Designing Your Site For The Search Engines

When you design a website, it’s easy to focus on what your visitors are going to see. What you have to realise, though, is that you’re going to have another kind of visitor with a completely different agenda: they’re not going to be looking at your pretty logo and they’re not going to be passing judgement on your background colour. What they’re looking for is the content and structure of your page.

They’re the search engine spiders, and they are in control of probably the largest section of your traffic. You need to please these spiders if you want your site to be successful. Here’s how.

Make Your Structure Clear.

Resist the temptation to lay your page out in non-standard ways: you want it to be very clear to the search engine where the navigation is, where the content is, and where the headings are. As a rule, put navigation first in your page. Always use the heading tags (h1, h2, etc.) for headings and sub-headings.

Avoid using generic span and div tags and only making things clear to the user through CSS font sizes: instead, use every ‘semantic’ HTML tag that applies to your content. If you’re quoting someone, use the blockquote tag; if you’re posting program code, use the code tag. Search engines love this.

Keep Keywords Consistent.

It’s not usually worth deliberately saturating your content with keywords in hope of a higher search ranking – the engines have pretty much wised up to this tactic – but do make sure that your keywords appear consistently when they occur naturally. For example, for these articles, I have stuck with ‘website’ throughout, as suddenly writing ‘web site’ instead would bring down my rankings.

HTML and Javascript.

It’s worth noting that search engines read HTML, but they don’t, in general, read Javascript. That means that using Javascript to insert text into your page is a bad idea if you want search engines to see the text. On the other hand, you might want to have just the text in HTML and insert all the other parts of the page with Javascript: this will tend to make your page appear more focused, although you should be careful not to insert navigation links this way if you want the search engines to follow them.

Use Meta Tags.

Yes, meta tags are out of fashion, and search engines pay no attention to them any more when it comes to ranking your site, but they’re still important in one way: the meta description tag is still often used to decide what text search engines’ users see when they find your site in their results! This can be just as important as the ranking itself – write something here that will look useful to the searcher, and you’re more likely to get them to click-through. Don’t forget that, while search engines are just machines and algorithms, the end result of it all does involve a human decision: to click, or not to click?

Avoid Splash Pages.

You might think it’s a great idea to have a ‘splash’ page displaying a full-page version of your logo (or an ad) to every user who arrives at your site, but search engines really hate that. Using this trick will get you ranked far lower than you would usually be, so you should avoid it – it’s annoying to visitors anyway.

Include Alt Tags.

Any time you use a graphic, include alt text for it – especially if there is text in the graphic. Remember that, as far as search engines are concerned, all your graphics might as well just be big black boxes. Test by removing all your graphics and seeing if your content remains relatively intact. If it doesn’t, then you’ll be turning search engines away.

Finally, Write Great Content.

The key with modern search engines (and, at the same time, the thing you have least control over) is how many people decide to link to your page from their page. How can you make more people link to you? Make your content useful. Make it something they’ll want to quote on their blogs. Content is more King than it’s ever been, and the best way to design for search engines is to make your content really stand out.

5 Ways to get your website noticed

Your website is just one of the billion sites parked on the World Wide Web. Chances are, you don’t think yours will ever get noticed.
We hear your cries for cyber attention. Here are five ways to get people clicking on to your site.

1.) Make sure it’s professional looking.
No one likes looking at website that reminds them of a book report they wrote back in school. Invest in learning a good web design program (Dreamweaver MX and Microsoft Frontpage are good picks), and let your creative juices flow. Make sure it’s compelling, well-designed, and organized. People don’t exactly find it fun to weed through haystacks of cyberfiles to get the information that they want.
On that note, don’t make it a heavy site. Putting up some flash intros may be great eye candy, but the average internet surfer only waits 10 seconds for a page to load, and then they’re off to the next.

2.) Put your URL on every search engine possible.
Putting your URL on business cards and bugging your family and friends to check out your site won’t exactly increase traffic. Submitting it to search engines will make it easier for people to find you, provided that your webpage carries the topics they’re looking for. To understand how a search engine works, think of it as a “spider”: it crawls through your website, picking up words and information which would later be indexed in the search engine’s database. So make sure you pepper your site with keywords you think are relevant to what people are looking for. Web directories, like Yahoo!, are operated by humans who actually categorize the websites themselves.
If you don’t feel like submitting your website to numerous directories, consider subscribing to sites like www.submit-it.com, who, for a fee, will automatically submit your site to search engines and directories for you.

3.) Link everywhere.
Find other sites that carry similar content as yours and ask to exchange links. Create banners to be placed on other peoples’ websites, and offer to the same for them on your site. Add your URL on your e-mail signature. Join webrings if you must—there’s nothing like strength in numbers.

4.) Advertise offline.
The world of cyberspace isn’t enough to get you noticed. Write up press releases and send them to local newspapers and magazines. Print out fliers to be distributed. Just make sure that your site is already up and running to avoid giving people a bad impression (no one likes getting pumped up for something only to get disappointed).

5.) Interact with your readers.
Put up forums or message boards for your visitors to interact with each other. Chat rooms are often time-consuming for some, while message boards allows them to check back every so often for replies. Create an e-mail list so you can update your visitors about new developments, and always be open to feedback—that’s what will make your site even better.

Is Incorporating Your Small Business Best For You?

There comes a point in time when every small business person contemplates on whether to incorporate their business or not. A lot of times small businesses start out sole proprietorships, and then become incorporated as the business expands and develops. Small business incorporating can be a difficult decision, and with this article you’ll gain a little bit of knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages.

There are many advantages to incorporating your small business, but limited liability is one of the biggest advantages. When you have sole proprietorship to the company all the liability of the company is on the owner. When incorporating the business, your only liability is to however much you invest in the company.

With sole proprietorship, all of your personal belongings, such as car and home, can be turned over to help pay the debt of the business. As a shareholder in the business, you have no responsibility whatsoever for the debts of the business, that is of course unless you give a guarantee.

Another advantage to incorporating a small business is the ability to raise money so much easier. With the ability to raise money much easier, this increases the odds of the corporation growing and expanding. Yes, you’re saying any sole proprietorship can borrow money and incur debt like any corporation. However, with a corporation you can sell shares and raise equity capital, which is a big advantage in that you generally don’t have to repay equity capital and it has no interest.

There are many tax advantages with becoming a corporation that you can take a look at as well. Some of these advantages include income splitting, potential tax deferral and more. Along with the reasons above, a corporation can have an unlimited life. The life of a corporation is not dependent on particular individuals, but the company as a whole. With this, the company has the opportunity of lasting forever just as long merges with another company or goes bankrupt.

Now that I’ve buttered up the idea of incorporating your small business, let’s take a look at some of the possible negatives.

As you incorporate your small business, there now will be two tax returns to file each year, one for your personal income and one for the corporation. This may not be a huge deal, but unlike a sole proprietorship a corporation cannot deduct its losses from the personal income of the owner. Plus, having another tax return is the last thing another business owner wants to deal with.

As a corporation is much larger and more complex then a small business, therefore the cost to create one is much higher. Just to set up the corporation will cost a lot more, then you have to tack on the increased maintenance fees, accounting fees, and more.

As with everything else, a larger business means more paperwork that must be taken care of. Corporations must keep a minute book, which contains the corporate bylaws and minutes from corporate meetings. Reports and tax returns must be completed neatly and in a timely fashion. All of the business bank accounts and records have to be kept separate from personal accounts and assets. That may sound like a load, but that is just the start of the increased paperwork that comes with the territory of incorporating your small business.

While there are many advantages and disadvantages to incorporating your small business, the decision ultimately goes to you. It is a decision that could make or break your business, therefore much more research is recommended. However, small business incorporating should be a thing that suites you and others associated with you best.

Direct Mail Marketing Techniques for Insurance Sector

Aim to make your insurance direct mail stand out from the crowd by adding personalization. Most prospects receive five to seven mailers each day. By including a personalized message in your letter, you increase your chances of success. Consider using Google street view images and hand-addressing envelopes. These two methods can help improve the open rates of your mail. Here are other ways to improve your open rates: Include a QR Code or variable handwritten font note on your postcards. You can also add a picture of your company’s location in your letters or use a Google street view image on your website.

Direct Mail Marketing For Insurance Agents

When choosing which type of mail to send, consider personalizing images and texts. Personalizing your mail pieces can help increase your response rate. For instance, if you want to attract new parents, you can send personalized insurance direct mail pieces to new parents and adjust the rates accordingly. A personal message can go a long way to attracting new customers. If you are an independent insurance agent, consider adding a presence on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The quality of your service is also important. If you can make it easy for prospective customers to fill out the forms, more of them will move on to the next step. For example, GEICO is a leading car insurance company in the United States. The company offers a special discount to the Indiana University Alumni Association. Similarly, you can offer a discount on your insurance policies for those who have graduated from a nearby college.

Another way to improve your response rate is to use affinity marketing techniques. Using relevant themes can help you stand out from the crowd and make your direct mail more effective. You can include things like a QR code or insurance comparison calculator, which can provide instant access to quote details. A compelling call to action is also crucial when creating insurance direct mail. A simple, direct message is likely to be effective in getting customers to buy something. But make sure you focus on delivering benefits that are specific to your customers.

When designing your insurance direct mail, you must remember that consumers are often skeptical and may not be interested in your products or services. However, the right piece of mail can convert even the most skeptic to an interested customer. If you can make a personal connection with a consumer, your marketing efforts will be more successful. When it comes to healthcare, 70 percent of consumers prefer healthcare messages sent through direct mail to advertisements in newspapers and on television.

Your insurance direct mail should be personal. People respond to personalized messages, which can only be found in the postal system. For example, you can tailor your message to your customers’ interests. You can target your insurance direct mail based on demographics or neighborhood. For instance, if you focus on insurance, you can use every door and carrier routes in a particular area. By making the insurance direct mail more personal, you’ll increase your chances of closing a sale.

A good insurance direct mail can be a trusted source for consumers. A personalized letter can help increase the chances of a prospect opening the mailer. In addition to these benefits, insurance direct mailing also requires careful list hygiene. If you’re not sure how to go about this, consult an expert and hire a marketing agency to handle this for you. It’s essential to consider the demographics of your target audience and the age of your prospective customers.

Conclusion

In addition to insurance, Target Leads is another great insurance direct mail vendor. Despite its name, this vendor specializes in insurance and seems to focus on the insurance market. This company’s video explains its service in a simple manner. It is middle of the road in terms of pricing and its website is helpful for running counts. Aside from that, Target Leads is an excellent choice for your insurance direct mailing. You’ll also have access to their client database.

A perfect insurance direct mail campaign should include a personalized lead with the right amount of details. A lead with less specifics will result in a higher response rate, but the quality of the response will be lower. In this case, the insurance direct mail will be more likely to get a positive response than a generic one. Using a lead like this will increase the chances of receiving a favorable reply. The best insurance direct mail is one that will generate responses and leads.

Steps to becoming a web host reseller

You’ve decided to get a reseller web hosting account to resell web space. What now? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

1. Choose the platform you want to use.

More open source software programs are available for Linux than for Windows, which makes Linux less expensive. While most programs (Perl, PHP, Flash, etc.) run on both platforms, a few run on only Windows or Linux. A site that requires ASP or MS Access, for example, requires a Windows platform.

2. Choose the control panel you want to use.

Control panels for websites range from very basic to loaded with features. As a reseller, you’ll also have a control panel for you to set up and control hosting accounts.
In Choosing Your Hosting Automation Software, we compare several control panels, all of which offer good features for web host resellers.

3. Choose your web host.

The web host company that you choose for your reseller account is a key decision — your business success depends on the quality of your host. Factors to consider when choosing a web host for a reseller account:

The platform and control panel
Account features
The company’s reputation — search for online reviews by clients
The record of server uptime
The level of support — how fast does tech support respond to support requests, especially time-sensitive ones?
Flexibility — does the web host have packages that allow you to upgrade when your needs increase? Will they customize plans if necessary?
How long the web host has been in business — while a new web host may be very good, many web hosting businesses fail within the first year
Price — consider what is included in the price
Get Started with reseller hosting. http://www.websitesource.com

4. Set up your hosting plans and prices

Divide your bandwidth by your disk space to find out the ratio of bandwidth to disk space that you can offer. Take into account any ratios that differ if you upgrade to a larger package, and then base your packages on that ratio.
For pricing, consider what competitors charge, but also factor in any additional services you’ll be offering.

5. Develop a business website

You have three main choices for website development:
Create a website using an existing website template http://www.websitesource.com/clientarea/reseller_website_templates.shtml

Hire a designer or a design company to design your site for you http://design.websitesource.com/design/elements_custom-work.php
If you have web design skills, design your site yourself
Include all the information that clients will want to know about your services and company.

6. Make your site e-commerce ready

To be able to accept payments for hosting accounts, you’ll to set up:
An SSL certificate
A merchant account
A payment gateway

7. Set up a helpdesk

A helpdesk allows clients to contact you with support requests and you to track and respond to those requests.

8. Set up billing

With an automated billing system, clients are billed and payments are registered with little effort on your part. Most billing software licenses are priced per month or per year, with some billing software companies offering prices for lifetime licenses.

Some popular billing and payment processing systems:
Modernbill http://www.modernbill.com/
ClientExec http://www.clientexec.com/
WHM.Autopilot http://www.whmautopilot.com/
Whois.Cart http://www.whoiscart.net/

When you choose a billing software program, check if it’s compatible with your server platform and if support is included.

9. Create a welcome email

After you set up hosting accounts for your clients, you’ll need to send them a welcome email. Include in this email:

A confirmation of the plan details
The nameserver names
A username and temporary password
A link to the control panel
Links to your knowledge base / FAQ and to your helpdesk

10. Market your website

Submit your site to search engines. Tell your family, friends, and business acquaintances about your website. Include a link to it in your signature line in outgoing emails. But don’t stop there — market your website http://www.marketingcontrolpanel.com via incoming links, advertising, newsletters, and special offers.

Six Sigma for Small Business

It is not surprising that some people may perceive Six Sigma as being only for large corporations. Major corporations such as Allied Signal, Black & Decker, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Federal Express, General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, Kodak, Motorola, Sony, and Toshiba have all rolled out Six Sigma efforts and achieved outstanding results. Yet, it is incorrect to think that Six Sigma process improvement results can only be achieved by huge organizations. Small businesses can also succeed in implementing Six Sigma and reap the process improvement benefits that Six Sigma provides.

Certainly, there are factors that can be disadvantageous for implementing Six Sigma in a small business rather than a large business, such as lack of resources and expertise in change initiatives. However, there are also characteristics inherent in small businesses that can speed up the effective implementation of Six Sigma more than in large businesses, such as flexible process flows, a shorter decision-making chain, and higher visibility of senior management.

Six Sigma can work in any size business because the nature of Six Sigma is dependent upon characteristics inherent to any business, not on the size of a business. Six Sigma MAIC (measure, analyze, improve, and control) disciplines work no matter the size of the organization or even the size of the Six Sigma project.

Small businesses do have constraints that limit their ability to initiate a large scale Six Sigma implementation. However, there are ways to overcome these limitations. Small businesses don’t have large reserves of excess cash to earmark for the massive training programs employed by the large corporations in implementing their Six Sigma programs. Small businesses generally can’t afford to have full-time Master Black Belts on staff and may not have the personnel with the skills and expertise to step into the role of Black Belts without extensive training. A certified Six Sigma consultant can act as your Black Belt for the initial projects until you have generated sufficient savings to be able to provide some of those savings for training your own people. Training happens at a slower scale for smaller companies but it still happens. Financially, savings realized from the first set of projects usually justifies the entire cost of the Six Sigma training.

Once some members of the organization have been trained as Green Belts, Six Sigma projects proceed with Green Belts executing Six Sigma processes. Incrementally, Green Belts are developed into Black Belts and new Green Belts are trained. Using a more gradual training approach addresses many of the constraints of smaller companies and allows them to implement Six Sigma at a pace a small business can more easily manage.

There is a benefit to implementing Six Sigma in a smaller business. Because of the size of a small business, the financial results and cultural transformation that stem from Six Sigma will propagate more quickly through a smaller organization. Focusing the Six Sigma tools at virtually any properly scoped project will drive savings to your bottom line and achieve breakthrough change in your organization.

Small Business Planning — Three Myths

Are you — like 70 percent of small business owners — working without a plan? Here are three myths that need to be dispelled about strategic planning for small business.

1. It has to be formal — Not so.

The value of a strategic plan for your small business is in putting the ideas on paper, creating action steps that will get you where you want to go and implementing those action steps.

2. I’m too small — Not so.

Even a one-person business can benefit from a strategic plan. A strategic plan can help you make decisions about time management and budget. You can use your strategic plan to help you determine whether to attend an event or advertise in a publication. It’s a check and balance tool.

3. A strategic plan is like a ball and chain — Not so.

It’s your plan. Too many small business owners feel like once it’s on paper, it can’t be changed. Wrong! Your plan should be an active document that gets reviewed and updated at least monthly, if not weekly. You’re the business owner, you wrote it, you know what’s happening in your market — adjust as necessary.

Graphic Design Using Color

Color is everywhere and conveys a message even if we don’t realize it. While this message can vary by culture it pays to know what colors “say” in your own corner of the universe, and even what color means to your target market.

If you don’t think that color speaks just complete this sentence, “red means —- and green means ?” even a child will know what red means stop and green means go. If such simple ideas work for all of a given culture or market what could it mean to the graphic design of your website, brochure, or product if you know some of this information.

First let’s start with the basics. The color wheel. We’ve all seen it. The color wheel shows the basic colors, each wheel is different in how many shades of each color is shown, but they are essentially the same.

Color harmony, colors that go together well. These will be colors that are next door to each other on the color wheel. Such as blue and green. In reference to clothes these colors match each other. Instinctively most of us know which colors go together when we dress ourselves every morning.

Color complements, colors that set each other off, they complement each other. These are colors that are opposite on the color wheel. Such as blue and orange.

Color depth, colors can recede or jump forward. Remember that some colors seem to fall back such as blue, black, dark green, and brown. Other colors will seem to step forward such as white, yellow, red, and orange. This is why if you have a bright orange background it may seem to fight with any text or images that you place on it. The orange will always seem to move forward.

Now you have the basics so let’s go further. Just because to colors go together or complement each other doesn’t mean that yo necessarily want to use them on your project. I opened this article with the meaning of colors now here is an example, keep in mind this is one example from western culture.

Color Survey: what respondents said colors mean to them.

Happy = Yellow Inexpensive = Brown

Pure = White Powerful = Red (tomato)

Good Luck = green Dependable = Blue

Good tasting = Red (tomato) High Quality = Black

Dignity = Purple Nausea = Green

Technology = Silver Deity = White

Sexiness = Red (tomato) Bad Luck = Black

Mourning = Black Favorite color = Blue

Expensive = Gold Least favorite color = Orange

So in designing your project it’s important to know what colors mean. You can now see why a black back ground with green type would be bad, beyond being nearly impossible to read, if your target market thinks that black represents mourning and green makes them sick. There are exceptions to every rule of course.

So you may want to include some research in what colors mean to your target market. Colors that would get the attention of a teen would probably annoy an older person and the colors that appeal to the older person wouldn’t get a second look from a young person.

 

“Pay-Per Click” Ad Campaign: Earn More By Spending Less

What is “Pay-Per Click”? “Pay-Per Click”, is an easy to understand advertising strategy. There are around 300 million searches at major search engines everyday. This causes 80% of internet traffic. Placing your websites on these search engines is very important in reaching as many potential customers as possible. But in order to be seen and clicked most frequently, your website should be viewed at the top most of the search list. Most people only reach up to the third page of a search engine so the lower your rank, the lesser the chance you will be clicked. In “Pay-Per Click” advertising, you pay to be always visible on the internet. You select keywords or key phrases about your website, and the highest bidder ranks the best. There is no upfront cost. You only pay after a visitor clicks your link. This is why it is called “Pay-Per Click”.

Everyday millions of people around the world click on Pay-Per Click Advertising Campaign. With the booming internet industry and the ever growing online business, an ad of virtually anybody on the planet can be seen on the internet anywhere in the world.

The “Pay-Per Click” advertising campaign is the premier growth area in online marketing. Last year, an estimated $741.2 million was spent on “Pay-Per Click” advertising. The usual search engine optimization can take weeks or even months to produce results. “Pay-Per Click” advertising can attract customers at an instant. Why? Because, this cutting edge ad campaign can be placed on any website and can be viewed by potential online customers, anywhere, anytime and all the time. The only challenge is placing the ads on proper websites that will attract possible customers for a specific product or services.

“Pay-Per Click” advertising campaign attracts the right consumers at the shortest possible time. This is the most cost effective way of marketing products or services. You can also monitor the customers who visit your site, what they are looking for and what they are buying. With the right creativity on using the right search-phrases, we can direct the right people who are willing to do business with us.

“Pay-Per Click” advertising can easily be managed 24 hours per day and 7 days a week through the internet. This allows you improve the campaign strategy by effectively responding to the activities of both customers and competitors.

So what are you waiting for? “Pay-Per Click” now and let your business take the fast route to success.

Know Your Competition: How to transfer business skills into the internet marketplace

One of the first things to do before starting up any business is to investigate the competition. Any business owner knows this is crucial; to determine how to position a business in the market, who to target, what prices to set and who to keep an eye on. The same is true of the internet marketplace.

However, this understanding is rarely transferred when a business decides to ‘go online’. Perhaps the initial setup is so daunting that little thought is spared for anything beyond the layout and content of a website. The internet, however is still a marketplace, and one that is growing exponentially. Those same business skills need to be put to use here too.

If you want to learn from the success of your competitors you first need to think like a search engine. By mimicking popular keywords and phrases you can benefit from traffic that would otherwise be directed to your competitors sites.

Keywords are contained in what are called ‘Meta Tags’. These are tags that are found in the source code at the top of a webpage and include descriptions, titles and key words. Search engines use this information (in addition to content) to rank your page for different search strings. You can access this information by viewing the source of any website, just simply select ‘View’, and ‘Source’ from the toolbar.

If after looking at this code you fear it resembles some alien language, do not despair! There are many programs available that will search competitors’ sites for this information and provide a full report: in plain English. Just look for anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it is one of the new hot topics; and you will be swamped with products. The danger is to believe too much of the hype, don’t pay for promises; search engines are not as easily tricked as we are!

Another key ingredient is links. Your page will be ranked favourably if it is viewed by the search engines as being an authority on a given subject. Links work a bit like votes, if someone links to your site they are effectively ‘casting a vote’ of approval. However the weight of this vote is affected by how many other sites they link to, so beware of ‘link farms’ (pages contained entirely of links) because they will not help improve your site’s positioning. The easiest way to obtain links is through online directories – although people may not visit your site directly through these links, it will help with overall search engine positioning.

Returning to the competition; you can discover who is linking to other sites by using an online link popularity checker. This way you can try and get these sites to link to you also. Remember, directed traffic is the best, so aim for links from sites which contain similar content to yours. If you are a business selling stamps, your best links would be from stamp appreciation pages – obvious really.

The internet has been established for a while now. It is no longer an unknown jungle. As a new business entering this arena you can learn from other people’s successes as well as their mistakes!