Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SEO and Testing Software and Free Sites



After you have your web business all researched, keywords and all the names picked out, and have your site built with all the pretty pictures on it, you still aren’t done. You can’t just sit back and let it run without knowing what it, and your visitors, are doing.

Web site analytics… an introduction…

The first thing you need to install on your nearly finished site is an analytics program of some kind. There are many on the market, some free and some for a fee, but I see nothing wrong with Google’s own Analytics Tool. It not only belongs to the world’s largest search engine, but it’s also free, and easy to set up and use. All you do is go tohttp://analytics.google.com and fill out a simple form about your site and they give you the html script to install in the html on your site, or in the case of WordPress, they have a plug-in for it. Blogger also now has a form in the settings where all you have to do is insert the user ID number that Google assigned to your site. All you have to do is add your ID number to a form box, and it installs the script in the proper place for you.
Html isn’t hard, but some people seem to have a mental block against such things. Don’t worry, as that is one of the great things about WordPress. The plug-in installs the script for you and all you have to do is click a link that says “activate”. But they do have to have a link to your Google Analytics account, which has a registration number that you have to copy into their form during the setup. You won’t even have to look at any html, but you DO have to set up the account with Google before using the free WordPress plug-in. After you activate the plug-in (and this is true of most of them), there is almost always a settings page you need to go to in order to set up the program properly, but it is just form boxes and check marks… no html.

Once the Google Analytics plug-in is installed and configured, you will go back the Google Analytics site mentioned above and click on your site URL to get the data. It typically takes about 24 hours before it starts to display data. You will be amazed at what you see, and overwhelmed at first, but don’t worry, Google even has instructions on how to interpret all that data. And if you need more, you can always find lots of help on YouTube. Don’t be afraid to click on things to see what it does. You can use your “back” button on your browser to go back to the previous page.
You will find many instructional videos on YouTube, but ALWAYS… check the dates on the videos to make sure they are up to date, as once the videos are on YouTube they very seldom ever get removed. You don’t want “old” outdated information! Usually the date will show on the video description. If not, it will usually be below the video once you bring it up to watch it.
Most other blogs, like Blogger, have developed their own analytics programs, and you can usually find them in the dashboard of your site. For casual bloggers, these programs are more than enough, but they still don’t compare to Google Analytics, which is for more serious site owners who are depending on traffic for income. With Google Analytics, you can see more detailed information, right down to what city they are in, what computer they are using and what their screen resolution is!
Detailed information like that is critical to make sure you have your site optimized for the most users and traffic that you can get. Every new reader means a potential sale!

What does analytics do?

Analytics can tell you literally everything that you need to know about your site to make it run at its best. The most basic of information is how many visitors per day, per week, or per month, how many are new and how many repeat. It also tells you where they come from, right down to the city, what kind of browser and operating system they are using, and even their screen resolution! It tells what they click on, how long they stay, what pages they look at, what keywords they used to find your site, what page they entered on, where they were before they got there, and what page they left from!
This is important because you want to see what your customers want. Pages that get more hits are obviously more important to them, and the longer they stay on those pages, the more effective the page is for sales. By using that data, you can steer your future posts toward topics that interest them more, and therefore increase your readership.
Google has even added some new things to the site that goes into even more detail on ecommerce sites, and we haven’t even had time to try those out yet. So let’s just say that Google makes every attempt to cover all bases, and if they don’t tell you, then you probably don’t need to know!

Paying a fee for the same information from a paid site is just plain foolish. Only the most savvy of webmasters will take the time to fully understand all of that data anyway, and to be honest… there’s no need to go into ALL of the detail that analytics provides. Only a small portion of it is really relevant to your sales volume, so don’t waste money on something of which you are only going to use 10% of the information, and the rest of which you aren’t going to understand anyway!
Such things as what search engines are most popular, are controlled by the industry in general anyway, and aren’t going to change because you tweaked something on your site! It only serves as confirmation so that if a trend starts to occur, you can be aware of the situation.
An example of that is the use of mobile devices to access the web. Over the past couple of years we have seen a definite increase in mobile use, to the point where now, more than half of all users are accessing the web through mobile devices! Just two years ago, it was less than a fourth. That is important, because in order to reach those customers, we as webmasters have to make sure that our web sites and blogs are “mobile friendly”. If they can't read your site on a mobile device and leave through frustration, there goes half your potential income!
Mobile devices, because of their smaller screens, do not display web sites the same way we see them on our laptops and desk top units, and the more likely our sites are to be accessed by mobile users, the more important it is to accommodate them. Things such as restaurants, travel, rental cars, taxis, tickets, cell phones and accessories, and directions are accessed more by mobile users, while things like tools, office supplies and commercial products are accessed more by laptops and desk units. You have to be aware of YOUR market and know the demographics of YOUR visitors in order to reach as many of them as you can!
Most site builders and blog platforms have a provision in their themes (sometimes a simple checkbox) for making them show up as they should on mobile devices. Still, you should always confirm that before using one, as there are still many out there that won’t adjust automatically, in which case we have to set them up properly in their design. If they adjust automatically, we have no need to learn special programming techniques… it just does it! To check your own site to see if it’s mobile friendly, just run it through the analyzer at http://marketing.grader.com and it will tell you in the results. Are you reaching the right market?
Another way is to download a free mobile device “emulator” for PCs and laptops. You will need two of them, one for mobile phones and another one for tablets like the iPad. Just because they are both considered “mobile devices” doesn’t mean they will show up the same. If you do a Google search for “mobile phone emulator”, or “iPad emulator”, you will see all kinds of results. All you have to so is download it to your desktop. When you click on it, it will open up just like a phone or tablet screen, and you can actually type your site into the address bar to see how it is going to look on that device.
Remember, if the site looks so bad that no one is going to be able to see it properly, you are losing over a third of your potential readership, as well as sales! You NEED to fix it!

As an example, on one of my sites, I discovered that the built-in search form in the menu bar showed up on top of the entire header! You couldn't even read the name of the site! In that case, I had to go in and tweak the code (it was on Wordpress, the dot org version on my site) to eliminate the search box totally. I then compensated by using a search form built into a gadget along the side bar. This is very typical of the types of problems you have to learn to solve as a marketer!

So why do you need to know about analytics?

Besides the things mentioned above, knowing what pages people are going to the most and staying on the longest gives you a clue as to what people want, so that you can create more similar pages to attract more people. If you see that they are clicking on a particular link, more than any other, then moving that link to a more predominant position on the page, and/or doing something (bold, different color, etc.) to it make it stand out more, might even bring more people to it.

In turn, you also need to pay attention to what pages they liked the least. Usually it's the topic, or the tone of the page. Once you realize what they don't like... then don't do that again!
Remember the three-second rule. When a page opens it will usually show the top part of the page. That’s called “the fold”. Think of it like a newspaper. You can’t see what is below that fold without taking an action (unfolding it or turning the paper over). If you were at a news stand, with 20 other papers with only the part above the fold showing, which one would you choose? It is likely that your first action will be to choose one that has a headline or topic of interest to you, and then open it up to see what else is there.
But is what you see on the “top of the fold” of your page enough to entice you (or anyone else) to do that? Your most important items should be “above the fold” so they can see it without taking any other action. First of all, it has to have a nice bold headline that attracts their attention. It has to give a clue as to finding the answer to their problem (or attracts their interest enough to make them want to scroll down to read more). Your most important ads should be there, as well as your opt-in box (subscribe form, RSS feed button, follow button, etc.) along with your most compelling headline to get them to read more and go “below the fold”.
ALWAYS provide more than one means of subscribing to your site! Some people prefer regular email notices of new blog posts. Some of the more savvy types may prefer an RSS Feed Reader notice. Some of the more social savvy may be signed up with Google+ or any of its variations, and prefer a “Follow” button. ALL of them are important, and should be included if you expect to get maximum traffic to your site! To leave any one of them out means leaving out a part of your potential readership! And if doing any kind of sales, that equates to money lost!
You may even have to attract their attention to get them to perform the required action, such as subscribing (opting in) to your site or offer in return for a free downloadable gift. To do that, you may have to have a large red arrow or some other thing that catches their attention, and “steer” them toward that action. Close your eyes, relax, and then open your eyes, look at your page, and think about what the first thing is on your page that your eyes went to first. If it wasn’t your most important call to action, then maybe you need to change your graphics, or the placement of those items!
The analytics will tell you how important each item is on your site by how much it is used by your readers. Maybe you think you have a catchy image to attract their attention, but how do you know for sure? The only way is through split testing. You can use one image on one version of your site, and another image on another version of your site for a month and see what your visitor count is, and then try a slightly different image against the winner, and check your visitor count again, to see which one gets the best response.

Maybe moving an ad, changing the graphics or even a different theme will attract more visitors. But you want to be sure to only check one thing at a time, otherwise you won’t know what change made the difference.

There are tools available, both free and paid, that will create a mirror image of your site. Then you can change one item on the mirror image, and the browser will bring up the different site each time it is loaded... similar to what rotating banner ads do. As an example, if you saw the Amazon ad in between paragraphs at the top of this page, you can refresh the page and see a different banner. That's the same principle behind split testing an entire site. You can see in the analytics which one they like best.

Testing site components, or even the entire site itself is a standard procedure in web marketing and is performed continually... always pitting the winner against a new version. But it doesn't have to take a lot of time. A test should be run for about a month on only one component at a time. Arranging a new test and setting it up can take as little as ten minutes per month.
There are going to be pages on your site that are necessary (i.e., policies, disclaimers, etc.), but you really don’t have to worry about optimizing those. They are there for necessary and legal information, but they aren’t selling anything. The pages where you have links and payment buttons are your primary concern in analytics.

Free Webmaster Tools

A way that you can speed up that testing is by using the Google Webmaster Tools. Within those free offerings, they have a “split testing” tool, where you can create a duplicate copy of your site, where you can make minor changes, and then they will alternate which version is shown every time a new visitor comes to your URL. That cuts your testing time in half, and speeds up your sales revenue!
This is part of checking to see if your site is set up properly, and what you can do to make it better. To that end, Hubspot has recently released a tool at http://marketing.grader.com. You can enter your site or blog into the query, and it will tell you your quality score, what things are missing, what you need to add, and even how to go about adding some of those things! I have been using it on my sites for myself, as well as those I build for other people, and it works great!
Don’t expect to ever get a grade of 100% on it though, as it checks for some things that some sites simply may not have and never will. But you should strive for at least an 80% grade, and that shouldn’t be that hard to hit if you just go down their checklist and complete the tasks (that are possible to complete) that it tells you about. If you put your email in the opt-in box, they will also email you updates every couple weeks or so, to let you know if your grade is improving or declining, along with what changes it detected. Keep in mind, if you fail to keep your site updated, it will also detect that, and your score could go down!
If you use WordPress for your site, there is one plug-in that I highly recommend before you get to building too many pages. It’s called the “All in One SEO Pak” and what it will do is add an additional form at the bottom of your post editing page. In that form you will put your post title, the description you want to show up on the search engine results under your site name, and the keywords that are relevant to that post, so that the search engines can find you. Be sure to also add your “tags” (which are also keywords). You should also create whatever categories your site would need for the topics it talks about. If you display your “categories” widget in the sidebar, readers can click on a particular category (if that’s all they are interested in) and see a list of posts that fall within that category.
In “the old days” they used meta tags within the html for such things, and on regular web sites certain tags are still helpful, but most of the search engines (including Google) no longer use the keyword meta tags to choose your position in the results listings. If you have a description meta tag, they will usually use it, otherwise, they randomly choose a partial paragraph that sounds like it matches the keywords of the page. But there’s a problem with that random selection…
We have all seen results listings on the search engine where it shows a bunch of gibberish underneath the title line. How are we supposed to interpret that? Many times it means nothing to us. When I see a listing like that, I immediately think “amateur”, and I very seldom click on them.

A proper description as displayed on the search engine results is the most important “first impression” and sales tool you can have!

DON’T leave your description to random chance by the search engines! This is very important… a description is your FIRST IMPRESSION when meeting a potential new customer! It should be your MOST COMPELLING introduction and sales pitch in 160 characters or less, to get them to take action by clicking on that title bar in the results listing! If you don’t get them to do that… they are probably gone forever, along with any money you could have made from them!
Think of it like this (an analogy): Let’s say you had a roadside produce stand, with a sign out that only has the name of your stand on it (your title), and all you can do is watch and wave as the cars go by! You KNOW that everyone has to eat, so the problem isn’t that they don’t “need” what you have! The problem is that you aren’t giving them a compelling reason to buy it from YOU!  There is no enticement for them to stop! But if you have some signs that say (something like) “Taste before you buy!”, “Elbow dripping sweet peaches!”, “Mouth-watering sweet watermelons!”, “The best sweet corn in the county!”, “An extra one free with every dozen!”, or “We’ll ship it to you for free!”, wouldn’t that give you more of a reason to stop and see what he had?

The name of the stand (such as Jones' Produce) is only the title of the stand. It's the other little signs (the descriptions) that draw people's interests and make them want to stop. That's why your description on the search engines should be your most compelling sales pitch!
What if you put out some samples along the road on both sides, or a picture of what you had, so that people could see what you have before they get there, wouldn’t that increase the number of people who stop? Sure it would! Near our former home in Arkansas, is Cave City, the home of some of the best watermelons in the country. Before you get to many of the road side stands, you will see “half melons” dropped along the roadside for a quarter mile before you get to the stand. This gets you to thinking about it before you ever get there, and also tells you what’s up ahead.

It seems a shame to waste good watermelons that way, but think of that as the cost of advertising. Without that enticement, the farmer would be lucky to sell a dozen melons per day. But with the real-life advertising, he sells hundreds! That more than makes up for the cost!
It’s no different on the web. Having enticing descriptions, as well as properly optimized pictures (with “alt” tags) that will show up in the search listings as images, with links to your site, is no different than how to attract visitors in the real world! You HAVE to give people a reason to click on your link, and that “first impression” is too important to leave to random chance by the search engines, yet that is a HUGE mistake that I see on every results page on every search engine! All you have to do to get listings above your competitors is to THINK… and do your marketing better!
I still like to use the meta tags on a regular web page, but they have to be added to the html of the header section. If Google chooses to ignore them, then so be it, but some of the other search engines still use them, so the way I see it is…it may not help, but it can’t hurt.

But what about all that other competition that I see in the search results?

First, realize that Google is far from perfect. An example of that was explained earlier in the fact that what they show on particular searches by keyword is about four times what you will actually see in visitor count. The other thing is that they may say there’s 10,000 results (or millions) in the little numbers at the top of the page, but if you go down to the page selector at the bottom, and keep going to the end until you run out of pages, there may be only 30 pages of results. Do the math…ten listings per page times 30 pages is only 300 results. Whatever else is triggering that counter at the top of the page is of so little value they won’t even show you the pages!
In other words, your competition isn’t 10,000,000. It’s only 300. And in reality is probably only the first ten on the first page, because few people go beyond that if they find the answer to their question there. The farther down the page you are from that very first listing, the faster your visitor count will drop! It happens almost exponentially. By the time you get to the fifth listing on the page, you may only get 1/10th the amount of traffic that the first position gets! By the time you get to the last listing on the page, it may only get half of 1% of the traffic of the first listing. Yes, it drops off that fast! This is why SEO (search engine optimization) is so important if you want to get generic traffic!
Also, let’s use another analogy… pick any industry or any sport, and try to think about who is second in command, or who came in second at any sports event. Chances are you don’t know… because no one remembers anything except who’s in “first place”. The search engines are no different. Searchers start with page one and work their way down the page. They will click on the first page, first position listings if it answers their problem, and they won’t go any farther! If you aren’t in that first page first position on the results, the visitors you will get from secondary positions drops almost as fast as those who remember who it was that “came in second”!
The reality is that the ones that show up in the top positions of the search engines are the ones who (probably) know what they’re doing, especially if they are targeting a highly competitive keyword. But when you find those lesser known keywords and longer keyword phrases, many of them show up only by chance!  If you have any clue at all as to what you are doing, it is very easy to take over that first position on the first page! I've done it on several of my sites, so I know it can be done!
If you look at the relevancy of the results on not only the first page, but the second page and all others after that, you will see that the relevancy to the keywords drops off steadily as you get farther away from that first page. After all, the search engines look for anything that has those keywords on whatever page they find out there in cyber space, and many times, the site that it’s on has nothing to do with what people are looking for! So even though those sites are included in the results count at the top of the page (and even less so at the bottom of the page)… they ARE NOT your competition! Your competition is those first ten listings on page one! If you can’t beat out at least a few of those first ten sites and get on page one, you won’t have enough visitors to even stay in business!
So don’t worry about there being 10,000 (or ten million) searches showing for your keyword. You only have ten “real” competitors to deal with. Look at each of those ten sites on page one, and analyze those. You can even run them through the free tool at http://marketing.grader.com, and see how they really score. You can also run them through a free tool at http://submitexpress.com and have it do a search for the keywords on the page. I use the free metatags analyzer for that. At the bottom of the results page you’ll see all the keyords on the site, starting with one word, then two word phrases, and then three word phrases. There are other free tools on the web that will do that, but I like Submit Express. Knowing what keywords the competition is using might help you to optimize your own keywords to get ahead of them! I’ll have more on that later.
Currently, the most important thing going on today as far as reaching the top of the search engines is your quality score and the “importance” of your site to the general public. Your site pages or posts content has to be “on topic” on all counts, and has to be recognized as being important to other relevant and important sites. To do that, you have to get involved socially with other sites in your topic, or have other people talking about you on important social sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others.

How do I know they are “talking” about me?

The way the search engines do that is by checking the inbound links from their site to yours. If the search engines see your URL on another site, that is like a “vote” for your site. The search engines also rank those votes by the importance of the site that they are found on, so seeing a link on a generic personal blog that only has 20 readers is not going to have the same importance as seeing it on a site that has a million or more users. In other words, that site has to rank high in order for the “vote” for your site to count much. Also, if the site has nothing at all to do with your site, it won’t count as much, because they will consider that to be a random fluke.
We’ll get into all the aspects of social marketing on another post in the near future, as it can be a very complex issue. but easily learned, once you see how to do it.

Summary and Expectations

So don’t worry about software expenses when starting out in internet marketing. You will receive a lot of offers for various marketing products, software and techniques, and your biggest challenge will be to stay focused on one task at a time.
When our dog, Angel, was a puppy, it was fun to watch him in the yard, as every little grasshopper or bug was new to him and he would jump and try to catch them. Now that he has “matured”, he doesn’t pay much attention to them anymore.
Marketers are like that. When they’re new to the business, they try to learn anything and everything to build up their knowledge. The internet in general is a HUGE place to get lost in, with following links from page to page until we forget where we started from, or what we were looking for.
Most “guru’s” won’t tell you to specialize in something, because they worry that you might pass up some offering of theirs because it doesn’t fit your plan! The way to avoid that is to know what’s available as far as marketing methods, and what fits with what your goals are for up to five years down the road, and then ONLY look at what fits into those goals. If you don’t learn to focus, you will end up with “information overload”, and do more research and studying than making money!
There HAS to be a balance! There will always be new things to learn about, and that is a necessary part of this business. Time must be allotted for it. But make sure you also leave time for doing the important tasks that are going to put money in your pocket.
When you first start out, you may spend as much as 80% of your time studying techniques and only 20% implementing what you learn. As time goes on, you will notice your study time decreasing as you spend more and more time implementing those techniques. When you reach a “leveling off” point, I would estimate that you will be spending only 20% of your time studying, and 80% of your time implementing, and that’s where you have to be to make money. And if you set up the part that makes money to run properly, on auto-pilot, your actual working time per day might be less than two hours.
Remember, everything you need is available online for free, and all you have to do is look for it. I will help guide you to find those free products as you need them.
If you simply stay focused, remember three things, and use your head to think outside the box to accomplish those things, you will be further ahead than 95% of the rest of the population.
(1) Find a huge number of people that are hungry to solve a problem and aren’t finding many answers.
(2) Find or create a product to fill that need, and
(3) Put it in front of them. The product should sell itself.
Many marketing products hash these facts over, turn them sideways and even inside-out, but if you really stop to analyze what they are doing, most of them will boil down to these three simple things. If you can think outside the box, and remember these three things, you won’t need their redundant products!
Feel free to comment to make your thoughts known… and above all… don’t be afraid to ask questions! Without particpation, there can be no learning!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Free Graphics Software for Web Work



Besides the usual office software, for internet work, whether  for sales or blogs, you will need to learn at least a little about how to work with images on the web, whether it be pictures or clip art. We have all seen web sites and blogs where the header overhangs the edges. That not only looks flunky, but it isn’t good when you can’t see the whole image. It’s a sure sign of an amateur!
We’ve also all received email pictures that are so huge you have to scroll both up and down as well as sidways just to see them. The answer to such things is so easy that there is no excuse for not doing it! We’re going to show you some easy fixes for such things.

What is wrong with my image?

Images have two very critical size issues to worry about. One is the file size, usually measured as kilobytes or megabytes. The other is the visual size, measured in either pixels or inches. In most web work we usually set to pixels, rather than inches, but if you are printing your pictures, then maybe inches might be more important, to fit to a certain paper size.
Both file size and visual size are important in web work. The larger a file is, the longer it takes to load, whether it be on an email or on the web. We’ve all gotten pictures emailed to us where the file was so huge it took minutes to load instead of seconds, and after it opened, it was enough to fill four times our screen area! I hate it when people do that to me, because there is no way I’m going to waste space on my computer or in my email server that way, which puts the burden on me to correct problems that other people created, (a pet peeve of mine)!
In building web sites or blogs, you are going to learn that people’s attention spans are about three seconds long. It used to be thirty seconds, and then ten seconds, but as internet speeds became faster, people's attention spans and expectations got shorter. If a web page doesn’t open in three seconds, they are ready to move on to a different one, and then you have lost them forever!

Therefore, it is important to keep the file size as low as possible to speed up page opening. This is one of two reasons you often see products displayed with small images first, and then if you want to see a larger image, you have to click on it and open it in a pop-up, or in a completely new page that has ONLY that picture on it. You’ll see this done very well on Facebook photos. They only tend to show a part of the photo on your timeline, but if you click on them, they enlarge to fill the whole page. Catalog sites already know why this is important! The other reason they do it has to do with better page SEO when you can concentrate on one product at a time, but we’ll get into that later.
Also, when someone sees pictures that are way too big, as happens many times with page headers going past their borders, it doesn’t do a thing for his image as a professional. Every blog program that I have ever seen will tell you in the editing window for your header image what it should be. They aren’t telling you that just for the fun of it.

Some sites will resize your image smaller if it is within the scope of doing so, but if your image is way too wide or too tall to begin with, it may crop the image, in which case you will end up with blank areas at the top or the sides, which still looks flunky. If your picture is too small, it may not accept it at all, or it could distort it, or leave a lot of blank area around it, none of which looks visually appealing. Pictures cannot be enlarged beyond their original size, because they become fuzzy due to pixel distortion. You NEED to pay attention to these things and follow the proper recommendations, and if necessary resize and/or crop your picture BEFORE you upload it to your site!

Resizing Pictures for Beginners

So how do you “properly” resize a picture? I’m sure some of you will say to click on it to get the box around it and then drag the corners. WRONG! That only changes the visual size, but the number of bytes remains the same! In other words, it may look smaller, but it will take the same amount of time to load onto the web page.
The correct way is to use any number of free online tools, but my favorite is PicResize. When you go to that site, there will be a one-line form with a “browse” button next to it. I usually use the browse button, and then go to the file on my computer where the picture is that I want to change.
For everyone, your pictures are default saved to a folder called “My Pictures”. As you gather more pictures, you should also create sub-folders to sort them, so you know where to find them. If you use a photo management program like Picassa, you can also locate the pictures there. When you find the picture, you can double-click on it or use the “open” button to put it into the form box. Hit the “continue” button.
The next window is your complete editing dashboard. You will see your picture there, where you can crop your image, rotate it, flip it vertically as well as horzontally, resize it to either a reduced size by percentages or by custom size (pixels or inches), choose from 15 different special effects (frames, sharpen, and more), choose your file type, picture quality, and even your “bytes” size (although that will automatically adjust with the visual size you have already chosen). Then you click the button where it says “I’m done! Resize my picture!” , and the next screen will give you four choices, to view it, resume editing, save it to disk (on your computer), or save it directly to the web.
I normally choose the disk option (on my computer), and then a window will open with your default folder (where the picture came from on your computer) and it will save it back to that folder with the prefix “resize” on the file name, so you know which one it was. If you want to save it in several file sizes (you’ll have to go through the process again for each one) you can also edit the file name to insert the size, the date or any other identifier of your choosing.
That’s all there is to resizing pictures, so there’s no excuse for not doing it. You will need to learn this, because many times, you will need an ad banner or photo to fit a certain place on your blog. If you go to your web page, and then click on “View” from the menu bar, and then “source” in the drop-down menu, you can see the html code of your site. Within that code, will be the widths of your header, your body, and any sidebars that your page has, so all you have to do is make your picture the width that you need (or smaller, and then center it) and you can fit any picture “properly” to any space on your page. If you are creating catalog pages, and need all the images the same size, this is how you do that.

Alternatives to Photo Editing on the Web

Nearly every digital camera made has settings to adjust the picture size right on the camera BEFORE you take the picture. You NEED to read your camera user’s manual and learn how to do that, so that you can change it at will. Many of them will have it set at the maximum size when it ships from the factory. You NEED to learn how to change that!
There may be times when you want a larger, high resolution picture for things like headers, larger product images, or even full portraits... and other times, you may just want pictures for email that you can send to people. DON’T overwhelm them and their computers with huge images that they can’t even see without scrolling!
Normally the largest images you need for most “body” work in a site is no more than 640 pixels wide. For sidebars, usually 125 pixels is enough, although some sidebars can handle up to 200 pixels wide. NEVER go larger than that for a sidebar image!

Some cameras have default settings of around 460 - 480 pixels, and that’s fine for 90% of what you will be doing. You can also use the next smaller setting of about 360 pixels. NEVER use higher settings unless you are doing things that require a larger image, like header pictures, which should never be over 1200 pixels wide, and actually 1000 is usually better!
Sometimes image file types can be downsized (within certain parameters, usually no more than about 25%), but if you try to shrink the visual size too much, the number of pixels will cause it to start distorting, which is why you need to control both the bytes and visual size. If you will be using both thumbnails (stamp sized images) and want them to enlarge when clicked on, then take the picture in the larger size and reduce your thumbnails by the process above, and that way you wil be sure to have clear images in both sizes. Some programs will automatically accept the full size image and offer you a check box to provide thumbnails, and then it will do that for you. This is why it pays to read the instructions on anything you are using.
My old reliable Sony Mavica actually creates two files with the same picture. One is full size and the other is with a folder called “email”, and every image within that folder is a size that is perfect for uploading to emails without having to do any resizing, so that is a handy feature. Most cameras don’t have that. When I open the “A” drive to save the photos to my computer I see a folder icon that says “email”, immediately followed by all the pictures in full size, so I can go to either one very easily.
Basically this is all you need for most web work using photos. I don’t do a lot of extra work to my photos, unless I am going back into the archives to try to use old slide photos that may have changed color, or they were taken with the wrong lighting. Fluorescent lights tend to turn pictures green (even digital ones), so to make them look natural, you have to blend some red back into them, but that should be a rare occurence if you take them right to begin with. To do any fancier web work you may have to use a program with more capabilities.

Serious Photo Editing and Graphics work

You have probably heard of a great program called PhotoShop From Adobe. It’s a great program for professional graphic artists, but it’s pricey. But there is also a free “open source” program which does the same things, called “Gimp“. But be prepared, they both have a huge learning curve! The more complex a program is the longer it is going to take to learn it.
But no one says you have to learn everything all at once, so don’t get scared! If you need to know how to remove “red eye” from a photo, then concentrate on learning that. Use the help feature to do a search for instructions for that specific task. If you need to change the entire hue from an old photograph, then learn that. Do one task at a time, as you need to do it, and it won’t seem so daunting a challenge. Don’t try to learn it all at once, because some features you will never use!
Some of the image manipulation programs can be quite daunting to learn, but there are many simpler programs available, just like PicResize which can perform specific limited tasks with very little learning time involved. I will try to present those to you little by little over the course of this blog, as you need to learn them.
The one thing that I will not do is get into the specific instructions on how to use each of the tools I recommend to you. Not only do most of them come with their own help screens and tutorials, but most of the tools I will be recommending already have a great number of followers and users who have already uploaded their own instructions and tips to the web in the form of YouTube Videos. From my own experience, I would venture to say that 99.9% of literally ANYTHING you want to know is already on a YouTube video. All you you need to know is how to search for it, and this also applies to other sources on the web, especially Google. By now, I expect you to know how to do searches on Google, as well as on YouTube, because those will be the two main sources of information that you will use in marketing.

Pictures and Search Engine Optimization

The other thing I see people missing on web images is using no “alt” tag. The alt tag is what shows up when you mouse over an image, and it should have your site URL and/or a simple description of what the picture is. If you mouse over any of my links you will also see some text pop up. That is an “alt” tag.  It simply means “alternate” text. On links it is just an added benefit, but search engines can’t read images… but they can read the alt text, and if they see that it is relevant to the search, they will present it on the search result page as an image result, giving you one more chance for people to find you! Most programs also allow you to insert a title and caption, as well as a link for the picture. That way, it not only helps with SEO on two more important counts, but you can insert an affiliate link within the picture or use it to direct the reader to another spot within your site or even off your site, such as to a payment processor.

So how do you insert an alt tag?

WordPress makes that very easy, because when you “insert” an image into your blog, it brings up a form window where you can enter all the information before it ever gets published. You need to pay attention to those forms and fill them out properly to accomplish what you need that picture to do for you!
On other web sites, you will typically have a similar window that pops up for that information. Think about keywords relevant to what else is on the page that you are putting the image on, and still keep it relevant to the picture itself. If you forgot to add alt tags to your pictures, go back and reload the pictures… and this time, enter all the information that the form asks for, and then re-upload it to the site. You may have to change the file name slightly or overwrite the old upload.
There’s really no excuse for people not knowing these things, The answers are all out there for free on the internet. All you have to do is look! When something doesn’t look right, like a picture hanging over the edge of the page, for Heaven’s sake, don’t leave it that way! Find the answer on how to fix it! If you are going to be in web work, you are going to be learning a ton of stuff on a daily basis. No one goes through life and gets ahead without learning something new every day.

Summary and Expectations

We’ll get into more image manipulation as time goes on, but for now, it’s time to move on to the final stages of any site… the analyzing and testing to make it the best that it can be. With this last bit of information, you certainly have no excuse for not having your site online by now, but you’re not quite ready to show it to the public yet. Hopefully, you have it set so that the search engines don’t follow it (yet), but it still can be seen by going to the exact web site. That way, if you want help, you can tell me where to find it so that I can see what you have done so far, and help you with it.
Don’t be bashful. If I don’t know you are out there by your asking questions, I can’t help you beyond what you read here, and this is just general stuff. I know you are going to have technical questions. Everyone does at one time or another! Or maybe you need more sources, for products, for images, for post material, for sales copy, for training, or whatever it might be. I can’t solve your problem if you don’t tell me what it is!
One thing that I did not make a part of this series, and one which you may be wondering about, is “How do I make money from a site?”  The answer to that deserves a series of its own, as there are so many ways to do that, and we will be getting into that as soon as this series is done. But let’s get your site online first, and get it tested to make sure everything is there that should be. Then you can decide what kind of monetization you want on it, and add it.
Then the next thing you are going to need is traffic. Some of that will come from generic SEO by being indexed, found and ranked on the search engines. Then we will get into the social aspect of marketing, adding social buttons to your site, and getting you set up with the many social sites out there. Remember, the object of any site is to be found, with the least cost to do so. And social media is a totally free and very effective way to promote your site.

Why Do I Need Social Media?

Due to the way the search engines rank your site in importance, is the main reason. The old way was with meta-tags, but because too many “cowboy” and “hot-dogger” marketers abused the use of the “keyword” meta-tags, most of the major search engines no longer pay attention to anything but the “description” meta-tag. If you don't insert a description that YOU choose, most search engines will pull a line of text from your site as an example, but it may do absolutely nothing to convince the reader to click through to your site! The description should be your most convincing sales pitch of your entire site! Without that, you are leaving your sales pitch up to how important the search engine thinks your site is. Therefore, there has to be a new way of convincing the search engines that your site is important.
Part of that is using the right keywords in the proper places, and making sure that everything on the site is relevant to the topic of the site. Beyond that, they look at how important it is to the general public, particularly to other relevant and important sites. The best way to do that is to have your URL show up on those sites so the search engines know that someone out there is talking about you! So, the best thing you can do is work the social media to the best of your ability. That means getting your site or blog “pinged” to the major social aggregators like “Technorati”, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many others, as well as to make use of the free promotion from video. We’re going to show you all of that.
Let me know in the comments if this information has helped you. If you like what you are learning, then come back often so you don’t miss any of these posts. We have a lot more information ahead!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marketing and Research Software





We have talked about protection and services, and software for basic everyday office work, and building a web site or blog. Now you are ready to start working on building your business, which HAS to start with keyword research. Don’t even consider a product or domain name until you do the research to see what words people are actually typing into the search engines to find what they want. Later, after you get your site built, you will want to “fancy it up” with some graphics or pictures. If you start with the research, then you should know how to put it all in place to get your site on the first page of the search engine results (or close to it). Adding the pictures “properly” will also help get you there, and we’ll get into that in the next post. After that, all you have to do is test and tweak to make the site the best it can be.

Who Makes Marketing Software?

When it comes to the actual “marketing” software… the things that make our specific and unique tasks easier, there are very few “large” companies. Many of the software products designed specifically for marketers have been thought up and produced by the marketers themselves, with help from outsourced programmers. Many marketers work by themsleves… sometimes only until they grow their business to the point of hiring other help and moving into an office building, and sometimes they continue to work by themselves from home indefinitely. That doesn’t take away from their credibility or talent. Still, there needs to be a way of knowing who is credible, and what products are better than others.
Getting involved with marketing and getting “in the loop”… by way of email newsletters is one way. Know who the players are and don’t be fooled by the rip-off artists trying to make a buck by exagerrating the truth. Reading product reviews is another, but even they can be deceiving if they were only created to steer you toward a particular product. But there is also a good source for information that is monitored and voted on directly by the marketers and their customers.

Checking Credibility

That site is http://IMReportCard.com, where you can find ratings on the top 300+ marketers themselves as well as the products they produce. The marketers receive “votes” by their peers and also their customers, on themselves as well as the products they produce, whether it be software or training programs. Think of it as the “Consumer Reports” of the marketing industry. So I urge each and every one of you reading this to always check such places as this before buying any product for your marketing. Don’t waste money on useless products! And even then, make sure the product is actually going to be useful for the path you have chosen for future goals.
By now you should know the basics of spreadsheets, and have used them to create four simple lists of “parameters”… for your goals, for your business model, ones that any product that you buy must fit into, and ones that any product you sell must fit into. I only touched on that earlier and didn’t spell it all out for you because this is a business of “thinking”. If you can’t think of those things by yourself, then this business is not going to be a good fit for you. Much of what you learn in this business is basic stuff. It will be up to you to think about what it can do for you BEYOND what was explained to you, and figure out ways to expand upon it and make it fit what you want to accomplish.
It’s easy to get questions answered simply by commenting on your issue, and I promise I will be here to answer those questions for you, but I can’t be there with you every minute to hold your hand to make it move the mouse. I definitely can’t think for you. Computer work in general is a solitary business. Only one person can work at a keyboard at the same time. It is up to you to decide what to do with the information you learn. Some will understand it, work at it and have ten sites selling for them while others are still wondering how to make capital letters and use puncuation.
That’s another reason I disagree with the “buy it now so you can get my bonuses and then we’ll work with you for eight weeks” mentality of so many marketing courses. If you are broke, and need money, why would you want to give it to someone else who is probably making millions already? And even if you can spare the money, maybe it won’t be available until next week or next month. Why should you go out of YOUR way to accommodate the timing of all these “buy it now or lose” offers? If you want to become a marketer, you should be able to do it on YOUR time, not theirs! Those who are “pressured” into it usually don’t do anything with it.

I can assure you that 95% of people who are pressured into buying marketing courses on the spur of the moment become so overwhelmed when they start into it, that they never finish the course. Most of those courses end up in the bottom of a closet somewhere, never to be opened again. And you know what... the marketer who sold it doesn't really care, because he already collected his money and weeded out the ones who didn't have what it takes to be successful! He only wants to work with the "movers and shakers" so that he can use them to promote how successful his course was!  You have to WANT to do this and be willing to work at it on your own, or you will never be a success at it!
Everyone is capable of learning, but at different speeds. If the information is out here where they can get to it any time they choose, they can learn at their own speed with no pressure on them. This blog is free to everyone. You can start reading from the beginning any time you choose. You can study it as long as you wish and come back to refresh your thoughts any time you want. We’re here to HELP YOU, not to take your money! The ONLY way we make money is by you using our links to buy things that you would normally buy anyway, and doing so doesn't cost you a penny more than you would pay if you went to the source yourself, without our links! We get paid by the vendors, NOT the customers!

Keep in mind, there are millions of web site owners on the web. Not all of them are marketers, but even those that are, will not all be on http://imreportcard.com. Many of them never get into selling marketing products to other marketers, which is what most of those on that site are doing. That doesn’t mean that the others don’t know what they are doing… they just aren’t “superstars”… the same way that not every musician is. They all have varying degrees of talent. But that doesn’t prevent them from giving music lessons to those who know even less!  All of them have some special talent that you can learn from. When you advance beyond what they can teach you, then it’s time to move on to someone better, and by then, you should be able to afford to!
Also, check consumer reporting sites like http://ripoffreport.com to see if there have been any complaints filed with either the person or company. But read well and see where the person complaining is actually coming from, as there are a lot of “nut cases” out there, and those complaints aren’t checked out. Many times the complaint is due to the complainer’s own fault!
Most sites will allow rebuttals from the accused, so make sure you read those, too. Some complaints are so ridiculous that there is no need for a rebuttal, and you’ll see plenty of those out there, too! This is all a part of the research that is necessary in this business to protect yourself! And then there’s the research to find things to sell, research to learn new software, new techniques, etc., etc.

Make Your Purchases Fit YOU!

This is the way you have to look at things when making purchases. Ask yourself “Is it a good fit for my future plans and goals”? If it isn’t, then pass it by, no matter how good it sounds.   In reality, there is probably nothing in the form of software that you absolutely “have” to buy, with the exception of security products and back-up protection (Posts #1 and #2 in this series), and there are even free versions of those if you are willing to take a chance with them. I haven’t seen anything that is not already available for free on the internet. Some software just makes putting the information together a little easier, and may save some time… but isn’t something that you absolutely can’t do without, at least until you can afford it. No one should ever have to use “high pressure” sales tactics to get you to buy anything.

Keyword Research… ALWAYS FIRST!

The very first thing you are going to have to do is keyword research. That is the very first priority, before you even consider what kind of products you want to market or what to name your web site or blog. Keywords (and multi-word phrases) are what the public uses to search for what they want, and the success of any marketing effort is in those numbers.

The keywords will decide what products to sell, what your site URL (domain name) should be, what the title of your site should be, what your sub-title should be, what your page titles should be and what words to use within the text of your site. If you have no idea what people are searching for to buy, and what words to match to theirs to reach those people, then you shouldn’t even think about trying to sell something online!
A search engine is like a robot. It responds to “exact” matches in words. If you’ve used Google at all, you know that typing in almost any phrase can bring up millions of results, but once you get beyond the first couple of pages they are less and less relevant to what you wanted. Even if you put quotation marks around your search term, you can still end up with a lot of “garbage results”. If you’re lucky, maybe the first three generic results (not the paid ads in the pink square) will be what you want… otherwise the search engines are trained to bring up anything with those words in it (whether you want them or not), and after that, it will be what it “thinks” are relevant results. Yeah, right… we all know how well that works! But it IS getting constantly better with each new update.
So this means that if you want to get in the first position on the first page of results (or at least the first page), your keywords have to match EXACTLY with what people are searching for, because the search engine always brings up the best matches first!

Buyer’s Keywords versus Shopper’s Keywords

Also, you have to learn the difference between “shopper’s words” and “buyer’s words”. You don’t want a bunch of tire-kickers wasting your time. You want people who already know what they want and have their credit cards in hand waiting to purchase it! The right words will sort all that out! Many times, those people won’t be using just one word, but rather a detailed keyword phase that contains all the parameters they are searching for!
Remember, it isn’t about the volume of traffic you get, as much of that traffic for generic words aren’t buyers. If you were trying to compete for those generic keywords you might be lucky to get on the 17th page of search results where no one will find you!
It’s the QUALITY of the traffic that you attract to your site that will be the difference between a paltry 1/10th of one percent conversion or a 2% conversion rate. (Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who actually buy something). Think about it… that’s a difference of 20 times more buyers! If you could raise it to 4% that would be 40 times more buyers than you started with, so as you can see, even a couple of percentage points make a huge difference in sales volume!
Reaching the wrong kind of people can be expensive in time wasted, as well as wasting money on paid advertising to the wrong people. You have to target your advertising to the exact buyers you need to make money the most efficient way.

What Are People Wanting to Buy?

The first thing you need are the tools to do that keyword research. First you have to know what’s a hot topic or seller in the marketplace. One of the sources you should keep in mind is eBay. They have a page where they list the ten most searched items at http://pulse.ebay.com/. Sometimes seeing what people are searching for on the world’s largest online auction site can give you some ideas. But just because they are looking for “Xbox 360” doesn’t mean you can compete for that product. It is very hard to compete with the huge electronics buyers and sellers. But you may be able to offer the games for it, parts, or accessories.
Another good source is Google’s Hot Trends at http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends which is updated several times a day with the most searched items. After all, if you don’t know what people are looking for, how can you hope to sell to them? When you start seeing several searches for the same thing, but with different keywords, then you know that large numbers of people are interested. Maybe they just want information, but that’s where you as a marketer have to figure out a way to turn that traffic into sales. We're going to teach you that.

What if I Already Have a Product or Niche?

If you have a topic or product in mind (which is really the backward way to start), you still need to know how people are searching for that item, and what words they are using. For instance, if you are selling wrenches for mechanics, should you call them wrenches, or spanners (the term they use in the UK)? If you are selling strictly to the U.S. market, wrenches would probably be a better term, but if you are selling to a worldwide audience, the difference in terminology might warrant a second site geared specifically to those other English-speaking countries who use different words, or at least use the word spanner a few times in your content, along with wrenches, so that it will attract the international buyers to your site as well as the locals. Whether selling to kids, foreigners, or octegenarians…you have to know how to talk to them in their terms.
Just because you see “X-Box” as a highly searched term on eBay, doesn’t make it a good keyword. It’s too general a term. What are they really looking for… games, complete units, accessories, or parts? If they are looking for games, and you try to sell parts, then you may not be targeting the “best” or the “hottest” keywords, even though you might be in a good “general” market!
“Corvair” might not be a good keyword by itself, but adding the word “parts” to it as a phrase might make a huge difference! Selling parts for them might be a gold mine! And if you dig even deeper, you might find out what specific parts they want, such as “Corvair trunk lid”.

THE Most Important Free Keyword Tool is now gone!

The only way to know, is to see the statistics on actual searches. You can’t guess at such things. What better way to find out than the statistics on the world’s most popular search engine, Google? And they used to make a great tool for that. It was called the Google “Keyword Planner Tool”. If you typed that into the Google search box, it used to light up like a Christmas tree as the top search in the drop down menu, even before you got it all spelled out! And clicking on it should take you there.

Unfortunately, they decided to make it available only for the users of the Adwords paid advertising program, since that is what it was designed for in the first place. If you plan to use paid ads in the search results, you can still use that tool, but the advertising will cost you. 
There are many videos on YouTube of how this tool works, but make sure they say “Planner” in the subject line, otherwise it may be an old video for the former version of this tool. Also, it does say that you have to have a Google Adwords account, but keep in mind that just because you sign up for it doesn’t mean you have to use it!

The Adwords account is useful if you want to pay for advertising, on a bid basis, for featured ads on the search engines which are the ones in the highlighted boxes, or in the sidebar of most search results. You don’t have to do that, if you want to rely on generic search engine optimization (SEO), and let the search engines bring your site up wherever it will in the generic listings.
Using Adwords paid advertising is a topic in itself, and too complex to get into here. If not done properly, you could end up spending a lot of money and get no results. It gets into knowing how to figure your advertising return on investment (ROI) and many other things, and is for more advanced marketers.
My explanations in the next few paragraphs were based on the old tool, but They are general enough, that once you see what a keyword tool does, you should be able to understand what I was doing. (Later on, I will tell you about some paid tools.)
First it shows you a list of associated terms that have your search words in them, along with how much competition there is for those words, in how much the “pro’s” are paying for advertising, as well as how many results there are for the searches using those words. It also tells you how many searches there are per month for specific keywords and phrases (multiple keywords). If you click on the column headings you can sort from most to least or vice versa. The more searches and the less competition the better the chances of of you getting on the first page, whether you pay for advertising or take your chances with good SEO for generic search.
For example, I typed “behavior of German Spitz dogs” into the search box at the top, and then I clicked on the Global search volume header to get the higher results to the top of the list. There really wasn’t any “high” competition for that term, and many of the results that got more searches were in the “medium” range, But by going down the list farther, I found more and more search terms that had “low” competition.

Using any keyword tool, you need to figure out how to work those words into your content, and also use them for post titles to your blogs, where you can talk about those specific topics. Even though the number of searches may be less, you would have very little competition, and have a much better chance of getting higher rankings in the search results when someone searches for those terms on Google. You never want to try to compete with high ranking search terms. Your goal is to "drill down" until you find that certain "niche" within your topic where there is little competition. 
On the left there is a check box where you can click on the ones you want to save. Above that was a download button where you can choose your saved results and then download them to a .csv file (comma separated value) which is a form of spreadsheet. Many other keyword tools have similar functions. You should save that file to your desktop to make it easy to find, and then when you open it with your spreadsheet program you will be able to expand the columns and adjust it to suit your needs, and then save it as a normal spreadsheet. Again, this is why I say that anyone in business for themselves should learn to use spreadsheets, as they come in handy for so many things. If you need to learn how to use them, you can get free lessons by going to http://gfclearnfree.org.
The nice thing that going to a spreadsheet does is convert the generic “low, medium and high” indicators to actual numbers, so you can see which are the “lowest of the low”. If you highlight the entire spreadsheet you should be able to go to the “data” menu at the top of your screen and sort by specific columns, and in ascending or descending order within those columns.

Huge revelation that other marketers won’t tell you!

OK, so how many searches are “enough”?
The biggest problem with ANY of the keyword tools is that they only give you general numbers, and even those can be deceiving. They may get “close” to that number of searches, but for various reasons, not all of those searchers are going to come to your site. I know from my own experience of holding the first position, first page result, plus four others on that same page, that my actual visitor count was only about 25% of what Google claims as the number of searches for those same exact keywords! I attribute the difference to various things… people doing research (on Google’s posted numbers for results at the top of the pages), plus, maybe some are looking for forums, or blogs, maybe a diffferent type of product, or whatever… and I even had a great description and sales message! Think how much worse it would have been had I let the search engine grab random text to display instead of MY sales message!
So I suggest to any of you, if you are targeting a certain number of visitors per day to reach a desired sales volume, you should be looking at search result numbers that are about four times what you need!  In other words if you need 300 visitors per day (knowing that less than 2% actually buy something) to get six sales per day, then you should really be looking at keywords that are getting more like 1200 per day, or 36,000 searches per month! If you target words with only 9000 searches per month and you only get 1/4th of those to visit your site, that means you will only get about 75 visitors per day, and only make one to two sales per day!
I see this as the major problem with why many marketers don’t make enough money, and it isn’t really their fault if they don’t realize what’s happening! You NEED to target keywords that get four times the search results so that you can be assured of getting roughly 25% of that number as visitors to your sites! I haven’t seen any other marketer tell anyone this in 15+ years of my being online and studying from all of these “gurus”! That’s why I don’t trust them!
It’s OK to start with a generic word when doing an inital search, but then choose more specific words from the list and then also run queries using those search terms. You may have to do this three or more times to get some really good terms with low competition. Always be thinking what words “buyers” are going to be looking for… not “shoppers”. This is called “drilling down”. Also, think about “long tail” keywords, which simply means more than just two or three words together. Try a complete sentence, such as a question, and experiment with it.

Understanding Buyer’s versus Shopper’s Keywords

Here’s an example of the difference between shopper’s keywords and buyer’s keywords. If you search for a totally generic term like camera, it will show a lot of searches, but also a lot of results, and a lot of competition, so trying to compete with a million other advertisers for that word is pointless. You need to think about “buyer’s” words… not “shoppers words”. You need to “drill down” to more specific information and words.
For example: If you typed “camera” into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, that will bring up all kinds of associated suggestions using that word. One of those suggestions is bound to be “digital”, so in your next search, add “digital” to “camera”, that may eliminate some searchers, but it’s still too generic. If you search “digital SLR camera”, now you are getting down to a specific niche, but the people who search with those terms are still shopping for something similar to that. If you added the words “reviews” or “ratings” to that, it may show a lot of searches but they are pointless, as those are the words shoppers would use… not buyers. Those people are looking for information, but aren’t ready to buy yet. If you add a brand name, like “Canon” to the search, now you are getting closer, but there are still several models of Cannon SLR digital cameras. Which one do they want?

Let’s say you do some more research and come up with “Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-inch LCD and 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens”. The searches may be too low to even register, but it will bring up other keywords related to that. Getting “too” detailed with a search may be bad if you can’t see how many searches there really are, because neither will it show how much competition there is. So let’s shorten it to just “Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR”. Now the results show 480 global searches for that exact term. But also, you can see that the competition is also very high, as it is a popular camera. Anyone who uses those search terms knows exactly what they want and they have their credit card out and are ready to buy. The problem is getting your search engine listing in front of all that other competition AND them, and you need to be the first result at the top of the first results page on Google so that you can offer it to them first!
So now, you have to decide… would you rather try to sell the world’s favorite camera, never get first page rankings, and maybe not make any sales? Or could you settle for a less popular model that would allow you to get that top position on page one, and maybe make five to ten sales per week?  “Some” money is better than none!  And then if you still can’t compete on price, experiment with adding some accessories to it and market it as a package deal! After all, everyone can use a memory card, a carrying case, a tripod, or some other useful item!
That’s the difference between shopper’s keywords and buyer’s keywords, and as a marketer, you need to ALWAYS think in those terms! Only buyers are going to search for details, so make sure you include those details in your keyword phrases!
There is a whole list of “trigger words” on the web. I have gone one step further and actually put them in a spreadsheet, added many more to them, and ranked them according to performance!  I will be glad to send them to you. Just ask for them in the comments and make sure I have an email address to send them to. They will be on an OpenOffice spreadsheet that can also be opened by Excel, and then you can continue to tweak and improve the list as you need to. I will make the list available as a download as soon as I can find time to set it up.
Using those words, you would start with any keyword tool. Let’s take a simple word like “stop”. Stop what? It sounds urgent, like people need an answer immediately! Putting that into the keyword tool shows all kinds of similar phrases with that word in it. By going down the list, you can see what it is that people want to stop! Maybe you can come up with a solution to their most urgent problem, either with an ebook or a product that will “stop” their problem, and there’s sales waiting to happen! That’s how sales are made! Solve urgent problems for people better then anyone else, and you are bound to make a full time living at it!

An Even Better Keyword Tool

Although there are many free keyword tools online, the most well-known being the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, there is one purchased tool that I would recommend, but only to people who already have a start at marketing and are making enough money to afford it… and that is MicroNicheFinder. (the banner is in the right hand margin). For just under $100 (one time fee and you own it, life-time updates free), it can be a real time saver in sorting out exactly what keywords you need to be using in your sales campaigns. Besides telling you how many searches there are per month for a given keyword or phrase (as most others do), not only on Google but also on MSN and Yahoo’s search engines, it tells you by simple green, yellow, and red indicators whether a word is worth targeting or not, based on many other factors, such as competition for that keyword on the search engines, whereas with most keyword tools, you have to analyze the data yourself. It will even tell you whether there’s a domain name in either “.com, .org, or .net” available for your keywords. That’s how you pick domain names! If you go to the MicroNicheFinder site, you will find many instructional videos on how it is used, and you can also search the name on YouTube and find many other training videos.
But please… don’t buy it if you plan on only making one site for a specific business. This is a professional grade tool for professional marketers who build a great many sites, and it saves a lot of time. If you are only going to use it once, or even once a month, it’s not cost effective. As I said, I don’t want to “push” you toward products that you may not need.
Summary and Expectations
OK, more on keyword research later. Let’s say you have your keywords picked out, your URL thought of, other good secondary keywords picked out for titles and sub-titles, pages and posts, products researched and chosen (more on that later), and you are ready to start building your site. You should know how to do that by now, from the previous post.
Now it is time to put what you learned into action. If you are using a program, or one of the free options for building a web site, you should have controls somewhere in the program where you can set it to go “live” on the web or not, or whether to make it viewable by the public. At this time, you want to keep it private, and/or set it to not be indexed by the search engines. In WordPress, there are simply a couple of checkboxes in the settings where you can make it private for now. Even though you can publish your site to the web, you aren’t quite finished yet. You still have to add the necessary graphics to it, and whatever products you want to sell. However, if the site can be viewed on the web by going to the exact URL, then I can see it and help guide you the rest of the way. I don’t need to know the details of every builder program out there to be able to help you. The main thing is what I see when I go to the web. I can explain what you need to do to make any changes, but it is important that you learn how to do it yourself!
In the next posts we will show you everything from how to manipulate graphics to make them look good and be search engine friendly as well as to add advertising banners, payment buttons and other things to your site to make it make money for you.
Lastly, we will show you how to add analytics to your site so that you can see everything from how many visitors you are getting, to what links they click on and what pages they visit, how long they stayed, how they got there and where they went when they left!
After that, we’ll discuss the many methods you can use to monetize your site, and why choosing the right method is important to the kind and size of commissions you receive. You will need to know that to determine what kind of ads or even giveaways you want to use on your site. In the process of monetizing there are certain legal disclaimers that you will have to know how to use, certain pages that will be necessary for policies, and much more.
After that, we will be getting into the social aspects of marketing… not just Facebook and Twitter, but in getting your site “pinged” so it shows up on a lot more than just a few blogs!  One of the best free advertising methods you will find (which is responsible for a 47% increase in the traffic to one of my sites) is YouTube, and we will be showing you a quick and easy way to create your own custom videos, using no camera, no microphone, and no “face time”. It’s all done on your computer. But there are hundreds of video sites on the web and we can show you how to upload your video to them all at once, with one click of your mouse. We’ll also discuss the importance of inbound links and how to get them the right way.
THEN you will finally be ready to allow the public to see your site, and start making money with it. But you’re not done! There will be more posts on using and setting up an autoresponder (for those that want one), getting free images for your sites, where to put them for the best sales results, and much more. We’re just getting warmed up, so stick around. If you like what you see, come back often, use the comments at the bottom to ask lots of questions, and let’s have some fun!
Please, if you have questions on any of this, let me know in the comments! I will answer ASAP.