certainly easier to compete with than the 367,000 for Philadelphia. Cost per click – just $0.05. That represents a huge drop in cost-per-click numbers and you are now targeting people in your direct marketing area.

Now here’s something that may surprise you. If someone accesses a search engine from Wynnewood and searches for a pizza delivery service (without mentioning their location), the search results will most likely include a local map with the top seven local businesses listed. If you’re not targeting that geographical term, you could miss out.

So there is a moral there. Number one – be sure to claim your business through Google Places (Google local search), and secondly, be sure to include terms that relate to your geographical service area.  Cap it off by using those same geographic terms in your PPC marketing and you will see significant increases in your organic search placement for searches that count; that is, local search, and a significant cut in your costs per click. In fact, the costs can be so low that you can afford to geo target several areas. At $0.05 per click, you can geo target 10 areas and still save compared to using broader geographical terms.

If your business is a local business, then include geo-targeted keywords in all your online activities – particularly your local internet marketing.

Social media optimization is not restricted to your blog, or to your profiles on social media sites. Taking those sites a step further can often make you look more professional while making your pages far more popular. You can enhance Twitter to a degree but you can really make your Facebook Fan Page rock by installing some handy applications. Here are a dozen of the best:

  1. Static FBML -If you want to customize your fan page then you’ll definitely need this application.
  2. Signup Form – Most businesses now collect email addresses for email marketing. Rather than sending them to your website, get their email address on your fan page.
  3. Promotions – This can be tied to Signup Form. If you run promotions of any description then this app will make life a lot easier
  4. Reviews – This is another must. If you have a local business listing then you can have Google Places import reviews from Facebook. More importantly, user generated reviews help give credence to your business.
  5. Twitter – Synchronize your Twitter and Facebook fan pages using this application.
  6. LinkedIn profile – This places a LinkedIn button on your fan page that links directly to your LinkedIn profile.
  7. Web Profiles – Why stop at Twitter and LinkedIn? Include details of your StumbleUpon, Digg and any one of a dozen other social media profiles – the more places you can connect, the better the connection.
  8. YouTube – Allows you to display videos from YouTube right there on your fan page.
  9. Networked Blogs – If you have a blog, or blogs, then attach them to your fan page using this app.
  10. Coupons – As the name suggests, create and distribute coupons using the Coupons app.
  11. FAQ Page – Always being asked the same old questions? Create a FAQ that answers all those questions.
  12. Clobby – This is really made for those that spend a lot of time on Facebook.  Clobby is a real time chat room app that let’s you communicate with visitors in real time while not clogging up your wall.

There are thousands of applications we could have mentioned. There are some that combine several of these apps together, however, they often lose a little functionality in the process. There are other apps which, while far better than those mentioned above, cost real money to use on commercial fan pages. YouTube Channels is one that is excellent, but it will cost you around $5 per month to use.

Boost your Facebook fan pages with applications that are suited to your business and you will increase your page’s appeal, and it help you to look more professional. Social media optimization is an ongoing process – you need to constantly review which applications you are using and what new applications are coming on board.

One of the most underused internet marketing channels are forums. In particular, tight niche-related forums. While these forums can be tough to crack, if you can do it successfully you may just achieve a real competitive edge in your market.

The toughest hurdle to overcome when it comes to forums is their strong dislike of obvious and blatant marketing tactics. However, there are more ways to market than throwing your products or brands into people’s faces. Stealth marketing is the best approach in these forums and that takes time – and a little skill. Rather than promoting your business, your products or your brand, you are promoting yourself as an expert in that field. In fact, you are not actively promoting – by helping others, answering questions and participating in discussions, it will soon become apparent that you are an ‘expert’.

If you can achieve a reputation on one or more forums as being an expert, people will connect with you in other social media areas such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or LinkedIn.  Once they connect with you on these sites, you can start the more agressive forms of marketing.

This is a slow process and you won’t achieve success overnight. However, if you take your time and work within the forum community rules, you may even find the process absorbing and enjoyable – and that is the key to success, being relaxed and yourself and not the hard-nosed salesperson. Because it is time consuming, most business owners treat forums with disdain, which is a pity.

The ties you build through forums are often stronger than those developed on any other social media meeting place.  It is these ties that can help to launch viral marketing programs, undertake product reviews prior to a launch, and help to protect your reputation should an individual try to bring you down. If you haven’t considered forum marketing before, check out any forums that are dedicated to your niche. This is one internet marketing approach that can be big dividends if you have the patience to play the forum game.

Pay per click can be one of the most profitable marketing channels available. It can also be one of the fastest ways to go broke if you don’t do a little research first. One mistake that new players make is to try and target the top position. In many cases, this is not only foolish, but also pointless.

If you are a reseller of branded goods, it is advisable to see if the brand owners have that top billing in pay per click. If they do, don’t even consider trying to unseat them. They often have deep pockets and generally use pay per click for branding purposes, not for sales – they leave that up to you. It is pointless bidding against them as the cost per click will only serve to chew into your profit margin.

There are two aspects to finding a profitable pay per click position. One is finding the right keywords. If you’re selling boats, for example, the top two or three positions for one- or two-word keywords will most likely be high priced and ‘owned’ by the brand owners. Looking at three or more words could be more profitable. You should also consider including value or sales related words in your phrases. For example:

  • Buying
  • Selling
  • Discount
  • Cheap
  • Inexpensive
  • Best prices
  • Clearance

Searchers that use these terms are often looking to buy rather than just for information.

The second aspect that needs careful assessment is your total return on the investment made. This needs to be measured on both the macro and micro level: On the micro level – what is your cost per click in relation to your profit per sale? And on the macro level – what is your profit per day/week/campaign?.

This needs to be measured across a range of bid prices and positions. You may well find that position three is your most profitable. Find your most profitable pay per click position then work to own it.

Viral marketing is a tough business and there are more failed viral marketing programs out there than successful ones. To be successful, viral marketing relies on individuals promoting on your behalf. If you can identify key influencers in your niche then your task could be made much easier.

Rather than trying to market to the world at large, you can target those who have influence in your niche. By winning their support (and that is not always an easy task), they will start to promote on your behalf. Because they have some influence in your niche, others will listen and often follow.

Influencer marketing is not new. Look at some of the major fast food outlets. They target youngsters for two reasons. One – they influence moms and dads when it comes to buying fast foods, and two, if you can win them over when they are young, you have them for life. We are interested in the first reason, they influence their parents.

There are many professionals who have significant influence. Teachers and education; food writers and restaurants; and entertainment critics and the entertainment industry are just a few that stand out. They are not the only ones, of course. You can find on niche sites small groups that others often defer to – or look to for advice. In non-professional circles, the women in a man’s life may well influence him in his purchases so the women become the marketing target rather than the man (this is an old tactic that has been around for decades).

If you are looking at a viral marketing campaign, stop and consider who the key influencers are in your niche. Can you influence them? Can you develop a relationship with them first that can then be used at a later date to promote your campaign? If you can develop a relationship then you may find a viral marketing campaign much easier. Of course, you still need to have the right marketing materials.

Everywhere you look on the Internet these days there is a tool being touted to do something fabulous for your websites. Some of these tools are great. They can help you identify competitive keywords; they can help you research what your competitors are up to; and they can help you to measure the success of your online marketing campaigns.

The important words in that summary were ‘help you’. There is one thing that marketing tools won’t do, and that’s make your business successful. Yet if you listen to some of the sales hype, these tools on their own can take your business to new levels. Frankly, they won’t, they can’t, and they never will.

A simple example. I have a hammer but it won’t build my house for me. I have to use the hammer, and use it well together with a host of other tools and building materials – and that’s just for starters. I also need house plans and most likely the services of professional tradesmen like electricians and plumbers.

Your online business is no different. Tools are very handy and in the the right hands can deliver a lot of information that you can use to improve and build your business. There are times when online business owners, particularly those new to online marketing, try to use too many tools. The end result is a rather confusing array of suggestions and data, none of which makes much sense.

Internet marketing tools can be a real bonus to business owners, but only if you take the time to understand what they do, and what sort of information they are providing. What is more important is to understand what you can then do with that information. Many of the tools on offer today are expensive and, in reality, of not much use to a novice. You would be far better off seeking the services of a professional internet marketing consultant – over time, the cost would be the same but the results far different.

It seems that web surfer habits are going to play a bigger role in determining the value passed along through outgoing links. At least, if Google implements a process outlined in a patent granted to them recently. The king of patent analysis, Bill Slawski, has an interesting in-depth look at this new patent and comes up with some interesting theories and how this will all relate to search engine optimisation.

Although outbound links have always been considered equal by search engines, web designers and web site owners have known differently for a long time. If you want a link to get the maximum exposure and the most click-throughs, you would place it in of your page;s ‘hot zones’, often considered to be the top left of your page’s content – that’s why you frequently find Adsense ads in these positions.

Web site owners also know that links placed in the footer are generally internal, linking to pages devoted to disclosures, policies, and sitemaps; or links to web page designers and hosts. Links in sidebars such as those found in blogrolls are often links to associated web sites, or links to friends and family.

Bill Slawski takes it one step further, observing that:

a link with anchor text that is bigger than a certain size may have a higher probability of being selected than links with anchor text of a smaller size. Links positioned closer to the top of a page may also be more likely to be clicked upon. If the topic of the document being pointed to is related to the topic of the page the link appears upon, it may also have a higher probability of being selected by a visitor to the page.

Whether or not Google takes this on board is another matter. Of course, for all we know they may have already. You can bet there will be a lot of testing undertaken now to determine if it is in effect. In the future it seems that the best link on a page will be one that is a font size higher, perhaps bold, and links to a page that is closely associated to the current page. Place that link near the top left hand side of your page, within related content, and you may well have created the perfect link. It would be nice if it was that easy!

If you are about to start out in business and you intend using search as one of your main sources of traffic, you may find yourself confronted by several hurdles.  Organic search can take months of tight optimization before you see any results. Before you can even begin to optimize, you need to research keywords that will attract traffic to your website. Pay per click advertising is one area that can help you test those keywords.

Using pay per click to test keywords has its own pitfalls and these need to be considered carefully. These pitfalls include:

  • Cost – pay per click can be expensive if you don’t set limits or choose your keywords carefully.
  • Accuracy – while pay per click can help identify keywords that do or don’t convert, that data doesn’t always relate to how organic search converts for the same keywords.

Having considered those negatives, you should also bear in mind the positives that come with pay per click. These include:

  • Income – while testing keywords, you should be receiving traffic that converts into sales. That income may sustain your business while you are waiting for organic search results to improve.
  • Data – although keywords don’t always perform the same on organic and paid search, you can identify keywords that are real duds. You may also find keywords that are real gems.
  • Direction – there are many businesses that thrive on pay per click marketing. Rather than relying on the ups and downs of search engine optimization and organic search, they rely on pay per click with any organic traffic being the cream.

The bonus to using pay per click to test keywords is the income you can potentially receive when find good converting keywords. You do need to use care with this form of marketing, otherwise you will find your marketing budget gone in days. Set limits and do as much testing as your budget will allow.

Videos have become a popular form of marketing with YouTube boasting a high daily visitor and search numbers. I said it was popular and many take it a step further and label it a highly successful form of marketing. There are a lot of different ways you can measure success, but how accurate are those measurements? I am about to throw another set of numbers into the accuracy argument.

One recent article (from suggested that 20% of users abandoned a video within 10 seconds of hitting play, 33% would abandon by 30 seconds and a whopping 60% would abandon the video before the two minute mark. Their claims are based on data recorded from 40 million unique video clip views. That’s a decent data set so we could assume there was some accuracy in their numbers. We would also assume that a reasonable cross section of videos were used although that is not stated.

With that in mind, if you have a video that runs for five minutes, receives around 100 views per day and drives 5 visitors per day to your web site – would you could call that a successful video marketing drive – is 5% a good conversion number?  What is important now is how many viewers dropped out along the way, and when. If all 5 visitors to your site arrived after viewing the full video, and 60% had dropped out at 2 minutes, that effectively means you have converted 5 viewers from 40 – now that is a good conversion ratio.

Of course, you could manipulate figures all day to make your conversions look good, or look bad. What is important is that this data from VisibleMeasures could make a good benchmark. If you have a higher drop off rate at 10 seconds, 30 seconds or one minute, that could indicate your video is not compelling enough from the start. If you get a sudden drop off, at a certain point, it could indicate that something in the video put the viewer off (you often see this when price is mentioned).

Benchmarking is important to any industry. If you can benchmark the videos in your internet marketing campaigns, you can better understand why they may not be working, at what point a video is turning off viewers, and whether or not your video is performing to benchmark standards.