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Ride Your Links to Success

Links Range from Good to Bad to Ugly: Ride Your Links to Success
By Frederick Townes (c) 2007

As a site owner, it's important to devote what link building time you have to creating connections that count – really count – as far as search engine spiders are concerned. In fact, there's a range of site link types – links diversity. Some are more valuable than others. Spend your time and resources building the highest quality links and you'll quickly see the value of these efforts.

Hosted Content
Hosted content, also sometimes called pre-sell pages, makes your site look very good. The problem is, there are usually costs involved. Here's how it works.

You, the content expert, write an article. It should be longer than 600 words but no longer than 1200 words. It should be well-written, completely researched, edited, re-edited and finally proofed so that it's letter perfect. Okay, now you have host-worthy content.

Hosted content is content that's placed on another site for a fee. In other words, you rent a page on another site to display your work. Now, what do you get for your money?

First, position your article on a site that's (1) related to the topicality of your site and (2) has a tons of one-way links to content that's "deep" in the site (in other words sub-pages that rank well in SERPs based on their title tags, for example). These two factors are the best way to measure and quantify the strength your page has in the target site, and ultimately, the link love it creates passes to your site. As you already know hosted content creates editorial inbound links, also known as pure gold.

Second, because it's your article and you're paying for the space, you can embed text links directly to specific pages of your site. This does a couple of things. First, you spread your web net further. Links to your site now appear on other sites – some several incarnations removed from your own site. This, ultimately, increases your site traffíc as people read your interesting commentary and click on those embedded links to see what else is on your mind. That's good. More hits. More page views. Higher conversion ratios.

Third, if you spread your words across the web, you start to develop some name recognition within your niche. Unless you're Dan Kennedy or Skip McGrath, it's tough building name recognition. However, by crafting numerous, informative articles you'll start to be recognized. And wait until you Google your name and find 15 SERPs because your articles appear on dozens and dozens of sites.

The downside is the cost. Site owners charge you for the use of their space. If you're well capitalized, no problem. Spend the money to spread your words. If money is a problem, choose your host sites carefully. Use Google Analytics or ClickTracks data to determine not only number of unique visitors you create from these pages of hosted content, but quality of traffíc as well. Look for sites that match the two criteria above. Very important.

Article Submission
Okay, money is a problem. You don't have a lot. You can still get your name and your opinions out there through various article submission sites.

Once again, site owners need great content and many rely on article submission sites to pick up fresh content for free. Here's the deal. You write an article and go through the same steps of researching, editing and proofing until the piece is pristine and makes you sound like a savant. Perfect.

Now you place that piece on sites like or for free use by other sites. The plus side is, if the content is solid, you'll get picked up by literally hundreds (even thousands) of sites. And in return for the free use of your written brilliance, the sites that display your content are obliged to include a link back to your web site. So, you put out 10 articles on topics related to your business, each one gets picked up and used by 20 other sites and you've got 200 non-reciprocal inbound links. Well done.

But isn't this the same model as hosted content except it's free? No. There are two key points to consider. First, with articles you syndicate it's much more difficult to embed editorial links to your targeted web site. Instead, you take advantage of the target link and anchor text in your bio box that appears at the end of the article.

What does this mean? Ultimately syndicated articles are not unique content like hosted content is, and ultimately it's more challenging to place links to your own site editorially without appearing to be hyping your goods or services. So there's a tradeoff when you go the article syndication route. The key, just as with hosted content, is to have killer, useful information in order to entice webmasters to repurpose the article for their communities and give you credít, a bio and a back link.

But, it doesn't cost you anything but your time, assuming you can string words together into cogent sentences, or at least your brother-in-law can.

If you're good at syndicated content or article submission, you control the anchor text – the actual links readers click on. You can also embed editorial links in syndicated content. Now, these aren't links directly back to your site, but they will take the readers to a target page that you want them to read, so if you're building links for other sites in your portfolio, this approach has a proven track record.

Reciprocal Links

Sites still exchange links. The concept isn't moribund, but it certainly doesn't have the impact a non-reciprocal link has. Reciprocal linking is simply an exchange of links. You link to my site; I'll link to yours. And since spiders follow links, it's not a bad arrangement.

A couple of warnings, however. Any site with which you exchange links should be related to the topic of your site. If you're selling baby clothes on your site and you've got a link to a transmission fix-it site, you'll get nicked by the search engine. Remember, the whole purpose of a search engine is to provide useful, relevant content to users so any links you exchange should be considered from the point of view of the site visitor. Is that link going to further the search of the site visitor or is it a dead end?

If a site appears to have a significant number of back links, and better yet, ranks well in the SERPs, it's a likely candidate for a link exchange even if it's a PR 2. Look for quality sites, or at least quality characteristics.

One-Way Link Building

This comes in several forms. First, there's the ever-popular 'link begging' where you contact a site owner (you can find that information in Whois, if it's not on the contact page) and basically plead your case to have that site owner accept your link. This is a tough sell because, naturally, the site owner wants to know what's in it for him or her. Custom written, tailored emails tend to do better than form letter emails, obviously, and there's definitely nothing wrong with a telephone call provided you make it abundantly clear what you have to offer.

There are paid links programs. For example, lists web sites willing to sell links to your site. You can bid on the cost of the link, agree to the length of time the link will appear and where it will appear. There are other programs that will hook up sites – usually with decent PRs – with site owners looking for good deals on paid links. Again, don't forget to buy links with relevance to your site.

You can pay to advertise on another site with banner ads, though this has been shown to deliver lukewarm results unless you know your market very well. Do a competitive analysis and see what's working for the competition. The click-thru rate on banners is less than 3% but they aren't usually too expensive.

Finally, you can post your thoughts and opinions on forums and blogs related to your site. Each post will create a back link, but one that spiders will recognize as a blog back link – not a bad thing, just not a gangbusters way to build site credibility, especially considering that most links have a nofollow added and forums capable of giving any link love tend to moderate (and eliminate link sp@m) quite heavily. Don't be fooled though, links even with a nofollow attached still have some magic – even on Google.

From hosted content to blog posts, anybody can get a little recognition on the web. And if you've actually got marketing capital, you can pay for hosted content and watch your site grow quickly.
Very quickly.

About The Author

Frederick Townes is the the owner of W3 EDGE Web Design. W3 EDGE is a Boston web design company that provides extensive conversion optimization, SEO-friendly web designs and Internet Marketing services. W3 EDGE is also pleased to provide their clients reliable professional web hostíng solutions with tons of features and extremely fast servers.

Advertising's Most Important Word

Advertising's Most Important Word
By Jerry Bader (c) 2007

If you had to guess the single most important word in advertising what would it be: free, special, discount, sale, new, improved, bígger, better?
So many words have lost their meaning or been corrupted by misuse or abuse that it is not an obvious choice. The words luxury, exclusive, and world class have been rendered meaningless after being applied to everything from eight hundred square foot condos to restaurants that serve microwave frozen dinners. We can't even rely on light, diet, or low carb to actually describe what's inside a package.
What advertisers have done is create a hyper cynical marketplace, where the audience for whatever you sell has lost faith in what is being said. The Web with its emphasis on content gives advertisers a chance to redeem themselves and to deliver meaningful information to its audience.

All Content Is Advertising, All Advertising Isn't
Some may cringe at the thought, but in the final analysis all content is a form of advertising. Content is rarely if ever neutral, even if it doesn't overtly promote a product or service; content always has a point to make, or an idea, concept, or position to advance. If content doesn't provide some perspective, some meaningful knowledge, then does it really qualify as content? The same can be said for advertising, if it doesn't explain, enlighten or engage, it is just noise.

What Is Advertising's Most Important Word?
My vote goes to the simple innocuous word "like": a nondescript word that carries with it all the conceptualization power you need to create a business identity, to form a brand personality, and to position your product or service in the mind of your audience. A previous article of mine "A Website Without Video Is Like..." uses the power of metaphor to illustrate how this little four-letter word can crystallize an idea in the mind of an audience.

Metaphor + Analogy + Stories: The Adman's Best Friends
A metaphor explains complex concepts and hard to comprehend processes by comparing them to common everyday knowledge. We use metaphors everyday without even realizing we're doing it. We 'race' to the office. We work like 'dogs." And we all know, it's a 'jungle' out there. Metaphors are critical to the way we communicate with each other and to the success of our marketing communication and advertising.
Metaphors can be extended into analogies, and analogies into stories, and stories into campaigns; and campaigns developed in this manner have a higher probability of achieving the elusive status of meaningful content that embeds your message in your audience's collective consciousness. There is no better way to overcome a client's objection than to put that objection into perspective with an appropriate allegorical story.
Overcoming Objections: How Long Is Too Long?
We've all heard the constant bellyaching from impatient Web users about how long they have to wait for everything on the Web. Every time I hear this from somebody, I am reminded of the story (perhaps apocryphal) of the early introduction of the Polaroid Land camera.
Before the days of one-hour photo shops, digital photography, and immediate video feedback, people had to wait up to a week for their pictures to be developed by the local pharmacy or camera shop. When Polaroid came out with a camera that delivered a finished photograph in sixty seconds, people were amazed; the era of ínstant gratification had begun.
So the story goes, a group of adventurers traveled deep into the Brazilian Rainforest to learn about the indigenous people. When they came across a tribe who hadn't seen outsiders before, they befriended them and took pictures of them with the Polaroid cameras they brought along. The natives loved the pictures since they hadn't seen anything like this before, but they did have one complaint, 'why did it take so long for the pictures to develop?'
The problem is not technology; the problem is one of perception. Like the natives who perceived the sixty second developing of photographs to be slow, so to do many Web-users perceive the Internet to be slow when in fact it is an incredible technological achievement where anyone with a computer and Internet connection can access information from all over the world in seconds or, heaven forbid, minutes.

The Better The Story, The Better The Communication
The solution to the problem is better communication, making yourself and your message instantly understood. People who are truly interested in what you have to say will wait for your Web page or video to load. What gets them frustrated is when they wait, and instead of getting a meaningful message, they get a bunch of nonsense that is irrelevant, self-congratulatory or completely incomprehensible.
A video or audio message on your website is more easily grasped than a page full of densely written text or cryptic bulleted points. But you will loose your audience quickly no matter what the form of your message if it's confusing, muddled, overly complex, or buried in b-school platitudes and industry jargon.
You need your message to be understandable, engaging, and memorable and one of the best ways to convey that message is to compare it to something your audience can relate to. It's like teaching your kids a life lesson by reading them one of Aesop's Fables.

Finding Your Metaphor
Some people have a knack for expressing things in a way that an audience will instantly grasp and more importantly remember. For those of us in the communication, marketing, advertising, and creative development businesses it is a necessary skill learned over the years. But for those in the day-to-day grind of business's nitty-gritty it is rarely an ability that ever gets developed.
Creating a Web video campaign that your audience is going to watch, remember, and pass on to colleagues requires a commitment of time and funds, and you want to make sure it communicates your message effectively. Rather than using your traditional approach concentrating on features and facts, try something different; try developing a campaign based on a metaphor that delivers your brand's personality and emotional value-add.
Where to begin? You need to set yourself free from the concrete, and concentrate on the conceptual. If this seems like a difficult thing to wrap your head around, then start with baby steps.
Concentrate On The Conceptual
Any effective marketing campaign whether it's a series of Web videos, direct emails, magazine display ads, banner ads, outdoor billboards, television and radio spots, or any combination there of, will only work if it focuses on a single message.
At the heart of all advertising is the promise you commit to delivering to your clients. No matter how clever or memorable your marketing, if you fail to deliver on that promise, you will fail.
Learn a lesson from the politicians. The general publics' opinion of politicians is about on a par with having a prostate exam. Politicians can't help themselves, they promise the electorate what the electorate wants to hear, and then fail to deliver on promises that can't be kept. Consequently, people become cynical and distrust everything politicians say.
Failure to deliver on your promise to be the cheapest, the best, or the guy with the most features, is like a politician promising no new taxes. Read my lips! Those kinds of promises are a prescription for marketing disaster.
Taking the conceptual approach requires a certain degree of confidence and an understanding that you are going to have to give something up to get something in return. If you present your identity as the Timex of widgets, inexpensive and ubiquitous; then you are giving up the audience looking for the Rolex of widgets, expensive and exclusive.
Audience Resonance: It's All About Striking A Nerve
One of the most memorable commercials ever to appear on television was the 1985 introduction of the Apple Macintosh computer. The anti-big brother message said nothing of bits or bytes, or anything else computer related, but it did establish Apple's character and personality with its allegorical message, a message that is still valid today.

If your marketing message lacks this kind of power and personality; if your advertising is getting lost, or drowned-out by the competition, try finding a metaphor that instantly tells your audience who you are and why they should care.

About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit, and Contact at or telephone (905) 764-1246.

20 Must-Have Search Engine Marketing Tools

20 Must-Have Search Engine Marketing Tools
By Kalena Jordan (c) 2007

Anyone working in Search Engine Marketing knows that this industry travels at warp speed. If you're trying to market your web site or the web sites of your clients via search engines, chances are your time is limited - severely limited.
To squeeze as much into my schedule as possible without resorting to self-cloning, my daily routine involves the use of a range of time-saving tools and software. I use such tools on a daily basis and I truly don't know how I'd function without them. I'm not the only one. I've talked to other SEM experts and they also rely on various tools to help them through their hectic schedules.

Here is a líst of 20 must-have tools used by busy SEM professionals:
1. Freshbooks Invoicing and TimesheetsFreshbooks is an online estimating, invoicing, project management and time tracking service that gives your business a professional image, no matter how small. I use it to invoice all my clients online and it can even be set up to automatically bill and debit the credít cards of recurring clients every month. It also has built in staff timesheets and project management tools for online collaboration.
Price: Free for 3 clients or less
2. XML Sitemaps GeneratorThe XML Sitemap Generator trawls through all levels of your site to generate an XML sitemap. It also gives you a running count of pages, provides a text-based URL líst and a HTML sitemap you can import straight into your site. The online version of the generator is free for sites of less than 500 pages, but there's also a low-cost script-based version for large sites that can be set up to automatically index your site, upload an updated XML file to your server and ping Google and Yahoo when done.
Price: Free for sites of 500 pages or less
3. Proposal KitProposalKit takes the chore out of creating and tailoring client estimates and proposal contracts. With over 200 pre-designed self-guiding templates ready to fill in the blanks with your company, project/product/service and client information, ProposalKit has already half completed your proposal for you.
Price: From USD 47.00
4. ClickTracksAs far as site analytics goes, the depth and accuracy of data provided by ClickTracks just can't be beaten, in my opinion. The visual analysis ClickTracks provides is probably its best known feature, with statistical data overlaying actual screenshots of your web site pages. The ability to flag individual visitors or groups of visitors based on unique identifiers (such as all persons who visited page x or all persons who bought product d) provides a level of analysis that other analytical packages can't compete with.
Price: From USD 79.00 per month
5. AWeberAWeber is a multiple auto responder and mailing líst management service rolled into one. Members can send an unlimited number of campaigns, follow up messages, and newsletters to an unlimited number of approved opt-ín lists. For newsletter purposes, a wide range of templates are provided, as are free training guides and videos to help you create campaigns.
Price: From USD 19.95 per month
6. JROXJROX Affilíate Manager software (JAM) is a super powerful affilíate program that includes follow up email tools, email broadcasting, custom URLs and the ability to create up to 10 affilíate downlink levels. It offers affiliates groovy 3d Flash-based graphs and charts displaying their referrals and commissions and an organized marketing tools area for storage of banners, links and promotional materials.
Price: Free for 50 affiliates or less
7. Keyword DiscoveryKeyword Discovery is an advanced keyword research and search term suggestion tool produced by Trellian.
Price: From USD 69.95 per month
8. Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is free web-based site metrics / analytics software hosted by Google. After you include tracking code on all selected pages of your site, Google collects data regarding visitor activity and then you are able to log into an Analytics interface and view site activity and produce reports.
Price: $0
9) Backlinkwatch.comType your URL into Backlink Watch and get complete detailed information about the quality and quantity of backward links pointing to your website. It will show you anchor text, Google Toolbar PageRank, total outbound links on that page and nofollow flag for each of your inbound links available.
Price: $0
10) Jim Boykin's toolsA collection of 17 free SEO tools developed by Jim Boykin and his staff, including a cache analyzer, Backlink checker, keyword density tool and multiple inbound and outbound link checking tools.
Price: $0
11) Google Webmaster CentralGoogle Webmaster Central is Google's one-stop shop for webmaster resources. It contains answers to common questíons about Google crawling and indexing and guidelines for webmasters to follow when publishing their content. It also provides statistics, diagnostics and management of Google's indexing of your website, including Sitemap submission and reporting.
Price: $0
12) Yahoo! Site ExplorerYahoo! Site Explorer is Yahoo's version of Google Webmaster Tools. It allows you to explore all the web pages indexed by Yahoo! Search, view the most popular pages from any site, view a comprehensive site map and find pages that link to that site or any page.
Price: $0
13) is a keyword density and page prominence indicator. Type in a URL and target keywords to determine the page density and prominence for certain keywords within the page text and/or HTML tags.
Price: $0
14) Rex Swain's ToolsRex Swain is an independent software developer who has uploaded a range of his custom server tools and demos to his web site. Tools include an RGB color sampler, HTTP Cookie Demo, a HTML sampler and an email form demo.
Price: $0
15) SearchStatus for FirefoxSearchStatus is a toolbar extension for Firefox and Mozilla that allows you to see how any and every website in the world is performing in the search engines.
Price: $0
16) Microsoft ExcelMicrosoft Excel is probably the world's most popular spreadsheet application. Apart from its powerful formulas for financial reporting, Excel charts and spreadsheets are great for site analytics analysis and sharing, sitemap creation, SEO/PPC campaign reporting and tracking link building campaigns.
Price: Bundled with MS Office from USD 180.00
17) Google ReaderGoogle Reader is a RSS and XML feed reader that constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content and presents them to you in one interface. It also allows you to share sites/pages of interest with others.
Price: $0
18) BloggerBlogger is a popular online blog provider and templating service owned by Google, where you can quickly set up a blog of your own to post thoughts, interact with people, and more.
Price: $0
19) The Lynx ViewerThe Lynx Viewer developed by YellowPipe allows webmasters to see what their pages will look like when viewed with Lynx, a text-mode web browser. This view is very similar to how search engine robots see your site.
Price: $0
20) BasecampBasecamp is an online collaboration and project management service designed for staff and clients to manage internal and client projects from multiple locations.
Price: Free for 1 project
So there you have it - 20 of the most popular time-saving tools to help you with your search engine marketing efforts.
About The AuthorArticle by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running her own SEO business, Kalena is Director of Studies at Search Engine College - an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.
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