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Friday, February 11, 2011

Tips for Developing a Link Building Strategy

Link building should be considered phase two of any SEO campaign (on-site optimization being phase one) and is a critical component of maintaining site ranking and establishing a trust factor with the search engines.

Link building is an ongoing campaign necessary for improving a website's inbound link stream which can help promote your brand and overall visibility in the search engines. 
Link building can also help boost unique visitors to your site which in turn can lead to a boost in conversions. 
Link building efforts come in many forms including: local profiles, blogging and blog commenting, social networking, directory submission and online publicity, among others.

The overall goal of a link building strategy is to grow links from many different, but relevant, sources over time. Most link building strategies range from 3 months to a year and should incorporate 10-20 different scheduled tasks a month. It is important to create a very specific link building schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Growing links too fast raises a red flag with the search engines and can result in negative consequences. Growing links slowly helps establish a trust with the search engines, leading to better positioning in their results.

The first step in developing a link building strategy is to conduct a link audit for your website and its top three competitors
Google Webmaster Tools can analyze your site while Link Diagnosis (both free services) can be used to analyze the competition. Conducting a link audit helps establish a baseline strategy by determining how many one-way links are already pointing towards your site. Depending on the age and size of your website, an audit could return with 100, 1,000, or even 100,000 one-way links directing traffic to various pages on your site. It isn't necessary to visit all 100,000 links, but you should take a good sample (roughly 1000) of the listed links and visit each one to determine what kind of link it is. This is called creating a link portfolio.

The person conducting the link audit should keep an eye out for "bad" links coming from places like adúlt or gambling sites. 
Search engines keep track of how many "bad" links a website has and the greater the percentage of links coming from these sites the more poorly it reflects on the website. 
Again, trust is the most important thing to establish between a site and the search engines. The number of "bad" links has a negative effect on a website's trust factor.

Analyzing a competitor's website helps you determine if there are any good places you should be focusing your link building activities, but aren't. 
It also lets you know what kind of competition there is online. 
If competitor X has 7,500 links, competitor Y has 12,000 and competitor Z has 23,000 one-way links, then a company with only 2,000 links knows it has a lot of work do to before it can effectively compete in the same space.

When developing a link building strategy, you need to create a schedule of diverse activities. Search engines want to see a blended approach because it demonstrates a commitment to site branding. It also lets the search engines know that your site is legitimate and employing white hat SEO techniques. These efforts can include creating social networking profiles, article marketing, and online video marketing.

The easiest place to start with link building is directory submission. You should submit your site to reputable directories like Yahoo! Directory, Dmoz and, as well as industry specific onlíne directories. Just double check that your website isn't already lísted in a directory before submitting a new profile. Duplicate submissions look bad to search engines as well as consumers because it shows a lack of attention to detail and can appear spammy. If a website is already listed, make sure the profile is up-to-date.

Along with online directories, you could consider becoming a member of industry associations. While it often costs to join these associations, it helps lend credibility to your site and can help position you as an industry expert. You should try to promote your website as an "authority" in your industry by placing links in online arenas that correlate to your industry/products and that will drive appropriately targeted traffic to your site. Industry associations are also a good place to develop relationships with other members.

You can help promote yourself as an industry leader by creating, and commenting on, industry blogs. Producing your content as opposed to just re-posting work by outside sources lends credibility to your site and encourages consumer trust in the expertise of your company and you as a writer. It can also help create a conversation with customers as opposed to the one-way communication of a website. Blogs that allow for comments encourage consumer participation.

Leaving appropriate comments on other blogs (comments that actually contribute to the conversation, not just things like "Thanks for the post!" or "Great ideas!") helps grow relevant links back to your website and promotes your company's authority as a leader in your industry.

As you promote your website and build its authority as an industry leader, natural inbound links will develop overtime. As your company blog or white paper is discussed or cited, as your product/service is reviewed and promoted by word-of-mouth over social networking sites or as your online press releases get picked up by various news sources, your campaign will grow to include links not directly created by your website's link building efforts.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to link building (just like most SEO efforts) is that it must happen over an extended period of time. It's easy for website owners to get anxious and want to see immediate results and over-aggressively push link building efforts. Doing so can result in negative consequences. Link building isn't just about boosting the number of one-way links pointing to your website; it is also about building and managing an online brand that resonates with consumers.

About The Author
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Flagrant Abuse of Positive Thinking

You might have some memory of Admiral James Stockdale. He was the guy who was Ross Perot's Vice Presidential candidate in 'the US 1992 presidential election.

He didn't fare so well as a VP candidate, but he was quite an impressive military man. He was former president of the Naval War College and was the highest ranking officer in the dreaded "Hanoi Hilton" in Viet Nam.

He spent eight years in Hanoi and was tortured numerous times by his captors.

Mr. Thomas Barnett relates:

"Stockdale tells the story of the optimists who never survived their time in Hanoi, simply because they clung far too much to their dreams of release and in doing so couldn't handle the brutal realities of what it took to survive the day to day.

"So instead of dealing with the here and now realistically, they tended to cling to the hope that they'd be home by whatever the next holiday was, and when that day came and went, their spirit would be diminished by that measure.

"Over time, they died because their spirit was extinguished by reality."

Stockdale's explains his "paradox" this way:

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end (which you can never afford to lose) with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

Stockdale was really describing the flagrant abuse of 'positive thinking.'

And you know what? A lot of entrepreneurs are really just too optimistic. Worse yet, the business opportunity pitchmen exploit this and sell ridiculously unrealistic plans to starry-eyed people.

What a shame.

Then people flip to the other side, which is the CNN version of the world: Everything is hopeless. All you can do is talk your doctor into putting you on prescription drugs.

Both extremes are recipes for crash and burn.

I seriously doubt anything you ever face in business will be as dreadful as the Hanoi Hilton. Still, nothing can be worse for you than to walk into battle with a plastic sword and helmet, and then get cut down with tanks and machine guns.

You wanna survive... then thrive?

Here are some wise precautions that will prepare you for adversity and ensure your success:

  • Assume that vendors will be slower than they promise - and that you may have to stand on their heads to get things done (not that you should accept this if it's going on though!)
  • Assume click prices and advertising rates are going to go UP, not down
  • Assume Google's gonna slap you sooner or later, even if you've got the most righteous product on God's green earth
  • Assume your best source of customers could dry up with no advance notice
  • Assume the buying cycle is longer than you think it is, not shorter
  • Assume it's gonna get harder to raise capital, not easier
  • Assume some unforeseen problem, like a product defect, legal challenge or financial setback may pop up
  • Assume your top 3 plans might not work out, so have #4 and #5 in place too

Once you've assumed all that and planned for it - NOW you can look forward to great success, knowing that you've anticipated virtually every obstacle and can make it through. Because when you put those constraints on your plan, you'll NEED to add a magic ingredient.

This will force your creativity to add one.

One of my Roundtable Members (Roundtable is my private $12K per year mastermind group) asked me about the slippery slope of making bolder promises in his sales copy, which as they got more unrealistic, would also be more appealing and boost the response.

I said, "Well if you make unrealistic promises, you'll just get a bunch of unrealistic customers, and that's what you'll be stuck with - people who dream all day and never do anything. Meanwhile the ones you really want will never believe you anyway."

That's always been my approach. Tell people like it is, so they understand what's ahead of them... then work with people who are not going to die of a broken heart with the 4th of July comes and goes and they're not out of Hanoi just yet.

The liberating thing about this is, people who are prepared for tough sledding will make it. You will revel in your victory when it does come. With the right overall strategy, victory can be almost inevitable.

Original Source: Perry Marshall

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Corporate B2B marketing is different from Consumer marketing

The following article is from a Newsletter subscribed with Perry Marshall

When I was a young-pup student of direct marketing I had a job selling techie stuff to manufacturing companies by day. 

By night, I'd read sizzling sales letters and ballsy offers from my fave marketing gurus.

I would think: "This stuff would never work for selling to corporate B2B people like my customers."

Once in a while I'd ask a copywriting guru: "Is there a difference between writing B2B copy and B2C copy?"

They'd say, "No difference! Either way, you're selling to people. People are people."

With all due respect, that's like saying there's no difference between selling to Chinese factory workers and English polo players - because, after all, 'people are people.' Right?

Well duh, there's a HUGE difference. Using B2C language with B2B people can kill your chances of success.

Here's what's different:

1. If your copy gets an employee excited but he's afraid to show it to his boss because it's too cheesy, you're never going to get the order.

2. If you're selling to engineers, accountants or lawyers and you over-promise by 10%, you're dead meat. As soon as you say something that's not believable, they stop listening to you. Consumers will put up with all kinds of hype but B2B people won't.

3. B2B people buy on emotion but rarely on *pure* emotion. They have to at least be able to explain and justify their purchase to each other. Your marketing materials must help them justify the purchase with a sound argument.

4. In B2B, you ABSOLUTELY CAN use balls-to-the-wall marketing but you MUST be able to back up everything you say with hard facts. Otherwise they'll think you're a ridiculous blowhard. 

Perfect example: "Big Ass Fans" is a company in Kentucky that has a tongue-in-cheek, slightly offensive name but the bottom line is, they have an excellent product that's way better than air conditioning for a lot of facilities. They've had massive success with outrageous marketing - even to serious corporate types. That's because they present hard facts in an undeniable way.

5. In B2B, it's of utmost importance that you position yourself as a credible expert. When you do this, every sales call is 2X as effective. The key to this is replacing prospecting and "pounding the phone" with high efficiency positioning and lead generation.

(It sure is a relief to get that cold-calling monkey off your back!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shaping Web Audience Preference - The Four E-Essentials of Website Presentation

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you had the power to convince people that your product or service was exactly what they needed, and as a consequence your in-box was filled with inquiries and your e-commerce site was stuffed with orders. Wouldn't that be great? And isn't that exactly what you want to achieve with your website?

The problem is you are part of a giant online bazaar called The Web; and just like your local weekend flea market The Web is filled with crap, conmen, and contraband. Without understanding some of the underlying psychological principles involved in shaping audience preference you are in danger of being regarded as just another mangy flea market hustler, even if what you offer is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The subject of shaping public perception, or in our case Web audience preference, is complex and convoluted but there are basic principles that if followed will help you achieve your business objectives, no matter how you define them.

The Four E-Essentials of Website Presentation
All the Google ads, search engine optimization, linking strategies, social networking, and Twitter twirping will be for naught if you don't implement four essential marketing communication techniques: engage, enlighten, embed, and re-enforce. These four website presentation elements are easy to grasp but not always easy to implement.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate how these elements work is to rent or find on YouTube a clip from the 1947 movie "The Hucksters" starring Clark Gable and Sydney Greenstreet. Now I haven't seen this movie in twenty years and I remember almost nothing about it except for one scene, a scene that illustrates better than anything, the four e-essentials of marketing and branding communication.

Engage, Enlighten, Embed, and Re-Enforce
Picture an old style boardroom, you know the ones with wood paneling, high-backed deeply padded chairs all filled with a bunch of executive flunkies and sycophants. At one end is Clark Gable, and his dapper boss Adolphe Menjou, and at the other end is an empty, ornate leather chair, almost like a throne.

An older heavy-set gentlemen, played by Sydney Greenstreet, walks in wearing a dark suit, light colored vest, and a matching pork-pie hat. He is the client, the owner of a large soap manufacturing company, 'Beauty Soap,' that has hired Gable's agency to help sell his product.

He proceeds to sit down at the head of the table, throws back his head, and expectorates (spits) onto the middle of the table. He then dramatically takes out a handkerchief from his breast pocket, wipes up the mess, and carelessly tosses the hankie on the floor, after which he tells the assembled ad men...

"You've just seen me do a disgusting thing, but you'll always remember what I just did. You see if nobody remembers your brand, you aren't going to sell any soap. ...I'll tell you a secret about the soap business. There's absolutely no difference between soaps, absolutely none, except for perfume and color... soap is soap... oh... maybe we have a few manufacturing tricks, but the public don't give a hoot about that..." 

Embed The Brand
You may not like to hear it, but the truth is, most products and services are pretty much the same as their competitors. Sure some have a little more this, and others have a little more that, but for all intensive purposes, they're the same, the same except for one major thing, The Brand! 

This sixty second clip from "The Hucksters" illustrates the need to engage your audience with a dramatic gesture, enlighten them with what they need to know, and do it all in a entertaining manner that embeds the brand, and what it stands for, in the audience's mind. 

The Repetition Caveat
The last twenty seconds of the scene are a bit more controversial in my mind and if taken at face value can lead to a misunderstanding of the re-enforcing principle. 

Greenstreet continues his rant by banging his fist on the table over-and-over again while saying, 

"Beauty Soap, Beauty Soap, Beauty Soap, repeat it until it comes out of their ears, repeat it until they say it in their sleep, irritate them Mr. Norman [a reference to Gable], irritate, irritate, irritate them, never forget, knock them dead, until they never forget." 

All the while Greenstreet emphatically bangs his fist on the table to emphasize his point. When he finally finishes his rant, he sweeps his hand dramatically across the table knocking a glass of water halfway across the room. He finishes by saying calmly, "See what I mean?" 

Web Videos Shouldn't Be TV Commercials
Television advertisers seem to have taken the "irritation" part to heart, but I think the basic principle is dramatic repetition not irritation. Irritation may generate name recognition but with the wrong mental and emotional associations, while dramatic repetition shapes audience opinion and establishes brand preference. Not understanding the psychology behind the four e-essentials can lead to unsatisfactory results.

This scene from "The Hucksters" was satire and commentary on the nature of advertising, and its point-of-view was decidedly cynical, and with good cause. Television commercials drive the public up a wall with irritating repeated interruptions of the same hackneyed commercials over and over again, until the viewing audience goes numb.

As well, pointless user-generated videos may bemuse but without any targeted psychological influence or directed commercial purpose beyond attracting a lot of viewers.
Even expensive commercially produced viral videos that are clever, entertaining, and technically superb often forget to enlighten the audience and embed the brand.

Gaining Competitive Advantage
It is human nature to want easy answers to complex questions, but people are frustratingly complex, and cannot be "pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered" like Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner'.

Search engine optimization, social networking, user-generated videos, and viral-for-viral's sake are nothing more then marketing 'Pablum' that takes advantage of naive marketing newbies; they are trendy technical answers with the appearance of sophistication but with only the slightest understanding of subconscious human desire. 

Technical answers to human questions ultimately won't work, or will only work with limited success because they ignore the need to understand the human condition, what makes you and everybody else want, what they want. 

Gerald Zaltman, Professor Emeritus of Harvard Business School calls it understanding the "mind of the market." To quote Professor Zaltman from his book 'How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market,' 

"...the ability to grasp or understand the mind of the market and creatively leverage this understanding represents the next source of competitive advantage for marketers." 

The Choice Is Yours
The average website business will continue to follow whatever trendy technical solution shows up on the blogs. But your competitor's willingness to follow the herd leaves the way wide open for you to take advantage of their failure; their misreading of what works.

Recognize the best way to communicate your offering to your Web audience is with a presentation delivered by a real human being, a presentation that engages, enlightens, and embeds in that audience's collective memory.

And when you're done, do it all over again in an even more memorable, dramatically entertaining manner.

About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit,, and

Monday, May 25, 2009

Getting in your first 1000 hours at any cost

The first time I heard the phrase "get in your 10,000 hours" was in an interview I did with John Carlton several years ago. He was talking about copywriting and he said if you want to be world-class-good at something, log your ten thousand hours of practice.

Today I've got 2 thoughts to share about getting in your 10,000 hours:

1) It's hard for most people to appreciate the rich rewards of being truly world class. The doors it will open for you, the opportunities it will bring month after month, year after year. Especially if you build a public platform around your skill, you're automatically at the front of every line you stand in - if you even have to stand in line at all.

When you're world class you can achieve things in your sleep that most people can't pull off with every ounce of energy and concentration they possess.

2) You don't have to be even close to certified world-class to enjoy substantial advantages. I've always liked the phrase "in the land of the blind, the man with one eye gets to be king." In most industries and most markets, you don't need world class marketing chops to win big-time. 1,000 hours of practice will equip you to beat almost everybody in almost any game.

Remember, to succeed online you only need to be good at TWO things - ONE kind of traffic and ONE kind of sales conversion.

If you spend 1,000 hours learning how to generate ONE kind of traffic and 1,000 hours mastering ONE way of converting prospects to buyers, you will be darn close to the best guy or gal you can find at those two things.

So how do you log your 1,000 hours?

You MUST MUST MUST shove minutia out of the way and FOCUS for 1 hour a day.

1 hour a day for 3 years is 1000 hours.
2 hours a day for 18 months is 1000 hours.
3 hours a day for a year is 1000 hours.
Even if you take one day off per week, which you should.

You will never miss the minutia you shove out of the way. It'll probably be time you spend responding to emails that will never result in any sales or time you waste twittering or facebooking or whatever.

There are many trivial tasks you can give to a $10 per hour assistant. Things other people can do for you like laundry or housecleaning. Short-term chores that you'll never miss once they're gone.

What if you gave those jobs to somebody else and blocked out ONE HOUR to hone your highest skill to perfection?

I've basically spent at least an hour writing every day for the last 10 years. It's my best skill and it's paid off. I've wasted a lot of time doing a lot of stupid things during the last decade but it's the time I spent doing that that made a difference.

The other thing I've been doing for the last 10 years - yes, probably about an hour every day, on average - is being a certified Marketing Maniac. Having my radar cranked up for every possible angle on human psychology and what makes people respond; what makes people change their minds, change their beliefs, part with their money.

Collecting every strange story and case study about websites and infomercials and direct mail campaigns and sales meetings I can find and filing them away in my brain.

I've wasted a lot of time doing stupid stuff but time spent doing that has paid off handsomely.

-----> There's one point I must NOT leave out.

Just "doing ten thousand hours of whatever" all by itself is not enough and will get you nowhere.

There are all kinds of accountants and engineers and secretaries who have done ten thousand hours of accounting or engineering or secretarial work, who are not even close to world class at anything.

Why? Because they've just been punching the clock. Sleepwalking through their life. They haven't been sharpening their saw. They've only been going through the motions.

That'll earn you a paycheck but little else. No, I'm talking about conscious, deliberate effort to get BETTER. To challenge yourself; to seek out new discoveries, to try things you haven't tried before; to put yourself under the tutelage of an exacting and demanding mentor; to press the edges of your comfort zone and expand your ability.

THAT is what you spend your 1,000 or 10,000 hours doing. Acting instead of reacting. Pressing forward instead of floating downstream.

Before I go, there is one last advantage that I'd like you to consider:

Consider the PEER GROUP you will belong to when you achieve regional, national or world-class chops in ANY endeavor.

You will command instant respect from other world-class people, regardless of profession. The conversations you have with them will be stimulating, invigorating, fascinating. People who embrace excellence. People who, you will find, are usually generous and creative and adventurous. They introduce you, in turn, to other creative, adventurous people.

You will also find that contrary to stereotype, folks who hang out at country clubs are neither stuffy nor dull nor boring. They're usually the most happenin', engaging people in town.

A couple weeks ago I spied a Google ad by a world-class artist who is revered in certain circles. Someone I highly respect. (I bet he got his 10,000 hours in by age 19.) I saw a couple of mistakes he was making and dropped him an email offering to help out. He Googled me and when he saw I was also world class at what I do, he replied back and we had a great conversation.

I helped him out, I had a cool opportunity to converse with someone whose work I admire, and perhaps we'll have more exchanges in the future.

I bet you can think of people you'd like to meet. If you're as good at what you do as they are at what they do, it won't be hard to make that happen.

The pursuit of excellence is truly worthy of your time. I challenge you to name anything that's more worthy of 1 hour per day than that.

Whatever you do - whatever minutia you have to shove out of the way - commit right now to your 1,000 hours of mastery. It's the first step to getting your 10,000 hours. That hour-a-day is not optional if you want to have a great life.

I promise, it will take you to places you've hardly dreamed of.

Original Source: