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Month: January, 2008

Google won’t search for Chuck Norris…

31 January, 2008 (09:42) | Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Go to Google and search for “find chuck norris” and click the “I’m Feeling Lucky button”.

Google-like search result for find Chuck Norris

:-D

Tip of the hat to David Krane.

Ken McArthur’s Perpetual Learning Series

30 January, 2008 (09:31) | Business | By: Nick Dalton

Ken’s pre-launch campaign for his upcoming book is gathering steam. He just added 100 hours of audio content that you can access for free at TheImpactFactor.net. The recordings include:

  • Andy Jenkins, Anik Singal and Nathan Anderson on Search Engine Optimization
  • Rosalind Gardner on Affiliate Marketing
  • Brian Voiles on Copywriting
  • Jack Humphrey on Critical Mass Promotion
  • Willie Crawford on Article Marketing
  • Mark Joyner – “What’s Coming Soon… Profits or Disaster?”
  • And about 20 others

There is no such thing as a free product, so don’t spend the next 100 hours of your life listening to all this audio content just because you don’t have to hand over any money for it. Use the just-in-time learning methodology. For example: If you are just about to host your first teleconference then look at the available content and you’ll find a presentation by expert Gary Nuckles. Search for and use the information only when you need it.

You can sign up to The Impact Factor here.

4 Reasons Why You Should Always Send HTML Emails From Your Autoresponder

29 January, 2008 (17:04) | Testing, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

1. Tracking

Unless you send your emails as HTML most autoresponder services cannot report how many of your emails were opened by their recipients. I know that this tracking is not very accurate since many email clients block the tracking image or HTML. But we’re not primarily interested in absolute numbers; trends are more important.

Here are some important findings you can learn from the tracking data:

  • If fewer and fewer of your emails are being opened over time or as your autoresponder series progresses, then you are probably not providing enough value in your emails for your readers.
  • The subject line of an email is your sales letter that tries to convince the recipient to open the email. Look at your subject lines together with the percentage of recipients who opened the email. This will help you craft better subject lines.
  • What is the optimal frequency of sending emails to your list? Keep an eye on the open rate to get early warnings of email fatigue.

2. Real Links

Instead of having to resort to text like http://www.something.com/page.html and hoping that the email client will automagically convert the text to a clickable link, you can create normal HTML links just like you do on your web site.

With normal HTML links it’s easier to embed web analytics tracking code. It looks better and you don’t have to worry about the link text breaking across two lines.

3. Looks Better

Hard line breaks made sense in the 60’s and maybe the 70’s when terminals had a fixed character width. But who has a screen these days that can only display 65 characters per line?

Even my phone displays HTML emails better than preformatted text with hard line breaks. Lines and paragraphs flow they way they should, and don’t suddenly break off in the middle of the screen.

With HTML you can use headlines and emphasize text without having to resort to ALL CAPS, stars or other unreadable characters. Would you have made it this far in this post if there were no headlines or other normal typographical items to rest your eyes on?

4. Branding

Without going overboard with HTML you can add the color scheme of your website to your emails, reinforcing your brand identity. If you decide to add your logo or any other images make sure that the email looks ok without the images since many email clients block images by default.

In a world where 99% of the marketers only send you plain text messages you have a chance to stand out with professional looking emails.

Example

To see a very simple example, sign up to the email notification list in the top right corner of this page. Each time I publish a new blog post you will receive an HTML announcement email.

Are you sending your autoresponder emails as HTML? Why not?

How To Create A Real Internet Business

23 January, 2008 (13:48) | Business, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

Do you have an Internet business selling information products? The January 2008 edition of the Terry Dean Monthly Mentor Club teaches you how to create a plan to go from selling single information products to creating a real BUSINESS.

Remember: A business is a profitable system that works without you.

To get where you want to go you need a plan. Not a complicated fifty page document that takes months to write. Just a single page business plan that crystallizes your offerings and keeps you on track towards your goals. One of the few business planning books that Terry recommends reading is: The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan.

Finding your audience

Spending a lot of time and money on creating an information product that nobody wants to buy is very frustrating. Believe me; been there, done that. You need to identify a market where people have a problem, they know they have a problem and they are willing to spend money solving it.

For this I highly recommend Virtually FoolProof Method of Choosing Slam Dunk Markets. It’s only $10. A small price to pay for avoiding going too far down a dead-end path.

Develop your core message

The Internet business marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive. Why should anyone listen to you? Why should they give their hard earned money to you?

Take a closer look at the blogs that you read most often. Does the author have a distinct personality that comes through in the writing? Strong opinions about something? A good background story? You might even call it a brand.

Any “me too” message is not going to get you very far.

Develop your product base

Have you already developed your first information product? Congratulations! That’s a great start, and it puts you ahead of 99% of the wannabes. But one product is not an Internet business.

Here are the four different types products and price-levels that Terry recommends every information business should have:

  1. Entry Products
  2. Bread-And-Butter Income
  3. High Ticket Items
  4. Continuity Income

Analyze high-profile marketers

The newsletter finished with an analysis of four well known Internet businesses, breaking down their brands, products and offerings into the categories described above.

  • Dan Kennedy
  • Ron Legrand
  • Jimmy Brown
  • Stephen Snyder

The verdict

As usual Terry delivers great, actionable content. The key here is action. Information without action is worthless. If you take action and answer all 17 questions in the newsletter, you will be well on your way to creating a real Internet business.

This month’s newsletter felt a little scattered. The information is there, but I had to read it a couple of times to put it together and create my own action plan.

Instant gratification

Typically monthly newsletters like this are only delivered as a physical product. Starting this month Terry is experimenting with digital delivery in addition to mailing you the newsletter. When you sign up now, you get the instant gratification of being able to download the January newsletter immediately. But back issues will still not be available. So if you want the information on how to create a real Internet BUSINESS, then you need to go to www.MonthlyMentorClub.com now.

Have You Ever Wondered How SPAM Emails Can Be Profitable?

21 January, 2008 (09:13) | Business | By: Nick Dalton

If you ever go through your email SPAM folder, I’m sure you have wondered who would click on the links in such an email, let alone purchase anything. But there are people online from all walks of life, so maybe one in a million would. But still, how could that be a viable business that fuels the never ending flood of SPAM emails?

As an Internet business owner you’re probably used to the reputable email services run by companies like Aweber and Get Response, to name just two. They are very strict on their double opt-in requirements to lock out any spammers thinking about using their services. Their initial fees when you have a small list is a very reasonable $20 per month (approximately). But if you want to send emails to one million recipients were talking over $1,000 per month.

Now if you have a legitimate mailing list of one million people, then you have yourself quite an Internet business, and $1,000 per month to communicate with them is probably pocket change. But if you’re a spammer with a click through rate of one in a million, then these economics will definitely not work.

Where there is a business need and money to be made, there are sure to be companies willing to provide the needed services. The global market of the Internet almost guarantees it. Enter the botnet business model.

A botnet is a network of thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, of compromised computers. These machines have at some point in time been infected by a small program because the user clicked on a link in an email or visited a web site in the wrong neighborhood. When a computer has been compromised this way there are no visible signs of it. Gone are the days when virus writer wanted publicity or bragging rights for displaying silly messages on as many computers as possible, or caused them to erase their hard drives, or just grind processing to a halt. Now these infections keep a very low visible profile.

Once in a while the infected computers “call home” for instructions. A popular, and profitable, task for these computers is to send out SPAM emails on behalf of a paying customer. Previously it was not that difficult to trace SPAM emails back to the server sending them. ISP:s would then block all emails coming from that server IP address. With emails coming from a botnet, there could be a hundred thousand different computers sending ten emails each. This is impossible to block by IP address.

According to this article on Dark Reading a price war has broken out between competing botnets. And the going rate is $100 to send out one million SPAM emails. At this price level all it really does take is one sucker in a million to keep the “business” profitable.

With SPAM services on sale, prepare your email inbox for new avalanches of SPAM emails in the coming weeks. Gmail has one of the better SPAM filters in the free webmail category. For non-webmail accounts you can use the SpamArrest service.

Note: As an Internet business entrepreneur I’m always interested in learning more about other business models. Learning more about the business described in this post does not mean that I endorse marketing through SPAM emails, nor do I encourage you to join this “dark side” of the Internet.

Update: 12 Month Internet Millionaire

17 January, 2008 (16:34) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

A while back I posted a review of Russell Brunson’s 12 Month Internet Millionaire product. One of my comments then was that the transcript was too literal. Well Russell must have listened, because he recently sent out a new transcript, slightly edited. It’s now 179 pages instead of the original 197. Kudos for listening to your customers and improving the product. Personally I would have liked to see it edited down to a third of the current length. More is not better. I much prefer to read the concentrated essence.

The 12 Month Internet Millionaire sales page is still way over-selling this product. Click over to the sales page and compare it with the actual contents of the product as I reviewed it. Can you even tell that it’s the same product?

If you are looking to expand your business into direct mail, then Vincent James has some good information for you in this product. If you are just starting out with your Internet business, then this product is probably not for you.

Book Review: Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic

16 January, 2008 (11:42) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

I was sick for a few days, so my wife got me Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic to cheer me up. The book is written not by Douglas Adams, but by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. But the style of writing and humor is very similar to what we DNA fans have come to know and love.

The Starship Titanic is the most magnificent starship every built.

However, many corners were cut during the construction, several individuals were bankrupted and the economy of an entire planet was destroyed. As a result of the drastic cost cutting measures, several vital components are completely missing, and things don’t quite work the way the designer envisioned. This is the setting when three earthlings “accidentally” board the ship and their hilarious journey begins.

Come to think of it, the Starship Titanic is not all that different from many Internet marketing products… A lot of time and money has been spent on the exterior, the package has a massive thud factor, the sales page is slick, etc. But inside the product things seem a little bit out of order, certain key elements are glossed over or completely missing, and the help desk is as helpful as the robotic table lamps on the Starship Titanic.

Search Engine Ranking Factor – Recency

14 January, 2008 (15:22) | Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

In previous posts I’ve talked about different types of ranking factors: on-page, URL and off-page (links). There are of course hundreds of variables in the major search engines’ ranking algorithms, but these three big buckets are helpful for categorizing them.

But there is one other major type of ranking factor that doesn’t fit neatly into these three categories: time, or how recently the web page was updated. Google, especially, is obsessed with indexing and returning search results from new web pages. From a user’s perspective this makes sense since you often want read the very latest information on a subject.

However this poses a problem for Google since new web pages do not have any links pointing back to them, and therefore their traditional Page Rank algorithm would never rank new pages very high. So it appears that Google is giving new web pages the benefit of the doubt for a short period of time. Yaro has dubbed this the Google Honeymoon Period. After this period of time, your web page will slide back in ranking to it’s position based on the other ranking factors.

Here are four steps to take advantage of the recency ranking factor:

  1. Get a blog. There is no better way to continuously publish new content and alert the search engines to it.
  2. Publish new blog posts as often as you can manage.
  3. Make sure your blog pings Google Blog Search. Add http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2 to the list of Update Services in WordPress Options > Writing.
  4. If you’re trying to rank for a specific keyword phrase, then use that often in your blog posts. If each post gets its honeymoon period you will constantly have one page ranking well for that phrase. Over time the search engines will recognize that this is a topic that you frequently write about and therefore you’re probably an authority on it.

I attribute most of my recent page two Google ranking for “internet business” to on-page ranking factors. The home page RaSof score for “internet business” was at the time 1,274 (very high). It has since declined somewhat due to recent posts not mentioning “internet business” as frequently. I’ve currently slipped to page three, so there is more than likely a bit of the recency ranking factor at play too.

Have you enjoyed the Google Honeymoon for your web site? How long did it last?

Review: Search Engine Myths Exposed

10 January, 2008 (10:35) | Reviews, Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Search Engine Myths ExposedJonathan Leger released his free report Search Engine Myths Exposed yesterday. Here are the “myths” that are exposed:

  1. Google Knows All and Sees All
  2. Google Will Not Rank Duplicate Content
  3. You Must Get Links From Related Subject Sites to Rank
  4. Your Site Must Focus On One Subject To Rank
  5. High PageRank Means Good Rankings
  6. To Maintain Good Rankings, You Must Add New Content
  7. The Biggest Myth: Ranking in Google is Hard

I didn’t realize that these were still considered myths or that there was any controversy surrounding them. But given all the FUD surrounding search engine optimization, somebody needs to set the record straight. And Jonathan Leger does a pretty good job at it.

Simplifications

There are a couple of things that I take issue with, mostly related to simplifications.

  • Google is an algorithm. The algorithm was created by people. Therefore Google is not a Deity that sees all and knows all. Ok…
  • The duplicate content discussion is interesting. But instead of proving that duplicate content does show up in search results, it would be far more useful to understand how duplicate content affects the value of incoming links. This is something that all article marketers are subject to each time they submit an article for syndication.
  • The only on-page ranking factor that is mentioned is the title tag. As a user of rApogee and RaSof you know that the title tag is very important, but there are close to 1,500 on-page ranking factors that you can use to your advantage.
  • The over-emphasis on links. Especially links from a specific service.

Sales Pitch

Since there never is such a thing as a free lunch, this report builds into a sales pitch for Jonathan Leger’s 3WayLinks.net service. Install some PHP on your site and you will automatically participate in 3-way link building, i.e. your site links to B, B links to C, and C links back to you. According to Jonathan, these links are much more valuable in Google’s eyes than when you link to site B and they link back to you.

Side Note

One of my favorite blogs High Scalability – Building bigger, faster, more reliable websites recently had a post about the Google Architecture. In this rather technical article Google’s MapReduce programming model is explained. With a few lines of MapReduce code junior Google engineers can easily query the massive amounts of data that Google collects. Figuring out 3-way linking schemes should be trivial and I’d be surprised if that’s not already done in any of the over 6,000 existing MapReduce applications. So Jonathan Leger’s Myth #1 that Google knows all and sees all may still be false, but I think they’re getting pretty close.

The Verdict

Sales pitch aside, the report does contain good information. Overall, it’s definitely worth reading. I haven’t tried the 3-way links service, so I cannot comment on that.

Hurry, download now…

No doubt you have received a flurry of emails urging you to download this report. The reason is that Jonathan Leger is paying $0.25 per referred download. So full disclosure: I will receive $0.25 if you use my link to download this report. And yes, I have my retirement all planned out. ;-)

Pay-Per-Play – If It Sounds Too Good…

9 January, 2008 (10:32) | Business | By: Nick Dalton

Pay-Per-Play is a service from NetAudioAds that will play a 5 second advertisement sound clip to every person who lands on your web page. Since it’s an ad you get paid each time it’s played. And since the web page visitor doesn’t have to click on anything you have essentially a 100% conversion rate. This sounds like a dream come true for Internet business entrepreneurs who have seen their AdSense checks shrink.

Many big name marketers have been promoting Pay-Per-Play for their pending launch on February 1st. Pay-Per-Play has a three tier affiliate program, which is the reason why marketers with big lists are encouraging you to sign up under their affiliate id. Since it’s free to sign up it’s an “easy sell”.

I’m sure that Pay-Per-Play has seen an explosive growth in the number of web sites who have signed up to their service. If the promoters would have done their due diligence they would have learned that this is not the first time this company has built an affiliate network, and last time they left many affiliates unhappy and without money.

Money for nothing

Money every time my page is loaded… I can hear the script kiddies’ minds working themselves into a frenzy. A small little script that loads my web pages every second would net me $xxx per day…

Pay-Per-Play would have to build in some serious fraud protection into their system. But that’s certainly possible. You don’t hear about a lot of fraud anymore related to banner advertising.

Banner ads anyone?

Pay-Per-Play is a novel idea, but it’s not all that different from banner advertising. Let’s continue this comparison with banner ads. I see some definite downsides for Pay-Per-Play:

  • The audio ad is played once and then it’s gone. A banner ad is visible on the page, attracting your attention until you go to another page.
  • You cannot click on an audio ad to get more information.
  • If you don’t have your speakers turned on you will not hear the audio ad. I’m guessing that a lot more people have their sound turned off while surfing the web at work, than there are people who have installed banner ad blockers.

If you were an advertiser would you pay the same amount of money for an Pay-Per-Play audio ad as you would for a banner ad? Especially since there is no established system to audit Pay-Per-Play ads. I would say they have to be sold at a substantial discount compared to banner ads. I believe that a reasonable rate for banner ads is $3 CPM. (That’s $3 per thousand impressions.)

If Pay-Per-Play can charge 1/10th of that and they pay you 25%, that means you get less than $1 per ten thousand page views. That’s a far cry from the $0.01-0.03 per play that the sales page predicts. Better rev up those scripts a couple of notches…

More missing details

PayPerPlay is less than a month away from their launch, but they haven’t released any details on:

  • Who their “major search engine” partner is.
  • Any advertisers who have signed up.
  • Any rate information.

How many red flags do you need?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.