Don’t Get Scammed With Advertising

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I’ve had three calls in the last week all starting with a thank you for my support. Always an intriguing start to a call. These calls were from 3 different magazines, none of which I’d ever heard of. All of them insisted that they were not asking for any money and that they were going to send me the proofs. By the time of the third call I was starting to get concerned so I told the gentleman on the phone that his was the third call in a week and that I had not authorised any advertising. He eventually promised to check their records and get back to me. He never did. Alarm bells are now ringing.

A couple of days later I received an email from Presscom Pty Ltd containing a proof and a request I respond with “Artwork, Terms and Cost Approved”. I replied that I did NOT approve and would not be doing business with them. The magazine was called Community Focus, one that I could find no reference to anywhere. I shortly received a nasty phone call from them claiming that we had an agreement and they had spent hours designing the artwork. All they had actually done was lift my logo from this website and copied the”Contact Me” information. Would have taken me 2 minuted to put it together. After some abuse from them and me quoting my legal rights and insisting that I would not be advertising with them I hung up and haven’t heard from them since. Hopefully I will not hear from them again.

Advertising Scams

Now last year, I had advertised with reputable industry journal. It seems that the Presscom got hold of the magazine and decided to contact everyone that had advertised and used them as targets for their scam. After much painstaking research I was able to determine that there was no actual link between the journal I had advertised in and Presscom.

I also found and interesting blog post on it at Rantification. I was amazed at the number of comments from other people who were targeted. Some of which who were taken for $1,000′s. As small business owners we really cannot afford to be throwing money away.

On advice from a friend I had a look on ScamWatch and found a whole section on false billing so I promptly lodged the incident with them. Whilst these people are doing nothing technically illegal, their actions are very underhand and unethical. I urge anyone that is harassed by them too lodge it with ScamWatch and eventually they will have a case to answer.

In the meantime, if you receive calls offering things you have not requested, treat it with the suspicion it deserves.

Why Are The Top Search Results More Search Results?

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Done much searching on Google lately? Of course you have. That’s how we find things. OK, maybe you didn’t search Google… Bing? Yahoo? One of the other myriad of search providers? It doesn’t matter, the effect is the same.

More and more top search results are just links to more search results on other search engines.

Why is this?

There is a wave of search engines hitting the search scene. They are not particularly new but they are gaining in popularity. These are search engines that don’t necessarily crawl the web like the big guys do, they are very targeted and in some cases you have to apply and be accepted before you make their results lists. The idea is that though you will get less results, you will get better quality results.

That’s all well and good, but how does that get them to the top of the search rankings?

The same way you should. They construct their results pages to be full of relevant key words and key phrases. The programs they use to build their pages make sure that the title, key words, key phrases, description and URL all are loaded with the search terms you entered. When creating your content, you need to keep these things in mind also. If you are using WordPress, then you should install a plugin like the “All in One SEO Pack” which lets you set all of these things for every post and page that you make. Other Content systems should also have a similar ability. If you a hand coding your pages (does anyone actually do that anymore?) then you need to look at each page and make sure your page includes these items.

If you know of other SEO plugins for WordPress or any other content management systems, let us know in the comments and what you think of them.

A Solid Foundation

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Success is built on a solid foundationAs I drive around I see that there are a lot of construction projects going on. What I’ve noticed about them is that they start out as a hole in the ground then over a relatively lengthy period the foundations are laid. Seems like not much activity for a long period of time. Then all of a sudden, the building almost springs out of the foundations.

There is a lesson to be learned here that can be applied to most areas in business and life. I’ll leave the life lessons to your personal life coach and look at it from the perspective of your business and website.

Let’s start off with a simple question. Why did you start your business? Sick of working for fools? Wanted to be the master of your own destiny? Wanted to be the next Warren Buffet? Whatever the reason, one thing remains true for all:

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

I know it’s a trite old saying but there is a reason it has been around so long. It’s true.

Usually when you start your business, you have an idea for a product or service that you want to offer. Most people know about their product but not about business. It’s one of the reason that most small businesses fail.

In the Illawarra, there are around 2,500 new businesses starting every year and just as many closing. Why is that? In most cases it is not because they have a bad product. Business Know How sites 7 common reasons[1] for a business failing.

  1. You start your business for the wrong reasons.
    Would the sole reason you would be starting your own business be that you would want to make a lot of money? Do you think that if you had your own business that you’d have more time with your family? Or maybe that you wouldn’t have to answer to anyone else? If so, you’d better think again.
  2. Poor Management
    New business owners frequently lack relevant business and management expertise in areas such as finance, purchasing, selling, production, and hiring and managing employees. Unless they recognise what they don’t do well, and seek help, business owners may soon face disaster.
  3. Insufficient Capital
    Business owners underestimate how much money is needed and they are forced to close before they even have had a fair chance to succeed. They also may have an unrealistic expectation of incoming revenues from sales.
  4. Location, Location, Location
    Location is critical to the success of your business. Whereas a good location may enable a struggling business to ultimately survive and thrive, a bad location could spell disaster to even the best-managed enterprise. This is also for your online location.
  5. Lack of Planning
    Anyone who has ever been in charge of a successful major event knows that were it not for their careful, methodical, strategic planning — and hard work — success would not have followed. The same could be said of most business successes.
  6. Over-expansion
    A leading cause of business failure, over-expansion often happens when business owners confuse success with how fast they can expand their business.
  7. No Website
    Simply put, if you have a business today, you need a website. Period.

Click here to read the full article at businessknowhow.com

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” (Thomas Edison)

So if you want your business to succeed, you need to plan and to build a strong foundation.

Number 7 on the list was “No Website”, I would also add to that “The Wrong Website”. Let’s look at some of the reasons[2] a website fails and can add to the failure of the business and what you can do about them:

  1. Lack of content
    If there is nothing useful to your target audience, there is no reason for them to visit.
  2. Wrong domain name
    No one searches for Bob Smith and Co. so a domain name of bobsmithandco.com will attract very little attention. People do search for Warilla Tyres so try to get the domain name warillatyres.com, even bobsmithwarilltyres.com is a better option. Notice that there are no dashes in the names I’m using. That’s because dashes make it harder to tell people your address. Try saying “bob dash smith dash warilla dash tyres dot com” to someone. It’s a real mouthful and hard to remember. It’s much easier to just say “bob smith warilla tyres dot com” and easier to remember.
  3. Most website owners don’t update or proofread their sites
    Lot’s of spelling and grammar mistakes tells people that you are not very good at your job and it’s a huge turn off. Also, why go back to a site if there is never anything new there. One of the things Google looks for is “freshness”; if you don’t update, you slide down the search results. Make sure the content of your site is well written and give your visitors a reason to come back.
  4. Too many adds on the page
    You create a web page to tell your customers about your business. A load of adds will just turn them off. A few well placed adds that complement your business is fine but don’t overdo it. It looks very unprofessional.
  5. Spending too much on your site
    You don’t start your business off as a multi national corporation. Your website needs the same consideration. Don’t try to build everything at once. Look at your site as a long term investment. Start with the basics and build on it as your business grows and evolves.
  6. Not enough time spent researching keywords
    What if I build it and no one comes? It’s a question everyone asks. Well the way to get them to visit is to make sure that they can find it. One way to do that is to make sure your site is built on the right keywords. I’ve started a series on this[3]. Check it out here.
  7. Not optimising your website
    Huh? What does this even mean? Very simply, it means building your site in such a way that the search engines rank your site well so people can find it. It’s about using the right keywords and phrases that people will search for and structuring your site around them and the use of things such as social media and social bookmarking. Stay tuned, I will be creating a series on how you can optimise your site.
  8. Not responding to visitors
    People hate being ignored. If you have a contact page on your site and someone sends a query, make sure you respond quickly to let them know you care. It is also good to have an automated response to let them know immediately that their message has been received. It should also tell them when they can expect a response.
  9. Not having a site at all
    Most businesses are aware that they should probably have a site but don’t know what to do about it so they do nothing. The good news here is that you don’t need to know that much. Just like you know you need a car so you get one and leave it to the dealer or the mechanic to service it, you need to find a site developer that can develop a site that suits your business. Pick someone that can understand your business and what it needs to ensure that you get a site that helps you build your business.

This all sounds like a lot to take in and there is a whole lot more if you dig enough. What is important is to understand what you want from a site and then build a solid foundation around that. A website should complement your business, not be the centre of it. It is your connection to the world. Build it the same way you build your business.

References

An Introduction to Social Bookmarking

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This week I was going to do a little more on selecting effective keywords but I’ve had a couple of requests from people who are after information on social bookmarking. So this week I’ve decided to ramble on a bit about that.

So What is Social Bookmarking?

From a Search Engine Optimisation perspective (SEO), social bookmarking is a way to get the link for your website out there on the web so you can increase your search engine ranking. Basically, social bookmarking “is a method for internet users to share, organise, search, and manage bookmarks of web resources. Unlike file sharing, the resources themselves aren’t shared, merely bookmarks that reference them.”1

On your web browser, you bookmark sites that you like so you can access them later. It saves you having to remember them an it’s easier than losing lots of scraps of paper. The downside of bookmarking on your computer is that when you go to another computer you don’t have any of your bookmarks with you. It can be a pain when you’re over at a friend’s house and you’re trying to remember a really great site but can’t remember the address or even what you were searching for when you came across it.

Enter social bookmarking. Now you have the ability to store your bookmarks on-line so you can access them from any computer anywhere in the world.

OK, so what on earth does this have to do with improving my search engine ranking?

Why Should I Use Social Bookmarking?

Apart from the benefit of being able to access your favourite websites from any computer there is a very good reason to bookmark. Before I let you in on the secret, there is something you need to know about search engines. Search engines rate your site on a number of factors in order to determine where you fit into the search results. There are the obvious ranking factors such as site content and keywords (we’ll be covering these in other posts) but search engines also look at how popular your site is. One way of doing this is they look at how many links there are back to your site. Social Bookmarking is one way to increase the number of links to your site.

Now you are probably wondering how creating an online bookmark can make any significant difference to your ranking. Well it can’t. What can make a difference is creating a lot of bookmarks on different social bookmarking sites.

BUT…

Just throwing out a lot of bookmarks around the web can be time consuming and reap very little rewards if you don’t approach it the right way.

So what is the right way?

A little more on how search engines like Google looks at links. They don’t just look at the quantity of the links but also the quality of the links. Now, Google “trusts” some sites more than others. The more trusted a site is, the more value it places on the links it contains, so the trick is to place quality links on trusted sites.

Don’t worry, it’s actually not as complicated as it sounds.

So How Do I Do It?

The first thing you need is a decent description of your site. If you read my post on keywords2 you should have created a decent description for your site by now. If not, write a description that contains your main keywords whilst still sounding like real english.

Next, you need to access some of the more “trusted” social bookmarking sites. These are the ones with a higher Page rank. Page rank is what Google uses to rank a sites level of importance. It is a scale from 0-10 with 10 being the highest. Anything 2 or more is considered good. I’ve compiled a list of well ranked sites3. There are 100′s of others and more springing up every day.

What do I do once I get there? Well each site has it’s own rules and regulations so you need to check them out on a site by site basis. What you will need to do though is to create an account for each site. Now on many sites when you create your account they will offer to send you newletters, digests and some will want to install toolbars. There is no need for any of them so don’t bother unless you are actually considering using them to bookmark other sites.

Once you have an account you will have the option to create bookmarks. Many sites give you the option to make your bookmarks either public or private. Choose to make them public so other people can find them and click on them. You never know, they may add your bookmark to their links.

Depending on the site you will have a few options. Some sites will only let you add the link and then get the description, some will let you enter your own description and some will let you add extra information such as keywords and categories.

A Couple of Points to Remember

  • Some sites are only after news stories. If you come across one, leave it alone. If you try to concoct a news story for your site, you may get your site marked as spam.
  • Getting a good ranking isn’t achieved overnight so don’t try to create huge numbers of bookmarks straight off the bat. Try to put up 5-10 a day for a couple of weeks and pretty soon you’ll have over 100 links from trusted sites back to your site.
  • Social bookmarking is just one of a number of factors that can affect your search engine ranking. It will not help if your website is poorly constructed and hard to navigate.

References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_bookmarking
  2. Something about keywords (part 1)
  3. List of Social Bookmarking Sites

Free Images

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Are you looking for images for your website? Would you like to get 50 images for free? Then check out Dreamstime. Whilst they have a huge selection of royalty free images you can purchase, they also have over 40,000 images that you can download free of charge and you can download up to 50 of these without having to pay a cent.

Before you ask, yep, I do get a benefit if you sign up and decide to buy some images. You can still sign up for free though and download your free images, no questions asked. Another thing important to know, I signed up in July 2009 and I have nt had any spam from them or any affiliates. Always good to know.

So click here and get a few images for free to help liven up your site.