Thursday, September 29, 2005

Why Search Engine Optimization Matters to Small Business

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a large area that we won’t try to cover all of in this article. SEM is the implementation of a variety of search engine processes and services to help market your business via a search engine. Today, however, we are focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Optimizing your web site to perform well on search engines can be a critical part of your online success. Search engines play a large role in how people navigate the Internet, so if someone is looking for your services or products online, sooner or later they will use a search engine. Your relevance to these search results can significantly impact the ability of search engines to deliver a user to your site. Studies have shown that those sites that show up on the first page of search results for a keyword receive six times more traffic than they did prior to their appearance.

The first thing I ask a client when we begin discussing SEO is “where does your web site get its traffic?” Most successful small business web sites glean only a small percentage of their overall traffic from search engines, if any at all. They have gotten their traffic from either their current client base or their promotions on their vehicles or other traditional advertising methods. My objective at this point is to see if an SEO plan would be good for them.

The next step is to review actual Internet search usage. The tool we use most frequently for this is the Keyword Selector Tool from Yahoo! Search Marketing. Using this tool, we can look at past activity on the Yahoo search engine. A rule of thumb is that Yahoo represents about 25% of all search engine traffic, so when you see the number of searches associated with a term, multiply by 4 to get a general idea of Internet search demand.

Oftentimes, a keyword is typed in and the telling response of “No suggestions for this keyword” is returned. You would not believe the keywords that some business owners believe are used to find them on the web. This exercise teaches us very quickly how to jump into the seat of the search engine user. Afterwards, we fairly quickly begin to identify keywords that do apply to the business that are also experiencing at least some demand based on the Keyword Selector Tool.

Now we have some direction.

The next step is to take this list of 20 or so keywords and determine with which the best opportunities exist to optimize your site. We do this several ways. One, we simply do a search on those terms and visually see how relevant the results are and what the pay-per-click activity against that keyword is. I typically just use Google and Yahoo for such research. This method is fairly ambiguous and depends a lot on experience.

Secondly, we run what is called a KEI analysis. This fancy acronym stands for a formula that looks at the demand for a particular keyword and then the supply of pages out on the Internet that are relevant to that keyword. In my opinion, opportunity exists for my client with any keyword with a KEI of 10 or higher.

Finally, we evaluate how best to deploy those keywords over your site. Should we optimize just the first page? Or should we look at creating sub-pages as well?

Once we have narrowed the list and decided on which pages to optimize, we go through the process of making your site relevant for the keyword selected. In my company, we use an optimization tool that considers the current search algorithms from Yahoo and Google (as best as they can be determined through observation) and lets us know what changes we need to make to the particular page in order for it to achieve the ideal level of relevance. Once these changes are completed, we then move on to the next page and perform the same operation until your site is relevant to the keyword selections from the previous process.

Optimizing for keyword relevancy, however, is just one battle in the effort of search engine marketing. In my next article, we will take a look at the importance of link popularity and the role it plays in placing your site above the crowd when you are all equally relevant.

Darryl Parker is the founder and President of Internet marketing and Charlotte web site design firm Parker Web Developers. This series on web marketing is intended to present useful tips for business owners and decision makers. The series precedes an upcoming book compiling these topics. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Power of Affiliate Sales

On the Internet, the classic referral system has morphed into a highly automated and accountable affiliate sales program. Utilizing an affiliate program allows you to empower other people to sell or market for you in exchange for payment per lead and payment per sale, as either a flat rate or percentage of the sale. An affiliate program offers an extremely measurable return on your investment because you only pay when a sale or lead is generated.

There are two ways to approach an affiliate program. The first is to purchase your own affiliate software and establish your own distribution network through the people and web site owners with whom you have relationships. This is the very least expensive route as well, with software typically priced at $100 or more. You determine the price per lead or per sale and there are no additional fees.

The second route, which we tend to endorse more frequently, is the inclusion of your promotions in an established affiliate system. These systems typically cost a bit more to set up, but give your web site exposure to hundreds of thousands of potential affiliates and their clients. After setup, you determine the price per lead or per sale and the affiliate system provider typically charges a percentage of that price as their fee. Typically the fees associated with the system are in direct proportion to the number and quality of affiliates that can be brought to bear upon your campaign.

Once you are an established merchant within an affiliate system, you must then gain affiliates. Affiliate web site can range from link farms – sites with hundreds of links back to merchants and their products – to well-established and high volume specialty sites. My opinion is that no link is a bad link. I tend to apply very few filters, if any, to those willing to send traffic and potential sales my way.

After commission rates, the next item that attracts affiliates are the creative graphics and promotions that your company offers. Empowering your affiliates goes beyond just establishing yourself as a merchant. Once embarking on an affiliate program, time each month should be budgeted for evaluating the performance of your ads, creation and delivery of new ad campaigns, gauging hits versus sales (conversions) and interacting with your affiliate base. The more you do to help your affiliates succeed, the more successful you will be.

A final note is that affiliate programs are not overnight success systems. You are building a network of affiliates that requires time and maintenance to be successful. This network, over time, could be enormous and truly make the difference in the success or failure of an ecommerce site, but time must be allowed for that monitored growth.

The company we recommend most for affiliate sales is Based out of Chicago, has a very reasonable entry price, provides an array of tools for tracking and interacting with your affiliates and, most importantly, has over 100,000 affiliates available. Check them out at

Darryl Parker is the founder and President of Internet marketing and Charlotte web site design firm Parker Web Developers. This series on web marketing is intended to present useful tips for business owners and decision makers. The series precedes an upcoming book compiling these topics. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Local Internet Marketing Made Easy

Coming soon to your neighborhood, CityAdNet is opening its doors in October 2005. Specializing in local Internet marketing, their services bring together web sites and advertisers to create win-win relationships. Sometimes, less is more. Go to the site and check out the details. Launching soon!

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How-To Build a Telephone Recording Circuit from an Old Modem

We started out with an old modem and ended up with a useful circuit to convert phone audio to regular line audio. This little hack is useful for those of us wanting to record Voip telephone calls for podcasts with good quality audio. Keep in mind that recording telephone calls without notifying all parties involved is against the law in many parts of the world.

What you’ll need:
- an old modem with an audio transformer
- a soldering iron
- a throughhole circuit board
- a computer with mini jack audio in (and a Griffin iMic for older macs)
- an extra telephone cable


Where to submit podcasts

Here are a number of places where you may submit your podcasts.
A nice collection!

If you have rodcasts, bodcasts, codcasts, sodcasts, nodcasts, yodcasts oddcasts or poxcasts...I'm afraid you will have to look elsewhere. So saadi!

Monday, September 26, 2005


from Ezine Articles

Teleclasses: Your New Innovative Way to Learn by Kim Olver
Top 3 Ways to Market Your Teleclasses by Ally Moll
Will Seminars Get You Clients? by C.J. Hayden
Three Reasons To Host Your Own Teleconference by Tom Parker
The Top 10 Ways to Market Any Business to Thousands by Leading Teleclasses by Bea Fields
Teleconferences: 15 Ways to Promote ePrograms Of Any Kind by Catherine Franz
Conducting a Great Teleseminar by Andrea J. Lee


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Utilizing Online Press Releases

The value of doing a press release is the exposure of your newsworthy items to a large crowd that would otherwise not know about your efforts. The phones are not going to ring off the hook, but as our analysis below show, there are benefits.

The secondary value is the improvement you gain in composing your thoughts about your company. Writing about your company is important. Blogging is one thing, but when you issue a press release, you are literally saying "PUBLISH THIS" and it has caused me to be more aware of my message.

The Trial Balloon

Using my release Trends, Taste & Travel Goes Podcasting as an example, let's explore the experience of these two different services and the overall advantage of doing a press release.

PRWeb - - tracks the performance of your release via "views". I submitted my release on 9/14/05. I spoke with someone at PRWeb and the term "view" was defined as the combination of page views from the web site, views from the various RSS feeds, and views from their network of emails. They also track the "Printer Friendly Version" and "Email this story to a colleague" buttons on the release. PRWeb offers an upgrade for a minimum contribution of $10 and on up. I was pleased with the $30 level because my release showed up in Yahoo! News and Google News within a few hours of the release time. - - free business registration and submission of press releases. I submitted my release on 9/17/05. However, I found their site to be a bit cumbersome and have a long laundry list of items they wanted completed. The benefit is that apparently they have many subscribers. I was able to find my release through them coming up in search engines with a few days - and not just on their site.

The Results

As of this writing, 9/24/05, I am seeing decent results in the search engines. When I type in the phrase "Travel Goes Podcasting" in quotes (necessary because of the ampersand special character), I received 583 results in Google, 6 results in Yahoo, 133 results in MSN, and 12 results in Altavista. reports the press release was viewed 115,539 times. 550 of those views were by what they estimate as "Pickups" which tracks media outlet views. I would guess they do this by email address or known IP addresses. The release had 7 prints and 1 forwarded email (which was me).

I could not find statistical data on

My business site typically gets about 25 hits a day (average over the last few months). This went up to mid-40s right away and did go into the 50s per day (I put out another release on this past Monday). Both sites ( and both experienced a temporary surge in link popularity as the release went out. As of this writing, the link popularity has returned to previous levels on Cy's site. Also, my hit count on my business site has returned to the mid-20s.

We did see a 10% gain in podcasting views and subscriptions, which at the end of the day is a payoff. Neither of us got a call from a potential customer or a writer, but we were both able to use the press release in three different sales calls (1 for Cy, 2 for me). I see this as another payoff. Finally, I was encouraged enough with the perceived value of the release to my sales team, that I issued another. The feedback I am getting is that it is good to have these to refer to as almost historical data. There is also some level of legitimacy perceived by potential clients when your article is showing up on Yahoo! News and such outlets.

Darryl Parker is the founder and President of Internet marketing and Charlotte web site design firm Parker Web Developers. This series on web marketing is intended to present useful tips for business owners and decision makers. The series precedes an upcoming book compiling these topics. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How to Select and Manage a Business Domain Name

Selecting and managing a domain name properly can save you a lot of frustration in the future. Here is some guidance I offer my friends and clients when they ask me about this most important task:

  1. Does the domain end in .com? The .com top level domain (TLD) is by far the most popular and most recognized TLD. The most successful and most memorable web domain names will end in .com.

  2. Does the domain reflect your business correctly? The company name is the best route here. When either that is not available or if you are trying to promote a particular campaign, keep in mind that someone should be able to look at or hear your domain name and understand what it is that you do.

  3. How long is the domain name? Not that size always matters, but the shorter the better in this situation. My domain,, is a bit to bite off, but I selected because it is my company name and there is no question as to what I do.

  4. Is your domain easily misspelled? Some examples are (could be or or an uncommon name or word that may be hard to spell. Other examples are intentional misspellings of words so that you are able to find a .com address that is available (i.e. or If you are concerned about this, tell a few people the domain name and have them write it out for you. This will give you a quick idea of the effectiveness of the domain.

  5. Multiple domains for a single company are not a bad idea IF you are planning only on using them to track your traditional advertising efforts. However, I do NOT recommend using multiple domains for your online promotion effort. An important factor in your Internet presence is link popularity and this effort should not be diluted by more than one domain to promote. If you go the multiple domain route, select the primary domain that will be used online with search engines and other promotions and stick with it.

  6. Buying a domain. Purchasing domains is a fairly straightforward process. I recommend for price and ease of use and ongoing management. For less than $10 a year, you can have your own domain name reserved. By managing this process yourself, you can save a lot time in the future (especially if you have multiple domains).

  7. It is also my recommendation that you set up your domain to automatically renew. There is nothing like being successful a year later and all of a sudden your domain expires and your site drops. I’ve seen it happen, it isn’t pretty and, more times than not, it seems to happen just when the site is needed most.

Darryl Parker is the founder and President of Internet marketing and Charlotte web site design firm Parker Web Developers. This series on web marketing is intended to present useful tips for business owners and decision makers. The series precedes an upcoming book compiling these topics. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

NevOn: Brand creativity on show

Neville Hobson on the IBC 2005 exhibition, currently going on in Amsterdam. Check out his excellent Flickr collection!

This is a massive show. Imagine - over 1,000 companies exhibiting their wares occupying all 11 halls of the RAI. That's about 72,000 square meters (216,000 square feet) of exhibition space. Plus, there are outdoors exhibit areas.

Have word-of-keyboard? Worker Bees puts the Buzz in your Marketing

Worker Bees: Buzz Marketing & more

Also see their excellent blog!


SEO tips for blogs hosted on Blogger (Blog Business World)

Blog Business World's Wayne Hurlbert shares insights on search engine optimization (SEO) for Blogger blogs.

The online business community has recently discovered the power of blogging, and as such are faced with raising the blog site’s ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs). As a direct result of some of the blog characteristics, high search rankings are readily available for the careful blog writer.

Let Wayne navigate you through this rich and developing resource.

Tags: SEO, Blogger, links, Google.

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