Archive for August, 2011

Do you know what the most frequently investigated word is on internet search engines?  Knowing what this word is and using it to it’s fullest extent can literally EXPLODE your sales if you run an online business.  Let me explain.

The all important word is FREE!!!

The word that is used in searches on the internet more than any other is FREE.  Everyone loves something for nothing.  No one wants to pay for something if they can get it for free.

Think about all the times you have searched for something on the internet.  Whether it was information, a service, a product,…in fact anything.  Did you just type in the description, a keyword or phrase, or did you put the word ‘free’ before it?  If you omitted the word ‘free’, the search engine generated the results, and I guarantee it gave you a list of ‘related searches’ containing the keywords you used with ‘free’ in front of them.

Giving something for free offers many benefits for every online business. As an online business, if you offer a product, service or some information for free, you can achieve have great returns.

First of all it boosts your search engine rankings.  As the word is typed into a search more than any other, having it optimized on your website will have amazing dividends.

Once a customer has found you in their search results, further use of the word free will draw them in even more.  Giving them something for nothing if they visit your site is a big attraction.  In fact, it is such a huge attraction that I can’t emphasize how important it is.

When someone visits your site to claim their freebie, several things can happen.

In order to get their free product, you should arrange your site so that they have to give you their name and email address.  This is the #1 reason for offering it to them in the first place. Remember, you ALWAYS want to be building your list.

It is highly unlikely that someone will buy something on their first visit to a website.  And unless there is an excellent reason for them to return, they may never visit again. By having their email address, you can contact them and remind them to revisit your site.  You can offer them ‘special offers’ and affiliate sales through your correspondence emails.

It is a well known fact that there needs to be an average of seven contacts (sales pitches, remind revisits, offers, etc…) with a customer before they will actually buy something.  The reasons for this are quite lengthy and are a whole other article, so let’s stick to the matter at hand.

By being able to have that all- important contact with your customers, your chances of them making a purchase have increased significantly. They learn to ‘trust you’, you become familiar to them and that is what often clinches the deal.  You gain these things from your customers and then they buy.

So, that’s how you make money from giving away something for free.

The item that you offer, whether it is a subscription to an ezine, an e-book, report or software, MUST be of good quality. If the customer receives their freebie and the quality is poor, they will not come back to your website and buy anything.

Even if you are the best website in your niche, offering the best deals, they will never find out, because they just won’t come back. On the other hand, if they are impressed by their free gift, they are more than likely to visit you website again and again.  High quality, useful products are essential if you want the ‘freebie offer’ to work for you.

Classified ads are a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website.  The headline and description should be centered around the infamous “what’s in it for me”.  That is called offering a freebie. This will entice them to click the link and visit your website.

And the best part is that you can post classifieds for free!  Just type ‘free classifieds’ into the search box and choose from the thousands of results that the search engines produce.  Submit your ads often and the traffic will keep coming.

Use the word ‘free’ anywhere your ads appear.  If you publish articles, reports or e-books, put your offer in your resource box.  If you use pay-per-click, use the offer as your ad copy.  If you are advertising in e-zines, again use the free offer in your resource box.

When deciding on what it is that you will give way, there is one piece of advice that is vital: Make the free item appropriate to your audience.  And whatever niche you operate in, stick with the theme. If you offer an e-book on ‘how to knit fancy tea cozies’ and your business sells musical instruments, you will be heading for a problem.

The customer will visit your website to get their e-book.  They will download it and probably be very pleased if it contains high quality information on ‘how to knit fancy tea cozies’.  If you contact them afterwards via e-mail with a ‘special offer on violin strings’,  chances are they will not visit your website again. No matter how many emails you send them, their interest was tea cozies, not musical instruments.  Why should they visit your site again?  The fact is they won’t.

In conclusion, the more you offer freebies, the more money you will make. It is one of the best traffic drivers and is a straight forward concept.

Now that you have this little golden nugget of valuable information, get to work.  Plan what you could offer, to whom, when and where. Decide on a product that you can legally give away.  Make it something that is useful to your own niche market. Advertise it everywhere you can and your opt-in-list will grow very quickly.  After all, ‘the money is in the list’, but again, that’s another article for another time… };-)

What exactly is Search Engine Optimization?

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of choosing the most appropriate targeted keyword phrases related to your site, and making sure that these phrases help your site achieve a high rank in search engines, so that when someone searches for specific phrases it returns your site somewhere within the top ten search results. It basically involves fine tuning the content of your site along with the HTML and Meta Tags and also involves the appropriate link building process.

The most popular search engines are Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, AOL and Ask Jeeves. Search engines keep their methods and ranking algorithms secret, to get credit for finding the most valuable search-results and to deter spam pages from clogging those results. A search engine may use hundreds of factors while ranking the listings where the factors themselves and the weight each carries may change continually. Algorithms can differ so widely that a webpage that ranks #1 in a particular search engine could rank #200 in another search engine. New sites need not be “submitted” to search engines to be listed.

A simple link from a well established site will get the search engines to visit the new site and begin to spider its contents. It can take a few days to even weeks from the referring of a link from such an established site for all the main search engine spiders to commence visiting and indexing the new site.

If you are unable to research and choose keywords and work on your own search engine ranking, you may want to hire someone to work with you on these issues.

Search engine marketing and promotion companies will look at the plan for your site and make recommendations to increase your search engine ranking and website traffic. If you wish, they will also provide ongoing consultation and reporting to monitor your website and make recommendations for editing and possible improvements, in order to keep your site traffic flow and your search engine ranking high. Normally the search engine optimization experts work with the web designer so that they can build an integrated plan together right away, and so that all aspects of design are considered at the same time.

I have used a few SEO service providers who have done a good job helping me improve and increase the flow of traffic to my websites, but you have to be careful and do your due diligence when deciding whose services you will employ. Keep in mind that SEO services are usually moderately expensive in the best of cases, so be careful!

Increase traffic to your website using social networking sites

The popularity of social networking sites is increasing day by day!

I’m talking about sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg etc. It can be said that social networking is one of the best and free ways for increase traffic to your site. Here are some tips you can use to increase your traffic using social networking sites:

(1). Increase traffic through Friends
Friends are the heart of the social networking attitude, and when promoting content this can be a valuable tool in viral marketing. The more friends you have in your network, the more visibility you will have when promoting.

(2). Increase traffic through Blogs
Blogs are one more great way to spread the word! Blogs allow you to post nameless comments. I use these blogs to post a comment and then I include a link to one of my sites. I achieve a free back link for simply commenting on a story.

(3). Increase traffic through Picture Perfect
You may not understand it, but by passing on uploading your picture, you are also passing on an opportunity to get more people clicking on your articles. Why? Well, for one thing, it is known that spammers never take the time to upload a picture. Second, it is called “social” networking and “social” bookmarking sites. If you are trying to be “social”, you definitely should put a face to your name.

(4). Increase traffic through Profile Pages
If you are a keen online social networker, you will have a killer profile page. Your profile page will increase your link total to your projects, and it will shift visitors to your other profile pages in other networks so you get more friends!

(5). Increase traffic through bulletin
You can send bulletins to your entire list of friends. The more friends you have, the more views your bulletins receive. Common sense! Some people use bulletins way to much and end up getting deleted very quickly, so my advice is to use this angle a few times a month and keep it simple!

(6). Increase traffic through Content
Nothing is more important than content. If you are a good writer and you write about interesting topics, you are going to do well on the social networking sites. People seem to like top 10 lists, top 20 lists, etc. I suggest that you look at digg.com to see what gets the most diggs.

(7) Increase traffic through clipart and screensavers
If you have some skills in this direction then try creating clipart and screensavers. Offering these for free is also a good way to get more traffic.

Finally, make sure that you are part of a few of the more popular social networking websites. These memberships will be only destined to build your own network and not to do overt marketing. As your social network grows you can invite your contacts to join you on the social networking website. This should start a sequence reaction that will get them inviting their own contacts and so on. Your network will grow to a point where people will start naturally inquiring into the nature of your business and what you do, and then you can just tell them about it in a conversational sort of way, without pitching or selling anything. Then you will see success come your way.

It will take some time, so be patient!

How to get targeted traffic to your website

Everyone who has a website knows that to have sales you must have traffic, but not just any traffic. It has to be targeted traffic.

What is targeted traffic? It is simply getting visitors to your website that are interested in what your website is about. For example, people interested in buying jewelry will find jewelry websites interesting.

How can I get targeted traffic, you ask? The following are tried and tested methods that work for me:

Forums: Subscribe to forums that discuss your topic. Answer questions and join in the debates there. Become an expert in the field. Then with each article reply you write have a discreet link to your website in the signature file. What can be placed in your signature is often determined by the forum moderators. Do not spam the forum or you will be stopped from posting. This is one of the most productive ways of getting free traffic as those who click your link have already read and liked your style.

Linking from/to other websites: Contact website owners that have similar but not competitive websites to yours, ask them for a reciprocal link from their website to yours. Be sure to select your link partner to match closely your customer profile. Software programs such as Arelis are very helpful in this process.

E-Zines: Contact e-zine owners that have your target readership and buy advertisements from them. Be sure to have a test run to see that the return on investment is sufficient to cover the costs involved. If you are buying an extended run of advertisements haggle with the e-zine owner over price. You may save a considerable amount.

Newsletters: When people visit your website offer them something of value for free if they sign up to your newsletter (like an e-Book). Your newsletter should be written tightly geared towards your topic. It should be published regularly at weekly intervals.

E-Books: Often used, these are usually free informational books for your clients and for others to give away free if they leave your links in the book itself. You can place links back to your website in the books you sell or give to your clients.

Joint Ventures: Contact online marketers looking for new products to sell. They often have large mailing lists with eager to buy customers. Normally they are willing to email their list for a cut of the sale price. This works particularly well with informational products. It has several advantages. It can give a very sizeable boost to both your sales and mailing list within a very short period.

Purchased Traffic: This is probably the cheapest in terms of time and most expensive money wise. It gives a traffic boost normally within 30 days. What are you buying? You are buying traffic from expired domain names which the company selling the traffic has bought. They are domain names still registered on the search engines which get a considerable amount of traffic. The previous domain name owners have either lost interest in the name or simply forgot to renew the registration. This means that the traffic from the expired domain name is simply redirected to your website. This is usually high quality traffic as only websites with traffic such as you want is redirected to you. As always, a test run to see if this traffic is suitable should be undertaken.

When you combine these techniques and apply them consistently over time you will find a rich source of targeted traffic coming to your website. This, (combined with a quality program and/or product), will ensure the success of your online business.

Which affiliate program should I choose?

So Many Affiliate Programs! Which One Do I Choose?

Ask questions first before you join an affiliate program. Do a little research about the choices of program that you intend to join into. Get some answers because they will be the deciding point of what you will be achieving later on.

Will it cost you anything to join? Most affiliate programs being offered today are absolutely free of charge. So why settle for those that charge you some dollars before joining.

When do they issue the commission checks? Every program is different. Some issue their checks once a month, every quarter, etc. Select the one that is suited to your payment time choice. Many affiliate programs are setting a minimum earned commission amount that an affiliate must meet or exceed in order for their checks to be issued.

What is the hit per sale ratio? This is the average number of hits to a banner or text link it takes to generate a sale based on all affiliate statistics. This factor is extremely important because this will tell you how much traffic you must generate before you can earn a commission from the sale.

How are referrals from an affiliate’s site tracked and for how long do they remain in the system? You need to be confident on the program enough to track those people you refer from your site. This is the only way that you can credit for a sale. The period of time that those people stay in the system is also important. This is because some visitors do not buy initially but may want to return later to make the purchase. Know if you will still get credit for the sale if it is done some months from a certain day.

What are the kinds of affiliate stats available? Your choice of affiliate program should be capable of offering detailed stats. They should be available online anytime you decide to check them out. Constantly checking your individual stats is important to know how many impressions, hits and sales are already generated from your site. Impressions are the number of times the banner or text link was viewed by a visitor of your site. A hit is the one clicking on the banner or text links.

Does the affiliate program also pay for the hits and impressions besides the commissions on sales? It is important that impressions and hits are also paid, as this will add to the earnings you get from the sales commission. This is especially important if the program you are in offers low sales to be able to hit ratio.

Who is the online retailer? Find out whom you are doing business with to know if it is really a solid company. Know the products they are selling and the average amount they are achieving. The more you know about the retailer offering you the affiliate program, the easier it will be for you to know if that program is really for you and your site.

Is the affiliate a one tier or two tier program? A single tier program pays you only for the business you yourself have generated. A two tier program pays you for the business, plus it also pays you a commission on the on the sales generated by any affiliate you sponsor in your program. Some two-tier programs are even paying small fees on each new affiliate you sponsor. More like a recruitment fee.

Lastly, what is the amount of commission paid? 5% – 20% is the commission paid by most programs. .01% – .05% is the amount paid for each hit. If you find a program that also pays for impressions, the amount paid is not much at all. As you can see from the figures, you will now understand why the average sales amount and hit to sale ratio is important.

These are just some of the questions that needed answering first before you enter into an affiliate program. You should be familiar with the many important aspects that your chosen program should have before incorporating them into your website. Try to ask your affiliate program choices these questions. These can help you select the right program for you site from among the many available.

Affiliate Marketing Explained

Affiliate marketing has become a way of life on the Internet, and anyone can participate. This is a process where the online merchant will pay a portion of their sales revenue to an affiliate if the sale is a result of the affiliate’s promotion of the products and services offered by the merchant.

Nowadays, affiliate marketing is one of the fastest growing online endeavors because it’s cost efficient and quantifiable for both the affiliate and the merchant.  Other players can profit as well, such as the affiliate network or the affiliate solutions provider.

The best benefit for the merchant is the fact that he will gain opportunities to advertise his products to a much larger market, therefore increasing his chances to earn.  The more affiliates the merchant obtains, the more sales he can expect.

With the merchant having affiliates marketing his products and services, he will save himself time, effort, and money in looking for markets as well as customers.  The affiliate marketer will benefit from each customer that clicks on his/her affiliate link, (whether it is on the affiliate’s website or a stand-alone link), when that customer actually purchases a product from the merchant.

If you have wanted to join the growing legion of affiliate marketers and have an unlimited potential for income, simply follow these three steps to start an effective affiliate marketing program:

1.  Identify something that interests you or that you feel very passionate about.  Then, focus on a specific area of this subject that you know a lot about, as this will help you bring out your best and give your visitors, (who are possible buyers), a demonstration of your expertise in this field.  This way, you’ll gain their trust and encourage them to buy the products that you endorse.

2.  Search for merchants and products or services that are related to your interest  and, if you want to, create a web site with top level domain names and very reliable hosting.  When you choose the products for your web site, you need to consider the commission structure and the conversion rate. You can and should use the best website creation service on the Web, SiteBuildIt, to build your site, (that is, if you choose to do that).

There are many different affiliate networks and affiliate solution providers where you can obtain the information on most profitable products and
which merchants pay the best.  Take your time – be sure you choose the right one.

3.  Now, you are ready to promote.  You’ve chosen everything you need and even created your very own website.  You’ll need to be creative, flexible,
and willing to embrace new ideas.  By this stage, you’ll be well on your way to making more money than you ever imagined – and enjoying every
minute of it!

I have been involved with the home-based business industry since 1993. Over the past 18 years I have made the typical mistakes that keep people from being successful in running an Internet home-based business, and I want to share with you information on how to avoid making them.

In my time I have bought a lot of books and joined countless programs that promised substantial incomes within days or at least a month. Nothing could stop me now – I had several projects up and running in no time! However, until the past couple of years I hadn’t taken the time or made the effort to do the homework that would have showed me why I was destined to fail.

First mistake I made was rushing into home-based business programs that I knew little or nothing about. Many people on the Internet want to make money from selling you the perfect home based business, and they develop killer sales pitches that do a good job of creating urgency in people who are desperately looking for a way to supplement their income. In many cases these people haven’t even tested the program themselves, and don’t know or care that it doesn’t work as advertised.

Second mistake to avoid is thinking you can go from zero to a successful Internet business in 30 days or less. I am not saying it is impossible, but most people who fall for this end up with a giant information overflow and no money in the pocket. You must plan for no income or a very modest income during the first 3-5 months.

Produce a list of alternatives that appeal to you, and try to identify the critical success factors and skills needed for each. Be diligent in your research, and be realistic – you have to develop some of the key skills needed it you are going to succeed, and it takes time to master the learning curve. I’ve been studying this industry since 1993, and I still come across things I don’t know every day.

Third mistake is quitting a program to soon. What I did and you should not repeat is automatically thinking that there is something wrong with the program when the money doesn’t start pouring in. Often it is a question of making minor changes, measuring the effects of the changes and waiting for things to start happening.

Fourth mistake is starting to cheat and do unethical things when you get desperate and low on self-esteem.  A lot of communities are exchanging clicks for Google AdSense, and many people deliberately violate the rules of their program if that means they’ll be able to profit from it. Don’t think you will be able to get away with it. Chances are you’ll end up getting banned from the program and excluded from one of the best home based Internet businesses you can find. Again be patient – you will succeed if you’re persistent and if you really try.

Fifth mistake to avoid is not learning the basic stuff. The basic skills for succeeding with a home-based business involve creating content, attracting visitors and overwhelming them with tangible reasons that will make them perceive you as a knowledgeable person of value. That is when you’ll start making money from you visitors. You can buy some product and services that helps you on the way, but you must understand and be able to handle the basic stuff if you want to establish your home business and survive.

Starting a home based Internet business is like a boxing match. Be patient – work hard and smart and you will become a leader of home-based Internet marketing!

Think like an Entrepreneur!

In order to BECOME a self-employed person you have to stop thinking like an employee and see yourself differently. My biggest problem during the process of becoming self-employed is frequently my own resistance to do that.

In order to become a self-employed person you have to start thinking like one. Sometimes I find myself reverting to the nine-to-five mentality, and I get the sensation that if I am not accomplishing a task every hour, then I must not really be working.

Sometimes as a self-employed person/entrepreneur you will have to make decisions about your business.  In some instances you will have to spend time just thinking about a solution to a problem, and you’ll have to quiet your mind so new ideas can come. Therefore, the fact that you’re not pounding away at your computer keyboard every single minute doesn’t mean you’re not working.

I’ve also learned that it’s okay NOT to answer the phone every time it rings.  That’s what voicemail is for, and the same goes for email.  At my nine-to-five job I would leave the email program open all day and answer each one as it arrived.  It took me a while to realize it’s okay to only check email several times a day instead of constantly being interrupted. It’s actually more productive than having to stop your thought process every time “you have mail.” At my other job, I was able to let a phone call roll over into voice mail, but it took me a while to be able to shut down the email too.

You’re going to have days where you feel you didn’t accomplish much.  Then again, you’ll have days where you’ll feel you can conquer the world and you’ll be amazed at how much you got done. Some days you may not finish many tasks, but you’ll make a decision on a problem that needed to be addressed.  Or, you will have learned a valuable lesson about yourself.

And we also have to learn to stop breaking down every task into dollars and cents.  I used to have a tendency to worry about how much I was or was not earning every day.  The truth is that some days you’re going to make more than other days. If I spend my day on marketing issues, even though I didn’t earn any money from it that day, I know that I will benefit from it at some point in the future.

Rather than worry about what benefits I have or don’t have, I have come to realize the benefit I have in my business: I answer only to me. Everything I do will benefit me sooner or later.  Instead of my income being dependent on somebody else’s budget, I can go as far as my own entrepreneurial ability will take me.

And because I’m now doing what I truly love and not what someone else tells me to, I’m much happier and more content. I have learned that if you start THINKING like an entrepreneur, then you’ll actually be one.