Saturday, April 23, 2011


Monetize Your Site – Fast!

Are you there?

If you rely solely on the sale of goods and services to generate revenue from your website, you’re missing some nice money-making opportunities that are easy to implement, and deposit cash into your business account every month.

Let’s look at some different ways you can generate cash from your online business.

Pay-Per-Click Programs
The most popular are AdWords and Adsense. By enrolling in a PPC program, you agree to allow the search engine to place paid-for links on your site. Now, you can arrange these little blue cubes in a skyscraper on the right side of the page, place them below the fold, above the fold. You decide.

When you enroll, you’re given a letter/number string to insert into your HTML code that identifies you as the source of the click. And that money is added to your account. It’s a one-time sign-up and automated revenue. Those are the positives.

The negatives are (1) you have no choice which ads are placed on your site, though you can stipulate no direct competitors. If you’re placing PPC ads, you're subject to a variety of click fraud schemes, including legions of workers in poor countries who earn a penny a click depleting your marketing resources. So whether you’re placing ads or renting space for ads, there are pros and cons.

Affiliate Programs 
The small site owner’s best friend. You become an affiliate of a larger company. You provide a link on your site (you choose the size) and for every click-through that leads to a sale or some other desired action, you make money.

For example, if you put up an eBay link on your site, eBay will pay you a flat rate for each sign up plus a nickel any time one of your sign ups places a bid. Get a couple of hundred active bidders and the numbers add up quickly.

To learn more about affiliate programs, visit Commission Junction at and open an account. Choose affiliates that will appeal to your ideal site visitor. For example, if you’re selling porcelain figurine collectables online, a link to a car tire web site won’t generate much in the way of affiliate cash. Instead, sign on with other collectible affiliates to tempt visitors to clink on one of your affiliate links.

Choose affiliates with care. Too many and your site will be viewed as a links farm offering little in the way of useful information to visitors. Five or six well-chosen affiliate programs should up your site revenue quite smartly.

Hosted Content
You can rent space on your site to another site owner – a page where the site owner posts an article with links back to his or her site. How much you can charge depends on things like your reach, traffic rank, page views and so on.

This provides a couple of benefits. First, it provides fresh content for your site, though it is important that you know what appears on your site. It also generates monthly or weekly income.

Advertise your site space on SEO blogs, site designer blogs and other places where web denizens dwell.

Paid Advertising
How would you feel about a Coke banner across the top of your web site? Would it detract from the look, the impression you’re trying to display t the world?

How about small graphic links that take your site visitors to related sites. For example, if you run a cruise booking service, chances are those travelers would be interested in other vacation opportunities – opportunities available with a click off your site. This paid advertising doesn’t rely on the clicker to perform a most desired action. Paid advertising pays either by the click or by a flat rate.

Further, the advertising will change in many cases. It may be a Coke banner for a week followed by a banner for Hertz car rental. Unfortunately, you can’t control the space you rent out – other than opting out of the paid advertising program altogether.

There are other money making opportunities using a website as a base. A subscription newsletter; monthly reminders of upcoming birthdays; outsourced services and other ways to wring some more cash out of your site.

Don’t rely on sales alone. Develop as many revenue streams as you can (without making your homepage look like a carnival midway) to enjoy max financial benefit from all your hard, online work.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Easier It Is To Find Information, the Higher Your Conversion Rate

It’s What A Web Site Is All About

Accessibility, when discussing web sites, includes a number of factors: easy navigation, understandable site text, no dead ends requiring a browser back click to escape (lots of users don’t even know browsers HAVE a back click).

Let’s start with the bottom line- yours: the easier it is for a site visitor to perform the most desired action (MDA), the more times that MDA will be performed.

Let’s Start With Navigation
Whether you go with a navigation bar at the top of the screen or a menu list in the first column far left, your navigation must be:

  • simple
  • unambiguous
  • truthful
  • always available
  • always in the same location 
Avoid numerous tabs, drop-down or flyout menus. Keep it simple. If visitors are faced with too many choices too soon on arriving at the site, chances are they’ll bounce.

Keep the navigation unambiguous. It’s routine to have a "Contact Us” page on a web site. If you label the contact link “Company Authority,” visitors are going to be totally confused. And again, bounce.

Truthful is just what it says. If the link says “Product Descriptions,” don’t make the visitor read through another landing page of sell copy. Deliver what the link says and go directly to the products.

Always available is an aspect of keeping visitors on site longer, and the longer they stick around, the more likely they are to perform the MDA. So, the navigation bar or menu should be available from every page so the visitor can surf at will, unencumbered by what YOU think the visitor wants to know.

Finally, keep the nav tabs in the same place. Don’t move them from bar to menu and back to bar. The last thing you want is a visitor trying to figure out how to return to the contact page to make contact.

Keep it simple. The fewer clicks required to get the visitor to perform the MDA, the better. So, go through the process and eliminate every unnecessary side road, dead end and yet another landing page.

Accessible Content
If your client site is for a professional medical dispenser, you can assume that the visitors have some knowledge of the subject, i.e. you don’t have to start from square one. But you still have to stay on target pointing out the benefits of buying the client’s medical products.

On the other hand, if you’re writing text for a hearing aid retail outlet, accessible text is understandable by the reader. So first, toss the thesaurus. Find the simplest, shortest way to say what needs to be said about products and services.

Be helpful and supportive to the new visitor. Make things simple to find, simple to learn and simple to bookmark. Returning visitors are gold. Eventually they buy something so earning a bookmark is a very good thing.

Skip the hype. Educate the visitor using simple terms, no jargon and listing benefits rather than features. This is the stuff site visitors want to know.

Finally, lay out the text so it can be scanned rather than read. No big, long paragraphs. Visitors scan from upper left to lower right so put your most important info upper left on the screen.

The easier it is to buy something, opt-in for a newsletter, or to complete a form, the more often those MDAs are performed. So make it as simple as possible (why do you think Amazon offers a one-click checkout? How easy can it be?).

Accessibility benefits both site owner and site visitor – a win-win. Also a no brainer.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

5 Web Writing Tips That Pay My Bills

Writing Web Copy That Works

Writing web site text ain't easy but you can do it.
Whether you work from home as a web writer, or you go to the big corner office each day, web writers need to understand the science of search engine optimization and the art of writing to attract the attention of a human being – in 6.4 seconds, the average time a site visitor takes to evaluate the usefulness or interest of your client’s website.

That’s not much time. But, the fact is the web consumes content at a remarkable rate. Websites are launched, blogs need up-dating three times a week and somebody is going to make a million with another e-book download on making a million.

So, here are five tips that’ll improve your writing, make you more successful and help build a steady client base – the best thing a freelance web writer can ever have. They’ll also pay some bills.

1. Half the job is the headline.
Like I said, site visitors have the attention span of two-year-olds, bouncing from site to site based on this or that whim.

To catch a surfer’s attention, create a big, honkin’ headline that intrigues or informs or at least makes the attention-deprived web user stick around to read a little more about the site.

2. The three things that all readers will read about.
Personal health, family and money.

These topics are read more than any other in the 3-D world of print and on the W3. If you can work the headline to fit one of these three categories, the information is more likely to get read.

Which would you read?

Swine Flu Cure a Distant Objective (yawn)


Five Tips to Protect Your Family From Swine Flu NOW!

That’s a grabber.

3. Stop selling.
A sell, or the performance of the most desired action (MDA), is the objective of the site owner. It’s not the objective of the site visitor.

Develop content that educates. This will more naturally lead the site visitor to perform the MDA. Hype doesn’t sell. Facts sell. Benefits sell. Frame your copy in terms of what’s best for the site visitor, NOT the client with the checkbook. (This may require a little diplomacy on your part but it is in your client’s best interests to meet the best interests of his or her clients.)

4. Write at an 8th grade reading level.
The military standard (take it from someone who’s written for the military).

This is sometimes hard to do when the words are flowing like effervescent champers (bubbly Champagne) but you don’t have to dumb it down. Just keep it simple, use simpler words and avoid big blocks of text. Web surfers scan; they rarely read.

Consider your own web use habits. You’re a typical web user. What keeps you on a page?

5. Keep it short.
It’s the attention span thing, again. The web is like a carnival midway – lots of bright, shiny colors, noise, hustle and bustle. So, keep your writing short and on point.

A blog post should run between 600 and 1200 words – no longer, that’s a fact. An article on small cap investing might be worthy of a 250-page book but your job is to cut to the chase, and cut that 250 pages down to 1,000 words.

These simple tips pay my bills (sometimes), and they can help pay yours whether you’re working in your favorite fuzzy slippers at home, or wearing a $2K suit in a large ad agency.

Follow these simple tips and improve your web writing and your clients’ conversion ratios.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


How To Talk to Your Copywriter:
Here’s What We Need To Know

Copy Writing
Shouldn't Be a Puzzle.
Just Tell Us What You Want.
As soon as search engines became relevant, copywriting changed. Maybe you didn’t notice it. Content quality took a back seat to SEO and today, copywriters have to understand the basics of SEO/M so the content they produce appeals to spiders and humans.

A lot of SEOs sub-contract this facet of a job to professional copywriters who can produce optimized copy that doesn’t sound like spider snack gibberish. Keyword placement in headers, density of 1-2%, judicious use of bolded, underlined or italicized text and you have yourself some fine, SEO text. No sweat, right?

Well, that depends. The more the copywriter knows about the SOW, the smoother the content development. Here’s what a copywriter wants to know from any client, you for example:

What is the purpose of the content?  Content can be used to explain, clarify, persuade, inform, direct, motivate and, on occasion, even inspire. What is the MDA after the reader has finished reading the words?

To whom is the text targeted?  Experts don’t need explanations. They talk the talk so the content can contain “insider” references that create a feeling of “us” as in you and the site visitor.

What is the product, service or message? If you can provide a good copywriter with a product spec sheet or a web page recommended by the SEO’s client, the writer can convert specs and hard data into client or consumer benefits, and that’s what sells. How does this make me more productive, successful, richer, more famous…more anything.

What is the USP? The unique selling position (also sometimes called the UPS – unique positioning statement within a market sector) is what sets the SEO client apart from the competition. A good copywriter researches the competition and “steals” the best ideas. Ideas can’t be copyrighted. 

What is the site’s content architecture? If you’re a copywriter, you don’t want to blow your wad on the home page and have nothing more motivational on deeper pages. A good copywriter ensures that informational content is spread liberally across a number of site pages.

Consider your copywriter a valuable asset in content architecture development. These men and women understand the “need-to-know” flow on site so visitors never encounter content that hasn’t been explained.

Can the content be used in more than one way? Home page text may make great text for a four-color tri-fold with a couple of word changes. The copywriter – a good one – can add value to the SEO’s consultation by producing content that serves more than one purpose, thus amortizing content development costs.

Finally, remember: copywriters are highly-caffeinated, neer-do-wells who want the project to go smoothly. These sellers of “words by the pound” want in, out, done. Hey, that’s the same thing the SEO wants.

When you find a good copywriter who can transcend audiences and topics – from the mundane to the highly-technical (quark theory?), keep them on a leash.

We tend to wander off.

Stop by for more tips on how to get the most from your SEO copy writer. Advice is always free.

Friday, April 1, 2011


SEO Client Retention:
The Key to Long-Term SEO/M Business Success

An Unhappy Client Ain't Comin' Back
Building a successful SEO/M consultancy is hard. There’s a lot of competition and a lot of snake oil, SEO voodoo floating around the web, so building a solid reputation – one that leads to referrals and repeat business is essential to long-term business growth.

Once you have a client, you have to keep that client coming back because of the quality services and opinions you offer. You have to build a client base of happy clients. They come back for more. They’re also your best salespeople.

Here are some suggestions for keeping the customer satisfied.

1. Go through an extensive discovery phase. Determine such things as the target demographic, market competition, unique selling position, client objectives, challenges – a top-down analysis of what needs doing. A few hours more at this stage will save days of re-dos in the weeks ahead.

2. Prepare a written SOW. A statement of work describes the work to be undertaken (usually in chronological order), approval milestones, payment schedule, who’s going to do what. The more complete the SOW the more accurate the client’s expectations. Clients hate surprises so get on the same page early.

3. Give a stake to the client. No client is going to quibble with a strategy or design that s/he proposed. Instead of presenting finished pages and data analysis, engage the client and incorporate his or her suggestions into the final product. As best you can, let the client “own” the project.

4. Go proactive. In everything. Offer suggestions and counsel beyond the expectations of the client. If you discover an error you’ve made, call the client to let her know you’re on top of it. 

5. Communicate. A lot. Not just approvals, though they’re essential to increased productivity, but also discuss implementation strategies, guerilla marketing tactics and opportunities for future growth of the client’s business.

6. Fix it. If the client ain’t happy, fix it. Period. A happy client will talk you up through his network. An unhappy client will bad mouth you to anyone who will listen. Rely on your SOW only as a last resort. Keep the client happy – even if it’s a loss leader for you.

Growing a stable of regular clients takes time and trust building. It’s an on-going process. But once your regulars are making up 75% of your work time, you don’t have to constantly worry about where the next job is coming from.

Need more suggestions for building a successful on-line business. Stop by for more on web-based success.