Why Mobile Marketing Matters More Than Ever

By Simon Phillips of TouchLogic.co.uk:

More and more consumers are using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the Internet and make purchases. If you are a business owner, one of the most important questions for you is: Is your website mobile-friendly?

If not, do you realize that you may be losing business due to not reaching prospective customers who are mobile users? Mobile marketing is the future and can be a very profitable option for your business. Those businesses that ignore these changes in technology do so at their peril and will lose customers who get frustrated by being unable to easily navigate their website on a mobile device.

Since mobile units are used by so many individuals (according to the BBC the number of smartphones in the UK alone will hit 50 million in 2013), it makes sense that many users will not wait until they get home and are sitting in front of their desktop PCs in order to check out a website.

If they are busy and on the go a great deal, they will want to have the option of accessing a site on their mobile device while they are out. One-third of searches performed on a mobile device are for local businesses. Out of that one-third, 61% will actually make a telephone call to the business to obtain information, and 59% may visit the business after they have checked it out through a search. You want your business to be featured in these statistics.

Important facts about mobile devices and users

• It has been predicted that this year there will be more individuals accessing the Internet through mobile devices than through laptop or desktop computers.

• In the last year, Internet searches have quadrupled on mobile units.

• In the last year, over $1 billion in products have been ordered from Amazon.com through mobile devices.

• Fifty-seven percent of individuals would not recommend a business that did not have a decent mobile site.

• Forty percent would shop with a competitor if they have had a bad mobile experience with another site.

• If the above facts are not enough to make you think about a mobile-friendly site, here is one more. Seventy-one percent of people want the mobile version of your site to load just as easily and quickly as it would on a desktop computer. If you do not even have a mobile site, you are in trouble.

Now that you have decided that a mobile-friendly site will definitely help your business, how do you go about getting one? Remember that even if you already have a mobile site, it may not be the best that it can be. Read on and learn how you can optimize the mobile version of your site.

1. Simple is best

If your website is simple, it will load quickly and also be easy to navigate. You do not want your visitors to become discouraged after they access your site. If they do, you can count on their leaving your site to find a more accommodating one, and they most likely will not be back.

2. Fewer ordering steps are better

If you sell products or services, you want potential customers to be inclined to buy. One way to do this is by having as few steps as possible involved in placing an order on a mobile unit. Again, keep it simple and you will do more business.

3. Keep thumbs in mind

When using a mobile device, the thumbs are most often the means by which users will click, scroll and otherwise maneuver through a site. Keep buttons and any other clickable features large enough so that they will not present a problem for users.

4. Redirect

You can use a redirect code to make certain that visitors to your site will be directed to the mobile version if they are using a mobile device.

With today’s technology, mobile devices are fast becoming the items of choice when searching the Internet for specific products and services. Keep up with the times by making your business website as mobile-friendly as possible.

About the Author:

Simon Phillips is the founder of www.TouchLogic.co.uk, a company that specializes in developing mobile websites for small businesses.

5 Strategies to Effectively Market Your YouTube Video

By Jonathan Kane of BuyRealMarketing.com:

YouTube is probably the best video website out there that can help give value to your videos and put a little extra cash in your pockets. Hosting user-generated videos and placing ads all over the site is how YouTube earns money. Yet, they are graceful enough to split the income with the community that made everything happen for them. However, are you part of this beneficial money-making schematic?

If not, get some insights from the following steps on video marketing:

1. Get creative with content

Content will always be king. The theme, plot, message and other elements that go into the video are the core to make it marketable to its viewers.

Don’t settle for momentary attention as that is short-lived. You might be successful at shocking viewers to click but once they see how crappy the content is, you’re lucky if they’ll ever finish watching it.

2. Use social networks for interaction

It’s common practice for video owners to upload videos and leave them there to get YouTube views by themselves. True, you’ll probably earn a handful of viewers but aren’t you aspiring for more?

I suggest, you leave that practice to the lazies and do the brawny work yourself. Go on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all other social accounts you have. Promote your videos and interact with whoever is nice enough to like or leave a comment. It’s the most effective strategy that will help spread your video all over the internet and achieve fast results.

3. Coordinate with other YouTube creators

You are not alone in your predicament. There are a lot of YouTube creators who don’t have any clue on how to increase YouTube views on their videos. So they get stuck at 100 to 300 views, despite having enough subscribers.

Coordinating with other YouTube creators will have a mutual and beneficial effect. Look for YouTube video users and convey your interest in a partnership. You can both agree to leave video responses on each others’ videos or help advertise to each subscriber base community.

4. Ask for help from YouTube community

Some video owners say that it is shameful to beg and grovel for attention but asking people to “please subscribe” is not begging nor groveling. It is simple a good-natured invitation in an attempt to remind people who watched not to forget subscribing if they liked the video.

The best way to ask the YouTube community for their votes, subscription or shares is through annotations at the middle or the end of the video showcase. The middle and the end part indicate that you caught their interest so it is appropriate to ask them to subscribe.

5. Maximize YouTube Insight tool

Every YouTube creator who has several uploads on the website has this insight tool. However, only a few really make full use of it. But you shouldn’t be one of them. It is about time you discover what YouTube Insight can do for you.

The tool is meant to inform you of online networks, websites and blogs that have sent you most of your views. Simply put, it works to help you determine your biggest referrers, so you know which online channels to prioritize in video marketing.

Maybe for some, these tips may be a case of common marketing sense, but I can’t stress enough how these strategies are neglected, either intentionally or for other reasons. However, be reminded that success requires real legwork and on YouTube only a few hit the jackpot of getting viral, unless of course one plans to buy YouTube views.

About the author:

Jonathan Kane is a co-founder of , a company providing social media solutions to small businesses who seek to establish a strong social presence in the web. In addition, he contributes to the company’s official blog which discusses working practices, how-to’s and updates for today’s web marketer.

Difference Between Google Bounce Rate and Drop-offs

The latest version of Google Analytics introduced “drop-offs” in their Visitors Flow section. Even though you might think drop-offs should be the same as the bounce rate, this is not the case.

Bounce rate:

According to Google, the bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that see only one page during a visit to your site. A bounce is calculated as a single-page view or single-event trigger in a session or visit. This means that if you’re using event tracking, those events will lower your bounce rate even if your drop-off rate for landing pages remains the same.

This might be the main reason why bounce rate and total drop-off rates for landing pages don’t match up. You should also check to make sure your tracking code is installed correctly on every page of the site.

The following situations qualify as bounces:

– A user clicks on a link deep into your site sent by a friend, reads the information on the page, and closes the browser.
– A user comes to your home page, looks around for a minute or two, and immediately leaves.
– A user comes directly to a reference page on your site from a web search, leaves the page available in the browser while completing other tasks in other browser windows and the session times out.

Drop-off:

According to Google, Visitors Flow is a graphical representation of the paths visitors took through your site, from the source, through the various pages, and where along their paths they drop off your site. It uses “nodes” which show the metrics used (countries, pages, group of pages etc.) and the paths or “connections” from one node to the next.

In Visitors Flow you can see how many visitors drop-off after the first, second, third etc. page; as compared to bounce rate which only shows how many visitors viewed only one page.

Visitors Flow is very useful in determining traffic pattern in general and comparing volumes of traffic from different sources. It’s also a great tool for keyword analysis: you might have a keyword that delivers a lot of initial traffic, but with many visitors dropping off after the first page, while another keyword brings in less initial traffic, but visitors stay to view more pages.

You can also use drop-off rates to determine if visitors might have problems with viewing your pages: If you notice a significant drop-off from a page, it might not be rendering properly in that browser or at that resolution. For example, your page may not render correctly in a mobile browser or at a smaller resolution, which might make links or buttons unavailable or not easily seen.

A visitor that bounces has only seen one page, whereas a drop-off can occur after any number of pages. This should then mean that, assuming your tracking code is installed correctly and you’re not tracking your events (i.e. with _trackEvent() or _trackPageview functions), the bounce rate for your site should be about the same as the average total drop-off rate for landing pages in Visitor Flow.

You’ll have to do the math yourself with the drop-off rate because right now Google only displays total number of drop-offs and not the total average percentage. Our numbers matched up closely but not perfectly, so there must be other factors at play as well, or we missed accounting for events that aren’t obvious.

High bounce or drop-off rates

Regardless whether you’re looking at bounce rate or drop-off rate, if either number is very high (40% to 60% is considered average), or if your visitors don’t progress through your site as planned, it’s time to look at your navigation, graphic design and how it renders in different browsers to make sure they’re optimal for helping your visitor finding what he or she needs. You’ll also have to take a look at your content to make sure it still meets the interest of your visitors.

Going Global Online

By Susanne Evens of AAA Translation:

Going global is not an act of good will – it is a smart and necessary business strategy.

Establishing a global web presence provides one of the most affordable means of tapping into the international marketplace. An information-rich, well published web site sells your products and services to potential clients around the world 24/7. In addition, multilingual content optimizes the effectiveness of your site by communicating with your customers in their language, and it doesn’t cost the world!

Studies show that all Internet users are just like the rest of us: they rely heavily on websites in their native language to perform most tasks. What does this mean for businesses with websites trying to reach these markets? Something many companies are not paying enough attention to: localization.

In order to reach non-English speaking markets, businesses need to have websites that speak to their target audience in their language. As German Chancellor Willy Brandt once said, “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying from you, dann müssen Sie in meine Sprache sprechen.” (Translation: then you must speak my language.)

The value of web content, especially multi-lingual content, has never been as great as it is today. It is the medium through which your customers interact with you on the web. Whether it is booking a train ticket, sending a request for quote or comparing product features, your customers don’t see your physical presence, just your content.

Consider this:

· If your website exists in only one language, then millions of potential customers may never hear about your business.
· There are more than a billion Internet users around the globe, but only a third of these users are native English speakers.
· International website visitors are three times more likely to explore a website and make a purchase if the website is provided in their native language (Forrester Research).
· Going global online is an affordable undertaking – small businesses may only need a summary of their products/services in a foreign language.

Which Countries? Which Languages?

When choosing which countries and languages to support, look at where you may have existing international relationships, where potential demand exists for your products/services internationally and the Internet’s top users. These are the top 10 translated languages on the worldwide web:

· Chinese
· Spanish
· Japanese
· German
· Korean
· French
· Italian
· Russian
· Portuguese (Brazil)
· Arabic

Finding You Online

More than half of the traffic to major “.com” sites originates from foreign countries. First, through in-language content and effective international search engine optimization (SEO), these users need to be able to find your site quickly. Second, once they land on your site, they need to be able to navigate – quickly and easily – in their own language. If they can’t read your site in their own language immediately, they will leave, and you will lose a potential customer. You have three seconds to capture their interest!!

Don’t Go It Alone

When creating a global web presence, it’s critical to seek help from professionals. Seek qualified experts who understand localized language translation, know the cultural minefields you need to avoid and can help you with currency considerations and more. Remember that people will notice a poorly-translated or culturally insensitive website, but a successful global site will be “invisible.”

About the author:

Susanne Evens of AAA Translation®, offers comprehensive global services nationally and internationally, including translation and interpreting services in 150 languages.

24 Guidelines For Blogging

Your writing should be natural and to the point. However, keeping the following in mind will help your post get found and get read more often:

Blog content and writing:

1. Topic and title: Write about just one topic. If your blog post turns out to be over 1,000 words, or more than one topic, consider breaking it up into several posts.

Once you’re finished with your post, make sure your content still matches what the title promises. For example, if your title is about ‘writing’, but your post talks mostly about ‘blogs’, modify the title to match the content better.

Use the main keywords of your post in the title. Keep the title concise and try to keep it under 50 characters. To find relevant keywords and keyword phrases, check our for tools.

Using variation of words in the URL is OK. However, do not modify the URL after your post is published. Titles are usually automatically formatted with the h1 tag on a blog.

2. Sub-headers: Create at least one sub-header for every 500 words. This breaks up the text and makes it easier to read. Use the h2 tag. In a long blog post, use 1., 2. etc. for your sub-headers and reflect this on the title, like “7 Ways to …” . Use keywords in titles and sub-headers and avoid generic titles like “What’s new today.” The reader should be able to see right away what a specific part (or paragraph) is all about.

3. Facts: Check your facts via the web, or if possible, per personal contact. If well known news sources state the same facts, you can assume they’re probably correct.

Always state your source for information you write about. When quoting statistics, quote or link to the original source of statistics if possible, and not simply a news source. Use a source that’s less than 12 months old. (This isn’t always possible with statistics.)

4. Content and Style: Avoid words such as “always” and “never”. It’s OK to be a bit vague as opposed to hitting your reader over the head with your opinion.

If you find yourself using a phrase too frequently, or you don’t like how you word specific topics, or answer questions, actively work on identifying the problem and then find ways to modify your writing. For example, avoid writing: “you will want to” “you want to” “some will want to” and similar.

5. Links: First, make sure each post links to at least one other post within your website. This assures a solid linking structure within the site (which helps with SEO) that doesn’t only rely on links from blog categories and outside links.

Only link to outside sources when necessary, for example, when quoting statistics, news or anything else where the reader might want to check the facts. When linking to outside sources, link to articles that are less than 12 months old – the newer the better – and only to sites that are either easily recognizable as a trustworthy source like a popular newspaper, or check a third party service for estimated visitor numbers. Keep in mind that third party sites are usually vastly off when it comes to lower traffic sites, but get more accurate when a site has hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Also, scrutinize the site itself: does the site look like it has recently been updated? Does the site have a privacy policy or terms of service? If you’re not sure, find a different source to link to.

When adding links to external websites, add them later in the post and not within the first paragraph. (For internal links, it’s OK to link within the first paragraph.) Add target=”_blank” to the a tag, to open the link in a new tab. Link to individual blog posts as opposed to the homepage; you might even receive a link back in form of a trackback. Also, avoid using any trademarks in your link text and use keywords instead.

6. Opinion: If you post your opinions, you are legally responsible for them. You are the one who is personally liable for them, not your admin, not anyone else, but you, the writer of the post. So if you believe you have to post your scathing opinion, you will do so at your own risk, because you can be held personally liable for any commentary deemed to be defamatory or libelous to anyone.

That doesn’t mean you can never express your opinion, but you have to be cautious when it comes to exaggerating, guessing, using ‘colorful language’, being obscene or making derogatory remarks.

7. Confidential Information: Obviously, do not post any information you do not have the right to post. If you work under a contract, read your contract! And don’t post your own personal info info either.

8. Duplication: Search the site you’re writing for first to see if there are already articles posted on the topic you’re planning on writing about. If there are, make sure your title differs and your article has a different angle on the topic.

9. Categories: File each post into at least two categories. Do not use ‘uncategorized’ – instead try to find categories that match your blog post topic the closest. If your post doesn’t fit any category, consult with admin about creating an additional category. Have 10 categories at most – from a SEO point-of-view fewer is better.

10. Tags: Use about three descriptive keywords and/or keyword phrases for each post. Tags aren’t that important any more for SEO, but might come in handy for any blog theme features.

11. Take advantage of the preview feature and preview every blog post before deciding if it’s ready to be published. Click on every link you’ve added to make sure it’s working, check spelling, formatting and how it wraps around any hard coded ads and pictures.

12. Copy and paste from Word: Simply cutting and pasting text from Word into a website might add all kinds of junk formatting tags which can distort the way the text is displayed and make it hard for edits. Avoid using Word altogether and use a simple text editor instead, or save everything in ‘simple text’ first, copy it into the website and then format it.

If you’ve already pasted a document that contains all kinds of tags, be sure to delete them first in ‘HTML’ view before saving. In any word processor or text editor, be sure to turn off ‘smart quotes’ or ‘curly quotes.’ You can see all formatting tags in WordPress by using the ‘Text’ view.

13. Comments: Allow comments and trackbacks on each post (this should be the default.) Scrutinize all incoming comments to your posts, including trackbacks. Make sure comments and trackbacks don’t link back to spam or scraper sites. Mark all such links as ‘Spam’ instead of simply clicking ‘Delete’.

Even if you don’t have to approve comments, make sure to check back on your articles occasionally for a few days after it’s been posted to view any comments. You might be able to answer questions, or gain insights on your writing.

Marketing your blog post:

14. Create at least two alternate ‘titles’ for your article. Use the original article title first when posting about it on social media. If your article doesn’t get shared enough and can’t seem to get any traction, use the ‘alternate titles’ for social media. However, it’s not necessary to change the title on your blog post and do Not change the URL (slug) of your post!

15. Have multiple sources post about your article. If possible, have more than one person/account post links to your article. Perhaps other writers on the same blog.

Using text, graphics and images:

16. Do not use and copy and paste any text and images from other blogs, websites or printed materials. In other words, do not take other people’s property, even though you may think that ‘everybody does it’.

17. It is usually OK to quote (use blockquote tag) a short snippet of text in order to write about it or respond to it. Quote no more than about 5 lines at a time. If you want to use any related images, you have to ask for permission first. It’s usually OK to link to the full text.

18. What kind of image should you use? You’ll have to be the judge of this, but at the very least, the image should be conceptually related to what you’re writing about and also appeal to your main demographic. If you’re not sure if an image is appropriate, use a different one.

19. Do not use images from ‘sharing’ sites or ‘free sharing’ sites as some of these sites simply take pictures from other sites and mark them ‘free’. Most images on social media sites are ‘All rights reserved’, which means you are not allowed to use them. Flickr.com does have a search feature now that let’s you search for images that may be shared. You can also try finding relevant images on Wikipedia.org.

Also, do not use images from printed sources as these are also copyrighted. If you are challenged by the owner of copyrighted images, the burden is on you, the end-user, to prove that you have a license to use the image.

20. Do not use images from sites that require that you link to them. This will eventually create a large amount of outgoing links to unrelated sites.

21. If you decide to buy images from stock sites, be sure to read the conditions under which you’re allowed to use the images.

22. When using an image with permission, be sure to add proper credits in the caption. Important: Maintain a file to save information, licenses and proof of permission, like a screen shot for such images. Sometimes the license will change from ‘OK to share’ to ‘All rights reserved.’ Maintaining a copyrights file will protect you and give you proof that you are in fact using the image with permission.

23. When using images that you’ve created yourself, add your copyright stamp before posting them. If you’re blogging for someone else, answer this question: will you give the right to use the image to the owner of the blog when or if you stop working for him or her? Figure out what will happen to your images before you post them on a website.

24. For general guidelines on copyrights and using other people’s text and images, read , or visit for comprehensive info on anything copyright related.

There is also an excellent blog on all things photo copyrights at .

Adhering to these guidelines with every blog post is important, as it will not only help your post be found, but also ensure that others’ work is properly credited and prevent legal issues. Furthermore following blogging guidelines like these will keep formatting uniform on a blog with multiple writers and assure a higher level of content and writing.

No SEO?

Every once in a while we get asked why this site seems to not use any search engine optimization.

Well, first of all, we do use some SEO, but the main reason why this site isn’t completely optimized is because we had started this site as a very useful collection of resources for ourselves first without considering how it shows up on search engines. It had to work for us first.

A long time ago, when bookmarking sites were becoming wildly popular, we started to add our favorite sites to our bookmarking accounts. But the amount of links amassed quickly and the collections become unusable for reference purposes.

So we decided to keep everything organized ourselves. We started this site with no SEO whatsoever and simply collected and posted links on HTML pages. And guess what happened? Once again it become a collection that was too hard to oversee and too messy to be useful!

Enter WordPress, a platform that allowed us to easily add resources and links and broadcast them to everyone! Now that the organizational part was fixed, we could go on collecting resources we really liked.

First, we literally added one line posts, like this one: Free WordPress Themes, but some sites didn’t like that, because they thought it would be bad for their SEO and asked us to remove them. So we started adding a bit more info and features which helped us remember why we liked them in the first place, and the sites linked to were happy as well.

Each post also usually links out to the resource directly within the first two sentences, without any redirects, or advertising pages; also a no no in the eyes of some SEO folks! Again, we did that because we wanted the site to be very user-friendly – after all, we were the ones using it every day!

We also use the full feed on the ‘free website tools’ landing pages which creates duplicate content, but this makes it much easier to get the info you want quickly. It eliminates you having to click on the single post first in order to get complete info and clickable links. Same for the categories: instead of having to click over for each link, you can use the categories as a continuous list to click through from.

Now that we have some readers, we find that they like what we do too: mostly short posts that get to the point quickly free website tools and resources feed), and links that go directly to the resource as quickly as their browser allows, with no SEO pages to view first. How will this lack of SEO practices affect us going forward? Who knows, but the way things are going now, search engines seem to get smarter in directing people to useful websites, regardless of SEO efforts. For now the focus will remain on us creating a resource that we all like using every day!

So there you have it! This site was primarily set up to make it easy for people to find the info they need, with only some consideration to current search engines rules. We will continue posting useful resources, as well as guest posts and the occasional article. By the way, if you’d like to subscribe to everything we post on this site, sign up for both our lists/feeds, one for the free website tools and one for the articles. You can sign up here.

Analyzing And Keeping Up With Your Competitors

Regardless if you’re selling toys or pool supplies, you need to keep an eye on your competition by analyzing them in order to keep up with them and to keep making sales. In pre-internet days you had to find out who your local competition was and who was selling through catalogs. The emergence of the internet added another task to that list. And even though finding out who your competitors are isn’t that big of a job, keeping up with them requires some analysis know-how, man power and fortitude.

Who are your Competitors?

So how do you figure who your competitors are? To get started simply search for your main keywords and keyword phrases (toys, pool supplies) on Google (most popular search engine) and one other, like bing (as a balance) and see who comes up in the search results. Most likely you’ll see the largest most popular companies dominating the first page of the search results. While you shouldn’t just give up in wanting to compete with large corporations and ignore these results, you have to also be realistic of how and on what level you can compete with them (unless of course you’re planning to grow your company that large). That’s where more specific keywords play a role.

Sure, a lot of people will search for a generic term like ‘toys’, but people will also search for something more specific, like ‘toys for kindergardeners’ or ‘GloBonz Deluxe’ (glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs). Your next step is to search for those keyword phrases and see who comes up. Does it look like these companies are more the size of yours? Fewer larger competitors? The companies that show up for these more specific keywords is who you can realistically compete with to start. Now make a list of all the main large and small competitors from the first two result pages. Leave room for notes on each one. If you like Excel, go ahead in use that for your list, otherwise a plain text file is sufficient.

If your company shows up on the first page for your keywords, congratulations! Your next step is to analyze and optimize conversions, meaning to turn as many visitors to your site as possible into buyers (try different designs, better descriptions, different color ‘buy’ button, split testing, larger product images, smoother checkout etc.)

Competitive analysis: What are your competitors doing right?

Now that you have a list of large and small competitors, it’s time to analyze their websites. You’ll find and tools to your competitors’ and your own website in our section.

– Who is linking to them?
– Do they have articles on different websites?
– What is their presence on social media sites?
– What countries are their visitors from?
– Do they have a Pay Per Click campaigns? What keywords do they use and how effective is it?
– What is the strength of their pages based on keywords?
– Where do they advertise? What is their marketing effectiveness?

You can find out pretty much anything about another website with free and paid analytics tools. Overwhelmed? Start by trying the free tools over at or . Pick three of your main competitors, make a list and take notes. You’ll get a lot information that you may not know right away what to do with, but just stick with it. In time you’ll find that some information will be extremely useful to you, while other information might be more than you care to know, or you simply don’t have the time or personnel to analyze it and act on.

What if you don’t have time for all the analyzing and research?

First of all, if you’re serious about what you’re doing, you should take the time, or hire someone to do it. But if you’d rather get started now and you’re looking for some ‘action items’, then do this:

Start a blog. Install a WordPress blog on your site and start writing about the products you’re selling, your business, news within your niche etc. Publish a blog post a minimum of once a week; more often is better. Be sure to use your main keywords in titles and text. You can hire someone to do this. You can also schedule the time post are being published, which is extremely helpful if you’re trying to coordinate marketing and sales efforts.

Get started with social media. You can automate having links to your blog posts posted on Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of other social media sites. This will increase visibility across the web, even if you don’t like to personally tweet, or run a Facebook page. Of course, the more attention you pay to your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, the more successful you’ll be. But getting set up at all is your first step.

Set up alerts. To notify you of trends and who writes what within and about your niche, and . You’ll get an email message at a specified interval with all results related to the keywords and other parameters you input. This is a quick and easy way to give you an overview of what’s going on in your niche and also provides for topics for blog posts.

It’s easy to get anxious in trying to keep up with your competitors, but keep in mind that it’s what makes you different from others that will ultimately make you successful. Assuming you and your competitors all show up on the first page of the search results, which company will be the most successful? It’s the one that offers excellent customer service, a friendly place to visit, good product descriptions and images, a website that loads quickly, a smooth checkout experience and overall a sense of trust. And finally, as you’re diving into analyzing loads data, don’t lose sight of this most basic fact: there are real people at the other end of your internet connection.

Testing Variables To Assure A Successful E-Mail Campaign

The advantages of using an e-mail campaign as part of your marketing strategy are that you can exactly measure your efforts and then fine tune your future campaigns based on your findings. To optimize your e-mail campaign to be the best it can be, take a look at your variables, test them and measure them in order to harness the best possible outcome.

Examples of variables to test in your e-mail campaign:

Sender: Measure opening rate by: using your company’s name, an individual’s name, a keyword etc. Find a successful sender name and then stick with it for branding and company recognition purposes.

Subject line: Measure opening rate by testing different variations, including personalization and keywords.

Content: Measure click rate and conversion rate by using different variations of your content in terms of personalization, wording, call to action, layout, numbers, placement and types of images, length, numbers expressed in words or numbers, language level.

Day of the week and time: Measure opening rate and click through rate by testing different days of the week and times of day, as well as measuring these in connection with frequency of e-mail sent.

Clients or interested parties: Individualize and test your e-mail based on sending them to clients who have already bought your products, or individuals who have signed up for your e-mails, but haven’t converted yet.

Landing pages: Measure conversion rates based on what landing page you’re sending your potential customers to. Getting a potential customer to click on the ‘buy’ button in your e-mail is only part of the total selling/conversion process.

The landing page on your website that let’s the customer complete the purchase or other call to action goes hand in hand with the e-mail campaign. In other words, if you get a great click through rate on your ‘buy’ button, but a dismal overall conversion rate on your landing page, it’s time to test and optimize your landing page as well!

A/B split-runs

To further optimize your e-mail campaign, you can also try A/B split runs. For example, e-mail campaigns can be sent as A/B split-run by sending out version A of the e-mail to one random half the e-mail list and version B to the other half. This is one of the simplest ways to test your campaign with many different variables. With this type of A/B testing you’ll be able to determine which version is more successful in directing potential customers to take a planned action like signing up for a service or buying a product.

It’s important to define exactly what type of conversion/action is to be measured, like clicking on a specific link, or completing a task like filling out a form. This type of testing can also be applied to specific groups (for example men and women) within your e-mail lists, to ensure an even more focused test result.

Pre-tests:

E-mail campaigns allow you to perform small pre-tests by sending out several different versions to small random segments of the whole e-mail list. Subsequently the most successful pre-test campaign can then be sent to the remainder of the e-mail list.

How do I know my e-mail campaign was successful?

Some may argue, that a successful campaign ends with achieving or surpassing a certain sales goal. While that is certainly the most important goal of a campaign, it should not be overlooked what kind of effect the campaign will have on future sales decisions of current customers. Will they feel comfortable enough to make another purchase? Do they feel satisfied with the product or service and how they’ve been treated throughout the sales process?

Successful e-mail marketing starts with collecting correct e-mail addresses (and potentially other info), finding the right overall tone for your e-mails and time to send it, optimizing landing pages for best conversion rates and ends with the customer feeling satisfied and confident enough to also make future purchases and recommend the product or service to others.

How To Name Your Website’s Files

Before you simply name a file page1.html, image2.jpg, or some complicated string like a product number, think again. Filenames play a role in SEO, but a good file naming structure also makes it easier for your visitors to save and share links and navigate your website. From a developer’s point of view, having well named files makes it easier to find files and properly structure the hierarchy of the website.

To take advantage of SEO, stay organized, and make it easy for your visitors to enjoy your website, keep the following in mind when creating filenames:

Use keywords in your filenames.  Filenames for individual pages become part of the URL and search engines may use the URL to determine relevance in their search results. If you’ve optimized content on a page, then it’s a no-brainer to use the title as the filename, with words separated by hyphens. The main blogging platforms do this automatically and even Google has recommended to use filenames based on keywords and separated by hyphens. (Hyphens make the URL easier to read by humans and search engines.)

You can also try to modify the filename from the title to include variations of a keyword; there may be a difference in how it’s displayed in search results. If you’d like to attract search traffic through image search, be sure to also use your keywords to name your image files, incl. the ALT tag, and the pages they’re displayed on. Image filenames don’t always become part of an URL, depending on your website’s structure, but can still greatly affect usability and SEO of a website.

Use actual words. When web users see links and URLs, they form an idea as to what the page is about and it becomes important to avoid naming files with random methods. For example, if web users are looking for a file about keywords, they are more likely to click on “keywords.html” than they are to click on a file named “200903127789.html”. A good filename is easy to understand and tells visitors what to expect from your webpage.
 
Avoid the use of special characters. Limit the characters in your filename to lowercase letters a to z, periods, underscores, hyphens and numbers 0 through 9. If you use any other characters, it could cause problems with loading the page. Simply using keywords and avoiding special characters is also beneficial to your SEO efforts. Search engines have been using a combination of URL, title, ALT tags, description and content to find and display results. So taking care to create a useful filenames for your pages and images is an easy way to improve that part of your website’s SEO.

Avoid spaces. For practical purposes using spaces in the filename of your webpage documents is not recommended and usually programs won’t allow it in the first place. Problems arise because the URL will typically be underlined when it is displayed, but it may not be clickable, because the space isn’t recognized as being a part of the URL. In addition, browsers usually require spaces to be encoded as “%20” or a plus symbol.

Start all of your filenames with lowercase letters. Although the operating system on your computer may not be case sensitive, your web server OS may see things differently. Your computer may interpret “Htmlfile.htm” and “htmlfile.htm” as the same file, whereas a web server would see two separate files. You may also run into trouble using CamelCase (upper and lower case) to name your files.

Shorter is better for filenames. Although you can theoretically use hundreds of characters in your URL, why do it? Keep your filenames to up to about fifty characters: it makes it easier to display them as links, easier to copy and paste (no need for URL shortening), and easier to remember. Having shorter URLs also helps when submitting your URLs to a directory, or aggregator; some will actually have a limit on how many characters your URL may have.

Bottom line: Make it easy for yourself, others working with your website and your visitors and use relevant lowercase keywords separated with hyphens in your pages’ and images’ filenames. Your website won’t only be easy to navigate, share and maintain, but it will also increase traffic to your website. 

Checklist For Buying A Website

Following is a checklist with some points to keep in mind when buying a website:

Before you start shopping for a website:

– Before we get to the main part of this checklist, ask yourself: why do I want to buy a website?
Are you buying a website to direct traffic to an existing site, or are you planning on generating income? Define your exact reason for buying the website, so you can easier define your terms later on in the buying process.

How much are you willing to spend for this kind of website? Is it realistic considering what similar websites are selling for? Would it make more sense to build a new website, instead of buying one?

– If you’re planning on buying a large website with lots of traffic, hire a lawyer to represent your rights. When you spend thousands on a site you need someone who’s on your side. Hire someone who has experience with website purchases within your state and can help guide you through the process and negotiations. Stay away from lawyers who are happy to draw up forms for you, but have no experience in the actual purchasing process.

Hire an escrow service or agent through which you will run the transaction. Some services that sell websites also offer their own escrow services. Before you sign up, do a search and find out if sellers or purchasers have had issues with that service.

Scrutinize who you’re buying the website from and through:

A sale can be private directly from the owner, or through a lawyer, but there are also many market places and brokerages for purchasing websites. Do a search to see if you can find reviews, how many websites an entity sells, or if the private party, lawyer or company are mentioned in the media in any negative or positive way. Check public records. In other words, do your due diligence when picking a person or service that sells websites and do not skip this part of the checklist. Interview and interact with individuals and potential third parties to get an idea of how they conduct business before you start any shopping or sales process. Scrutinize everyone involved in the sale, including the owner of the site and any third party to the deal.

Find out everything you can about the website:

Once you’ve identified one or more websites you might be interested in, it’s time to do some detective work. This may be the part of this checklist that might involve the most work, but take your time, take notes and don’t skip anything. You may come across some information that will make you reconsider your offering price, or even change your mind about buying the website.

– Start very simply, by visiting all variations of the URL you can think of, for example:
www.sitename.com
sitename.com
ftp.sitename.com

Do you see anything unusual, such as open access to the site files? Or perhaps the site is extremely slow or doesn’t forward correctly? Any error messages? Also Google them to find out about any blacklisting, lawsuits etc. If you find anything of concern, ask the seller about it.

– Go to the main site URL and follow at least 20 to 30 internal links. Do all these links work? Do these links lead to good content or to test, error and garbage content pages? Is the website actually developed as advertised? How do the pages set up in different browsers? How long do the pages take to load?

– See if the other main domains are developed or available for sale. In other words, would you still be interested in buying the .com website, even if the .net version is already developed by someone else? If other popular TLDs are available, buy them.

– Search in Yahoo and Google for site:www.sitename.com How many pages are indexed? Visit the pages, especially the ones at the very bottom of the list.

– Google “www.sitename.com for sale” and see if the site has been advertised elsewhere on the web. Does the info match up? Has the site been sold before? When and for how much? If the website is offered for sale through another website, Google the complete title of the announcement or ad. You may come across the same listing on other sites.

– Check the Whois database and make sure the owner’s info matches up. You should also find out who has owned the domain previously, especially if the current owner hasn’t owned it for very long. It might have been illegally acquired in some way. If there is any doubt, hire an attorney to help you with the research.

Where is the site hosted? Use a tool like the Netcraft toolbar to easily find out where a website’s server is located and if it has a risk rating. If it’s not hosted in the US, but the owner claims to be in the US, why do they host their website in another country? Maybe because of a free hosting plan, or other reasons you need to know about. Scrutinize!

Google the owner’s name. Even though you can’t believe everything you read on the web, if the person gets bad reviews or has other questionable info on the web, reconsider the purchase altogether.

Get proof of ownership and have the owner add something to the code of the website to prove to you that he or she has access. Have them add your own analytics code for a few days for example, so you can check the traffic.

– Check the site on the Wayback Machine, an archive for web pages. How has the website changed over the years and when was it first recorded on there?

What software is the site using? You need to know what platform the site is using before you buy it. Are there licensing fees?

Who owns the logo and the design? Does it come with the site, or are there ongoing fees?

– If content is a major factor when buying a site, make sure its unique on the web and not copied off of other sites by using copyscape.com. This service is well worth its price! Make sure the seller owns all copyrights to the content as well and demand that info in writing.

– How many other websites link to the site and are these quality backlinks, or mostly links from scraper sites? Are the back links most likely permanent? Are they placed within content, or only in comments? Are there back links from .edu websites which are considered very valuable? Are they from regular content pages, or only forums?

– Is the website listed in wikipedia.org?

– Where is most of the traffic coming in from? Spam and scraper sites, other countries or a variety of blogs, websites, social media pages, search engines and through the main keywords?

– A high PageRank means the page is well linked to and indexed, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a site or page gets a lot of traffic.

– For smaller websites, generate a free sitemap with tools like xml-sitemap generator to get a better idea of the scope and organization of the website. For larger websites having the actual analytics info is more useful, because it will be easier to analyze it through a program, than having to look at thousands of individual links. In any case, ask to get your own login to view analytics, or to install your own analytics code for at least a few days.

Run several other website analysis tools, like the ones listed in our free analysis website tools category.

– Don’t just rely on a screen shot of a page in Google Analytics or other analytics program. The page could have been altered. Again, you should request a login to the analytics account to see for yourself. (Google allows adding users with viewing privileges only.) You can also use third party websites to quickly get an idea of how accurate their info is. If a website claims 100,000 unique visitors a month and compete.com shows 10,000, then you know you’re being lied to. Third party websites aren’t as accurate as the actual analytics info, but it should be in the ballpark. A general rule is that the more visitors a website has, the more accurate traffic information on third party analytics services will be. (Check our list of free analytics tools.)

– Does the website have email subscribers? Having a large email list is a great asset to a website. Again, you have to get proof of subscriber lists. If the lists are hosted with a third party provider like Aweber and you’re able to gain access to opening rates and ‘bounces’, that will be your safest bet. Having a large email list is great tool for consistent traffic on the site, because it is independent from organic search traffic.

– Is the current owner paying for traffic? If yes, how much and through what channels?

What are the main keywords for the website? If the keywords line up with your own goals and the site has been optimized for them, it’s a great advantage to you and a huge time saver.

– Does the website have a recognizable brand? Name recognition is very valuable, however, you still need to be diligent in scrutinizing the site and seller.

– How much does it cost to buy traffic for the main keywords of the website? If the site uses keywords that aren’t popular and there is little competition in bidding for these keywords, the potential to make money through an ad network will be slim. If the site uses high competition keywords (finance, insurance etc.), the potential to make money through advertising will be much higher.

– If the keywords have lots of competition in the search results, it will also be harder to rank high, which means it would be hard to get organic traffic. It would add value to the website, if it already had pages ranking high in the search results for highly competitive keywords.

– Check analytics to see what the search ranking is in other countries. Maybe the website gets most traffic from European countries; then you have to ask yourself if international traffic is useful to you.

How much is it worth?

Once you have a good amount of information on the website you’d like to buy, it’s time to think about the price. How do you know you’re not paying too much for a website? That greatly depends on the purpose you’re buying it for:

– If you’re buying it as an income source, then looking at its current income is of some value. Be sure to scrutinize the integrity of the content (for example use Copyscape to find duplicate articles) and how well you think you’ll be able to monetize it. If you think you can do better, then relying on current sales figures only doesn’t make sense. Also try to find out if current advertisers will likely stay on if website changes ownership.

– If you’re buying the site as a traffic generator for another site for example, current income may not be as important as the ability to attract the right kind of demographic traffic for you.

– Find out how much comparable websites have sold for. Having a precedent can be a great way to estimate what the website you’re looking at would be worth.

– What are other comparable sites selling for currently? How does the site you’re planning on buying compare? Does it have more or less to offer for more or less money? Shop around!

– How old is the domain? Domains that have been around for several years along with a developed website under the same ownership are generally worth more than one that’s only a few months old.

– Is the site topic highly competitive? If you’re considering buying a pet related site that already a good amount of traffic but little income for example, it is still considered very valuable because it would take a great deal of resources and time to create a new site that is comparable in the highly competitive pet niche.

– Which brings us to the next point: How much would it cost to build the site yourself? Is the traffic the site already has and the domain worth the difference?

– Finally, even if you’re mainly interested in the domain, checking the above factors can give your website a head start or stall it, depending on what had been done with the site previously.

Programming, upkeep and cost:

– If the site has any custom back-end programming, the website needs to be tested and the programming and security scrutinized by experienced programmers/developers. It may all look great on the surface, but the programming might be shoddy, possibly without any security measures and you may end up with a website that you’re unable to rely and build upon. If a site uses third party programming, there may be license fees – find out about any fees before you make an offer.

What does it take to keep the site running day after day? Make sure you and your staff can handle the workload of maintaining and running the site, or plan accordingly.

– Are there any ongoing licensing fees to be paid, for example for content or feeds? What are the current hosting costs?

Who owns the code, logo and the design? Are there ongoing fees?

– What about all the images used in logo and website design? Are the photos licensed for that use, or have they been randomly downloaded from the internet?

– Does the current site owner have the right to transfer ownership of code and design, or are there any third parties involved?

How much does the current owner spend on advertising?

Transferring ownership:

Use the communication channel offered by a selling service if possible. If communicating directly, keep all emails and make sure you use an escrow service. (see next point)

Use an escrow service for payment. All funds are held by a third party, until both parties sign off on the deal. The service is well worth its price.

Set up an account with your own domain registrar, and find out what it takes to transfer the domain to your account. There may be restrictions depending on the age of the domain or a previous transfer. Also contact the registrar that the domain is currently registered with and find out their requirements for transferring a domain to a different registrar. This will ensure a smooth transfer.

>> To confirm the registrar of your new domain, check the whois.net database. Do not close the deal until your info shows up in the Whois.net database!<<

Set up your own hosting asap. The seller might offer a period of free hosting, but to ensure full control, move the whole site to your own chosen hosting company with all your own passwords and billing info.

Set up a detailed plan for moving the website. Make a comprehensive backup of all databases and page files and keep your own copies, in case something goes wrong with the transfer. Some hosts offer to help with the transfer. Regardless if you do the transfer yourself, or you hire a service, be sure you have backups of all files handy before you start. The seller should have no hand in transferring the website. Just to be sure, once all the files have been moved, change your passwords.

Get passwords for any backend CMS login like WordPress; also get login info incl. passwords for your ftp, databases, control panel and current hosting accounts.

Search for and update all affiliate links.

Update tracking codes. Assuming the site uses analytics software, there will be tracking code. Be sure to replace any code with your own tracking code. (You may want to save old analytics information for your own purposes as well. Analytics programs usually offer an option to download their analytics info in different formats.) Same applies to any ad network code. If you use Google Adsense for example, make sure you replace all ad units with your own code.

Update content: Comb the site for references to the previous owners and their specific info, like emails, addresses and personal bios. Be sure to update it with your new info.

Once you’ve erased all previous owner’s references and codes, you can start advertising and promoting the website and develop it to your own likes – congratulations!

This checklist for buying a website may have a lot of points to consider, but resist short cuts! Just like any other larger purchases, it pays off to do your research and confirm any information you get independently. In the end all the hard work will pay off and you will get exactly the website you were looking for at a price that’s fair.

If you have any other tips for successfully buying a website, please add them to the comments.