Owning a Tourism Business is awesome

30 May 2006

Internet Marketing Terms for Beginners

How many hoteliers or dive centre operators have a handle on all these new acronyms and terms used for online marketing?

Answer: very few.

it really can be difficult to work through all of these Internet marketing terms. To help clarify them, here are some definitions of common terms below.

Ad impression: An ad impression, or ad view, occurs when a user pulls up a Web page through a browser and sees an ad that is served on that page. Many Web sites sell advertising space by ad impressions (see CPM, below). Each showing counts as one impression. If someone visits twice, that counts as 2.

Click Through rate (CTR): The percentage of people clicking on a link compared with the total number seeing that same link. Very important ratio to know and follow.

Conversion rate: The percentage of site visitors who respond to the desired goal of an ad campaign compared with the total number of people who see the ad campaign. The goal may be, for example, convincing readers to become subscribers, encouraging customers to buy something, or enticing prospective customers from another site with an ad. This is the prime indicator of success.

Cost per click (CPC): The amount of money an advertiser will pay to a site each time a user clicks on an ad or link.

Cost per thousand impressions (CPM): The amount of money an advertiser will pay for 1,000 ad impressions or views (M refers to the Roman numeral for 1,000).

Keyword: A word or phrase that a user types into a search engine when looking for specific information.

Meta tags: Hidden HTML directions for Web browsers or search engines. They include important information such as the title of each page, relevant keywords describing site content, and the description of the site that shows up when a search engine returns a search. Although they are less important nowadays (Google and Yahoo! don't put much, i f any, weight to them now), they woudl still be foolish to just overlook.

Page view: A common metric for measuring how many times a complete page is visited.

Search engine marketing (SEM): Promoting a Web site through a search engine. This most often refers to targeting prospective customers by buying or optimising for relevant keywords or keyword phrases.

Search engine optimization (SEO): Making a Web site more friendly to search engines, resulting in a higher page rank for specific keyords or keyword phrases.

7 May 2006

How to avoid Click Fraud

Click fraud is a type of internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.

Click fraud occurs in a number of ways:

1. A rival decides to have fun clicking your links in order to drive your costs up

2. a Web site that does context ads for one of the search engines, and who therefore gets paid when a visitor to their site clicks on your ad, generates fake clicks to earn a few bucks extra.

Google and other SE's perform ongoing analysis in order to catch it, and when they find patterns of click fraud, they automatically deduct the wrong charges from your account. In addition, if you think you have found evidence of click fraud in your reports, you can complain and they'll check for you.

Click fraud is an annoyance, but for most tourism advertisers it's a fairly minor one. You can find out more by searching the Web for articles on click fraud, there are thousands. You'll also find numerous vendors ready to sell you services to analyze your log files if you feel you are being victimized by click fraud.

More useful to most beginning advertisers is this warning:

Resist another kind of fraud altogether: people who claim they can "get your site into the top 10!" of search-engine results, or conjure any other dramatic results for you, for a fee. You might get this in the form of phone calls from salespeople. Hang up on them. Nobody can really sell you position on the main search engine results pages.

There is no real short cut!

Keywords Strategy : The Keyword Auction

Most advertising is charged according to rate cards, based on the audience that sees the ads.

Print magazines and newspapers charge from $5 to $100 (USD) per thousand subscribers depending on the readership — general consumer pubs are at the bottom end while specialty pubs that appeal to wealthy and select audiences such as business owners, gourmet food enthusiasts, or Porsche buyers get to charge more.

Radio and television charge a lot less per thousand, but reach a much broader audience — national television programs in the U.S. can cost a dollar or less per thousand viewers — which can add up to a large dollar amount, but your "reach" or the size of the audience seeing your message can be greater than in any other medium: A hugely popular U.S. TV program can attract 20 million viewers at once.

Web sites are like a mirror of the rest of the publishing world: There are specialized sites, such as AllBusiness.com, which are able to charge a high advertising rate per thousand pageviews, while broader sites like the main page of Yahoo!, which charges a lot less for a less targeted but much larger audience.

A lot of negotiation goes on in ad contracts, but they start from a fixed pricing sheet. This has a disadvantage for search engine results pages, which can't be managed the same way as relatively fixed editorial site pages. Google originally tried charging a flat rate for ads on its results pages — they got way too many advertisers trying to get onto certain highly desirable pages, and nobody on millions of other pages.

Then some genius came up with the ad auction that is now the norm in search keyword marketing. Instead of picking from a fixed price list, you bid in competition with everyone else and pay based on demand for that keyword and its value to you.

So some people are paying a nickel a click on a keyword that's not in much demand, while others are willing to pay fifty bucks a click. So almost every keyword has a price — and a value. It's a great way to sell as much of your inventory as possible at the best price. Clever!

How to Create Your First Website

The following is a quick reference for new/soon to be webmasters, the information contained in this article is simply what has worked for me in the past, all webmasters will develop their own unique ways of going about their daily business.

1. Web hosting

This will be your second hardest decision when it comes to launching your website, when first starting out it is ok to settle for free hosting, many free hosts will also give you a free sub domain, more about that in #2 Domain Names.

If you do settle for a free host you must ensure this is only temporary, for the most part free hosts have terrible uptime and are littered with mandatory banners and or pop ups/unders, this is not a good way to develop a recurring customer base, and if there are 9 banners and pop ups on your site you better be getting paid for them.

In order to choose the correct paid host you have to figure out what your site will need to run, is it an ecommerce site? do you need php/mysql? 35 databases etc. You are the only person that will be able to decide the requirements for your site.

If you are unsure as to exactly what your site needs there are many sites out there that have databases full of web hosts and web host packages/prices.

2. Domain Name

In order to run any website you will need a domain name, no one will ever find you without one, chances are at this stage no one will find you anyway.

There are a few different ways we can go about obtaining a domain name, if you know exactly what you want and have some funds to purchase your .com go ahead and take that plunge, but if your not so sure you have found that perfect name, or if you don’t even know what kind of domain you would like, feel free to settle
for a sub domain.

Now in the eyes of a lot of well established webmasters a sub domain from a free host or free domain company is a not a good way to go, I got that a lot when I was starting out, lets face it, with a sub domain no one will ever take you seriously www.widgets.freedomains4life.com is not very professional
or memorable, but it’s a starting point none the less.

Basically what we are trying to do with a sub domain is get your site on the net, that’s all, get it live so you can view it, make changes, fix bugs etc, we don’t want to launch a site that is not user friendly or just plain ugly.

Now after you have your site up at your free sub domain from your free host we have got to start looking at a real .com you will not get anywhere in this business without one. So search around the internet a bit, find a good registrar, at the time of this writing moniker.com, godaddy.com and networksolutions.com all seem to be decent sites, the latter a little pricier than the former but they all have their own pros and cons.

Now, this decision may be the biggest decision of your current project, do you go with a keyword rich domain or take the road less traveled and snatch up a brandable domain? Now you may not know exactly what I’m talking about when I say brandable, if your really new to the game you might not even know keyword rich so I'll try to put it in layman's terms for you.

A keyword rich domain is using the most highly sought after keyword for your site/product etc in your domain name, if I was creating a site on DVD players my domains would possibly be something like this dvdplayers.com, portabledvdplayer.com, hddvdplayer.com etc, a great tool for this is the Overture Keyword Selector found here, google it.

If we want to take our domain the other way and make it brandable much like Google, Yahoo, eBay etc, there really is no “How To” guide, for me caffeine and advil seems help, if you are planning on taking this route I’ve been told using other languages is good, beware the the actual meaning of the term in another language though, the urban legend of the Chevy Nova in Latin America comes to mind, Google brandable domains see what you can find.

3. Web Site Design

If you already know how to code in HTML, PHP etc then you are well on your way and can probably skip this step, if not you have quite a way to go. If you want to create a website it is imperative to learn how to code, you don’t want to pay between $500 and $5000 to create a website on a whim then continue to pay someone every time your site needs updating.

Take a look around the net for some tutorials regarding HTML in order to establish the base of your site, I’m not going to lie, there will be alot of reading and very long nights involved in learning web design, but it will reward you with unlimited possibilities when it comes to creating personal web sites or online communities etc.

Coupled with the design of your site you will at least want to learn the basics of graphic design, the worst thing you can do is buy a brandable domain and throw a generic logo that can be found on 96 other sites on it, this will greatly reduce your ability to stand out from the crowd, after all if you see 96 signs with the same logo but different company names how are you going to remember the 33rd company?

If you absolutely do not want to learn graphic design you can have a logo or layout designed for you at a relatively cheap price, just make sure it is 100% original and you have all .psd files etc before finalizing the transaction.

4. Content is King

Ask any webmaster, they will all agree, content is king, this is the absolute best way to have your site noticed and stand out from the crowd. One well written, keyword rich article pertaining to the content of your site will get you more visitors and a higher search engine ranking then one hundred plain product pages.

Now, I recommend you write your content yourself, whether it is the actual content that brings your site together or an article you've written about your sites topic, it is best to write this yourself. The reason for this is if you don’t actually know everything about your "widget" this is a good way to learn about it, also people will respect the article more and it gives you a feeling of self satisfaction when you finish a nine page article.

If you have trouble writing long articles or putting together a correct sentence you are not left out in the cold, there are many sites out there that have other webmasters as well as freelance writers dying to write an article specifically for your niche, I at one point a few years ago had 6 articles written for me for $7 each, not to bad when you think about the amount of traffic you may get from these articles being on your site. Google
freelance writers or contract writers and you will most likely come up with some decent results.

5. Marketing

I don’t care what your site is about, there comes a time when you will have to promote it, if you are just starting out chances are you have a very limited budget, so some tips on how to get visitors to your site for cheap. Forums are a great way to establish a following online, join some forums that relate to the category of your website, spend some time each day posting and getting to know the other forum members, be sure to keep an updated signature (assuming the forum allows signatures) so that anyone reading your post can also view your current project, but don’t expect results right away it often takes months to actually see the users coming from these forums, but be patient and develop a rapport with them, you never know you may even meet a future business partner.

Another way to start instant traffic is to purchase an ad campaign on a site related to yours, this may be a little difficult, some sites prices are very high, the best way to get the most for your money is to purchase links or banners on an up and coming site, if you attempt to purchase banner space on the top site in the business it could easily cost you $200 a week, by buying from the up and comer you will receive a few less visits, but it will cost alot less too.

If the site you are trying to develop is for a product, for the sake of an example we will say candy apples. Another great way to promote it is in your local area, take a day and visit all the local businesses have samples for the staff, ask the craft stores if they wouldn’t mind handing some business cards out for you, if you’re lucky and you have a decent product they may let you sell from there store front, I have heard of this happening many
times and people just don’t realize how powerful local business' can be.

6. Update, Update, Update

This is exactly how it sounds, no visitor wants to come to a site that has the same article or look on the homepage for six months, they will simply become bored with it and find a different site promoting the same product. In order to survive online you must update your pages.

If you have a content site, write an article a week, its not hard, but it gives you 52 articles a year, that’s a good starting point and will encourage people to link to your site.

If it is an e commerce site, update the home page with specials, have contests, anything to keep the visitor interested and coming back for more, a content (pardon the pun) visitor is a return visitor.

So now you should now what direction you're going online. Just remember, take your time, don’t throw up a sloppy site, and never ever give up, the internet is probably one of the hardest places to make a living, but the feeling of euphoria you get when you know you can, tops any other high you can experience.

4 May 2006

Google Toolbar : PageRank, Linking Strategies & More

So, you've gone and downloaded the toolbar at toolbar.google.com, but now what? This free toolbar that allows you gather useful information about yours and other websites. You just need to know how to use it.

Google Toolbar Basics

1. PageRank: The green bar you see as you visit different web pages shows a website's Google PageRank. To put it simply, PageRank is a bit like link popularity, but there are many factors involved in its calculation ~ which Google won't entirely reveal. You can look at the "official" Google information on PageRank at google.com/technology/ if you are inclined.

2. Page Info: You'll see the letter "i" in a blue circle with the words "Page Info" beside it. There's actually a lot of useful information to be found here.

3. Cached Snapshot of Page: This will show you what the particular page you are looking at looked like when Google last indexed it. * Note - When you do a search on Google, you can always choose to see the cached version of the page. This highlights the keywords you typed in right on the web page. It's a very useful search tool.

4. Similar Pages: I don't quite get this option, but Google says it shows "pages that are related to a particular result" ~ I guess they are sites related to yours. For myself, I find they are usually sites I've exchanged links with, but it's a smaller list than "Backward Links".

5. Backward Links: You may have exchanged links with a zillion sites, but by checking the "Backward Links", you'll see how many and which links Google actually considers to be important. These links help make up your PageRank.

6. Translate into English: If you're visiting a website in another language, you can have Google translate it into English. Of course, you'll have to take any translation with a grain of salt. So What Do You Do with This Google Toolbar Information? Find Link Partners As you can already see, Google does not consider all your backward links to be important. It is generally thought that Google indexes links from pages with a PageRank of 4 or higher ~ but this is not the sole determining factor. This means the precise page you are receiving the link from should have a PageRank of 4 or higher to be counted. If the home page has a PageRank of 4, but the links page only has a rank of 2, it might not be counted.

This does not mean your links will not be considered important by other search engines. We are just talking about Google here. If you want to increase your PageRank, you want links from pages with a PageRank of 4 or higher.

You might want to avoid exchanging links with a site not listed on Google (do a search for the site or put your mouse of the PageRank bar to see if it has been ranked). If they are not listed, they may very well be a new site, but it is possible they are a banned site. You do not want to exchange links with a banned site. You could be guilty by association!

You should also make efforts to exchange links with sites that are targeting similar keywords as you. Do a search for sites using your keywords. Analyze Your Google PageRank Your PageRank can certainly help you with your rankings for certain keywords. Your goal is to increase your PageRank to receive more FREE traffic from Google. Use your toolbar to find out the various PageRanks of the various pages within your site.

You can help increase your PageRank on your own by creating numerous internal links to your various pages. When exchanging links, don't just have links to your home page. Choose a few other important pages to which you would like to generate links. Make Sure Your Pages Are Being Indexed by Google You can check if all your pages are being indexed by Google. Go to the particular page and choosing "Cached Snapshot of Page" ~ if there is no cache, your page is not indexed. If the page is new, then perhaps its a matter of time. If the page is important has not been indexed for a couple of months, analyze your navigation structure. Consider linking to this page from your other important (and high PageRanking) pages and see what happens