Friday, February 22, 2008

Domain Name Renewal

Is your domain name coming up for renewal?

If so, take into consideration the tips below in order to make it a painless process:

  • Don’t get fooled by scammers and pay through the nose for your domain name. If you are new to owning a website and domain name, you may have purchased just a year in the beginning to wait and see if you were successful or not. If your domain name isn’t private, people can look up the information and contact you to renew your name.
  • It happens every day and what they do is contact you pretending that you need to order the domain name from them. You’ll notice that the name is significantly higher for the second year and you may not recognize the company name. Many people have no idea they are being scammed and send in their money to keep their domain name registered. Often times the fake companies will take your money and run.
  • Additionally, there are companies who like to swoop in under your registrar and get you to order your domain name renewal and transfer it to them at a higher price than your regular registrar.
  • When in doubt, contact your domain name provider to see if they have indeed sent you a renewal notice and be aware that a domain name should never cost more than around $14.00 tops. If you’re paying any higher, you are overpaying!
  • Lastly, it has been reported that having your domain name registered for more than a year will help you with SEO. There are people who firmly believe this and others who do not. If it is true and you purchase 2 or more years, you’ll most likely get a discount for ordering more than one year. If it isn’t true and you get a discount anyhow, you’re saving money and don’t we love that?
The whole process can be quick and painless, just make sure that you don't let it expire and have the dreaded "parked" page up there. Pay attention to always managing your company website and keep things current.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Too busy to post?

Yes, I have been too busy to post on the small business tips blog. So...rather than leave you high and dry I will give you two fabulous things to look at:

1. My new favorite video website Why? Think Youtube but with instructions. Fun informative videos such as how to throw a frisbee, how to tell your kids you are getting a divorce, how to write a love song, and for you golfers, how to clear a wicked get the picture.

1. You know I've mentioned twitter before and how I think it is a great tool. Check out this story from Jaffe Juice about the layoffs at Yahoo and the tweets from Ryan Kuder.

I was going to give you three...but alas I have run out of time.

Next week I promise to give you some good tips you can use. In the meantime, use the good tips on, why not?


Monday, February 11, 2008

How to Rank Better with Keywords

We’ve discussed this before, but of course I like to always go back and talk about subjects that were "hot" for our new readers.

Do you have a keyword strategy? If so, please weigh in and leave a comment. If not, check out some steps you may want to consider:

Quality Content
Your number one goal should always be to create quality content for your keywords. It will drive traffic to your site if it is useful and your visitors recommend your site to other visitors.

There is a lot of advice out on the web regarding SEO and many arguments about what does and does not work but one thing remains constant, if you take the time to optimize your pages for the search engines, you will receive better results than if you didn’t. One popular method is to have your keyword in the headline or H1 title of your page. Make sure the keyword is included in the first and last 25 words on the page. Pay attention to keyword density and don’t overstuff your pages with your keyword, it won’t work.

Blogging and Web 2.0
Your site should have a blog and an RSS feed attached so that you can use them to boost your keyword ranks. Make sure you tag your posts too, Blogger has a form where you can put your keywords (tags) for each blog post and WordPress uses categories that will automatically be seen as tags.

Article Marketing
If you want to be found using your keywords, try writing an article and placing it in a relevant section on your site. Once Google has indexed your site and has found your article (you can speed up the process by uploading a new sitemap and letting Google know about it), go out and syndicate that article by submitting it to other article sites.

Long Tails
You can work off of your master list and use related long tail keywords. Use one of the free keyword searches to find out what the daily searches are and go for the ones that aren’t in high competition if your site is relatively new. If you don't know what a long tail keyword is, please let me know and I'll do another post on that!

Domain names, URLs and Titles
If you haven’t purchased your domain name yet and you know that you are going to have a specific keyword that will relate to your site, buy a domain name with the keyword in it. Make sure that you have your keyword in your URLs to your pages and in your meta and title tags for the page.

Use anchor text incorporating your keyword to link to your page. What that means is, instead of “click here” put the keyword so that it is the underlined linkable text. In addition, try to get quality one-way links from other websites that are related to yours. For instance if you sell baby clothes, try to get a website for moms to link to your site.

Useful Links for keywords:

Google Keyword Selector Tool is great, it can scan your site for existing keywords as well as give you suggestions for related keywords.

Want to see what people have been searching for in the past on Google? Try Google Suggest and start typing in your keyword.

Enter your site url and see what has to say about your optimization or keywords. It’s a fun and free tool for you to use.

There are many other tips for getting your keywords to work for you and I’d love to open up a discussion here so that we can help you grow your business. If you are one of my blog readers and you have some advice to share, please post a comment and give us your opinion.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Job Bidding, Yay or Nay?

If you own a small company and have hired a freelancer to complete a job for you, you may have found them on one of the job bidding sites.

If you are a small design company, writer or search engine marketing specialist you may have found work through one of these sites.

If you've never heard of them and want to know more information, read on and I’ll tell you my experience with them.

The job-bidding site is similar to EBay but in the reverse, instead of the prize going to the highest bidder, the job is usually awarded to the lowest bidder.

While the concept can be good for people who need professional services and don’t have the budget or know-how to do the job themselves, for the professional it can be costly and ultimately detrimental to your business to engage in bidding for jobs.

There are several factors for both parties to consider:

For the consumer:

Hidden fees
You may be paying for services that you don’t need to. Check the fine print in the terms of agreement before signing up and posting a job. Are they charging you a fee as well as the service provider? You can find a place to post your job for free (such as Craigslist), opt for one of those services instead.

Loss of funds
Some freelancers require the money up front for the work to be performed. You can end up unknowingly hiring someone that won’t complete your project on time and won’t refund your money. You don’t know who you are dealing with, as you aren’t allowed to contact the freelancers directly before committing to work with them. You should be able to run a Google search on the company before hiring them to make sure they aren’t going to rip you off.

False sense of security based on reviews
Many of these sites work on a review basis where the service provider will have many positive reviews that just aren’t real. When hiring a freelancer or service provider, have them give you solid contacts that you can speak to directly in order to find out if they are in fact trustworthy.

Fake portfolios
Since the portfolios only have images of design work, how can you be sure that they actually completed the work? Ask to see working examples of their portfolio that are live on the Internet and not just pictures.

For the Service Provider:

Bidding too low
Many offshore companies can complete the same work as the designer/writer/specialist at a fraction of the cost. In addition to the obvious reasons why they can, they aren’t subject to the same insurance and taxes we have in America, and as a result they can bid relatively low on a project. You’ll have to lower your price to an unrealistic figure that won’t cover your hourly rate in order to compete.

A Percentage of the Job
Often the bidding website will require you to pay a fee or they take a percentage of the job price. If you have bid on the job at a lower rate than you normally would to try and compete with other companies, you may now be losing money once the fee is deducted from your payment from the client. Some of the sites charge as much as 20%.

Paying per Bid
You may have to pay for each of the jobs you bid on. A few of the sites require that you purchase credits in order to bid on a job. We tried that approach, we purchased 5 credits for the lead ($25.00), spent time on a proposal and the client never responded to our phone calls or emails. Incidentally, 8 other companies such as ours bid on the exact same job, thus netting the bidding site $200.00.

In my opinion, it’s a risky thing – however, we have garnered a few great clients from it. As a small firm, we’ve done our share of bidding on freelancer sites and only been hired occasionally due to being underbid beyond what would be a fair rate for us to provide our services. How do we do it? When we have spare time (such as while waiting on hold for a client) we will peruse the bidding websites. We don’t underbid just to compete and we don’t pay for bogus leads.

Please feel free to comment and let me know if you have had a good or bad experience using these types of websites.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Building Your Own Business Website

If you’ve just started your own business, you may not have the budget to hire a design firm and you might be considering building your website yourself. I do believe that each and every business should have a website. I don’t recommend that you build it yourself unless you have some sort of design sense and good command of your language, including grammar and spelling.

However, if you are limited by budget, it’s better to have something bare bones, rather than nothing at all. With today’s technology, most clients compare company’s pricing/offerings online before buying. You probably do it yourself before buying something. Perhaps you go online to see who is offering a better price before venturing out to the mall. It’s also helpful to do a Google search on the person’s name and company to find out what people are saying about that business before purchasing services or goods.

Some former colleagues of mine hired an advertising firm based on the portfolio (showing big name clients) that the agency brought into the meeting. After hiring the firm and giving them the deposit, a few weeks later they did a Google search on the company and came up with nothing. The agency was supposed to have been in business for over 10 years and designed for major companies, yet they were completely “off the map” on the Internet. Now if they had been a different type of business that would be acceptable, but an ad agency? I don’t think so. The lesson here is “DUE DILLIGENCE”!

Another factor to take into consideration is your email. If you’re doing business under, your clients aren’t going to have the same confidence they would have in you if you were to have

If you can't hire a professional and want to venture out on your own, find a web host that has a site builder. Put up your logo, business address and contact information at the very least. Your host should also provide you with email services to use with your domain name.

If you decide that you want to forge ahead with building the site on your own, take into consideration the following:

1. Don’t use “cutesy” animated gifs that you found on the Internet. (It will give off the impression that you are unprofessional.)
2. Don’t use graphics for text that you created in Photoshop or Paintshop. (It isn’t readable by the crawlers and it slows down your page load time.)
3. Don’t use a tiled wallpaper background. (It’s so “1998”)
4. Make sure that if you use colors, that your text is readable. (High contrast)
5. If you do use images, make sure that you have sized them for web browsing so that the client isn’t waiting for your images to load. (Will depend on the image type and file format)

Above all, when building your own business website, DO make sure to have your content checked for spelling errors, and DO use the free trials before committing to buying. Our sister company has a flash site builder you can try out at, just click on the green “test drive now!” button. But of course...I’d rather you called me if you need a website ;)


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Too Much Television?

Either I'm a marketing genius or I watch WAY too much television! (I like to think I'm in the former category.)

My favorite client sent me the CramerSweeney Smart Marketing IQ test this morning. Try it out and see if you can recognize the famous brand icons, taglines, mascots and audio. It was a quick and fun jaunt on a Saturday morning.