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Blog Business World

Blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and SEO search engine optimization for successful entrepreneurs

Monday, July 31, 2006

 

Employee motivation: Build trust and respect



Employee and staff motivation is an often discussed topic. The opinions about how to get employees working range from hard driving close supervison to hands off and let the people create on their own. Most business owners and managers fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

One thing is certain and that is no one motivation technique will work for every employee. On the other hand, there is always a way to get the most out of everyone in the organization. All that's needed is to find the key that unlocks each person's talents and skills.

Business creativity blogger EM Sky of Mind Unbound Business shares some thoughts about a terrific motivational boss named "Bill". The management techniques used by "Bill" are not really what are thought of as management school type concepts at all. In fact, they are more about sharing, respect, and trust than about traditional ideas of employee motivation. The important part is EM Sky says the methods brought great results.

The highlights of EM Sky's manager's approach:

He asked for my opinions.

He gave me excellent feedback.

He gave me credit for my suggestions.

He made teamwork a way of life.

He never made me "go it alone."

He gave me room to make mistakes.

He trusted me with real responsibility.



EM Sky continues with some reflection and fine management advice on employee motivation and trust:

"Some people will argue that "you can't trust everybody," but I don't believe that. Trust can start in the small things, and everyone can be trusted with something. It's important to remember that not trusting people often has more to do with us than it does with them."


Learn from "Bill" and trust your staff. Listen to their ideas and treat them with respect. You will be very pleasantly surprised at their motivation and desire to work for the advancement of the company. The great thing about "Bill's" managerial style is its simplicity. The ideas presented are all about treating people well, and earning their trust and respect, in return for the respect and trust they have been given by the manager.

All good employee motivation needs is a liitle respect and a lot of trust. In return, the staff will work more productively and enhance the company bottom line.

Treating employees well is good business.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

 

Free WordPress blogging guide available



The WordPress blogging platform is one of the most popular and advanced blogging systems available. The many users of WordPress for their blog postings are usually very happy with the user interface and the many standard features offered.

One problem, for beginning bloggers on WordPress, has been finding a useful primer on how to use the system. While there are many forums offering advice to WordPress users, many of the tutorials are beyond the beginner level. Finding answers for someone who has never blogged on WordPressbefore is often difficult. That problem for novice bloggers has now been solved.



Teli Adlam, the "WordPress Queen" of OptiNiche Blog (via Self Starter Weekly Tips Forum) has developed a brief, but very concise pdf manual titlled WordPress Primer - Quick Start Guide.

Teli describes her WordPress Primer this way:

The topics covered are:

The Difference Between WordPress and WordPress.com

Installing WordPress and the Famous 5 Minute Install

Update Your Profile and Password

Update Your First Post, Comment, and About Page

Installing New Themes

Installing New Plugins


If you are considering starting a blog on WordPress, or switching from your current blogging software, be sure to download a copy of Teli Adlam, the "WordPress Queen's" WordPress Primer today.

Your WordPress blogging will never be easier.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

 

Student SEO Contest: Enter today



A contest for students in SEO? Who would have thought? Well, it's true. There is indeed such an event specifically for university and college students sponsored by website hosting firm Dotster.com and ticket sales organization BargainTix.com. The students compete for cash prizes for themselves and for their schools.

The very fact that such a contest, involving search engine optimization, is an indication of how mainstream the profession and the practice of site SEO has become. SEO is a profession for the future and many of the students entering the contest will be its leaders of tomorrow.



Dotster.com and ticket sales organization BargainTix.com provided the following contest information on their website:

Introduction:

This is an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) contest organized by BargainTix.com. It is designed to to introduce students to the SEO field. The contest is interested in comparing results for student pages. The contest date is from June 1st to Sept 1st 2006. Click here for more information on SEO and SEO contests.

Search Expression:
Astromusicologie 101

The search expression was announced on June 1st 2006 at noon (12:00 PM) Pacific Standard Time. This search expression yielded zero results on Google, Yahoo, and MSN at the start of this competition. Search terms for previous SEO contests include: "V7ndotcom Elursrebmem", "retsambew dash klat for Charity", "the four required words", "Carcasherdotcom Seocontest"

Prizes:

Prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd highest point total based on search engine results on Sept 1st at 12:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. Absolutely no points will be awarded for paid placement or "pay per click" ads.

1st highest point total - $500 cash prize
(An additional $500 will be donated to the School, Academic Club or Academic Department of the 1st place winner's choice)

2nd highest point total - $300 cash prize
(An additional $300 will be donated to the School, Academic Club or Academic Department of the 2nd place winner's choice)

3rd highest point total - $200 cash prize
(An additional $200 will be donated to the School, Academic Club or Academic Department of the 3rd place winner's choice)

Cash prizes will be in USD funds.


Continue reading about the Student SEO Contest and enter here.

The future of SEO is in the hands of the student contestants. As always, I am hoping that a few of the students entered will blog about their experiences in the contest and share with the rest of us.

We all know that employing blogs for SEO could help some wise student win too.

Shhhhhhhh.


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Friday, July 28, 2006

 

Case studies: Blogging real world business



Case studies are widely used in business and the academic communities as a teaching tool. They are real life business examples of how a business idea or application worked. Perhaps more importantly case studies can point out failed plans and actions. In any case, the study of real world business experiences from idea conception to the end result are an important study for any business.

Case studies set up by outlining a problem facing the business, and then the potential solution to that obstacle is presented. After that, the process used to employ the potential solution is explained. The steps taken by the decision makers may be outlined in detail or presented as a unified whole. In any event, the reader is able to follow what took place in the business over the time period under consideration.

The ending of the story could be a happy one where the idea reached fruition and provided benefit to the business. The study might discuss a new product, process, or the establishment of a new division within the company. The case study would demonstrate what went right for management and staff.

On the other hand, the case study could show clearly where the best laid plans of the company went very wrong. For the reader, and for the writer of the case study as well, putting the mistakes under careful scrutiny is a powerful teaching tool. Discovering what went wrong for the business in the study can prevent the same problems happening in another organization.



The case study is intended as a teaching tool that offers an object lesson in management. By showing real life examples of business successes and failures, dry as dust business and management concepts are brought to life. Living, breathing people working for real companies, as they work on their business, makes for very compelling reading. The lessons become much easier to learn and to remember for the future.

Parallels can be drawn between your own company and that of the business shown in the case study. The lessons can then be applied to your own business, along with the caveat that no two businesses are exactly alike. That said, many business and management problems are common for all companies. Finance, sales and marketing, personnel, public relations, production, and distribution are only a few examples of issues that arise in every organization.

Case studies also make great blog post topics.

In fact, a well written case study is very likely to be heavily linked by other bloggers. People will read your case studies eagerly, and they will want to share them with others. The resulting SEO power in the search engines and the extra new visitor traffic are a pleasant result. A highly ranked case study will attract interest and visitors from all of the major search engines. Blog posts rank well in the search engines and that blog SEO power will be provided to your case study sending new readers and potential clients and customers your way.

More importantly, however, a solid and honestly written case study provides real value to your readership. By offering realistic, open, and honest assessments of the challenges faced and the solutions offered, other business people can benefit from your experience.




As a matter of fact, case studies have much in common with blogs. Both are at their best when transparency, openess, and honesty are part of the presentation. By presenting the truth about the case study, warts and all, powerful lessons can be drawn.

Those lessons are not only valuable to the reader, but to the business person writing the case study. The post game analysis of the business success or failure is part of the business learning process. By writing down objectively how a problem was solved, whether successfully or not, the writer can honestly assess the management's actions. A well written case study could provide a major boost to your reputation in both the business community and in the blogging community. Becoming known as an expert in your industry is a powerful business builder.

Out of that open and honest examination of the facts and figures, a better manager will emerge. The readers will benefit from the solution employed, even if it was a dismal failure. Bloggers should seriously consider writing case studies of their businesses as blog posts.

Everyone benefits.

Both the case study writer and the reader learn valuable business lessons in equal measure. The result is greater understanding of operating a successful business.

And a few extra case study blog posts are handy as well.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

 

Carnival of the Vanities 201 at Siempre, Cait



The milestone 201st edition of the longest running internet blog carnival, the well known Carnival of the Vanities appears at Cait's teenage conservative blog known as Siempre, Cait.

Carnival of the Vanities is the original collection of blog postings, assembling some of the best and wide ranging bloggers on the internet.

This week's Siempre, Cait hosted Carnival of the Vanities entries include politics, literature, science, humour, technology, business, and personal finance.






I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Vanities as well.

My post is titled "Helping bloggers: Donations and Sponsorships" where I discuss how donating money to support a blog is only one of the ways that a favourite blogger and blog can be assisted. Cash is nice, of course, but there are other methods of help for your friends. Not all of them cost any money. In other words, you can help out blogging buddies even if you are strapped severely for discretionary spending money yourself.




To participate in the Carnival of the Vanities, or any of the other blog carnivals, one of the easiest techniques is to use the all inclusive carnival entry form at The Conservative Cat.





Another participation option is to simply e-mail your entry to the new e-mail address:

cotvmail -at- gmail -dot- com

As I suggest elsewhere, hosting and contributing to the various internet blog carnivals is a great promotional idea for your blog.

Next week's edition of Carnival of the Vanities appears at at as yet undetermined location. Either that, or the mystery host is on some sort of Carnival double secret probation.

In the meantime, head on over to the Siempre, Cait hosting of Carnival of the Vanities and enjoy the posts on offer.

You will almost certainly be introduced to some great new and interesting blogs.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 

Blog visitors: How long must you wait?



For most new bloggers, starting a blog is fraught with concerns. If you're a business or professional blogger, and employing the blog as a marketing or public relations tool, one of those worries is visitor traffic. Without anyone reading the freshly launched blog, all of those wonderful conversations and relationships with clients and customers will never get underway. The new blogger wants to know when some real life vistors will actually read the postings.

My friend Tinu Abayomi-Paul (pictured above left and below left) of the highly informative Free Traffic Tips blog has set out a very helpful timeline for the arrival of that much anticipated visitor traffic. The good news is blog traffic should appear in the first week the blog goes live.



About the early blog visitor traffic, Tinu says:

You can see your first traffic from blogging literally overnight, mostly from your initial pinging, Will it be a lot of traffic? Not necessarily. If you post at the right time of day for your site, you may see as many as 100 visitors come to your blog in its first day, due to a new blog post, just from pinging. You can see more than that if you let your existing traffic know about your blog.

After a certain number of posts, to lay the foundation of an active feed, you will also start to see a trickle of traffic from promoting your RSS feed or blog in directories and feed-specfic search engines. That can happen as soon as three days in, and sometimes after 7 to 10 days. The timing you can expect will depend on your blog.


Tinu continues the good news for novice bloggers as well. She points out that these early entries into your visitor taffic logs are only the beginning. As your RSS feeds (and you do have one live on your blog, right?) kick in with their traffic, those early numbers will take a jump. Another leap in the readership will occur when the search engines including Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, and Ask.com send information seekers your way.



As you gain experience in blogging and your number of posts increases, even more visitors will arrive at your blog. Other bloggers will link to your best posts and they will also add links to your blog. Sharing readership with other bloggers is a time proven technique for gaining more visitors.

As Tinu says, it takes hard work, persistence, and a heap of patience to build a successful blog. While you may have traffic levels only a fraction of the blogging superstars, the benefits gained from the blog will more than outweigh any traffic disadvantages.

Of course, if you listen to Tinu Abayomi-Paul and read her blog on a regular basis, your blog traffic numbers will grow. How's that for great advice!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 

Carnival of the Capitalists at Names@Work



This week sees a technological approach to the travelling business show, recognized by one and all as Carnival of the Capitalists makes a visit to Antony Van Couvering's (pictured below left) highly eclectic business blog known as Names@Work.

This week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists highlights some of the best bloggers writing on the internet today.

Blogging topics presented include entrepreneurship, management, market trading, internet commerce, marketing, the national and global economies, and technology.



Antony Van Couvering (shown left)

As you would expect from Names@Work there are many discussions of personal economics, marketing, entrepreneurship, and business ethics.

It's always great to read and discover the many high quality blogs out there in the blogosphere.

We don't always get to them all, and this edition of Carnival of the Capitalists has introduced many of us to some brand new ones.



I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Capitalists as well.

My post is titled "SEO ethics and practices: A guide" where I discuss how search engine optimization (SEO) ethics are often discussed, but rarely defined in any meaningful ways. Website owners often hear about the so-called “white hat” and “black hat” SEO professionals. A few webmasters are even aware of some undefined “grey hat” SEO techniques, and their practitioners as well.




If you wish to submit an entry to next week's, or any Carnival of the Capitalists edition, e-mail your entries to the new address:

cotcmail -at- gmail -dot- com

You can always use the handy entry form at Gongol.com where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Talk about making it easy to be included!

Another brand new form for sending entries to all of the internet carnvivals is provided by The Conservative Cat. This is a great one stop entry drop, for all your blog post entries, for every blog carnival.

Note as well that Carnival of the Capitalists. has a new URL at http://thecotc.com/. Be sure to update your links and bookmarks.



If you are searching for new and exciting ways to expand your blog's readership, you should seriously consider sending an entry to Carnival of the Capitalists.

Merely being included in the company, of the first rate regular Carnival of the Capitalists contributors, will enhance the reputation of your blog.

The extra visitors sent to your blog won't hurt either!

The growth and staying power, of Carnival of the Capitalists, is beginning to catch the attention of people outside the blogging community. Each hosting, brings a fresh assortment of new readers, to the various blogs involved.

The visitors aren't only bloggers anymore.

Readership is expanding to include the mainstream media, various government and private organizations, many businesses, and other interested people from beyond the blogging community.

Many people are introduced to some tremendous blogs that they might otherwise have missed.

Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will be at Anita Campbell's marketing, entrepreneurship, and small business blog known as Selling To Small Business.

In the meantime, click that mouse over to the Names@Work hosting ofCarnival of the Capitalists.

If the great posted entries don't convince you to click, or the possibility of finding some brand new blogs to read doesn't do it, then Carnival of the Capitalists certainly will get some names at work for you. (groan)

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Monday, July 24, 2006

 

Blog Squad shares e-mail marketing secrets - teleseminar


Got a Loser Blog? The Blog Squad to the Rescue!




How to Broadcast Your Ezine and Mini-Course Using the Best Marketing System on the Planet

Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 8:30 p.m. ET

Registration: $27.00 includes mp3 audio and transcript

Presented by The Blog Squad: Patsi Krakoff and Denise Wakeman

Can't make it? Sign up anyway, and you'll get the audio file to listen to online or download to your mp3 player!

This teleclass will give you how-to steps to set up and start using the broadcasting features of what Denise and Patsi consider the best marketing system on the Internet: KickStart Cart.

Denise and Patsi highly recommend you sign up for a free trial account with Kick Start Cart to attend this class, so it makes sense to you and that the steps are clear. You can get a 30-day trial account for free by using this link, KickStartCart. (If you already have this system, or 1ShoppingCart, or another one of these private label systems, there's no need to get a new account).



You will save yourself time and money by learning how to use your marketing system for email broadcasting. If you don't ever use the other features, this is the one that will derive the most benefits to your business. It is the infrastructure that permits building a list of interested people who can be converted to paying clients.

Here's what is covered in this class:

** Review double opt-in requirements and CAN-SPAM regulations
** How to set up your ezine confirmation message
** How to craft and set up your ezine welcome message
** How to generate a subscription form in HTML code to put up on your web pages.
** How to broadcast your ezine
** What it means to segment your database
** How to back up your database
** How to set up sequential autoresponders
** How to create a mini-course
** How to create a sign up form for your mini-course
** At least 10 ways to use autoresponders in you online business

With your registration you'll get:

1) Attendance at the live event on July 26
2) MP3 audio files for review after the class
3) Transcript of the class
4) Online videos to walk you through the steps covered in the class

http://www.broadcastyourezine.com



Denise Wakeman

The class will be delivered in lecture mode for 60-70 minutes by Denise and Patsi. At least 20-30 minutes will be open for questions and answers so you can get your specific challenges addressed.



Want to attend this class at for free?
Purchase the companion product on "25 Ways to
Grow Your Ezine List"
and get a complimentary VIP pass for this teleseminar.

Details here:

http://www.growyourezinelist.com

Register today for for this teleseminar with The Blog Squad: Patsi Krakoff and Denise Wakeman



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Sunday, July 23, 2006

 

Blogging ideas: Weekend fun



A blog should be fun, regardless of topic. In fact, the personality of the blog writer is a major factor in whether or not a blog achieves any sort of lasting success. Boring blogs turn into dead blogs walking...or posting...or some such analogy.

As bloggers we often take ourselves and our writing much too seriously. We occasionally forget that blogging is supposed to be an enjoyable part of our day. Writing and posting our ideas to share with others should be a pleasurable experience. Many times, instead of letting the blog become a bit more playful and displaying our personality, it becomes dry and stale. A steady diet of dull posts is the blogging eqivalent of being fed nothing but week old bread and tepid water.

My good friend Toby Bloomberg (pictured top left) of the influential marketing blog Diva Marketing, has developed a wonderful way to mix blog marketing business with a little after work pleasure. Every Friday, Toby offers a great way to wrap up your week day posts, or to start a weekend posting series. Her technique is to devote her Friday posting to having some fun with her blog. By implication, the concept can be easily adapted to any blog.



Along with a light hearted post about some business related news, Toby has two astrologers named Paula Dare and Donna Page provide their readings of the stars, planets, moons, and anything else flying around in space. While not everyone is a follower of astrological prognostication, they are fun and even the most hardened skeptic has to admit to reading them. I happen to fit into that latter category.

While your blog doesn't have to provide readings of stars, cards, tea leaves, or pickup sticks, there are many other fun things that can lighten the mood. Perhaps your could run a series of comics or cartoons. Many great new cartoon and animation artists would be pleased to display their work on a well read blog. Another idea is to write a light hearted comedy monologue. A slice of what went slightly awry in your life might be just the thing for your blog.

A little humour and a somewhat lighter atmosphere might be just what the blog doctor ordered.

Have some fun with your blog. They are supposed to be about creating the personal touch after all.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

SEO for the MSN Search Engine



The giant Microsoft Corporation has made some inroads the search engine fray since the launch of its new MSN search engine. Microsoft has achieved modest success up to this point, in its quest to compete with the dominant search engine Google. Over time, this MSN search vehicle may place Microsoft back in the race for the hearts and minds of the search public.

Should a significant portion of the search traffic choose to log onto the MSN Search interface, you will want to be certain that your site gets a piece of the action. You will want your site to ranked highly in MSN Search. Along with practicing strong Google and Yahoo Search optimization, you will want to add MSN Search optimization to your list of priorities.

Gaining added internet search traffic, via MSN Search, could add huge dollars to your online business bottom line. To receive that much sought after visitor traffic, you will want to know a little about what works, and what doesn’t have much impact, when optimizing for MSN.

Gaining high rankings in MSN Search might add some much appreciated additional visitor traffic to your site. What you need to do is consider, is why MSN has become a growing search engine power, and how to take advantage of that future traffic flow.

Why is the MSN Search engine important?

While many search engine optimization experts discount the relative importance of MSN Search, no one should ever forget the potential marketing power that the Microsoft Corporation can bring to the search engine business. By bundling MSN Search into the home version of Windows XP and in the proposed Longhorn application, many new internet users will be searching via the MSN search engine option.

It’s dangerous for an online business to scoff at the new and inexperienced internet users who might simply use the bundled MSN Search box. Many of the searchers might be internet shoppers from their first month on the internet. Unlike previous internet novices, new users arrive on the internet already knowing that online purchases are a standard shopping choice.

Because of the enormous potential, especially in the burgeoning online consumer market, it would be a mistake to overlook the MSN search engine. To take advantage of the MSN Search possibilities, you need to know how to achieve high rankings with that possible future search engine powerhouse.



Optimization for MSN Search

When planning your MSN Search optimization plan, consider placing heavy emphasis on using on page techniques. Like the Yahoo search engine algorithm, the MSN algorithm appears to favor on page optimization efforts. On page content is truly king with MSN. The search engine algorithm examines your web pages very carefully. The importance of keywords and keyword density, to MSN Search’s rankings, can not be stressed heavily enough. Keywords count for a major proportion of the MSN algorithm.

Other on page optimization techniques also score well with the MSN algorithm. Pay close attention to your choice of URLs, page titles, and site description. All appear to be very important to achieving high search engine rankings with MSN.

As with most other search engine algorithms, including Google and Yahoo, you must pay close attention to your incoming link anchor text. Strong keyword rich anchor text provides a solid foundation for all search engine results. Taking care with your anchor text will pay off with all of the major search engines.

Be sure to mix up the anchor text, as over use of any one anchor text keyword phrase, will cause alarm bells to go off. In any case, splitting your anchor text between two or more different phrases will provide high search engine placements for more than one search term phrase. That variety of search phrases will benefit your website by drawing traffic from unexpected quarters.

If your site contains a forum component, MSN will index its pages. MSN will also index and credit a blog, should you choose to maintain one on your site. Because forums and blogs are so rich with keywords and incoming links, their inclusion in your site will pay dividends in the MSN search results.



Keywords hold the keys to MSN

With keywords being so vastly important to MSN, it’s essential to explore the many ways, that you can use judicious keyword placement techniques. Not only are keywords in the on page copy important, but also in the page titles, and even the website URL.

In your written on page copy, you can make use of more frequent keyword placement than in Google. It is quite likely that MSN will reward up to triple the keyword density preferred by Google. You have to be careful here, however, as you want to strike a balance between MSN and Yahoo, which elevate higher keyword density pages, and with the lower density levels preferred by Google. Fortunately, there are other ways to do well in MSN, without packing your page copy full of your most important keyword phrases.

A proven technique, that will offer benefits across all search engines, is the wise use of keywords in your page title tags. As with Google and Yahoo, MSN prefers a separate and unique title for every web page on your site. Include one or two of that page’s most important keywords in the page title. Don’t simply list strings of keywords, however, or the search engines will discount your pages for spam tactics.

The last thing you want for your site, is to trigger any sort of filter, or be assessed a penalty of any kind. Careful usage of keywords in your title tags will provide benefit in all search engines; not just MSN.

When you create your website URL, it’s important to MSN Search that your internet address contain your important keywords. While changes are probably impossible for most websites, it is something to consider for the creation of new sites. MSN likes keywords in your URL, but be careful not to overwork them. Judicious use of the most important search phrase, within your URL, could find real rewards from MSN’s algorithm.

It’s well known in the search engine community that Google’s algorithm gives only very minimal weight to meta tags. On the other hand, the Yahoo search engine seems to value them fairly well. As with Yahoo, the MSN algorithm appears to place some solid weight on the use of meta tags. To take full advantage of meta tag use, be sure to have some unique meta tags for every page. Do not use the same meta tags for all of your web pages.

Use only the three to five most important meta tags for that web page. Make certain that those meta tags actually appear as keywords on that page as well. Any use of meta tag keywords, that have no connection to the web page, will probably be counterproductive and result in lower search rankings.

Be certain to have an accurate site description in place. MSN appears to place importance on that factor. Be sure the meta description tags accurately reflect the content and are not simply keyword stuffing in disguise. If all of your on page content, including copy, alt tags, descriptions, titles, and page headers match, your page will do well in MSN’s rankings. In other words, giving each page individual attention will pay off for you.



Off page optimization factors for MSN

While the main focus of the MSN algorithm appears to be on page content, you shouldn’t forget to improve your off page content. Off page content includes mainly link anchor text for incoming links to your site. While not as link oriented as heavily as Google, MSN does stress some importance on properly created incoming links.

More important than the links to MSN, is the accompanying link anchor text. Make certain that the anchor text contains keyword phrases, that are theme related to the page, to which the link is pointed. By careful use of that page’s most important keywords, the receiving page gains in keyword usage, and even keyword density value.

MSN is a very content and keyword sensitive search engine. Your use of link anchor text should reflect that keyword preference. Because anchor text is the most difficult content factor for a webmaster to manipulate, the value of link text is high for all search engine algorithms. MSN is certainly no exception to that rule.



Conclusion

Optimization for the MSN search engine requires careful attention to both on page and off page factors.

On the page, MSN will reward the frequent use of your keywords. Be careful not to get too carried away, however, and risk reaching the level of spam. MSN looks very closely at your web pages, so attention must be paid to your page titles, your meta tags, page descriptions, and keyword density. Even proper keyword usage in your page URLs are important points to consider.

Off page SEO factors to consider are the use of keyword rich anchor text for your incoming links. MSN values link text very highly, as it is the least manipulable of the content factors.

If you pay close attention to your keywords and provide content your visitors require, MSN Search will reward your website with strong search engine rankings.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

 

Helping bloggers: Donations and sponsorships



Blog donation buttons are seen all over the blogosphere. No one really knows if those ubquitous click to donate buttons result in any real revenue for the blogger. In fact, rarely does anyone mention them at all. If the donation buttons are generating cash, almost no one ever talks about how often or how plentiful are the total contributions.

Donating money to support a blog is only one of the ways that a favourite blogger and blog can be assisted. Cash is nice, of course, but there are other methods of help for your friends. Not all of them cost any money. In other words, you can help out blogging buddies even if you are strapped severely for discretionary spending money yourself. That's a fancy term for being broke, by the way.

It doesn't cost you anything in the way of cash to quote another blogger, and link to the post in question. Adding an exciting new blog to your blogroll is free as well. What the receiving blogger gains is new readership and visitor traffic. A few of those vistors could provide several bloggers with cash.



It costs nothing in the way of dollars to e-mail another blogger and offer to join into a potential business partnership. That person might possess the exact skills your startup business requires. Of course, prior to any partnership, you would do your due diligence and check out the credentials and history of the individual in question. Once the blogger clears your hurdles, the resulting business relationship could be financially beneficial for all conderned.

Interviewing another blogger can assist that blogger, as well as yourself, in obtaining a higher profile in the blogosphere, and on the internet as a whole. Any resulting publicity can spread offline, and could even translate into additional financial rewards for you and your interview guest.

As for more hard cash assistance, the donation button is always there for you. Of course, a bit of creativity and targeting could benefit everyone involved to a much larger degree. Placing a paid advertisment on a blog raises your company profile, while adding some dollars to the blogger's bank account.

Sponsoring a blogger to help the person attend a blogging conference has many benefits, both in the short and longer terms. Many a powerful professional relationship has been founded on sponsorships. A sponsorship is one those cases where everyone wins in the end.

If the blogger has written a hard copy or e-book, is planning a webinar or live seminar, you can give them some publicity on your blog. You could even help to underwrite the cost of the conference call for a webinar, or some publishing costs for a book. In return, the recipient blogger could provide you with a much appreciated promotional ad or page. Perhaps you might be invited to write a foreward or introduction to their next book; or even the first one. You may even be asked to collaborate on the book with a single chapter or be offered co-authorship.



As you can see, the ways you can help cash strapped bloggers is many and varied. Cash donations are only one of the ways you can assist your blogging friends. Merchandise, or payment in kind, or in the form of returned labour, are also welcomed.

You may never know when you might need a helping hand yourself. As always, bloggers will always be there to help other bloggers.

After all, blogging is all about building relationships with others.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

 

Carnival of the Vanities at Accidental Verbosity



The milestone 200th edition of the longest running internet blog carnival, the well known Carnival of the Vanities appears at Jay and Deb Solo's business, politics, and family blog known as Accidental Verbosity.

Carnival of the Vanities is the original collection of blog postings, assembling some of the best and wide ranging bloggers on the internet.



This week's Accidental Verbosity hosted Carnival of the Vanities entries include politics, literature, science, humour, technology, business, and a tribute to Acidman and the topics he loved.






I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Vanities as well.

My post is titled "Activist blogs: World changing words" where I discuss how activist blogs are becoming a more important feature of the blogosphere. With the acknowledged power of blogging for business and for non-profit organizations, it's reasonable to expect that blogs would become a powerful tool for changing the world. The immediacy of blogging, and the ability of the blogger to communicate the world changing message in a personal way, makes a blog a valuable weapon in fighting the good fight.




To participate in the Carnival of the Vanities, or any of the other blog carnivals, one of the easiest techniques is to use the all inclusive carnival entry form at The Conservative Cat.





Another participation option is to simply e-mail your entry to the new e-mail address:

cotvmail -at- gmail -dot- com

As I suggest elsewhere, hosting and contributing to the various internet blog carnivals is a great promotional idea for your blog.

Next week's 200th edition of Carnival of the Vanities appears at Cait's teenage conservative blog known as Siempre, Cait.

In the meantime, head on over to the Accidental Verbosity hosting of Carnival of the Vanities and enjoy the posts on offer.

You will almost certainly be introduced to some great new and interesting blogs.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

 

Blog vacations: Time away from the keyboard



Bloggers read blogs on a very regular basis. Bloggers read the words of other bloggers almost every day, as a matter of fact.

Blog writers are among the most frequent visitors to other blogs. Blog owners are also very likely to subscribe to RSS feeds from other blogs. Without a doubt bloggers are blog readers as well as being blog writers. In fact, bloggers are often the main reading audience for some bloggers. It could even be said that many bloggers simply write for other bloggers.

Questions often arise about how often a blogger should read other blogs and how many blogs should be read. There are also questions about whether blog writers should take a break away from reading blogs. Of course, I would never suggest not reading blogs; merely that you consider other forms of entertainment and knowledge building. Books spring to mind, for example.

Bloggers use other blogs as informational sources, as well as material for their own blog posts. If you are short of a blog posting idea, another blog will often a post to inspire your creative juices. If the post doesn't inspire creativity, at least it will give you something to comment upon, solving the blank blog space problem. That said, th question remains whether a blogger should take some time off from reading blogs.



I have been away from the computer most of the day for the last week. During that time period, I have read very few of my favourite blogs. At the same time, I haven't checked blog post links, or even posted many blog comments. My own posts were written, and then I was away from the computer. Other aspects of life were calling, and blogs and blogging became secondary.

During that time, life on the blogs moved along at its usual breakneck blogging speed. Posts were written, read by many, and scrolled down their respective home pages, and off to the blog archives. As we all know, once a post arrives in the blog archives, it's often forgotten. At least the search engines keep track of them, sending new visitors to read them, even if the regular readership has missed them entirely.

I haven't really missed the posts as much, as I have missed the people who write the blogs. Bloggers become your friends, and they are missed. Of course, friends don't mind if you don't visit them every day. That's true with blogs online, as it's true in the offline 3-D world.



You don't have to visit or read other blogs every day.

I would suggest taking some time away from blog reading each week. Take at least two days per week as non-blog days, when you read no other blogs. You can post your thoughts and ideas on your own blog, but limit your outside blog reading during that time. Use the time normally spent reading blogs on other activities.

You don't have to read every blog on your blogroll or RSS feed subscriptions every single day. Take a blog reading break, and examine other pursuits, both online and in the offline world.

Don't let that stop you from visiting this blog every day, however.

I won't tell anyone that you visited on your day off from blog reading.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

 

Carnival of the Capitalists at AnyLetter



This week sees a technological approach to the travelling business show, recognized by one and all as Carnival of the Capitalists makes a visit to Andrew Hughes' technology and economics blog known as AnyLetter.

This week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists highlights some of the best bloggers writing on the internet today.

Blogging topics presented include entrepreneurship, management, market trading, internet commerce, marketing, the national and global economies, and technology.

As you would expect from AnyLetter there are many discussions of personal economics, marketing, entrepreneurship, and technology.

It's always great to read and discover the many high quality blogs out there in the blogosphere.

We don't always get to them all, and this edition of Carnival of the Capitalists has introduced many of us to some brand new ones.



I have an entry in this week's Carnival of the Capitalists as well.

My post is titled "Going public: PR blogging through disaster" where I discuss how disaster can strike a business at any time. Despite an entrepreneur's careful plans to handle any possible emergency, life has a way of throwing the odd curveball. Sometimes those major issues feel like a hailstorm, and it's landing right on your head. Of course, that's only the beginning.



If you wish to submit an entry to next week's, or any Carnival of the Capitalists edition, e-mail your entries to the new address:

cotcmail -at- gmail -dot- com

You can always use the handy entry form at Gongol.com where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Talk about making it easy to be included!

Another brand new form for sending entries to all of the internet carnvivals is provided by The Conservative Cat. This is a great one stop entry drop, for all your blog post entries, for every blog carnival.

Note as well that Carnival of the Capitalists. has a new URL at http://thecotc.com/. Be sure to update your links and bookmarks.



If you are searching for new and exciting ways to expand your blog's readership, you should seriously consider sending an entry to Carnival of the Capitalists.

Merely being included in the company, of the first rate regular Carnival of the Capitalists contributors, will enhance the reputation of your blog.

The extra visitors sent to your blog won't hurt either!

The growth and staying power, of Carnival of the Capitalists, is beginning to catch the attention of people outside the blogging community. Each hosting, brings a fresh assortment of new readers, to the various blogs involved.

The visitors aren't only bloggers anymore.

Readership is expanding to include the mainstream media, various government and private organizations, many businesses, and other interested people from beyond the blogging community.

Many people are introduced to some tremendous blogs that they might otherwise have missed.

Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will be at Antony's highly eclectic blog known as Names@Work.

In the meantime, click that mouse over to the AnyLetter hosting of Carnival of the Capitalists.

If the great posted entries don't convince you to click, or the possibility of finding some brand new blogs to read doesn't do it, then Carnival of the Capitalists certainly will offer some ideas on getting some technology into your life. (groan)

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Monday, July 17, 2006

 

Conversations with experts: Steven E - Free teleseminar







Conversations with Experts: How to Build Your Business On and Off-line

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Steven E (pictured left) is an author, speaker and creator of the highly regarded Wake Up...Live the Life You Love series. These books include Steven E's thoughts on living a life full of wonder and excitement. Steven E has spent his adult life as an entrepreneur, building financially successful businesses. He is known around the world as an inspirational speaker helping people awaken to their full potential.





Register for this conversation with Steven E:

ConversationsWithExperts.com

If you missed any Conversations With Experts, you can become a monthly member of a private blog. As a member, you gain access to the entire Conversation With Experts audio series of guest experts, past and present.

Conversations with Experts is sponsored by Build a Better Blog System.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

 

SEO ethics and practices: A guide



Search engine optimization (SEO) ethics are often discussed, but rarely defined in any meaningful ways. Website owners often hear about the so-called “white hat” and “black hat” SEO professionals. A few webmasters are even aware of some undefined “grey hat” SEO techniques, and their practitioners as well.

There are no hard and fast rules for what these regularly utilized terms mean, if anything, in the world of high search engine rankings. It’s time to consider whether the categories retain any real meaning, or if ethics even has any role in the practice of SEO.

Before we begin our discussion of SEO ethics, I want to make my position very clear. I support 100% "white hat" SEO techniques and use them exclusively in my own practice. Absolutely no "black hat" or even "grey hat" methods are used on any of my clients' sites. They are all aware of that stance and support it completely as ethically is how they want to conduct their own business. Now that yu know my biases and stance, we can begin our discussion of search engine optimization ethics and practices.

From the very beginning, we must understand that the issues involved are very complicated, and highly subjective for different people. What is good “ethical” SEO to one person, might be stooping to the deepest depths of evil to another. Defining “good”, “bad” and “best” practices is at best, aiming at an undefined moving target. At worst, it is an impossibility due to the lack of complete knowledge of the search engines and their respective algorithms.

Any discussion of search engine ethics requires a definition of the various “hats” so everyone knows what the writer considers ethical, grey area, and entirely unethical in SEO practice. Lacking some sort of definitions, no matter how loosely described, provides a framework for further discussion and debate. Some SEO practitioners don’t believe there are any ethical distinctions at all.

Any discussion of SEO ethics must include the goals of the various website owners. One consideration is the willingness to assume risk of search engine penalty or even outright website banning. Another is the relative competitiveness of the keywords and keyword phrases being contested. A third and important consideration is whether or not the website owner would rather compete without bending, let alone breaking, any ethical rules or guidelines at all.

The goal of any search engine optimization effort, for any website owner regardless of ethics, is to achieve high rankings. That coveted number one spot, on the first page of all major search engines, is an alluring bauble. Like any treasure, everyone with varying degrees of desire, wants to have it in their grasp.

Whether for increased traffic, sales and revenue, or purely for ego gratification, webmasters employ widely varying methods to reach those lofty heights. Some of those techniques might be frowned upon by others. As a result, an examination of ethics and whether or not they are important in search engine optimization, is very important.



Which hat do you wear?

Search engine optimization practitioners are divided into roughly three camps. There are the “white hats”, their polar opposite “black hats”, and the more loosely defined “grey hats” who use a mixture of ideas, some of which fall under the umbrella of both main camps.

What is referred to as white hat SEO is really means using generally accepted optimization techniques, and scrupulously avoiding even a hint of practices that are listed as problems in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. For the white hat SEO professional, and I am proud to confess to being one of them, any hint of a lack of ethics is to avoided at all costs.

White hat SEO involves standard best practices including adding more theme relevant content pages, updating regularly, adding incoming links that have properly utilization of keywords in the link anchor text, and keeping the title tags up to date. Along with those standard procedures are the addition of a blogging component, working toward hub site and authority site status, and placing a strong emphasis on writing sound on page copy, with well placed keywords.

Black hat SEO usually means employing ranking techniques that are clearly outside of Google’s stated Webmaster Guidelines. The same is true of the published guidelines for the other major search engines as well. Methods used to achieve higher search rankings include cloaking, hidden text, link farms, and intensively cross linked sites.

Grey hat SEO falls somewhere in the middle. While that simple label doesn’t fully explain grery hat SEO, the concept is much more difficult to define. The techniques employed by a grey hat SEO are occasionally white hat, and just as often less oriented toward best practices. The use of some linking tools and content generating software have often been placed in this category.

Regardless of how the various SEO hats are defined, there will always be disagreements as to where the boundaries are drawn, if there are even borders at all. The definitions are not intended to be firm and final. Instead, they are merely used so we understand the general terms for purposes of a discussion of SEO ethics.



Are ethics important in SEO?

Are ethics and ethical discussions even of value in the discussion of SEO, or in any other profession or business for that matter? Some would say the obvious and unarguable answer is yes. Other people are not so sure, while some SEO practitioners would say that ethics are not all that important, provided the client receives strong search engine rankings. As we can see, there are no hard and fast answers.

Since an SEO professional has in effect, two clients, there is really more than one set of ethics involved. First, there is the ethics in relationship to the website owner client. Secondly, and also very much a part of the ethical question, are the search engines themselves. Since the needs and requirements of the two clients are often diametrically opposed to one another, an SEO is often placed in a dilemma.

The SEO practitioner has a responsibility to the website owner to attempt to achieve the highest possible search engine rankings. Consideration must also be given to the search engine webmaster guidelines, as they are part of the condition of their use. Where the search engine optimization professional draws the boundaries between website and search engines, and how those boundaries are explained to the website owner, is very important.

Also needing serious discussion are the real goals for the website owner, and what level of penalty and banning risk that person is willing to assume. Not very SEO professional will go as far as the webmaster wants to travel into grey and black hat territory. Different experts have different interpretations of where the boundaries between the search engine guidelines end and where the needs of the website owner begin.

Personally, I do not use any search engine optimization techniques that could be classified as black or even grey hat. My ethics allow for only purely white hat SEO methods. Not all SEO professionals, or even potential paying clients, agree with that ethical stance. In fact, many SEOs disagree completely with my position on ethics.



Webmaster goals and SEO practices

Every website owner has different goals for the site and for its future. Some webmasters are in the business for the long term, with the intention of building search engine rankings that will have staying power. The desire to build a reputable site, using only best practices optimization techniques is one such long term plan.

Other webmasters want to remain the search placements for the longer term, but are far less concerned about the techniques used to achieve those rankings. Thinking that most sites slide through the various spam filters anyway, there is little concern about penalties or outright bans from the search engines. In fact, many webmasters are blissfully unaware that some optimization techniques are not acceptable to the search engine guidelines.

Still other website owners have no concern at all about the long term implications of their website. To those webmasters, any technique that raises their rankings is fine with them. If the black hat methods get the site penalized or banned, then a new domain name is acquired and the process started all over again. In many cases, the abandonment of the banned site is even part of the planning involved.

Many SEOs believe their first responsibility is to their webmaster client. What the client wants is what gets done, in the way of optimization techniques. This theory is based on what the customer wants, the customer gets. In such cases, however, it’s also important for the SEO to provide complete information, as to the potential consequences, of using methods counter the published search engine guidelines.

Failure to inform the client, of the potential negatives of a grey or black hat practice, is not acting in anyone’s best interests. In fact, a lack of full disclosure of possible filters, penalties, and outright banning as a result of proscribed actions, is not acting in the interest of the client. Many website owners are completely new to optimization, and some are entirely unaware that SEO even exists as a profession. To not fully inform newcomers to SEO of every side of the issue, is not giving the client complete information, on which to base a reasoned decision as to the potential risks involved.



Considering the search engine factor

How the search engines are viewed by the SEO is another important factor. Some SEOs consider the search engines to be their friends, while others view them as the mortal enemy. Still other optimization specialists consider the search engines to be either a necessary evil, or simply just another tool in an overall internet marketing program. It’s fairly easy to understand the reasons for each of these points of view.

For those people who see the search engines as friends, the SERPs are usually thought of as delivering what amounts to free customers. For minimal financial outlay, compared to most other internet marketing efforts, a white hat optimized site can send paying customers directly from the free organic search results. These SEOs believe the search engines are, in fact, providing a largely free to the public service. For that reason, search engines are considered friends to be helped, by providing them with the best possible sites, optimized within the search engine terms of service.

Other SEOs take a harder line on the search engines, who instead of thinking of them as good guys, consider them as almost an enemy. Instead of providing what are thought to be relevant search results, heavily spam and black hat sites are rewarded with high rankings. Highly relevant sites, in direct terms of the search phrase, are pushed deep into the organic results. These SEOs argue that the search engine terms of service are merely a guideline that are not uniformly or fairly applied.

As a result of inadequate and spam filled SERPs, these SEOs believe the search engines are not fulfilling their stated goals and terms of service. Because of that failure on the part of the search algorithms, to provide relevant spam free results, there is no legal or moral obligation on the part of the SEO or the website owner to follow them either. In their opinion, if the search results reward bad sites, and by extension punish sites that follow the terms of service, the webmaster guidelines can be safely and honestly ignored.

Finally, in a third SEO practitioner opinion, the search engines are businesses like any other, and as such shouldn’t be thought of as entirely benevolent. The search algorithm is neither good nor bad, but is merely a computer program. The algorithm owes the website nothing, except to attempt to place the pages correctly in terms of search relevance.

Like any other business, these SEOs argue, use of their business and products requires the user to follow the business’s rules. In this case, the webmaster guidelines and terms of service are the business rules. In the same way that a restaurant can refuse service to patrons not wearing shirts or shoes, the search engines can deny listing at any time, for violation of their rules of use.

Because of the wide range of opinions on the ethical aspects of search engines and their algorithms, the best policy is to consider the search engines as a business, with their terms of use, like any other business. They set out their webmaster guidelines, as well as their rules for use in their published terms of service. Violation of those business rules entitles the search engine to legally and morally remove an offending site. A search engine is under no legal or ethical obligation to index every web page or even site on the internet. Failure to comply with their rules gives them every right to penalize or remove an offending site.

In the same way that an unruly customer or shoplifter can be removed from the premises, or even charged with a crime, the search engines can do the same thing. As such, it is important for the website owner to follow the rules as prescribed by the search engine as a business. If for no other reason than as insurance against penalties or banning, following the webmaster guidelines will keep a site from any problems with the search engine.

While it can be argued that the search engines don’t always police their search results very well, they do provide for a feedback option from webmasters. Reporting a spam laden site will often result in its removal. Unfortunately, those removals are often slow, and occasionally don’t happen, leaving the spam site high in the SERPs for weeks, or even months.

There is little doubt that all of the major search engines have room for improvement in the area of spam site detection, penalties, and removal from the SERPs. That problem on their part doesn’t automatically translate to meaning a webmaster or SEO can violate the stated terms of service with impunity, however. Noticing an unpunished spam site doesn’t mean it can be duplicated freely, but simply that the search engine has not found and penalized it yet.



Conclusion

Search engine ethical practice is a complicated, and difficult to resolve issue.

Along with concerns for the desires of the customer to achieve high search engine rankings, and search engine optimization professionals to provide them, are issues of ethics in relation to the search engine themselves. It’s not as simple as saying the website owner is the only concern. Other legitimate websites are part of the equation as well.

The search engine terms of service state that the SERPs don’t have to include any or all web pages or sites. The search engines are entitled to remove any sites that violate those terms of use. On the other hand, the search engines are slow, and often highly erratic in their levying of penalties and bans. Because of that weakness, many SEOs believe the guidelines aren’t even followed by the search engines themselves.

My opinion is the search engine is a business, like any other. As such, it has its terms of service, and also has the right to refuse service, if violations occur. Because of that right on the part of the search engines, it’s important for website owners and search engine optimization professionals to follow those guidelines.

While it’s a bit idealistic to believe that all websites will follow the published guidelines, keeping one’s own house in order will prevent any penalties or banning landing at one’s own doorstep. Taking care to use only generally agreed upon best practices, in effect using only “white hat” techniques, will win out in the end.

While white hat methods might appear slower at first, they provide long term staying power, that can survive any shifts in the search engine algorithms. White hat techniques also let a person rest easily, knowing the site is safe from penalties and banning, while providing useful information and products to the site visitors.

Instead of worrying about other sites, take care of your own site, and you will do well in the search engines.

You can then safely ignore any shade of hats.


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