Your Website Design Is Important

A lot of marketers operate under the impression that design doesn’t matter. They believe that it’s the quality of your content or your SEO strategy that ultimately determine your success. In reality, design actually matters quite a lot.

Design can be summed up in a few words. First, it’s whether or not your site looks good, pure and simple. It can also be expressed as how well your site conveys its brand and how well it projects the emotions it wants to project.

Why does design matter? Here are a few of the major ways design can impact an informational site.

Post-Panda SEO

It used to be that design didn’t much matter for SEO purposes. Google would come along, read your text, look at your backlinks and determine where you’d rank in the search engines.

Today the world is a little different.

Not only is Google still looking at all those things, but they’re also looking at other signals. They’re looking for “high quality websites.”

One mark of a high quality website is good design. They’ve used machine learning algorithms to identify design traits that high quality sites have in common.

In other words, if your site is well designed, now Google can tell and will give you credit for it.

Site Metrics

In addition to Google being able to “see” good design now, you also have Google looking at site metrics.

These are things like your bounce rate, your return rate, your average length on site, etc.

The better your stats, the more likely you are to rank highly in Google.

Naturally, having great design enhances all these stats. If people come to your site and see it as professional, they’re likely to stay longer than if they saw your site and thought it looked shabby.

Building Traffic

Building traffic is partly due to getting new traffic and partly due to getting people who’ve seen your site to come back.

If you have good design, people are much more likely to want to frequent your site.

People frequent websites that they feel a strong connection to. They need to feel that the information on the site is credible. They want to feel that the creators of the site put time, care and attention into it.

Design helps do all of these things.

Helping with Backlinks

Finally, design helps build backlinks.

Think about it. If someone asked you to link back to them, but had a horribly designed site, would you?

Likewise, if someone had a superbly designed site, wouldn’t you be more likely to link to them, all other things being equal?

Having good design helps increase your credibility, which helps increase your backlinks.

To make a long story short, design matters. You can’t measure the effects of strong design as clearly as a direct return on investment, but it makes a huge difference overall.

 

 

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Choosing The Right Niche For Your Blog/Website

Choosing the right topic for an informational website is the very first and often most important decision of your whole endeavor. What makes a good topic and how do you find one? Let’s take a look.

Is the Concept Unique?

By and large, there’s an informational website out there for just about every topic on the planet already. There are two exceptions to this.

The first exception is highly niched websites. For example, several years ago someone made a highly successful informational site about how to raise a specific kind of bird. There simply was no good information about that topic at the time.

More commonly, however, you’ll be looking to put spins on existing topics. For example, instead of promoting products to quit smoking, you might be creating “quit smoking” websites in other languages. Or, you might be targeting a subset of a larger market.

Whatever the case, you need to make sure that what you’re doing is unique. This helps make your site stand out and reduces competition.

Evaluate Your Own Passion

People often underestimate how important a role passion plays. Without passion for a topic, it’s very easy to lose motivation and stop working on something.

Ask yourself: Could you see yourself working on this site for several months? Would you find it boring, or would you find it invigorating?

There are plenty of topics you can choose from. Why not choose one that motivates you?

How Much Do You Need to Invest to Rank?

There’s no such thing as a topic you can’t rank for. The question isn’t a matter of “if,” but “how much.”

Ranking for main terms takes a long time and often takes a lot of money. Ranking for longer tail terms take less time and cost less.

If you’re a solo operation, you’ll probably want to stick with a smaller project with a moderate payout. If you have a team behind you and money to invest, then tackling larger topics makes sense.

Evaluating Profitability

Finally, you need to think about how much profit potential is behind the idea. It doesn’t make sense to invest time and money into a site that won’t make any money.

Have a monetization strategy in mind before starting your site. How do you plan to make money once the traffic starts coming in?

Try to predict how much you can earn based on how much other sites with similar business models earn.

Is the return worth the effort? If so, you might have a winner.

In short, you need to evaluate the uniqueness of the concept, your own passion, the difficulty of getting traffic and the payoff if you’re successful. If all these factors line up, then give the project a green light.

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How To Build A Website in 48 Hours or Less

People are often under the misconception that websites take a long time to build. In reality, the whole process can take less than 48 hours. Once you have a concept for an informational site, you can make it a reality very quickly.

Here’s how to go from idea to launch in just two days.

Buy the Domain

Go to a domain registrar like GoDaddy or NameCheap. Type in a few different domain names to see if you can find one that you like that’s available.

Try to only go for .com domain names that have no numbers and no hyphens.

Purchase Hosting

Go to a web host like GoDaddy or HostGator and purchase a hosting plan. Hosting plans are available for as little as $5-$7 a month.

A web host is basically where all your files are stored on the internet. Web pages, graphics and media files all need to be stored somewhere. The monthly fee you pay to a hosting company is your “rent” for using their storage space.

Set Up Hosting

Go into your domain name’s control panel. Redirect the Domain Name Service (DNS) to your hosting’s IP address. Detailed instructions are in your hosting and registrar’s help files.

Once your hosting is set up, your website is already live, although there’s nothing on it yet.

Adding a Content Management System

A content management system allows non-tech people to set up websites easily. With a CMS, you don’t need to know HTML, CSS or any programming at all.

There are several popular options you can choose from: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are all quite common. By and large however, the web is dominated by WordPress, which is also the most user friendly one to use.

To add a CMS, simply log into your hosting account’s cPanel. Look for a one-click WordPress installation. You can also look for “Fantastico” which has a number of built-in one-click installations, including WordPress.

As the term “one click” implies, the whole installation process should take under one minute. Just click a button and the system will take care of the rest.

Setting Up Your Website

Once you have WordPress (or another CMS) installed, all you need to do is choose how you want the site to look.

Select and install a theme. A theme determines how your site looks, including what colors are on the site, where the navigation bar is, where the buttons go, etc.

Add pages of content and add posts if you want to use your website as a blog.

The ground work at this point is finished. All you need to do is add content and your site is ready to go. Naturally, throughout the lifetime of your site, you’re going to make tweaks to the design and the content. But your website as a whole can be set up, online and ready to go in under 48 hours.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me or post comments.

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Unconventional Ways Of Marketing A Product

Throughout marketing history, one of the most effective and unconventional ways of marketing a product is to use a marketing stunt. The cake company that made the world’s largest cake, for example, launched a successful company off the back of a single marketing campaign. History is littered with such examples.

How can you come up with an idea like that for your company? Something that will really get the attention of both media and potential customers? Here’s how.

Start Journaling

 

The moment you decide to start coming up with potential marketing ideas, you’re going to start having ideas in some very strange places.

You might think of an idea while in the car. Or while in the shower. Or while on a jog, or while eating a meal. Write all these ideas down.

Come back to these ideas later and elaborate on them.

Brainstorm with Other People

 

Don’t try to do all your brainstorming on your own. Even if you’re the head of your company, try to get other people involved, even if they’re just friends in the same industry.

Many founders struggle with the belief that they’re better off doing things on their own rather than bringing other people on board to help. This is especially common when it comes to coming up with new ideas. It’s very hard to let go of the sole responsibility to come up with good ideas.

But if your company is going to grow, it needs to happen. That’s why companies like Google encourage their employees to spend 20% of their paid work time on their own ideas. Google knows that Larry Page and Sergey Brin can’t come up with enough good ideas to sustain the company.

The lesson: get other people involved with the brainstorming process.

Ask Yourself: How Can I Make This Even Bigger?

 

Anytime you come up with an idea that sounds good, ask yourself how you can make the idea even bigger.

Let’s say you’re promoting a marketing product and you decide to host a contest where you give away two all-expenses paid trips to a marketing conference.

Instead of just hosting the contest and publishing it on your website, ask yourself: how can I make this even bigger?

You might partner with the marketing conference to open the conference up to all participants. You might do an ad buying campaign to let everyone in the industry know about the contest. These two ideas could take your idea from a 500-person exposure project to a 10,000-people exposure project.

Always ask yourself: how can I make this even bigger?

If you follow these three tips – writing down all your ideas, brainstorming with other people and asking yourself how you can make things even bigger – you’ll quickly develop some winning high-impact campaigns.

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The Best Kind Of Content For Viral Traffic

If you’re trying to get your content to “spark” and go viral, it really helps to have a strong understanding of what kind of content tends to go viral. Of course, nobody can predict what will go viral, nor can they make something go viral 100% of the time. But by understanding what kind of content tends to go viral, you stand a much better chance of creating something viral yourself.

Here are a few of the main attributes of things that tend to go viral.

It’s Human

 

It’s rare that a factual, statistical or economical video goes viral. Instead, it’s usually the most human videos that go viral.

The singing homeless man on the street. The baby laughing at something senseless. An incredible display of guitar prowess.

Strong Emotional Content

 

The more emotions you can arouse in your audience, the better.

Let’s take one of the world’s most viewed videos, the “Charlie Bit my Finger” video. The video features a baby whose brother bit his finger; he sits there laughing and complaining at the same time.

This video has an astounding 438 million views at the time of this writing. That’s more than the population of the United States!

One of the main reasons this video took off so strongly is because of how palpable the emotions were in the video. The watcher can almost “follow along” with the baby’s emotions and also experience the joy of playing with your baby brother.

Videos That Provide Unique Information

 

Another type of content that does really well are videos that are informational. The key here is that the videos really have to provide content that can’t be found anywhere else.

For example, one video that went viral featured a science professor showing how to light a candle without ever touching the wick.

A content video that went viral during the 2008 election was a video of a dozen famous actors all asking people to vote.

Informational videos work in many different industries, but the most important thing is that there’s something truly unique to them.

Content That Appeals to Specific Groups of People

 

Content that tends to appeal to specific groups of people tends to do very well if they have strong emotional or informational content.

For example, political videos that are either informational or emotional can go viral just by being passed among a party’s members.

New food laws, something which may be seen as boring, could be very interesting to vegans if it affects the foods they’ll be able to purchase. A video about the new laws could really take off among that specific community.

These are some of the factors that go into determining whether or not a video goes viral. At the end of the day, a video going viral really means that a lot of people want to pass on your content. The key, as with many other things in business, is to just create something so amazing that people want to share it.

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StumbleUpon A Great Source For Viral Traffic

StumbleUpon is one of the most powerful websites you could utilize for getting viral traffic to your content. StumbleUpon can send tens of thousands of visitors to your site in a few hours, but it can also become a consistent source of traffic over time.

Because of the nature of StumbleUpon, content which people like has a very good chance of being seen by even more people.

Here’s how to use StumbleUpon for instant viral traffic.

Understanding the Mindset

 

Before designing a campaign for StumbleUpon, it’s crucial that you understand the mindset of Stumblers.

StumbleUpon is a lot like flicking through different channels on a TV, except it’s on the internet and people are flicking through different websites.

StumbleUpon will serve up unique pages and websites to people. If they like it, they can “Thumbs Up” the content, if they don’t they can “Thumbs Down” the content. At any time they can click “Stumble” and see a different site.

It’s very easy for someone who’s bored to “Stumble” away from your site. Likewise, if you get a lot of Stumblers to thumbs up your content, you can quickly get a flood of Stumblers coming in.

The Most Important Thing for Targeting Stumblers

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re targeting StumbleUpon users is that they’re in a very “quick entertainment” mindset.

You need to catch their attention, and you need to do it immediately. In other words, the above the fold area of your website needs to have some sort of shocking or captivating headline or graphic.

People should feel immediately drawn in upon seeing your site. Remember, if you don’t catch their attention, they’ll be gone before you can say “Stumble.”

Keeping Their Attention

 

Throughout your page should be very interesting, emotionally engaging pieces of content. It doesn’t matter if it gets them to laugh, to be outraged or to be shocked – it just has to be emotionally engaging.

You’ll also want to tone down the ads on the page which Stumblers land on. Pages with a lot of ads tend to get downvoted, while pages with fewer ads and more engaging content tends to get upvoted.

Getting Your Content on StumbleUpon

 

So how do you actually get your content on to StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon frowns on people submitting their own content. You can, but if you do it too often you’ll get your account disabled.

The best way to do it is to first spend a week or so using StumbleUpon yourself. That way you build up some usage history so it doesn’t look like you’re just there to promote; and you also get some experience with the StumbleUpon’s system.

Then, pick one of the best pages on your website and submit it to StumbleUpon. Ideally, you should get enough of a following from StumbleUpon that others will submit your content from then on.

If your content isn’t getting enough uptake, submit another piece of your own content a few weeks later. But make sure you’re also submitting other things and that there’s an interval between your submissions of your own content.

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When internet marketing was still in its infancy, “tell a friend” campaigns were incredibly effective. All you had to do was put up an email box, ask people to send your stuff to their friends and they would.

Today it’s completely different. People are much more conservative with their time and their friends’ time. In other words, they won’t send something to their friends unless they really thought their friends would appreciate it.

So do “tell a friend” campaigns still work? Absolutely. But the approach has to be completely different. Here are a few ways to make a “tell a friend” campaign work.

Use Facebook

 

In a way, Facebook is the newest and possibly most effective “tell a friend” platform in history.

Instead of asking people to email a friend for you, which takes a very high level of emotional commitment, try asking them to just repost whatever it is that you’re promoting to their Facebook walls.

Instead of just getting one person to check out your content, you can get anywhere from dozens to a hundred people per share checking out your content.

Offering a Reward

 

Another great way to get people to pass on your site or promotions more is to offer a reward for doing so.

The best way to go about this is to actually offer a reward for the person referring people as well as the person being referred.

If you only give a reward to people who are referring their friends, they might feel like they’re getting bribed to do so. However, if their friends are also better off as a result of coming through their link, they’re much more likely to respond.

For example, an online backup system might offer 250 extra megabytes of storage if someone came through your link – for both you and your referral.

Creating Viral “Tell a Friend” Campaigns

 

One of the most powerful ways of getting a campaign to go viral is to split test different promotions and strategies. You can do this both on your own website and on Facebook.

If it’s on your own website, you can just come up with 3-5 different promotions and track which one gets the most results by tracking it through your referral links. Find the most effective one and use that one going forward.

On Facebook, there are several apps that can help you track the “virality” of your group or page. In other words, you can track on average how many people pass on your content. Knowing that number, you can test different things to see if it makes your pass-on rate go up or down.

“Tell a friend” campaigns aren’t the only game in town anymore, but they’re still incredibly effective when done properly. Leverage social networks, create incentives and test different kinds of promotions for the best results.

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How Do You Get PR Attention For Your Online Business

Online marketers tend to ignore traditional press. They’ll get exposure on social networking sites, social bookmarking sites and try to get their content written up about by other people’s blogs. But by and large, they don’t contact the offline world.

Yet getting exposure in the offline world isn’t any more difficult than the online world. The difference is when you get exposure offline, the traffic is often both higher in volume and higher in quality than the traffic you get from online sources.

How do you get PR attention? Here’s how.

 

Identify Potential Publications

 

Don’t do press releases. Don’t fax in press releases and don’t do online press releases. While these may be good for backlinks, by and large editors and writers at successful publications find their stories from other sources.

Instead, it’s much more effective to take a more direct approach. Start by figuring out which publication(s) might be interested in the things you’re doing. If they’ve written about things in the past which are similar to what you’re doing, chances are they’ll be interested in the topic.

Try to identify both mainstream publications and smaller distribution publications. A great resource is the Standard Rates and Data Services publication (SRDS), which lists every newspaper and magazine in the country. You can find the SRDS at your local library.

Get copies of newspapers or magazines you might want to get in contact with. Find the specific names of the editors and/or writers who would be interested in your topic by seeing who wrote about the topic in the past.

 

Coming Up With a Newsworthy Angle

 

Before you approach a magazine, make sure you have a newsworthy angle.

A newsworthy angle is essentially an angle on what you’re doing that’ll make someone stop and actually want to read the whole article.

Think of it like a one-line sentence or a headline that’ll make someone stop and say “What?” and keep reading.

Brainstorm different angles on your business or product to make it as interesting to potential editors as possible.

 

Making Direct Contact

 

At this point, just email the editor/writer who you think might be interested in your story. Mention that you read their article about topic X in the past and thought they might be interested in your product/business.

Make it clear you actually know who they are and what they’re about and you’re not just spamming. Keep it short and spicy. Convey your newsworthy angle, add one or two lines then attach your contact information.

Not every publication you contact will get back to you. But the percentage of editors and writers who’ll actually call you back might surprise you.

Remember: Newspapers and magazines need to find good stories as much as you want to get published. If you find publications who’ll be interested in the kind of things you’re offering, it’s in their best interest to build the relationship.

 

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Create Viral Videos On A Budget

One common misconception of creating viral videos is that it needs to be expensive. In reality, your whole project can be launched for under $200. Justin Bieber, the teen pop star, started his claim to fame from his bedroom with an inexpensive camera. Today most of his videos have tens of millions of views.

So how do you create viral videos for under $200?

 

The Video Camera

 

Today, for as little as $100, you can get a high definition camera that shoots decent video. It’s not professional grade, but if your actual content is good, many web visitors will be willing to overlook that.

Take a trip to Best Buy or Costco, or check out price comparison sites online.

Also don’t forget that many smartphones today have cameras that are more than sufficient to record high quality video. For example, the iPhone 4’s 4 megapixel camera can produce videos that are definitely good enough for online viewing.

 

Shooting the Video

 

Your video is best shot with a friend. Trying to shoot yourself on video, while possible, is quite difficult.

Experiment with different camera angles to see what looks best. You’ll often have to do multiple takes to get something right. Don’t be surprised if a one-hour video takes you all day to shoot.

 

Editing Your Video

 

There are many different ways you can edit your video for free.

To start with, use iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker if it came with your operating system. Though they won’t have special effects or color correcting options, you’ll be able to do most of your basic edits.

If your operating system didn’t come with a video editing program, there are several good free options you can download online.

 

Rendering Your Video

 

Finally, once you’ve shot your videos and edited your video, the last step is to render your video.

Rendering refers to the last part of the editing process where you actually create your new video file. Generally you’ll want to create a small sized, decent quality video rather than a large high quality video.

YouTube will re-render your video to a smaller size anyway once you upload it.

 

Distributing Your Video

 

There are several online video distribution services – some paid, some free – that’ll submit your video to a number of different video hosting sites.

Sure, YouTube definitely has the most traffic. But many other sites, like Dailymotion, Metacafe and others still have quite a bit of following. Getting your video on those sites as well can really increase your exposure.

At this point, you’ve bought an inexpensive camera, recorded your video, edited it for free and uploaded it to one or more video distribution sites. If your video is good and has viral potential, it might just take off. Best of all? You’ve spent less than $200 on the whole process.

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Create A Viral Infographics In 5 Steps

Infographics are a stellar way to package interesting facts and information about a specific topic in a way that’s fun to read. In plain text, people probably wouldn’t actually take the time to read about a lot of facts. But in a fun infographic format, it can really go viral.

Here’s how to create viral infographics.

Researching Interesting Facts

 

Start with a topic you want to write about. Infographics can encompass just about any topic, from the frivolous (e.g. little known facts about beer) to the very serious (e.g. why did the housing bubble crash?)

Use Google, Wikipedia and your local library to find as many little-known facts about the topic as possible.

If you want, you can also try to piece all the facts together to form a story. Or, you can just put the facts together and have primarily a factual infographic.

Constructing the Infographic

 

Adobe Illustrator is likely the most popular application for constructing infographics. Illustrator is built for creating things like infographics which are basically lines.

Though you can use applications like Photoshop or GIMP to construct your infographic, you’re looking at a lot more work. That’s because these programs were built to handle pictures rather than lines.

In technical terms, Illustrator is vector based (lines), while Photoshop is raster based (pixels). Creating an infographic is primarily lines and text, which is much faster in Illustrator.

Adding Graphics

 

One of the things that makes infographics really fun to read is the graphics.

Use things like pie charts, photos of what you’re talking about and even hand illustrations if you have the artistic ability to really spice things up.

Adding a Dose of Personality

 

While strictly informational infographics can go viral if you’ve really got some shocking facts, your chances of getting your infographic to spread go up exponentially if you just add a bit of personality.

Add some humor. Make fun of something in your infographic. Do something out of the ordinary, or use funny or shocking pictures.

Add some personality. Add emotion to the infographic.

Getting Distribution

 

Infographics tend to spread very well on sites like Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon. Post your infographic on these sites and hang around to respond to any comments.

Post your infographic to your list and/or blog. If you’re not already running a blog and you intend to keep producing infographics, you should probably look into creating one so your audience can follow your work.

Keep in mind that not every infographic will spread. But if you create five great infographics, chances are one or two will spread like wildfire. When one of these takes off on the social networks, the traffic surge can be positively massive.

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