More Tips on SEM and SEO

Here is a down and dirty checklist I compiled a while back. Feel free to use it when you audit your own websites. Enjoy!

Matt

HTML Coding/Development

  • Add brief descriptions to the alt attribute of image tags. The attribute should describe the image, not be a summary of the article.
  • Use H1, H2, and H3 for titles and headings. Ensure the main body content is immediately after the H1, with no breadcrumbs or navigation in between.
  • Create a relevant HTML title for every page. Using the actual article title that appears in the page is a good idea.
  • Use style sheets as much as possible to keep the page size low.
  • Use brief and relevant meta tags (keywords and descriptions) to provide a backup for the description that appears in search engine listings.
  • Don’t fill the meta tags with words that don’t appear in the content of the page. The exception to this is to put common misspellings in the meta tags.
  • Don’t repeat meta tag content on every page. The content should be specific to the page.
  • Create separate sites rather than making a site a sub-site of a larger one.
  • Do not make every visit to a URL unique by appending a session ID or something similar.
  • Create a site map. This is as much for users as for search engines as it can serve as a gateway to deep content.
  • Don’t link to redirects. Better to link directly to the destination page.

Images, Flash, Video

  • Avoid creating images that contain only text (i.e. if an image contains just text, consider using HTML instead.)
  • Ensure all images are named appropriately, have alt tags and are placed near text that is relevant to the image.
  • Don’t put content in Flash movies. Better to have the content outside of the Flash and in the HTML.
  • Provide transcripts for video or audio interviews.

Copy and Content

  • Create a title that uses words that describe the main theme of the article.
  • Use headings and sub-headings that describe the main theme of the copy that follows.
  • Don’t automatically swap out repeated words and phrases in favor of less common words and phrases.
  • Post all content on the web site including newsletters.
  • Keep all special content such as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving specials on-line.
  • Don’t use pop-up windows for content. If pop-ups are necessary, provide an alternative link to the same page that isn’t a pop-up.
  • Don’t remove content from a web site.
  • Ensure all content—in particular old content—has a link pointing to it. Use a sitemap or archive list page if necessary.
  • Allow search engines to view forum discussions. This is free content.
  • Update content as often as possible. Search engines like frequently updated sites and will visit more frequently.
  • Don’t worry about writing articles that are too long. The longer the better when it comes to SEO.

Links

  • Use link text that is relevant to the destination page. Avoid creating links that read “click here” or “read more”.
  • Don’t create links out of entire sentences.
  • Don’t fill the page footer with links to other sites. Better to keep the list short.
  • Cross-link between pages in the web site.
  • Link to external sites.
  • Encourage external sites to link to specific content. Many sites are open to sharing links.

More SEM and SEO Tips

  • Decide what search phrases you want to target. Use a tool such as the Google keywords suggestion tool to see what search phrases are popular, and optimize your site for these. You can optimize for any number of phrases; a bigger site can target a greater range of phrases.
  • Clean up URLs. No capital letters, no spaces, no special characters. Separate each word with a “-” dash. Make sure each URL accurately describes the page.
  • Remove query strings from URLs. No question marks in your URLs.
  • Redirect the non-www version of your site. When you enter domain.com into the browser, it should redirect you to www.domain.com using a SEO friendly 301 redirection.
  • Make sure you don’t link to “index.htm” or “index.php”. Instead, link to “/”.
  • Remove frames from your site.
  • Ensure the title is different on every page of the site.
  • If your main navigation is flash or image based, ask yourself if it can be done using CSS. If it can, do it.
  • If using CSS styled text for navigation is unthinkable, then add text based footer navigation on every page.
  • Add a Google XML sitemap, even if it’s just a simple list of all the URLs on your site. Submit this to Google through the Google Sitemaps program or Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Is your website tables-based? Consider a cleaner CSS-based layout for your site.
  • Have you got a website statistics program installed? Do you know how to access it, and do you check it regularly? If not, discover Google Analytics.
  • Do you know where your website currently sits for your main phrases? If not, check Google, the localized version of Google (e.g. google.co.nz,) Yahoo and MSN. Remember: few visitors will search past page three.
  • Check the optimization of each page. Pick one search phrase that is relevant to the content on the page. Ensure the page contains the phrase in the title, H1 heading, twice in the meta description, twice in the opening paragraph, and also in the URL if possible.
  • Have good content? SEO will be much harder if you don’t have plenty of original text content, so engage in more time writing good content.
  • Check the source order of your page. Good source code will have the page content as close to the top of the HTML document as possible, and the least important elements such as sidebars and footers last. If you can get the content above the main navigation, great.
  • Action all recommendations that it makes, such as fixing broken links. Look carefully at the list of URLs, and make sure they are clean (no spaces, capitals, etc.)
  • Check the search engines to see how well indexed your site is. If the search engines have indexed pages that have since been moved or deleted, setup a 301 redirect to redirect all traffic that these pages generate (or lose it).
  • If you are a local “bricks and mortar” business, make sure you use your town / city / country on every page, in the title if possible, and in close proximity to your chosen search phrase.

Contact Matt to optimize your website and help you with your search engine marketing.

Writing and Buying Articles: Is iWriter Right For You?

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If you have a blog online, you need articles to ensure the success of your blog. If you want to make extra money online, then writing articles for other people is an excellent way to get money quickly. An online writing service called iWriter caters to both people wanting articles written and people wanting to write articles. But is iWriter right for you?

online writing

For People Who Want to Buy Articles

If you need articles written for you, then iWriter can definitely be your best friend. There are not too many downsides for people requesting articles.

Personally, I have not seen anywhere else who offers articles as economically as iWriter. You can get a 500-word article for as low as three dollars. That is cheap!

However, the cheapest articles are written by the most nubile writers. Most of these writers have been negatively rated by other people buying articles, or they are just starting out on iWriter. Obviously, if you get someone who is just starting out, you could end up with a really great writer at a really low price, however you are rolling the dice here because most the writers in the basic category are not excellent writers. More like “writers in waiting.”

The great news is—if you’re willing to spend a few more bucks—your article will only be seen by the top writers on iWriter (the ones who have been consistently rated as “premium” writers.) There are some really talented writers in the 4-stars-and-up group, and there are even more masterful writers in the elite group. These folks will cost you twice as much, but that is still a cheaper price than any other article-buying site once you figure in your time to rewrite that pathetic little article you got on the cheap.

You Choose The Articles You Want

You get to dictate what kind of article you want, what keywords you want in the article, what your article purpose is for and any other instructions at you want to include. This can take a few minutes, but it helps you get an article that meets your needs.

No matter who writes your article, you can choose to accept it or to reject it after you see the full article. This is quite unique to iWriter. Other article buying sites only allow you to see part of the article before you decide to buy it, to hedge against plagiarism.

One of the great features of iWriter is that you can send your requests to specific writers. This means once you find that excellent writer, you can specifically request them for every future article. A huge time saver!

Even though iWriter’s focus is articles, you can also get e-books and article rewrites done. Again, buying e-books on iWriter is much cheaper than buying e-books anywhere else. However, as of now, there is not much formatting the writers can do. Authors can write the content for you, but you will still need to format the book. Still, this can save you hours and hours of writing if you want to create a report or e-book.

Is iWriter Worth It For Requesters?

Absolutely. If you can find yourself in elite writer who understands what you want in an article, you are set. You’ll be paying less than most people on the Internet for content that is just as good.

And of course, if you simply want a deluge of almost-readable articles stuffed full with keywords for SEO purposes, then there is no other place like iWriter to get articles. You can buy hundreds of articles from basic writers at a very low cost.

»Visit iWriter.com

online writing

For the People Who Want to Write Articles

If your intention is to make some extra money writing articles, then iWriter can be a great option for you, depending on how well you write. Writers do have slightly fewer perks than requesters, however. First, the good news:

The Plus Side to Writing for iWriter

Once you become an elite writer, you can choose to write any article you want. Every day there are hundreds of articles available for you to write. In fact, you will notice there are new requesters almost everyday because iWriter is growing at such a rapid pace. (Good news for writers!)

This means your income potential is only limited to how much, how quickly, and how professionally you can write. If you have a good grasp on the English language and can write quickly, you can potentially make a full-time living off iWriter.

If you impress enough requesters, you will never be short of work.

Requesters are able to choose their favorite writers, so you can easily become a favorite writer of many requesters and therefore always have work available and (as a bonus) earn more money.

You earn a percentage of each article you write. As of the time of this article, iWriter takes 29% of the total cost of the article. This means if you’re writing a 700 word article, the cost to the requester five dollars and you, as a basic writer, will earn $4.05. However, if you get a personal request to write the article, then you earn another 5% of the total price paid. Therefore, getting people to request you definitely works in your favor over the long run.

As a writer, you also earn extra money through tips. When a requester accepts the article, they have a choice to tip. If you can find generous requesters, tips help supplement your income.

The Downside of Writing for iWriter

Let’s face it; rejection sucks. At iWriter, requesters can reject your article without reason. If you are someone who takes an hour or longer to write an article, this can greatly affect the amount of money you make. Wasting an hour or two on an article that doesn’t earn you any money can really chew glass. However, if you own other blogs, you may be able to repurpose those rejected articles, or try sell your rejected articles at other places such as Constant Content.

For writers, probably one of the largest drawbacks of iWriter is the effort required to get yourself upgraded to elite status. Currently, you must write 30 articles at a basic level before you are allowed to move up to premium or elite status. If you write slowly (but you are a good writer) this can require saint-like patience. Nobody wants to earn a few bucks for a lot of work. The two ways to get through this seasoning period? Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and choose to write longer articles (which earn you more money.)

The other drawback is that you are graded on a five-star system. Requesters give you a star rating when they accept or reject your article, and this can greatly influence the amount of money you make. A basic writer is one who receives an average of 4 stars or less. A premium writer has an average of 4-4.6 stars. And an elite writer has an average of more than 4.6 stars.

While most requesters rate you fairly, there are many who may give you 4 stars for no apparent reason. Understandably, this can become very frustrating when you are trying to work your way up to elite status.

Is iWriter Worth It for Writers?

It can be. If you

  • can work yourself up to an elite status,
  • have good research skills or knowledge to write from,
  • have people who request articles from you, and
  • can produce an article with an hour,

then iWriter can be an excellent place to earn a part-time or full-time income from!

»Visit iWriter.com

Online Writing Made Short Work at iWriter

marketing ideas online writing

Your new website or blog needs content that is going to grab and keep your viewer’s attention. It also needs to appear as if it was written by a true professional. Let’s face it. We’re not all loquacious blog writers and sometimes, our written word may not offer our website what it truly needs to compel readers to action.

If you want content that impresses, you may want to consider paying for articles and buying blog posts. There are many sites where you can find online writing services offering top notch writers (oDesk, Elance, Guru, etc.,) but how do you know where to start? Two popular sites many people use to find writers work are iWriter.com and Fiverr.com. For this article, I will use iWriter and Fiverr as opposites on either side of the online-writing spectrum.
online writing

What is iWriter?

Need an article written? Can’t get to that third blog post this week? Looking for essay writing? Have your writing project done easily by using iWriter.com. Here, “requesters” post requests for writing work. Pick your keywords, suggest the topic and write a short summary to help your prospective writers read your mind. Be sure to include special instructions if you have any other directions that could help a would-be author zero in on your perfect article or blog post.

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Visit iWriter.com

Your writing jobs are then posted to the writer community (those seeking author and blogging jobs,) at which time someone grabs your request and tries their hand at writing for it. The requester (you who’s buying the article,) can read the article or blog post before you pay. Like the work? Pay for the article. Need revisions? Request them and be specific!

What if you don’t like the article written by your iWriter author? You have no obligation to buy the article. The iWriter website allows you to reject any writing jobs and let someone else try writing it for you. (Keep in mind however, the lower your approval rate, the less likely the higher-quality writers will invest their time into your jobs!) You can also ask the writer to make adjustments to the work so you don’t have to reject them completely (full rejection wastes both yours and your writer’s time, so avoid it when you can.)

To sum up, iWriter is a professional online writing site made for writing and writing only.

online writing

What is Fiverr?

Fiverr is a site where people pay exactly five dollars for a wide variety of services. Here are the categories Fiverr offers:

  • Gifts
  • Graphics & Design
  • Video & Animation
  • Online Marketing
  • Writing & Translation
  • Advertising
  • Business
  • Programming & Tech
  • Music & Audio
  • Fun & Bizarre
  • Lifestyle
  • Other

marketing ideas online writing fiverr

Visit Fiverr.com

If you are looking to have something written for your website or you need some help marketing, you can find that on Fiverr. You will pay no more than $5 for each service or “gig”. While there are some fun gigs on Fiverr, there are also a fair amount of dregs and scams, so buyer beware here! Certain services (such as having fun videos created for you) have a higher chance of quality delivery than others (like this traffic generation scam I ran across.)

With Fiverr, you can also reject your articles if you’re having someone write for you, however you may find your review disappears! (As in, your warning to others that the Fiverr gig vendor is shady or subrate is mysteriously deleted!) Fiverr takes an undisclosed cut of all their gigs, and they seem to protect their top earners; regardless of any sense of good business ethics or transparency.

In review, Fiverr offers an online marketplace for a wide variety of random services.

online writing

Why Use iWriter?

There are several ways you benefit from using the online writing service iWriter for you article-writing needs. Here are some reasons why you should consider becoming a requester on iWriter today.

iWriter is Simple

To begin receiving articles from iWriter, simply sign up, post your writing job and then sit back while writers do the work! Paying is simple and you don’t have to search for good writers to do the job; the writers come to you. Need a really high-quality article written? Pay a little more to have your writing job placed in front of writers with a 4.6- to 5-star rating.

iWriter is Inexpensive

You can pay as little as $1.25 for a quick article. The more you pay, however, the better quality writing you receive. You can pay as much as $18 for a 1000-word article and expect to have gleaming perfection delivered to you from one of iWriter’s premium writers. The amount you pay is up to you. If you are putting the writing on the main page of your website, you may want to spend a little extra to ensure that post is excellent quality. For article marketing, you may feel the backlinks are more important than the quality of the article, so you may target a lower pay range for this work.

As an iWriter Requester, You Call All the Shots

When you place an order for articles you need to have written, you explain exactly what it is you want done in the special instructions area. This is where you can explain to the writer what you want written, how you want it written and what to include. There are also fields where you will specify keywords, article length and article tone so the writer can keep the keyword at a certain percentage if you are using the articles for advertising and marketing.

When a writer completes the first draft of your article, they submit it for your review. If you like it, you simply pay and download. If you don’t like it, you either ask the writer to make revisions to the article or—if it’s a real train wreck—you have the option to turn it down completely. This means you can turn down as many attempts as it takes until you get the article you really want. (As mentioned earlier, it’s best not to reject articles will-nilly because this lowers your approval score and can drive talented writers away from you.)

iWriter Saves You Time!

Often, the turn-around time it takes to receive your article is very fast. One of the ways writers establish their reputation on iWriter is by providing quick responses to writing jobs. Usually, your blogging jobs are accepted right away, which starts the clock on the job. This means you can have quality content written for you within a few hours. If a writer submits their article and you like the first draft, you simply pay for it and it’s yours right away!
online writing

Afterglow

Ultimately, using the iWriter online writing service can save you a lot of time and heartache while bringing you great content for your readers. But then, iWriter is a service dedicated to writing.

While Fiverr is good for certain things, online writing doesn’t seem to be one of them. There are occasionally talented authors found on Fiverr, however they seem to quickly be crushed by a deluge of $5 requests once the Fiverr community discovers them. (I’ve seen several of the best writers on Fiverr remove their writing gigs or fall ridiculously behind in their writing assignments, regularly failing to meet deadlines and compromising their ratings.)

While any online writing service may require some hunting to find your favorite writers, once you have them selected, using a writing site like iWriter can help make your website a content-rich powerhouse. Highly recommended.

»Visit iWriter.com

Six No-Hype Copywriting Techniques: How to Be Lively, Appealing and Truthful in Sales Writing

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by Marcia Yudkin

A lot of my clients shrink from using hype in their marketing messages. Hype is a style of overexcited, exaggerated writing that can fire up the eager reader, but at the cost of trust or credibility in the eyes of someone who is temperamentally or professionally skeptical.

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For instance, here is a hype-y headline of the sort found all around the Internet: “If You Can Write Your Name, You Can Write and Publish a Book in 7 Days – Guaranteed!” Having been a writing teacher, I know that the only way such a claim could be valid would be to play games with the accepted meanings of the words “write” or “book.” People who can write their name cannot necessarily write a coherent sentence or paragraph – much less have enough ideas in their head to fill a book of average length. Because of its implausibility, such a headline is all the more appealing to those who feel impatient for results.

Many copywriting experts hold that if a headline or marketing pitch sells and is not downright illegal for some reason, it’s the right way to write. However, I support my clients’ instinctive recoil from hype and help them with more truthful yet still lively and appealing persuasive techniques. You can create vivid, powerfully persuasive copy without crossing the line into hype by learning these techniques.

No-hype Technique #1: Create rapport with the reader

Think your way into the mind of your ideal customer and express what they’re thinking and feeling. Then build on that. This wins over readers by connecting with where they are and showing them the next logical step. For example:

Wishing that your book in progress could just finish itself already? Writing a book can be an exercise in procrastination, frustration and roadblocks. But when you use the “Two-a-Day” Method, your book gets completed easily, steadily and finally.

No-hype Technique #2: Use emotional words and phrases

Dry, matter-of-fact language isn’t as persuasive as wording that acknowledges and expresses what’s at stake in the customer’s situation and the feelings involved.

BEFORE: Our database offers detailed listings of more than $3.7 billion in available scholarship funding.

AFTER: Access to our members-only database of more than $3.7 billion in free, no-strings-attached scholarship money means you can attend the college of your dreams without enslaving yourself to future loan payments.

No-hype Technique #3: Add colorful details

For every general concept you want to mention, substitute or add specific, concrete details. Abstractions and generalities never hit home as well as statements containing numbers, names, places, stories and other specifics. Also, general statements have little impact because they sound like things we’ve all heard a zillion times. Copywriters call the technique of adding detail “dimensionalizing” because it turns a square little statement into a 3-D patterned shape that the reader has never quite encountered before.

In these two examples from Paul Lemberg’s home page, the section in parentheses dimensionalizes the claim just before it:

  • How to boost sales quickly; (50-100% year-over-year sales increase is not unusual among my clients.)
  • Escalate short-term profits and build long-term equity; (One client recently sold their company for three times what they had been led to expect by the so-called expert investment bankers…)

No-hype Technique #4: Pair problems with solutions

Listing problem after problem that a product solves or prevents can come across as unbelievable and even depressing. The opposite strategy, listing benefit after benefit from the product, can seem too good to be true. When you link the problem with the solution and at least hint at a reason for the positive result, customers feel they’re getting something solid and valuable when they buy.

To illustrate this, here are three bullet points from Susan C. Daffron’s description of her book “Happy Hound: Develop a Great Relationship With Your Adopted Dog or Puppy”:

  • The two main reasons dogs generally jump on people and four ways to convince the dog you really don’t need that type of greeting
  • Six safety instructions you must teach your children not to do to avoid dog bites and the four things they should always do if they encounter a dog they don’t know
  • Three keys for surviving “canine adolescence.” As with human children, adolescence is a time when dogs test limits and try your patience!

(By the way, the numbers in those bullets help dimensionalize the book’s content, exemplifying tip #3.)

No-hype Technique #5: Paint vivid scenarios

Feed the reader’s imagination with what can realistically happen after they buy your product or service. You’re not promising this will happen, but by putting the reader into the future, he or she pictures it happening and feels motivated to have the result.

Here, for instance, is how I fed the reader’s imagination in promotional copy for my report, “Marcia’s Makeovers: 24 Press Releases Transformed from So-So to Sizzling”:

I challenge you to cite a greater return on investment than that produced by a world-class media release that lands you on page 1 of a major newspaper, in a two-page spread in your top industry magazine or in the fluffy final segment of a network newscast. Just one major score like this, and you can milk the credibility payoff for your business practically forever. Inspire a feature story that gets picked up by the Associated Press, and enjoy people all over the world clamoring to get their hands on what you sell.

No-hype Technique #6: Incite curiosity

Reread the bullet points for tip #4, and if you have any interest at all in dog behavior, you’ll find you really, really want to know the techniques that are described there in an incomplete yet tempting fashion. Reference to the “Two-a-Day” Method has the same kind of effect – the reader wants to know “two of what?” Show a little while holding something back.

Like the other five techniques described here, enticing the reader is a truthful, effective, no-hype way to make the reader want to step forward and buy.

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Veteran copywriter and marketing consultant Marcia Yudkin is the author of Persuading on Paper, 6 Steps to Free Publicity and nine other books. She runs a one-on-one mentoring program that trains copywriters and marketing consultants in 10 weeks, providing neophytes with no-hype marketing writing skills and business savvy. For more information, go to http://www.yudkin.com/become.htm