Searching for Answers

After coming home from a stand-up comedy show, I decided to feed my ego and check the stats on my website. Did any of the persons who have seen me lately go online and check it out? Well, my ego was dealt a crushing blow, since it appeared that they had not. What I discovered, however, was that lots of people were looking at my website- and in many cases not to find me, but to find other people’s websites. It shows that people found me when looking for fellow comedians (and friends) Joey Medina, Dante, Jeffrey Steele, Dan Rosenberg, Jimmy JJ Walker, and Josh Nasar- even keywords such as, “comedy central white edgy”, “hey hey hey rerun”, and “latino comics in los angeles”. How am I getting hits for “latino comics in los angeles” when I just may be the whitest man in America? How am I getting hits for “comedy central” when I’ve never been on their channel performing stand-up? I mention each of these things in a running commentary on my site, as well as link to many websites that do fit that search criteria.

It all comes down to knowing how to get your site ranked well by search engines. Most websites are either not optimized at all to encourage search traffic, or are optimized using outdated techniques. Many misconceptions are still commonplace- persons fret over “Meta tags” and “search engine submission” techniques that quite honestly in most cases are a waste of time and money. There are many site owners who spend money on firms that offer to submit their site to hundreds of search engines, when 98% of all traffic goes through a very small number of search engines, rendering most of that effort worthless! So what can you do?

Many websites still operate under the “Great and Powerful Oz” theory when it comes to search engines- they know very little about how they work, and they just leave it to the man behind the curtain to determine where their site deserves to come up. But with a little coaxing, you can get him to give you some courage, a heart, a brain, or even send you back to Kansas if that’s what you want. More importantly, you can get him to include your website in the search results for specific terms.

Here are some techniques that WILL help you with search traffic. These are all things that a site owner can do themselves, and these are all FREE! There are other techniques you can employ that involve very targeted paid advertising which are not discussed in this article. Please note also that search technology changes constantly- when this is being written (April of 2004) these are considered good practices. In the future, different techniques may be recommended. Now that the warnings are out of the way, let’s get to it!

1) Optimize your site content for keywords
Make sure that the content on your site (especially on the homepage) mentions the things for which you want people to search and find you. On my site, the homepage reads: “Welcome to the web home of stand-up comedian and talk show host Matt Walker. Inside you’ll find links to essential comedy resources, Matt’s schedule, video clips, and much, much more! Be sure to tune in every Sunday at 7 AM to The Small Business Hour on KLSX, 97.1 FM in Los Angeles, just before Breakfast with the Beatles. Check out the schedule to find where you can see Matt Walker doing stand-up.” Notice that I mention “Matt Walker” repeatedly, I mention “stand-up comedian” and “comedy”. I mention “KLSX”, our radio station. These are all things that people may want to type into a search engine when looking for my site. Also note that I use these terms in a way that makes readable sense- just listing a bunch of keywords will often be ignored by search engines.
2) Get listed in DMOZ
“DMOZ? What’s that?” That’s what most people are probably thinking. is probably the most important directory on the Internet these days, yet it is still a well kept secret. It is a directory that sites may apply for listings with for free. No regular person will ever go to this directory to search for anything, however. So why bother? DMOZ is the seed directory for the Google search engine and a few others. That means that if you are listed in DMOZ, you are much more likely to appear in Google than if you simply submit your site to Google to ask to be listed. Getting entered into DMOZ is a time consuming process- it is managed by humans, not computers, so the time between submission and listing is often 2-3 months. Also, make sure to submit your site in the category that is most appropriate for your site to ensure the best chance of getting listed.
3) Make frequent text updates
Have you ever seen a site that was listed very high in a search engine (perhaps you paid someone to get your site ranked high) and watched it slowly slip down the rankings into the oblivion that is the Internet? This is likely due to having stale web pages. Search engines love fresh content. If you are updating your site constantly, search engines will come back more frequently to grab the contents of your site. More frequent indexing usually leads to better rankings. So set up a “Blog“, change your home page often, and find a way to add newsletters, articles, or other informative content to your site frequently.
4) Get rid of the flash
Flash animation sure can look great- The only problem with it is that you can’t print it out, right? Wrong! The biggest problem with flash is that search engines can’t index what goes on in the flash file. You may have a killer presentation on your latest products in a flash animation on your site. Everyone who sees it loves it- but when Google crawls your site, it is ignored. Make sure that if you have Flash on your website that you duplicate the content as regular text and pictures elsewhere. Otherwise, you are hiding content from search engines, meaning it’s harder for people to find the Flash animation in the first place!
5) Inbound Links
A major part of search engine rakings these days is based on inbound links. Get relevant sites to link to you, and you will automatically be considered more “important” in the eyes of search engines, and will thus get better rankings. When other sites link to you, it is best if they use a short line of descriptive text as part of the link- for my site, I ask people to use the phrase “Los Angeles comedian and talk show host Matt Walker”. This means that when sites link to me they are using some of the very same keywords that I am trying to improve my rankings with.

The web is undergoing constant change. These tips will not guarantee you a top ranking by themselves. You must stay on top of the latest trends in the industry if you want to stay on top of the rankings. I don’t have the time to do so personally, which is why we at the SBA Network are lucky to have a great search consultant with whom we work. Cayley Vos with Netpaths web design is who taught me all that I know about search engines, and he stays in touch with other webmasters and search professionals. I encourage you to find a search consultant with whom you can work- for more information about Cayley and his services, e-mail Mark Deo We’ll be happy to facilitate an introduction.

In conclusion, getting search traffic can be a lot of work. These tips WILL help with your rankings, but they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to driving large amounts of traffic to your website. The Internet is a great resource to businesses and individuals alike- use it!

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing my comedy site, go to: Please be advised that the content on that site may be considered offensive by some viewers, so it’s not for everyone.
This Business Update was written by SBA Network Sales Technology Specialist Matthew Walker- for more information, please contact him at 310-320-8190 or
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email

Mark Deo

Proper Web Planning

Millions of new websites are launched each year, and millions close down. Most are destined to fail at educating customers, selling products and services, generating PR, or even just improving your branding efforts. Why? Lack of planning. Most website are just thrown together with little thought or guidance from the business owner. There’s no need to launch a website that flounders, however. Proper planning can help ensure that your website meets the objectives you set. I have developed a seven step planning guide to use BEFORE you spend any money on the actual development of the site.

Audience– To whom is the site directed? It is important that we define who we want the site visitors to be up front. By doing so, we can make sure that all of our planning and development takes place in a manner consistent with this audience in mind. Ask yourself throughout the design and construction phases, “How will this appear to our target audience?”

Uniqueness– What about your site will make it different from the competition? If you have a site that does exactly what your competitors do, congratulations, you’ve just wasted your time and money. If your competitors have a site that seems to do EVERYTHING, then create a site that has fewer functions but works better at doing them. Specialization on the web works just as well as in the real world.

Direction– The key question is what do we wish to have our visitors do? Every page on your website should have some direction for site visitors. Seth Godin writes about this concept in his book, “The Big Red Fez”. If you want visitors to buy a product, make that the dominant feature on your homepage. If you want them to sign up for a newsletter, make that obvious at a glance. Whatever your goal for a site visitor may be, make sure that it is obvious to everyone that it is the designed action for them to take.

Simplicity– Less is more, especially on the web. We can probably all think of numerous websites that are so cluttered, so filled with things to click on, watch, play with, etc. that we do none of the above. Too many options for a site visitor will scare them away from your site. Keep it simple, and you will have far higher conversion percentages of visitors taking action than if you pack everything you can think of on your site.

Functionality– What do you need the site to do? List all of the core functions your site needs to include. Write out how these should work. If you have a site that will let someone check the status of an order on the web, plan out exactly what someone will need to click on, type in, and how their information will be returned to them. By doing so, you can find cumbersome processes and refine them before you build them.

Branding– How does it relate to your branding strategy? Some websites look like they are from a completely different company than their other marketing efforts. Consistency in your marketing efforts is vital- so make sure that whatever is designed fits with the rest of what you are doing.

Visibility– Who can find your site? Who do you want to find it? How will people find you? You should put together a web marketing plan before you develop your site. This way you can include tracking options as part of the structure of your site. Whether that is conversion tracking for Google AdWords, different URLs with promotional codes used in advertising efforts, or even just good stat tracking. It is important to figure out where people are finding you if you want to be able to improve the quality of site traffic in the future.

I hope these items help you with your web construction efforts. Please call or e-mail me with any comments or questions.

This article was written by SBA Network Sales Technology specialist Matt Walker. You can reach him at 714-269-4123 or

Planning for Online Success

Millions of new websites are launched each year, and millions close down. Most are destined to fail at educating customers, selling products and services, generating PR, or even just improving your branding efforts. Why? Lack of planning. Most website are just thrown together with little thought or guidance from the business owner.

Proper planning can help ensure that your website meets the objectives you set. If you think through the goals you have online and how you plan on getting there, you can greatly increase your chances of achieving those goals.

Below is a planning guide to use BEFORE you spend any money on the actual development of your site. These questions will help you work with your web developer to come up with accurate timeframes and a working budget for the project.General
What are your website expectations (higher sales, more leads, etc.)?
When do you need the new site up?Audience
To whom is the site directed? (Current clients, new clients, partners, etc.?)
What are the specific industries the site needs to address?
What do you ultimately want visitors to your site to do (call you, send an e-mail, complete a form, etc.)?Uniqueness
What about your site will make it different from the competition?Functionality
What do you need the site to do? List all of the core functions the site needs to include.
What forms will the site include (request a quote, contact us, etc.)?
What pieces of information are required to be gathered on these forms?
To whom should the information gathered be sent?
Will information gathered on this site need to be accessible via reports in a specific format?
Will leads generated need to be automatically put into other databases?
Will visitors to the site need access to their order history or other database functions?
Will there be any payment acceptance online?
Will you maintain a blog, or other type of self published content on the site?
Does the site need to include forums or message boards?Branding
How does it relate to your branding strategy?
Will you use your existing logo, and will it need to be modified in any way?
In what format will you provide the logo and existing graphics to your web developer?
Should the site match the “look and feel” of your existing marketing materials?
What domain name will be used for the site?
Are there alternate domains (common misspellings, alternate company names, etc.) you have?
What additional domains will you need to register?Design
What sites do you like the look and feel of?
What sites do you NOT like?
Do you have a preference on navigation on the site being on the top, left side, or other location?
Are there particular colors that should be used?
Are there particular colors that should be avoided?
Are there particular fonts that should be used?
Are there particular fonts that should be avoided?Content
How many pages will the site consist of?
What are these pages?
Will all copy be provided, or will your developer write some of this for you?
Will you need to shoot any photographs for this site?
In what format will images be provided?
Do you have any video content you wish to include?
Will you need to shoot any videos for your site?Visibility
Who do you want to find your site?
How do you want them to find you?
What keywords do you hope people will use to find you in search engines?
Have you budgeted for an Internet ad campaign?Hosting
Will this site maintain its existing host?
Will your e-mail remain with your existing e-mail service?Marketing
How many e-mail newsletter templates will be created?
How many e-mail lists do you have? (Customers, partners, etc.)
How many e-mail addresses are on each of these lists?
In what format do you have these e-mail addresses?I hope these items help you with your web construction efforts. Please call or e-mail me with any comments or questions.This article was written by SBA Network Sales Technology specialist Matt Walker. You can reach him at 714-269-4123 or to submit an article or just have a comment? Email me at: mark@markdeo.comHave a great week!-Mark Deo

It’s blog, it’s blog, it’s better than bad, it’s good!

You might not remember the classic Ren and Stimpy cartoon’s Log Song which I co-opted above, but you certainly have heard about the hype surrounding blogs. ABC News even named bloggers as their persons of the year for 2004.

What is a blog and why should your business care?A blog (short for web log) is a section of a website that is extremely easy to update with little to no technical knowledge. The reason these are important to businesses is that you now have a way to quickly and easily disseminate information to clients, prospects, employees, partners, and just about anyone to whom you care to preach your message. They also can dramatically help you with search engine rankings, meaning more visitors coming to your website. Want to see some in action?Check out our blog here, and one we set up for a client here. Pretty nifty, eh? Companies of all sizes are jumping on the blog bandwagon, and you should too. It’s good enough for both GM and neighborhood businesses, and you should try it for yours. Sounds great you say? Well, not so fast!Blogs can have their downsides as well- when not properly implemented, they can look tacky and added on to your existing site, instead of an integrated part of your web presence. When adding a blog to your site, don’t settle for a pre-defined template. Insist on having it become a seamless experience for web visitors. How can you ensure this happens? Have your web designer check out our new Quick and Dirty Guide to Blogger Integration. This is a 21 page step-by-step guide through the process of adding a blog to a website using the popular free service from Google. Please let me know when you have blogs established on your website- I’d love to check them out myself to see what all of our readers are up to. I’ll even link to any blogs right from our home page that readers of this update send to me. Send me your e-mails at Have a great week! This article was written by SBA Network Sales Technology Specialist Matt Walker. You can reach him for more information at, or 714-269-4123. Attract More Business One Day Workshops
By popular demand, we are now offering the Attract More Business one day workshop. This full day workshop incorporates content from our “Attract More Business” learning program and 8 week class. The workshop will be held from 9am to 5pm on July 23, 2005 in Monrovia, CA and August 25, 2005 in Long Beach, CA. Attendees of the workshop are eligible for 2 follow up 30 minute coaching sessions.Sign-up at: Attract More Business One Day Workshop.

Internet Specialization

The NFL draft is upon us in just 7 days. All across the country football fans are trying to figure out where each player will go. Each team has needs at different positions, and they will try to fill as many of these as possible with next weekend’s draft. With 65 players on each team, broken down into offense, defense, and special teams, it’s hard to keep track of what each team needs. These are broken down even further into smaller groups- the offense alone has quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, and the offensive line, each with their own coach. These groups are then often further segmented into possession receivers, big play receivers, speed backs, power backs, 3rd down backs, blocking backs, receiving tight ends, blocking tight ends, guards, tackles (left and right), and centers. Whew!

What we see is specialization on a massive scale. Every player on the team has a very specific job, and how well they do the small tasks they are responsible for is often what determines the winner and loser for each game, and what share of millions of dollars they can take home. Even the referees are specialized. Every member of the officiating crew has an individualized job- certain players to watch for specific rule infractions.

When I play football with my friends on the weekends, we don’t have the same type of specialization- we often trade off who plays quarterback and receiver, and we all play both offense and defense. We also, not coincidentally, aren’t very good at any of these positions. We also aren’t being paid millions of dollars, because we just play for fun.

What do you do to market your business on the Internet? Are you just playing for fun? Or are you hoping to make it a major part of your business? If you really want to use the Internet to generate revenue, you can’t afford to be a weekend warrior that just plays around. You need to display the same type of specialization seen in the NFL. It is what makes the difference between successful Internet marketers and unsuccessful ones.

The best tool available on the Internet for savvy marketers is pay per click advertising. These small ads show up on Google and other search engines and websites when you search for a term specified by the advertiser. The great thing about them is that it costs nothing to have your ad displayed- you just pay a small amount (usually somewhere between $.05 and a few dollars) each time someone acts on your ad by going to your website.

Let’s say someone wanted to market a product to small business owners on the Internet using pay per click advertising. What many novice Internet marketers would be tempted to do is run ads for the term “business”. They would then run an ad that describes their product in general terms, hoping to attract as many visitors to their website as possible. Because there are so many people advertising with the term “business”, the cost per click is probably up near the $10 mark. If they sold their product for $200, they would need to convert one out of every 20 visitors as actual sales for the program to pay for itself. When you factor in the cost of development, labor, delivery of the product, and other factors, they probably need to convert more like one of every 10 visitors. While possible, this is very difficult, and far from an optimum use of their time. What they lack is proper specialization.

A savvy Internet marketer would take the same product and advertise using the same method. Instead of advertising on the term “business”, they would come up with hundreds of terms that relate to the benefit received from the product (“lower costs of communication for small businesses”); because there are far fewer people advertising with these terms, they can probably get clicks for about $.10. They will then run ads for each of these terms that are specific to the search term. One ad should mention items such as “business communication”, “lower costs”, and “small business”- the words used in the search term example. This means they only need to sell their program to one in every 2000 visitors to turn a profit. The use of specialization has increased the profitability of the marketing effort by a factor of 100!

A truly smart Internet marketer will have their visitors sent to pages on their website that deal with the specific terms they searched on, which also usually increases the conversion rate for these ads. This means that not only are your ads much less expensive, the likelihood they will turn into sales is greatly increased!

So let me ask- are you a weekend warrior with your Internet marketing? Or are you a championship contender?

These techniques take a while to learn and apply. If you are considering a pay per click campaign or already have one that is receiving marginal results, we offer a full analysis that includes suggested ads, keywords, and bid prices, with ad text and more advanced techniques to receive greater results. Contact me at to find out more and see a sample analysis to learn how this can apply to your business.

This Business Update was written by SBA Network Sales Technology Specialist Matthew Walker- for more information, please contact him at 714-269-4123 or

I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email

Have a great week!

Internet Marketing is as Easy as 1, 2, 3… (Part 2)

This article is part 2 of 3 in a series written by Matt Walker, VP Technology Services for the SBA Network. You may contact him at with any questions on the issues raised.

Last week we discussed Search Engine Optimization and how it fits into an overall Internet Marketing strategy. This week we’re taking a look at an element of Pay-Per-Click advertising. To recap, last week’s article gave tips on getting listed by search engines, optimizing your content, finding link partners, and testing. We also mentioned the three most important areas of Internet Marketing:

  1. Search Engine Optimization
  2. Pay-Per-Click Marketing
  3. Internet Viral Marketing

When prospects are looking for solutions to their problems, they often start with the Internet. Using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN, these prospects are presented with regular search results (as discussed last week) and also small text ads that appear alongside the search results. These ads are inexpensive, highly targeted, and turned Google into a multi-billion dollar company, pennies at a time.

How do they work? An advertiser uses the search engine’s website to select specific keywords for which their ad will be displayed. They create their all text ad with a link back to a website. They also enter the price they are willing to pay each time the ad gets clicked on. Then when the keywords specified are searched upon, the ad is displayed, and if clicked on, the advertiser pays the search engine for the traffic. Because the search engine gets paid each time the ad is clicked on, instead of each time the ad is displayed, this is known as Pay-Per-Click advertising. When implemented properly, this can be one of the most cost effective ways to generate business online.
Overall it’s a simple process, but generally takes knowledge of best practices, experience, and testing to have a successful campaign. The most important tasks in maintaining a successful new campaign are:

  • Selecting Proper Keywords
  • Creating Compelling Ads
  • Proper Bidding
  • Testing
  • Refining Landing Pages

For the rest of this article we’ll focus most of our attention on selecting keywords using Google’s AdWords program, but the techniques discussed work with all Pay-Per-Click providers.Warning- the below content may be too technical for some readers. If this is you, don’t feel bad- you can e-mail me for answers to any questions you have about these techniques at We are also presenting a hands-on Internet Marketing Workshop on November 7th in Long Beach, CA. At this workshop, we will be teaching how to implement these techniques. Contact Cory Halbardier to get more details about this event.Proper keywords are the bedrock of any successful pay-per-click campaign. To research keywords, I recommend using the Keyword Tool built into Google AdWords. This tool allows you to seed a search with a website address (it will analyze the content and find relevant keywords) or a brief description of the website you will be advertising. Perform this search, and you will be presented with a list of potential keywords. This list provides estimates on advertiser competition and approximate monthly search volume. The ideal keyword will have little advertiser competition, and a high search volume. Add all keywords that you feel represent terms on which your prospects will search. You should use the drop down box for “Match Type” and add each keyword twice more to ensure that each word is entered as a broad match, phrase match, and exact match. The reasons for using these match types and what they mean are beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like to know more e-mail me or come to our Internet Marketing Seminar on November 7th where we will be discussing this in far greater detail. At this stage, you want as many keywords as possible- we will refine these later in the process (usually discarding 99% of them). So if you think your list is unwieldy, don’t worry, we will be shrinking it very soon.

Now that you have your keywords, create an ad and use a moderate bid to get things started. Where this ad links on your website is not important…yet. At this stage you want to get your ad running for as many keywords as possible, just to gather information about keywords. Let these ads run for a bit to gather data about search volumes.Now that your ads have been running for a few days, use Google’s reporting tools to see which keywords generate the greatest amount of searches (this will be reflected by the number of impressions your ad garners). At this point, you should keep the keywords with the greatest number of impressions, and focus your efforts on these (since they generate far more searches than the rest of the keywords on your list). The rest of the keywords can either be paused or deleted, whichever you prefer.It is typical for a campaign to start with a hundreds or thousands of keywords that are pared down to less than ten.Take the best performing keywords and create separate ad groups for each one. Each ad group should contain the keyword with the broad match, phrase match, and exact match. Now you should write ads that are tailored specifically for each of these ad groups. Use the search term in your ad copy if you can, and make this ad link to a landing page on your website that is specifically about the keyword.This may seem like a lot of work just on refining keywords, but it is imperative to follow this process for your AdWords campaign to be a success. This process will allow you to create highly targeted ads that achieve very high clickthrough rates, allowing you to purchase traffic for less than your competitors (and also present prospects with content that matches with what they are looking.)Using the proper keywords can help you follow rule 1 of Mark Deo’s Rules of Attraction- Become a bigger fish in a smaller pond. By finding the keywords that generate the greatest search volume, and focusing our efforts on areas in which prospects express interest, we are able to refine ads that dominate small groups of keywords, instead of spreading our effort across large numbers of keywords that generate few searches.To learn more about this process, and how to refine your ads to dominate these small keyword groups, please come to our Internet Marking Seminar on November 7th in Long Beach. Go to: for more details.

Next week we’ll explore Internet based Viral Marketing, and how it can be used in conjunction with SEO and Pay-Per-Click to generate business online.

For detailed advice on any of the techniques mentioned, or for an analysis of your website and some specific recommendations on what you can do, please contact Matt Walker

For more information about the Internet Marketing Workshop being held November 7th in Long Beach, go to: or contact Cory Halbardier at

Internet Marketing is as Easy as 1, 2, 3… (Part 1)

This article is part 1 of 3 in a series written by Matt Walker, VP Technology Services for the SBA Network. You may contact him at with any questions on the issues raised.

Facing an ever changing economy, businesses are spending more resources online now than ever before. As with the economy, the techniques that are most effective online are also evolving on a constant basis. Many businesses find themselves facing diminishing returns for their online marketing efforts.

If this describes your business, there are three areas on which to focus to see improvement:

  1. Search Engine Optimization
  2. Pay-Per-Click Marketing
  3. Internet Viral Marketing

When your prospects are looking for information on the Internet, they most likely start with a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. When they enter what they are looking for, they are presented with a list of websites that match their criteria, and some ads that are targeted toward their search terms. The three techniques mentioned above can help make sure that your site is one that attracts visitors.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making changes to your website for the purpose of making search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) rank your site higher for a specific term. As a brief example, if you search on Google for “small business coaching”, there are 724,000 possible results. Our website ranks 9th out of these possible matches, due to our SEO efforts on this term. For a more specific search such as “small business coach southern california”, we are ranked 2nd out of 452,000 results.

How did we achieve this? There are five major areas on which we’ve spent our efforts:

  • Getting and Staying Listed
  • Optimizing Content
  • Engaging Link Partners
  • Testing
  • Statistical Analysis

Warning- the below content may be too technical for some readers. If this is you, don’t feel bad- you can e-mail me for answers to any questions you have about these techniques at We are also presenting a hands-on Internet Marketing Workshop on November 7th in Long Beach, CA. At this workshop, we will be teaching how to implement these techniques. Contact Cory Halbardier to get more details about this event.To get your site listed and keep it listed, your site needs to be found by the appropriate search engines. For the most important search engine (Google), you can start by listing your site in the Open Directory that Google uses to seed many of its searches. Go to, find an appropriate category, and use the submission form on the site to ask for its inclusion. To keep your site listed, on your website you should have an XML sitemap- this is a file that lists all the pages you wish to have Google index and how recently they have been updated. To learn more about the use of site maps and Google’s guidelines, go to:

Now you should focus on optimizing your content. Your pages should discuss the terms for which you are trying to get ranked. Relevant content will make your site rank higher than sites with content that doesn’t closely match the search terms. One area to make sure you address are the title tags used on your pages. These should be unique, descriptive, and reflect the content on the page. The page title is what a potential site visitor will see first when your site is listed on a search engine, and influences your site rankings.

You also need to engage in a link building campaign. Having other websites link to yours is how search engines decide the importance of your website. Google uses these links to assign a “page rank” to each page in its index. The more inbound links you have, the higher your site will be listed in search results. Having sites with high page ranks link to your site helps more than sites with low page ranks linking to yours. There are thousands of resources you can find online to help you find link trade partners, paid inbound links, and automated software to manage the link building process. Your link building campaign should be ongoing for as long as your site exists. Inbound links are generally considered the most important factor in having a highly ranked site.

If you’ve done a good job on these 4 tasks, you should have some traffic coming to your site. Now you need to analyze that traffic to discover trends about your site. Statistical analysis can show you which pages on your site attract the most visitors and which are indexed the most by search engines. You can then use this knowledge to fine-tune your efforts on the other pages on your site, helping improve the search ranking for every page you maintain.

Next week we’ll explore Pay-Per-Click Marketing, and how it can be used to attract prospects to your website.

For detailed advice on any of the techniques mentioned, or for an analysis of your website and some specific recommendations on what you can do, please contact Matt Walker

For more information about the Internet Marketing Workshop being held November 7th in Long Beach, go to: or contact Cory Halbardier at

E-mail Tips

I’ve been sending out this business update now for almost 6 years, to thousands of subscribers. I have received feedback from thousands of you, sharing your successes with me. This message you’re reading is an example of e-mail marketing, yet ironically, this is one topic we’ve rarely discussed. It has taken us years to learn a system that works for successful e-mail marketing, and we’d like to share it with you. Before we get into this subject in depth, I’d like to invite you to share your thoughts about this newsletter with us by clicking here to take our brief survey. To show our appreciation for your feedback, you will gain access to our audio file on Why Most Marketing Fails.

E-mail can be an extremely cost effective means of maintaining contact with prospects and customers, marketing your business, and providing customer service. There are a few rules you should adhere to when considering using e-mail in your business, to ensure that you don’t actually generate negative feedback from your contacts.

  1. No spam. Ever.
    Spam is the term used for unsolicited, unwanted, e-mail. Notice that I didn’t say “commercial” e-mail. Any unwanted e-mail is considered spam. If you are sending an e-mail message to someone, make sure that it is something worth sending first.
  2. Get their permission first.
    Don’t send someone an e-mail message unless they have given you permission to contact them by e-mail, or you have been in contact with them previously. If your first communication with someone is by e-mail, you will likely get a negative response, regardless of how relevant, compelling, and important your message may be.
  3. Don’t sell or give away their information.
    If you have someone’s e-mail address, guard it. Don’t send it to other people, don’t have a huge carbon copy list that you make their address publicly visible on, and make sure that you guard their privacy as you would your own.
  4. Keep it professional.
    If you are sending people business e-mails, don’t pass on jokes, funny movies, political or religious statements, etc. Save these things for your family and friends (even though they probably don’t want them either!)
  5. Learn how to use your e-mail program.
    Make sure you know the difference between to, cc, and bcc. If you don’t, read the help files on your e-mail program. These very important distinctions affect how an e-mail message is received, viewed, and presented to a recipient. They also help you guard the privacy of your messages.
  6. Obey the law!
    There are many new legislated requirements for sending commercial e-mail. While it is unlikely that someone will complain to authorities about e-mails you send, make sure that you obey all regulations about having your contact information on your e-mail, a method for being removed from your mailing list, etc.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into how to best use e-mail in your business! If you do not currently have an e-mail newsletter, you’re passing up an amazing opportunity to connect with your prospects and customers. It is truly the most cost effective means of positive outreach that small businesses have at their disposal. I highly recommend that you start a newsletter to maintain contact with your database as soon as is feasible.
Email – Extension of Direct Mail?
Email marketing is NOT the electronic version of direct mail. It is a far more personal form of communication. Go to your mailbox. Count how many uninvited guests you find every day. Circulars from advertisers, retailer ads, announcements and so on jam your mailbox. In fact, if you’re like me, you have more junk mail than REAL mail. Does it make you mad? No. Do you get on the phone, call these folks, and yell at them for Snail-mail spamming you? No. Do you lobby Congress? No! Then why do consumers do all of these things and MORE to put a stop to SPAM email? No one really knows why, but it is a fact that some people will react negatively to any unsolicited e-mail. So you must make sure that your e-mail marketing efforts are not the same type of sales pitch you might send out by other means.

Getting Personal
Email is a very personal form of communication. Typically, people read their email messages with greater care and more deliberation than postal mail. Many folks read their email messages at home and therefore have more time to digest them and put the message in perspective. When they receive an uninvited message, it is received as a personal intrusion. While Email creates a tremendous opportunity for us as marketers, it also leaves the door open for abuse.

A Powerful Messaging Vehicle
Some marketers see Email as a powerful form of “push marketing.” It is far less expensive than traditional media, is ten times faster to implement, and known to generate a higher response than it’s alternatives. No wonder marketers aggressively leverage it to push their marketing message as frequently as humanly possible. The real challenge is to allow “true” communication to take place. No relationship can exist without two-way communication. My advice is “Don’t turn email into a bullhorn. It’s about encouraging and facilitating a dialogue.” Push yourself to help your customers; don’t push your product or service on your customers. Find out what is important to them, then give them something of value. Educate, inform, and inspire them. Help them to do something that they have been trying to do. Eliminate their pain. Make their lives easier. Invite them to give you feedback. Open the gates to questions, comments, and suggestions. Engage customers in a dialogue. Nowhere is the “attraction” mindset as appropriate and effective as it is with email marketing. It’s about building lasting relationships and creating memorable brand value.
A Collaborative Media
Email is one of the only marketing vehicles that is NOT a successful standalone communication tool. Email will be only as effective as its integration with other media. Most email campaigns today are run as isolated marketing initiatives. Companies hire email-marketing firms to run their email strategies because traditional agencies are unable to provide the quality of service and necessary technology that email pure-plays provide. The problem is an unbroken sequence of communications that do not capitalize on the sum of the parts. The outcome is a confused and possibly dissatisfied customer, victim of your unorganized and untimely messages. Sure, the creative may look the same, but production schedules rarely match, and the integration of media is an afterthought.

One Strike and You’re Out.
Email may be cheap, personal, and powerful but it is an unforgiving media. Even in baseball, you get three strikes. Email customers can fire us in a single click. It just takes those dreaded words “REMOVE ME” in the Subject Box and the fun’s over. My recommendation is to empower customers, and talk to them wisely. Savvy marketers empower customers by asking them what content they want to receive, when they want to receive it, how often, and in what format. Then they follow through. To avoid burning out customers and scoring double-digit unsubscribe rates, consider customer preferences, and carefully plan the frequency with which you communicate to various customer segments.

Measure Right
Click-through, like Web traffic, has never been a good indicator of performance. Chances are that your short-term revenue forecast and long-term profitability are made up of more tangible, quantifiable data. A more accurate measure of the success of a campaign is sales or leads conversion. Some people just want customers who click. You want customers who buy. Stay away from short-term objectives, however, that may force you to over-communicate at the expense of long-term customer value. Create a customer satisfaction index and regularly track results via online surveys. Ignoring customer satisfaction is always a deadly mistake in business. And believe me, your competitors know it. So will you be the diner? Or the dinner?

The Future is Here
Email marketing is the future of direct marketing. Think about it, with Email you avoid printing costs, postage, carriers, paper, stuffing, envelopes and the licking thereof! Never resort to SPAM or unsolicited email lists. Build your own email database. Opt-in email campaigns produce the best result in marketing campaigns.

“Opt-in” & “opt-out”; what do they mean?
Quite simply, spammers utilize “opt-out” marketing. Opt-out means that a marketer can send a message at will and the recipient must contact them and “opt-out” to prevent future mailings. I do not believe in this approach. “Opt-In” means consumers have expressed interest in your topic. In my case, these folks have called in to my radio show, visited my website, attended one of my classes, or purchased one of my products or services.

E-mail Example
Let’s look at a brief example. For our business, we send out a weekly “Business Update” e-mail with FREE business advice. We have been sending this e-mail out for over six years to a subscriber base made up strictly of prospects, partners, and clients that have requested it. People subscribe to our list by going to our website and entering their e-mail address in a form that explicitly states what they will receive. We give them instructions on how to be removed from the list at any time if they choose. These e-mail messages are made up of advice and examples. They are NOT sales pitches. Let me repeat that. They are NOT sales pitches. This ensures that people get our message while we establish closer relationships on a continual basis with prospects. Our meme is seen weekly by thousands of people, and it doesn’t take any more effort to reach 50,000 than it does 500!
Get to Work!I encourage everyone reading this to consider how they might plan an e-mail campaign for their business. Whom do you wish to reach? What can you offer them of value so that they look forward to receiving your message instead of viewing it as an intrusion? How frequently should you contact them? How will you encourage them to respond to your message to foster an ongoing dialogue? Please let us know how your e-mail efforts go.


What is it?

We are constantly seeing and hearing about electronic commerce or E-Commerce. One might ask, what is it? E-electronic commerce is the conducting of business on-line. This includes, for example, buying and selling products with digital cash and via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) as well as Internet based credit card and check transactions.How it really works?
It’s quite simple really. To understand E-Commerce all one needs to do is “Follow the money.”
E-commerce can be divided into:

  1. E-tailing or “virtual storefronts” on Web sites with online catalogs, sometimes gathered into a “virtual mall”
  2. The gathering and use of demographic data through Web contacts
  3. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the business-to-business exchange of data
  4. E-mail and fax and their use as media for reaching prospects and established customers (for example, with newsletters)
  5. Business-to-business buying and selling
  6. Security of business transactions

E-tailing or The Virtual Storefront and the Virtual Mall
As a place for direct retail shopping, with its 24-hour availability, a global reach, the ability to interact and provide custom information and ordering, and multimedia prospects, the Web is rapidly becoming a multibillion dollar source of revenue for the world’s businesses. A number of businesses already report considerable success. As early as the middle of 1997, Dell Computers reported orders of a million dollars a day. By early 1999, projected e-commerce revenues for business were in the billions of dollars and the stocks of companies deemed most adept at e-commerce were skyrocketing. Apart from computer and network products, books (, gardening products (, music on compact disks (CDNow), and office supplies (SuppliesOnline) were a few of the better-known e-commerce sites. By early 1999, even businesses that have always counted on face-to-face customer interaction were planning e-commerce Web sites and many businesses were planning how to coordinate in-store and Web store retail approaches. Meanwhile, new businesses based entirely on Web sales were being invented daily.Market Research
In early 1999, it was widely recognized that because of the interactive nature of the Internet, companies could gather data about prospects and customers in unprecedented amounts -through site registration, questionnaires, and as part of taking orders. The issue of whether data was being collected with the knowledge and permission of market subjects had been raised. (Microsoft referred to its policy of data collection as “profiling” and a proposed standard has been developed that allows Internet users to decide who can have what personal information.)Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
EDI is the exchange of business data using an understood data format. It predates today’s Internet. EDI involves data exchange among parties that know each other well and make arrangements for one-to-one (or point-to-point) connection, usually dial-up.E-Mail, Fax, and Internet Telephony
E-commerce is also conducted through the more limited electronic forms of communication called e-mail, facsimile or fax, and the emerging use of telephone calls over the Internet. Most of this is business-to-business, with some companies attempting to use e-mail and fax for unsolicited ads (usually viewed as online junk mail or spam) to consumers and other business prospects. An increasing number of business Web sites offer e-mail newsletters for subscribers. A new trend is opt-in e-mail in which Web users voluntarily sign up to receive e-mail, usually sponsored or containing ads, about product categories or other subjects they are interested in.Business-to-Business Buying and Selling
Thousands of companies that sell products to other companies have discovered that the Web provides not only a 24-hour-a-day showcase for their products but a quick way to reach the right people in a company for more information.The Security of Business Transactions
Security includes authenticating business transactors, controlling access to resources such as Web pages for registered or selected users, encrypting communications, and, in general, ensuring the privacy and effectiveness of transactions. Among the most widely-used security technologies are SSL and RSA. Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) is an emerging industry standard.Recommendations:
These days nearly everyone is claiming to be an E-Commerce/Web Development expert. I have found that very few can be trusted. Try not to deal with a middleman. They make big promises and deliver small results. Go DIRECT with an e-commerce provider. Find a provider that is preferably a large, public company with 24 hour technical support, fully staffed customer service, has SSL and RSA security, and has their own banking and transaction processing solution. This way you’re not stuck dealing with 4 different vendors who all end up pointing fingers at “the other guy” when things don’t work right.It is also absolutely critical that you find a provider that permits YOU to make you own changes to the site and user configurations. You should be given and FTP account and password so that you can go into their server and make changes to your site directly. Some providers even have a simple interface established which will permit you to make site changes WITHOUT uploading our downloading information through an FTP function.