Small Business Consultants


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Internet Marketing Class Notes


The following notes are supplemental information for the material presented in class. Copies of presentations made in class are available on the "Past Clinic Topics" page at the end of each class description. Current information of interest will be added to my Internet Marketing blog.


Links & link building references:

An example of a site that solicits for links in a link exchange. I recommended against exchanging links with this one.

Reference to several blog posts from my earlier blog about linking. Most of these articles that I  blogged about are still relevant and useful information. In particular, I had a post offering tips for link building that I thought was particularly helpful. The article I highlighted offered "101 Tips..." but I selected a few that I thought were more useful and featured them in my blog post.

Another post dealt with "site links" and referred to an article describing how to get them on your site.  You can see a good example of what site links look like on a SERP by clicking this Google search string.

5/12/2010 Breadcrumbs or breadcrumb trail is a navigation aid used in user interfaces. It gives users a way to keep track of their locations within programs or documents. A good example may be seen on the RLLDesign site. The "breadcrumb" appears just above the words "Photometric Lighting Design" at the upper left of the page. Pay attention to the fact that in this example, the terms in the trail are all important search phrases for this site!

A question was raised about browser compatibility, and Angela mentioned a web site at LitmusApp that provided a tool for investigating this aspect of a site. This site offers several payment plans for their services, but also offers free plans for testing browser compatibility and Email. The free plans are limited in scope, but provide useful information. Pricing plans make use of their services quite reasonable. Another site that provides some free tools with more fully featured alternatives available  is Netmechanic.

The question of sitemaps for web sites was discussed briefly, and differences between a site map on a web page and one in an xml file was covered. An xml file can be generated automatically by software that is readily available. Searching Google for "sitemap generator" will show a lot of choices. A program that I have used in the past successfully is available at Gsitecrawler. The GSiteCrawler is available for free and runs under Windows - all you need is an internet connection and the desire to make the most out of your website! The site map file, after it is generated by this software, is placed in the root directory of the site. It should then be submitted to Google through their Webmaster Tools interface. This file should be regenerated periodically as pages are added to the web site.

One of the sites used as an example in the presentation was a shopping blog called Mighty Goods. This is a money-making site that lives off advertising revenue produced because people come to the site to look for interesting items. Rumor has it that this site is for sale!

Part of tonight's presentation consisted of a list of "bads", or things one should never do on a web site. To see some living examples of some of these "no-no's", take a look at the world's worst websites. As part of the illustration, this page has sound on it that will drive you nuts if you stay very long!!

Special Comment:

We present a particular approach to developing web sites in this clinic, and we propose a specific standard by which we measure the success of a web site, which is, "does it deliver business to you?"

We have guest speakers come in from time to time to provide their insight and experience about specific topics. The purpose is to introduce the participants in the clinic to different tools that are available to help them in improving the performance of their web sites. All such information is provided in the context of our overall approach to marketing on the web.

Tonight’s guests were invited to provide insight into improving the user interface on web pages. Their presentation, which is available for review, provided a lot of useful information on that topic, which participants in the clinic might apply to their web sites in different ways.

A comment was made during the presentation to the effect that "if navigation were set up like the example being shown, the web site would be a success." This comment seems to have confused and upset some people in the class, since the navigation protocol being illustrated did not take into account the role that site navigation can play in search engine optimization. The simple fact is that the navigation elements on a site are critical elements in making the site perform properly, and the guest presenters were not really looking at navigation from that perspective. Their perspective was “user interaction”.

For the record, note that our philosophy in the clinic is that navigation should first and foremost contribute to the optimization of the site performance with search engines. In that context, all the information presented in this session can be useful in making the site easier to understand and follow for the site users, and this presentation should be taken within that framework.

Understanding the importance of links and internal navigation, and how that structure contributes to site success, is crucial to making the techniques we present in the clinic. For anyone for whom this concept is not clear, please make a special effort to attend one of our presentations on linking and ask specific questions about this issue.

4/14/2010 This was an "open question" session, with Jay taking questions from the class participants. Jay illustrated the concept of targeted page design with a search for "stadium lighting", which brought up his page on stadium lighting. He used this page to discuss the placement of links to other articles at the bottom of the page, and the concept of utilizing keyword phrases in those links to add ranking value to the target pages.

He then used a dentistry site to describe the use of categories on a site to organize the content for the users. A dropdown at the bottom of the page illustrated a localization technique.

Article marketing for link building was referenced, but without discussion. A reference was also made to a site for checking a site for plagiarism or duplicate content.

2/24/2010 Jay discussed his plans to address the topic of Community Building in a future presentation and provided a reference to a previous presentation on that topic. A link to that presentation is included here for convenience.

We also made reference to the web site of a class member who has used the information from the class to significantly improve his performance on his site. His site deals with plastic polymer sales and recycling and the story of how he improved his performance is available for your reference. Other client success stories can be seen through links from the bottom of that page.

Managing Your Blog

The blog for this site, Internet Marketing Clinic, which is now in two parts as a result of the change in how Google will be handling its blogs, was used to illustrate our solution to addressing this problem. The old blog, which was created and maintained with Google Blogger, can be reached through links from the new blog, itemized in the post about the index to the blog. The important thing to note when reviewing this material is to observe how links were created on the new blog to keep the old information readily accessible from the new blog. Also, pay attention to the links from the old blog to the new blog.

Creating this linkage is something that has to  be address prior to the date that Google converts to the new system, as the old blog will not be editable through a blogger interface once that conversion takes place. It will still be possible to go directly into the content using an html editor to make changes, but that is a much more involved process, and will likely not be very attractive. This puts a premium on thinking about how you will handle your conversion in advance of the change to make sure that you have configured your old material properly to coordinate with your new material.

Let me just make clear the reason for jumping through all these hoops to take care of this rather than just following Google's suggestion for reconfiguring your blog. Our objective is to keep the blog material on your domain name so that it is part of the content of your site. Following Google's suggestion will move all that content to their server from your server. It is our judgment that this is a serious disadvantage to that approach.

We are pursuing a strategy that will keep the material as part of our site, at the cost of that material becoming essentially "static" material from the conversion point forward. What we are attempting to do is keep all that old material available from the new blog by providing an index and links to it from the new. Adding links to the new blog in different posts in the future is easily done and can also serve to keep the content contributing to the strength of your site.

2/10/2010 Part of the discussion in tonight's class covers that same library research application mentioned in the January 27 session.

Another topic discussed is finding domain names for sale. The example used GoDaddy's site name auction to illustrate how to go about researching available names. The place to begin is at the Advanced Search option.  Parameters can be set for a search here that specify what characters you want to have in the domain name by choosing the "contain" from the dropdown field, then entering the characters you want in the text field. Other options allow you to specify extensions, number of characters, type of auction, and price range, just to name a few. Making use of this application requires a little trial and error to focus in on what you are interested in within the domain names that are available. Other registrars have similar search functions for finding names that might serve for your domain.

When you find a few that look promising, another good tool for your evaluation is the Wayback machine. This is an Internet Archive that will allow you to see earlier versions of sites that you might be interested in. That presumes that the site was once active, which is the preferred type of domain name to purchase for a new site, but obviously means that you want to be sure that the site does not have any problems associated with it. There are no easy answers to how one makes that determination, but some things that you might see on earlier versions of a site can be clear warnings.

How one develops a site is a question that comes up often, and there are no easy answers to. Our current thinking (specifically oriented toward the small business site owner, who wants inexpensive solutions and may do a lot of the work) is that creating a site with a content management system is the best solution. The reason for this is that it takes away a lot of the technical requirements of creating a site in a traditional tool like Dreamweaver. It doesn't take them all away, but it can put a relatively unsophisticated owner of a site in a position to learn to supplement and manage his own site without incurring the out-of-pocket cost of having a developer engaged to create the site.

Our current recommendation is that you consider using Wordpress as your platform. There are still some technical issues to address, and some limitations, inherent in any content management system solution, but this software offers a good solution for the needs of most small businesses. There is a description of the setup process available that you can review to see if you feel comfortable with the technical requirements. If this seems like more than you can handle on your own, you can hire someone to install and set up the site for you,  and provide some training to get you familiar with how to manage the site.

The advantage of taking this approach is that you are not dependent on the developer to continue maintaining your site. It is a not uncommon misperception of new site owners to think that one sets up a site and then has to do very little with it after that. An important concept to take away from our Internet Marketing Clinic is that operating a web site effectively for promoting your business is a continuing commitment. You can think of your web site as almost an organic thing that needs constant nurturing and caring for to make it really productive for your business.

1/27/2010 A posting from my blog about Keeping Blogs Alive is also a reference for this session.

During the class, reference was made to a success story with one participant's website that deals with plastic polymer resins. More information is available about the details of the site through the link, and, from there, you can get to the site itself.

There was also a question raised about how to get access to the business database at the Houston Public Library that was discussed in last week's presentation.
A great catalog is available through the Houston Public Library. You must have a current library card to access it, which is available at no cost, but you must go to a library to get the card.

Once you have a valid card, go to the Library web site and log in.

Begin with the menu bar at the top of the page and follow the links as shown:

research >> Business >> Business and Company Resource Center >> Advanced Search

At the last step, there are other choices available for how you search the database, but the Advanced Search provides you with very flexible options for finding exactly what you are interested in.

The database described above is slightly different from what was demonstrated in class previously. That information can be reached through this link (you will probably have to log in after selecting this link), or by making the selections

research >> Business >> ReferenceUSA (For Remote Users) >> U.S. Businesses

There is a huge amount of useful information at your fingertips, but it may take a little practice to feel comfortable with isolating the information you need. Dive right in, and Good Hunting!



Small Business Consultants

5602 Dumfries Drive, Houston, Texas  77096-3920

713.721.2109  Fax: 832.553.2902