Owning a Tourism Business is awesome

30 Apr 2007

Brand Canada Blog

Brand Canada Blog: "Tourism Marketing in the Off Season
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This entry was posted on 4/19/2007 1:32 PM and is filed under Marketing Strategy,Tourism Marketing,Destination Marketing,hospitality marketing,tourism campaign,travel marketing.

If you're in the tourism business, the year isn't defined by Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. We tend to segment the calendar using terms like 'off', 'high' and 'shoulder.' Depending on where you are in the world, when these seasons occur during the year will vary -- one destination's 'high' season is another destination's 'off' season."

10 steps to successfully launch and optimise your site in-house

There are many, many resources out there on how to launch and optimise your site to get into the top results in organic search. You may ask yourself: “Why do I need to be in the top results of organic search?” The answer is pretty simple… If your site is not in the first 30 results for a specific search query, you may as well be invisible on the web.

According to research, the first 30 results receive 90% of search traffic. Another important statistic to note is the total number of web pages out there. As of January 2005, there were 11.5 billion web pages in the publicly indexable web in 75 different languages! So, how do you ‘compete’ with all these pages to get into top 30? Here are 10 points to give you a good start in optimizing your site:

1) Take a long look at your website and structure
What tends to happen more often than not is you would concentrate all your time and effort on website design and once that’s completed, you would then turn your attention to site optimisation. However, what happens then is you end up with a beautiful site that you think absolutely rocks with complex or unclear navigation and no search friendly content. To no surprise, your on-line visitors (if any) are frustrated whilst search engine robots simply leave your site indexing the bear minimum. Keep the design SIMPLE - avoid splash pages, use of frames, excessive use of flash animation, etc. Search engines only read text so they will not appreciate your fancy designs, whilst on-line visitors will get turned off by the pages that load slowly. In addition, search engine robots are not designed to fill out forms or search your site, so it is crucial you set up other means to navigate your site through HTML links. Sitemap may help to ensure that a spider doesn’t miss any of your pages but keep the sitemap to no more than 30 links per page.

2) Content is everything
There are two sides of a coin with website content. Having optimised content on key pages of your site gives search engines the ‘food’ they need to index your pages. A well optimised page will contain around 150-200 words including a few strategic keyword phrases. Ideally this content will be placed closer to the top of the page. In addition, if you want to turn your on-line visitors into potential buyers, you need to provide them with useful and relevant content. Strong content is key in effective position of your site. Spend more of your time searching for and creating relevant content rather than finding easier alternatives that never reap the same results. Ensure that you write compelling copy for each of your key pages of your site based on your chosen strategic keyword phrases. Launch pages or ‘doorways pages’ are great but unless you have real value behind the pretty image, the customers won’t buy it for long.

3) Spend time researching your keywords
When researching keywords, make sure you consider the following: their popularity among different search terms people use on a daily basis and their competition in terms of how many other websites are competing for the same key word. The more people search for a keyword phrase you choose (i.e. number of daily/monthly queries) and the less there is competition for the specific keyword phrase (i.e. number of websites that actually use this keyword phrase), the bigger your chance of succeeding. This is also known as KEI – Keyword Effectiveness Indicator. To have the most relevant and up to date list of keywords, you need to conduct this research on a continuous basis. So, let me spend a few moments talking about popularity vs. competition.

In terms of popularity, there is no point of having keyword phrases in your list that people never search for. You can learn how popular a particular keyword or phrase is by looking at daily or monthly search queries. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years most internet companies have stopped supplying free daily search queries. Here are a couple of examples, majority of which are free that may help with your research: Metaspy, Clixshare, Google Keyword Tool, Overture Keyword Selector Tool, to name just a few. We recommend using an all in one solution WebCEO.

In terms of competition, make sure your strategic keywords consist of at least two to five words. There are two reasons for this. First, people are more likely to type two or more words in a search query and secondly, there is bound to be big competition for any single generic keyword. Let me give you an example. Imagine that you own a small hotel business in London. An obvious choice for a targeted keyword would be hotel, right? Wrong. Millions of websites compete for the same word, hotel. To give yourself a better chance, you need to narrow down your search and choose keywords and phrases that are popular but have lower competition. However, bear in mind that they still need to be highly relevant to your website.

4) Use your keywords well
Once you have created your keyword list, use these keywords effectively without overdoing it. As mentioned earlier, having relevant content with key strategic keywords is crucial in having an optimised page. However, don’t forget to include your keywords in the URL (if possible), TITLE Tags, META tags, HTML headings and ALT tags. Ideally your keyword optimised content needs to be closer to the top of the page. Whatever you do, ensure that your text in visible and nothing is hidden, otherwise you may be banned from the search engines mistaken for a spam site.

5) Develop your link popularity
So far in this post I have been discussing ‘on the page’ factors that could influence the position of your pages when they get indexed. Now, lets turn to ‘off the page’ factors such as link popularity. Through specific algorithms, most major search engines not only look at your page to determine the worthiness of your content for a specific search phase but also look at how many other web pages are linking to your site. By ‘other web pages’ I don’t necessarily mean any odd personal home page. I am talking about web pages that have relevant content and use similar keywords. In addition, the higher these pages are ranked, the stronger your link popularity. You can check page rank of any site using numerous free tools available on the net or by downloading Google Toolbar. Simply type in the URL in question and obtain its ranking from 1-10. The higher the number, the better the website is in terms of PR and thus more effective for your linking strategy. If you would like to find out who is already linking to your site or you would like to know who is linking to the site you want to get a link from, check out www.iwebtool.com and www..alexa.com. Again WebCEO does this wonderfully.

To start getting quality links to your site, it maybe a good idea to enter your strategic keyword phrases in Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. and get in touch with the first 30 websites that come up to ask whether they can place a link to your website from theirs. This method ensures that the websites you contact are relevant to your pages and that they have adequate page rank to be in the top 30 results. By starting to get quality links back to your site, your own page ranking should automatically increase resulting in higher positions on result pages. Another method of getting more quality links is cross-linking with relevant sites. This evolves placing a link to a specific site on your website and that site in turn will place a link to you. As you get more and more links back to your site, monitor their quality to ensure you don’t have any lousy links which may reduce your page ranking. Finally, stay away from sites which offer thousands of links back to your site. These are ‘link farms’ and a link from one of those will do no good for your page ranking.

6) Time to submit you site
Avoid sites promising to submit your website to thousands and thousands of search engines for a small fee. The truth is, the majority of searches are done on a handful of search engines around the world thus the traffic you may get from the remaining X thousands will be minuscule and not worth the fee. It may be a good idea to start by submitting to directories first such as Yahoo and Open Directory Project, as this will be processed quicker allowing time for the Google robots to find links to your site from directories themselves. It may also help to have some Paid-Per-Click advertising during the submission time. Be patient, the submission process can take time – ensure you monitor the process closely.

7) Don’t overuse Paid-Per-Click advertising (PPC)
There should never be a choice between whether to optimise your site or simply do some PPC advertising to get the traffic flowing. Optimising your site will pay off far more than any amount of PPC advertising you may wish to do. PPC is only effective short-term and spending more will not result in higher traffic volume. Finally, we all know that any marketing budget has its limits. As soon as your PPC funds are depleted, your web presence is lost like it’s never been here in the first place.

8) Avoid using frames
If it’s not too late, try to avoid using frames all together. Search engines have difficulty reading frame links so you would need to provide an alternative method for them to access your pages for indexing.

9) Refresh content and keywords regularly
Site optimisation doesn’t end here. You need to continuously refresh content on your website and use the most effective keywords to guarantee that search engine robots are coming back for more indexing whilst visitors are coming back for more interesting content.

10) Monitor your website traffic and trends
You have submitted your site, you continue to refresh your content and you are constantly refreshing your keyword list. Don’t forget to monitor your site traffic. The knowledge and insights you could gain by studying your daily traffic is vital in helping you improve your site in the future. Monitor where on your website the people are going the most, which pages are least visited, which words are used to search before people end up on your site, how long are they spending on your site, are they coming back, etc, etc.

...And remember, site optimisation is not just a one time job, it’s for life. Enjoy!

Email marketing

E-mail marketing is one of the most effective ways to keep in touch with customers, and it is one of the online 'low hanging fruits' in marketing.

It is generally cost-effective, and when done properly, can help build brand awareness and loyalty. At a typical cost of only a few cents per message, it's a bargain compared to traditional direct mail at $1 or more per piece. In addition, response rates on e-mail marketing are strong, ranging from 5 to 65% within the small tourism product market. Response rates for traditional mail averages in the 1-3% range.

One of the benefits of e-mail marketing is the demographic information that customers provide when signing up for your e-mail newsletter or promotions emails. Discovering who your customers really are — age, gender, income, and special interests, for example — can help you target your products and services to their needs. Points to consider when creating your e-mail newsletter:

  • HTML vs. Plain Text: Response rates for HTML newsletters are generally far higher than plain text, and graphics and colors tend to make the publications look far more professional. The downside is that HTML e-mail is slower to download, but this is becoming less and less an issue in the developed nations where the majority of tourism customers are for SME tourism businesses.
  • Provide incentive to subscribe: Advertise the benefits of receiving your newsletter or promotions email to get customers to sign up, such as helpful tips, informative content, or early notification of special offers or campaigns.
  • Don't just sell: Many studies suggest that e-mail newsletters are read far more carefully when they offer information that is useful to the customers' lives rather than merely selling products and services. Helpful tips, engaging content, and humor are often expected to accompany e-mail newsletters.
  • Limit questions: As each demographic question you ask may reduce the number of customers signing up, it's best to limit the amount of information you solicit or give customers the option of skipping the questionnaire.

Why is internet marketing important to small tourism operators?

Internet marketing is a business imperative because the Internet is an irrevocable and unstoppable trend.

Even though you have a traditional "brick-and-mortar" tourism business or a concession within a resort, you'll lose valuable customers without an online presence. People routinely search for goods and services especially in travel with their computers instead of visiting travel agents. If your tourism business isn't on the Web, customers will likely choose another company to do business with.

Also, online advertising is cheap. Adverting in the magazines or a trade show is seriously expensive, especially if you want an ad that has any presence on the page. An ad in an Internet directory is generally free, and you can put links directing customers to your Web site for more information. And because you can provide customers with a wealth of information, they no longer have to pick up the phone to get their questions answered.

Although you don't need a Web site to register your site in an online directory, your marketing efforts will be much more effective if you have your own site. The first thing to do is register a domain name. The name of your business was usually seen as a good place to start because it can help build your brand and will be easy for customers to remember. However in reality keywords from the tourism industry are more important, especially if you don't yet have a recognizable brand.

Before you commit, give your domain name serious consideration; the name you choose will be your company's online identity for years to come.

If you haven't already, you'll need to build a professional Web site. You can use templates provided by your Web host, hire a Web designer to develop your site, or use software to design it your self.

The difficult part is rising above the crowd and differentiating yourself from your competition. This is where a well thought out Internet marketing plan can help. Here are the main components of any good online marketing plan:

  • Registering your site with search engines and directories
  • Optimizing your site for search engines
  • Sponsoring search engine keywords
  • Building a database of customer email addresses
  • Sending email newsletters
  • Buying online ads
  • If all of this still seems like mumbo jumbo, you should be reading more! Alternatively drop me a line here in Fiji and I can explain some of the ways this can be done step by step.

    Can small resorts advertise on Google?

    Simple answer is YES. Serious answer: you would be a fool not to!

    Google offers two advertising programs: Google AdWords for advertisers and Google AdSense for Web publishers. Mostly small resorts are both... They advertise their products and then they have AdSense ads on their blogs and news pages.

    The AdWords program reaches people actively looking for information related to the product or services offered by your tourism plant, and sends targeted visitors directly to your Web site.

    AdWords uses pay-per-click pricing, which means you pay only when people click on your ad. There is a nominal, one-time activation fee for Google AdWords. After that you pay only for clicks on the AdWords ads, which you control by telling Google how much you are willing to pay per click and per day.

    With AdWords, ads for your resort or dive op appear alongside or above results on Google search results pages for Google Web search, Google Groups, and the Google Directory. Ads can also appear on the search and content sites and products in the Google Network, which is an extensive online advertising network. Google's global search network includes: America Online, Netscape, CompuServe, AT&T Worldnet, AskJeeves, The New York Times, Earthlink, and Shopping.com. Google's content network of consumer and industry-specific Web sites includes: USNews.com, ABC.com, TheStreet.com, What You Need to Know About.com, Economist.com, Thomson, Lowestfare.com, Lycos, InfoSpace, National Geographic, Viacom, Forbes, FoxSports, LinuxWorld.com, and Macworld.

    The AdSense program allows resorts and ive ops and tour operators to earn revenue from their Web sites. AdSense delivers ads targeted to content pages, and when Google WebSearch is added to the site, AdSense also delivers targeted ads to search results pages. The AdSense program allows your business to make money when visitors click on ads associated with your website.

    It enhances visitors' experiences by including ads that are relevant to what they see on your pages. You can even add a Google search box to your Web site. It is easy to manage your AdSense account and track earnings online with easy-to-use tools.

    You will fast discover though that you also have to be careful to add negative websites to your listing as well. otherwise you will very quickly see your competition popping up on your pages!

    For more information about AdWords and AdSense, go to their respective Web sites.

    25 Apr 2007

    PADI Provides Members Access to High Quality Marketing and Promotional Materials

    Got to say, PADI has at last seem the light and given a real boost to online maketing dive centres around the world. Any dive centre who is affiliated with PADI who does not do this should be shot (or don't boither as they are shooting themselves in the foot anyway!)

    PADI Simplifies Marketing for Dive Centers and Resorts with materials that can be customized for each individual dive store or resort.

    Creating custom professional marketing pieces has never been easier because PADI Americas has expanded the PADI Marketing Center available exclusively to PADI Dive Center and Resort Members via Merrill Corporation. Since 2006, PADI Dive Center and Resort Members have been able to personalize and order a variety of marketing materials to support their diver acquisition and retention efforts.

    Members can access materials - from flyers to posters to brochures or postcards - that support all PADI marketing campaigns. PADI Members can use the materials as-is or personalize each piece to meet their individual needs. New for 2007, businesses can brand each piece with their logo by using the logo upload function. Now, customers can instantly recognize the dive center or resort's promotion.

    “Access to professional, quality promotional materials and images has traditionally been limited and expensive,” says Bill Hamm, PADI Americas Director of the International Resort and Retailer Associations. “Through the Merrill Corporation, PADI Dive Centers and Resorts can quickly and easily produce high quality promotional materials at a fraction of the cost if they did it themselves. Now, they can seamlessly integrate these pieces into their existing marketing efforts - helping drive even more customers into their stores.”

    Now marketing is even easier because dive centers and resorts can upload a customer list to drive promotional mailings. Once members have personalized their marketing materials online they can initiate a mailing with one click. Reordering is even easier because all transactions are stored as part of the member’s purchase history.

    “Providing PADI Dive Center and Resort Members the tools they need to market their businesses is essential to helping them grow their business,” continued Hamm.

    PADI Business Members can access these online tools via the Pro Section at padi.com by clicking on “PADI Marketing Center” under either the International Resort and Retailer Associations heading or in the IRRA Toolbox. For more information about all of the tools and benefits offered to PADI Dive Center and Resort Members, call the PADI International Resort and Retailer Associations at 800 729 7234 (US and Canada), or +1 949 858 7234, ext. 2247.

    Others promise … PADI delivers.

    Secrets of the SCUBA Show Success-AGGRESSIVE MARKETING

    Huge Active Market and Aggressive Promotion Make the SCUBA Show a Consistent Winner. 2007 set to be biggest year ever for popular Long Beach, CA event.

    The annual SCUBA Show expo will be celebrating its 20th year with expansion, new programs and an expectation of record attendance. Every year for the last 17 years the show has exceeded an annual attendance of 10,000. SCUBA Show 2007 is expected to increase these numbers dramatically with new and aggressive advertising in several dive journals, freeway billboard advertising, web advertising, and more.

    Aggressive advertising and promotion is just one of the reasons for the long term and consistent success of the annual expo known as THE Diving Event of the Year!™
    Other important reasons include:
    • Base population within one-hour driving radius of the show: 16 million.
    • California is the largest single diving market segment in the U.S.
    • Southern California has the largest concentration of divers in the world.
    • PADI & most major equipment manufacturers are headquartered in Southern California.
    • California divers are the most active in the country.
    • Over 100 dive retailers call Southern California home, the majority of which send representatives to the show

    An aggressive direct mail campaign precedes the show using a postal list over 27,000 of active divers and an email list of over 11,000 active divers. In addition, California Diving News, sister company to the SCUBA Show and the most read publication by active California divers, is used heavily to promote the show.
    All these thing come into the play for a history of success for the SCUBA Show’s 20 year history and will definitely play a factor in predicted success of SCUBA Show 2007.
    SCUBA Show 2007 will take place June 2-3 at the Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA. For more information on the SCUBA Show, call 310-792-2333, visit www.scubashow.com or email mail@scubashow.com

    24 Apr 2007

    Amazon.com Associates Program

    Launched in 1996, Associates is Amazon.com's affiliate marketing program. By linking to Amazon products and services you can add compelling content for your site visitors enjoyment and receive up to 10% in referral fees for doing so.

    As one of the first online affiliate marketing programs, Associates has a 10-year track record of developing solutions to help website owners, Web developers, and Amazon sellers make money. Our latest innovations include aStore, Omakase™ Links, and Product Previews.

    Current participants in the Amazon Associates program include large, well-known sites, niche content sites and blogs, comparison shopping engines, search engine marketers, and everything in between. Visit our Current Associates page to see how some of these members are using our solutions.

    How the Program Works

    Associates drive internet traffic to Amazon.com through specially formatted links that allow us to track sales and other activity.

    Associates earn up to 10% in referral fees on all qualifying revenue made through their links.

    We send monthly payments to Associates.

    Once you join the program, we will give you access to Associates Central, our extranet exclusive to our Associates. This is the place where you will build your links, view your traffic and earnings reports, and read about the latest news and opportunities available to you through the program.

    Participation is Easy and Free

    Complete the online application.

    Create & post your links to Amazon.com using our Build Links tool in Associates Central.

    Begin tracking your traffic and earnings reports online. Reports are updated daily.

    Associates Compensation Overview

    With Amazon's leadership status in Internet e-commerce, Amazon Associates have many ways to make money: not only will you earn money on the sale of books, music, and DVDs, but also on toys, electronics, kitchen, apparel, jewelry, and more. The Amazon.com Associates program differentiates itself from other affiliate programs by offering millions of products to choose from, industry leading conversion rates and competitive referral fee rates that produce more money for our Associates.

    Our compensation philosophy is simple: reward Associates for their contributions to our business in unit volume and in growth. Amazon is a fast growing business and we want our Associates to grow with us.

    Compensation Details

    We offer Associates a choice between two compensation plans, the Classic Fee Structure and the Performance Fee Structure. You may select either structure at any time during the month. The deadline for making a selection is 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on the last day of the month. At the end of the month, your most recent selection will be used to calculate your fees for the whole month. You will remain enrolled in the plan for the following month unless you choose otherwise.

    To get you started out on the right foot, when you join the program you will automatically be enrolled in our Performance Fee Structure. After reading the descriptions below, we think you'll agree that the Performance Fee Structure is the most lucrative option. We hope that the additional earnings opportunity offered by the Performance Fee Structure will motivate you to start referring a high volume of traffic to Amazon.com as soon as you complete your application.

    Option 1: Performance Fee Structure

    When you join the program you are automatically enrolled in our Performance Fee Structure. The Performance structure allows you to earn higher fees when you generate a sufficient volume of referrals that result in sales at Amazon.com during a month. The higher your referrals, the greater your earnings will be.

    Under the Performance Fee Structure, your referral rate will range from 4% to 10%, and be based on your total number of shipped items from both Amazon and third-party sellers. The same rate will apply equally to both Amazon and third-party items and will apply to all referred items shipped during the month. Please refer to the referral rate tier chart below for additional details.

    Option 2: Classic Fee Structure

    This is our fixed-referral-rate plan. You earn a 4% referral fee on items offered by Amazon or by third parties.

    Caps: Personal computers (both desktops and laptops) have referral fees capped at $25, and Unbox Video Downloads are capped at $1.50 per item. No other product lines have their referral fees capped.

    Fine Print: Please note that the information above is only a summary of the two fee structures offered for the month. Other terms and conditions apply. The classification of a Qualifying Product unit as a personal computer will be determined by us in our sole discretion. Please refer to the Associates Program Operating Agreement for complete details. In the event of any conflict or inconsistency between anything on this page and the Operating Agreement, the terms of the Operating Agreement will control.

    Start making money today. Click here for easy registration.

    How will PPA effect adsense publishers and will it mean reduced revenuein Tourism sites?

    The PPA adverts will be shown ONLY on the content network and not the search network so this will amplify any effect in this area.

    The PPA program isnt exactly a new model and is basically the same as most affiliate programs that only pay for purchases or signups. Unlike normal adsense ads that analyse the content of a web site to determine relevent ads to show on the site adwords PPA allows the publisher to choose which ads to show on their site.

    For publishers that don't wish to trawl through directories of adverts there will be an option to let Google choose the highest paying relevant ads from various topic areas. Revenue earned will most likely be comparable to PPC revenues for sites though but earned through a low volume of sales as compared to a higher volume of clicks.

    It impossible top predict what will happen but it certainly will be interesting to see how things pan out. Google is a pretty savvy operator in this field so will probably have its plans well founded and make their latest product a big player in this area very quickly. They will need to ensure that the publishers can earn as much or more than the PPC network using PPA though or no publishers will sign up for the program. If there are no publishers , and remember this relies purely on publishers as it is on the content network only, then there will be no advertisers.

    Google will surely realize this and most experts expect when the program comes out of beta then there will be plenty of incentives for publishers to sign up.

    For publishers that dont put the work in with the new program and choose adverts that aren’t very relevant for their readers then they will most likely not have much success with PPA.Those that know their markets or have very niche focused sites could make good profits. Expect to see lots of new sites starting up to focus purely on google PPA topic areas also.

    More info on googles PPA program can be found here : Google Pay Per Action

    23 Apr 2007

    So Why Did Google Launch Pay-Per-Action PPA?

    So why is Google launching a new Pay-Per-Action PPA product if the PPC click is working so well? Will it eventually move completely away from the PPC model that redefined online advertising and offer just PPA advertising?

    Most likely Google will wait and see how the markets change before making any decisions. Are advertisers concerned enough about click fraud to jump ship altogether or will they see PPA as an addition rather than a replacement? Most likely both will remain side by side although most experts expect many advertisers to move away from PPC to PPA.

    For some tourism advertisers the PPA action model will definitely be a better option. Resort and cruise tourism operators with online booking facilities will mostly benefit as they can run a campaign that they will only pay fees whenever they make an actual online sale so they are guaranteed to make profit or not pay any advertising fees if they get no conversions. It eliminates the risk for operators and will probably attract new customers that have previously stayed away from PPC which can be costly and ineffective if the conversions are low.

    Other operators that sell lower value products and services or don't have credit card booking facilities online, such as small dive centres and tour operators, though may be forced to remain with PPC as PPA might cost more than their profit margins as competition for keywords pushes prices up.

    For Google however there isn't really much risk launching PPA. It will most likely attract some new customers and if customers leave PPC to use PPA then they have kept those customers happy by offering them another option and maybe retaining customers they would have lost to other affiliate schemes. Its one more string to Google's bow and again places them at the fore-front of online advertising options.

    22 Apr 2007

    What are link farms & why they are bad...

    I'm sure you've all heard the term 'link farm' and have even heard that it's a bad idea to participate in these linking schemes designed to artificially boost link popularity. So the question I get form people is, what exactly is a link farm anyway?

    It's hilarious, but in all this time of Internet and Online Marketing, I never truly understood the term until a friend came to message boards and talked about a link program he was involved in. It wasn't a type of program I've ever participated in...but I still didn't realize it was a link farm. It was just a group of small businesses in one industry trying to find a way to promote each other.

    But so what, let's get to the point: What is a Link Farm?

    A link farm is when group of websites get together to link to each other. One main links page is created with links to all the participant's websites and each participant places that links page on their website. Et voila! Instantly a whole load of links to your website.

    Now whether or not your purpose is just to help promote one another as opposed to boosting search engine rankings...you still run the real risk of being punished or banned by the search engines. And once you are banned, getting back into the SE's and regaining your placement is a major uphill battle.

    Search engines cannot understand your, possibly innocent motive, and this could be seen as one of the disallowed link popularity scheme.

    These disallowed pages are ones that exist solely to increase the link popularity of those who post their links. Listing on these sites will most definitely cause you to be penalized in the search engines eventually. Avoid them. You do not need to try and 'cheat'.

    Legitimate link building strategies work! See other posts for ideas...

    21 Apr 2007

    Book Recommendation: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

    This author has convinced me to change my assumptions about work life and personal goals. This is an easy read. Although I am a slow and easily distracted reader, I finished the book from cover-to-cover in a few sittings. I even spent some time researching the web links but didn't do all the challenges because I was eager to absorb all the ideas first.

    It is probably best to read the book one time through quickly to grasp his point of view (the author even gives a brief blurb on how to speed read). Then after you "get it" take some time doing the challenges if you feel so compelled.

    I have already implemented one of the author's recommendations in my daily life....check email only twice per day: right before lunch then again an hour before the end of the day. Process every email at the time you read it. Seems a simple challenge but I did suffer "withdrawal symptoms" from not constantly checking email. And you know what? Because I stayed focus on the task at hand and not constantly checking email I left work last Thursday (April 27) feeling less stressed and more accomplished. This is only a brief part of the book but to me was impactful.

    Ferriss gives some great ideas about starting your own business even if you don't have or desire an MBA (like me). He provides lists of free and paid resources to help you along the way.

    There is a simple road map for freeing yourself from the 9-5 grind. Is it attainable? I hope so. Maybe I'm just being an optimist but yesterday I took the day off from my "cube job" and spent part of my day setting up an online business following his "case studies".

    The downside is that the book is provides a cursory glance at some topics that need to be expanded. However, I think he did a good job at presenting his view of how life can be. He's also opened himself up to "The 4 Hour Workweek 2.0" when he can go in more depth.

    In all I found it an enjoyable read. I plan to follow his "roadmap" and see where it takes me. I already recommended it to two other friends.

    19 Apr 2007

    Blog Tip #4: Use your keywords in the anchor text of links

    Use your primary and secondary keywords in the anchor text of links when linking to other blog posts or to other pages of your blog.

    Keyword in links have more importance than simple text. This is major to the search engines, ANCHOR TEXT IS VITAL!

    For example if you want to rank using the keyword diving then make sure all the links to the site use the word diving like this: diving

    Don't just put in the code http://www.diving.blogspot.com, use the link button in the posting WYSIWYG editor and highlight the keyword, like this: diving

    18 Apr 2007

    Blog Tip #3: Use your secondary keywords in the body of your post

    If you want to get listed for secondary keywords (which most of everyone does), use them infrequently in the body of your post.

    The theory is that the more times a keyword appears within a blog's web page, the more relevant the page is likely to be for someone searching those keywords.

    But do not overdo this by repeating the same keywords over and over again. Google bots can find out if a keyword is too frequent on a page and might just remove your site from their index.

    As outlined below, checking a keyword density using software is a smart idea. See the post on WebCEO in April 2007.

    Blog Tip #2: Use your primary keyphrase in the title of your posts

    If your primary key phrase is diving help make sure that the word diving and help appear in your blog headers such as H1 and H2 tags as well as the title of each of your posts.

    So make sure you have a usable keyword!

    Google PR

    Google PR: "PageRank Explained

    PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important.'

    Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query."

    Link Popularity & Link Repuation

    Link Popularity & Link Repuation: "What is Link Popularity & Link Reputation

    April 2004
    By Alice Seba

    A couple terms you'll need to understand before you proceed to understand how to optimize your website are:

    link popularity & link reputation

    You see...just like everywhere else, the Internet is a popularity game. :) Being popular is nice, but your reputation is actually crucial.
    Let's keep it simple. Here are some explanations of link popularity & link reputation:

    Link popularity - Very simply put...it's the number of links pointing to your website. The idea is that the more websites, that link to you the more important...and thus popular...your website is. Of course, search engines like Google, also look at the quality of these links...so don't be mistaken by thinking quantity is most important...quality is key (and we'll discuss that in the articles included in this section).

    Reality Check: Being popular is nice, but doesn't really contribute where each page of your website will appear in the search engine listings. In most cases, you should be more concerned about your reputations. Which leads us to...

    Link reputation - In addition to how many quality sites link to you, search engine want to know what each page of your website are well known for. That's why they look at what is written in the text that links to your"

    Perfect Optimization - When Your SEO is Doing More Harm than Good

    Perfect Optimization - When Your SEO is Doing More Harm than Good:

    "Why 'Perfect' Optimizing Doesn't Always Mean More Traffic"

    You may already know how to do your keyword research and find the right phrases to target for your site, but did you know that too much of a good thing can actually do more harm than good?

    Search engines are complicated, anyone who's diligently followed their progress on Google for weeks, testing and tweaking without much results will agree. Well, we're not going to tell you how to figure out Google's algorhythm, but we will tell you that the one thing you want to be doing when it comes to SEO is making your pages look as natural as possible.

    Your pages should be written with the reader in mind. As SEs get more and more sophisticated they are able to pick up patterns of optimization which have been obviously set up for the search engines and not human visitors. This won't win you any points with the people whose business is to provide the most accurate and helpful search results for their customers.

    That's not to say you shouldn't be doing your keyword research or optimizing your pages... after all how will the search engines find you in the first place? It just means that we have to get the optimization balance right.

    Here are a few tips to help you:

    13 Apr 2007

    New scuba blog from Fiji

    Nice new clean blog from Fiji. Some new off the beaten track stories from around the world of diving

    read more | digg story

    Blog Tip #6: Get backlinks from other blogs

    You need as many links as possible to link back to your posts or blog because it will help you build pagerank and get your blog to rank higher in search engines. The more links you have the higher your blog is ranked in Technorati helping your blog to be found easily.

    So how do we get backlinks? Basically a lot of hard graft and slogging and cutting and pasting.

    • Link exchanging with other similarly-themed blogs will help you to form richly interlinked networks or communities. This again takes a lot of time online cruising around to find them. Start by searching for your keywords and the word blog...
    • If you find an interesting article on another blog, link to it generously. This means 3 to 5 times from a post on the article. Use anchor text for the other blog, it's normally obvious what their keywords are! The track back will become a link back to your blog.
    • Make sure that your signature for comments includes you blog link (if possible embedded in anchor text). Then start posting legitimate comments in response to posts on other blogs will help you get back links. Regularly post legitimate comments in similarly-themed blogs with high traffic to get many back links.

    Blog Tip #5: Make sure search engines can spider your blog easily

    Make sure your navigation bar is present on all pages of your blog. Your previous posts or at least the popular ones should be linked to all pages so they get spidered easily.

    Most of the standard blog set-ups (WordPress, TypePad, Blogger) will give you an option to have Archives and Blog Archives module to do this automatically for you.

    Remember, we are going to submit only the primary domain and RSS feeds to the directories and search engines and they will only find all of your pages and posts if they are linked on the main page.

    Blog Tip #1: Use your main keyword in your blog domain

    The first thing to do is to ensure that your blogs URL contains the primary keyword you want to optimize for. Using the targeted keyword in sub-domains also helps.

    For example, if you want to start a blog site about diving then the primary keyword you want your URL to contain is diving. So choose a URL like www.divingblog.com.

    You can also use the keyword in subdomains like www.fiji-resort.com/diving

    SEO tips for tourism blogs

    I am constantly asked about some simple tips and techniques to start to make a difference in the all important search engines.

    So I have pulled together some simple rules for search engine optimization and if you start following them then your blog will rank much higher in Search Engines.


    Here is cool wee tool that shows the international nature of our websites.

    Locate all site visitors on a map on your blog. See at a glance where your site's visitors are located: instantaneously, even when the numbers are enormous! Visitors don't need to click on anything: just viewing your page is sufficient.

    One thumbnail map on your site shows it all: They provide the HTML that gives you a thumbnail map, like the one on the right at the bottom right of my page, and the map embedded here.

    Locations of visitors to this page

    When it loads, it increments a counter and shows the locations of all the visitors to your page, cumulatively (even for huge numbers). Clicking on it zooms in to a big world map, and lets you zoom in to the continents.

    Cool widget for travel sites when the globe is what people are looking for!

    See ClusterMaps website to sign up, the best part of course is it's free!

    Microsoft adCenter

    Your ideal audience is among the millions. PPC helps find them for you.

    MSN reaches nearly two out of three Web customers, and Live Search reaches over 40 million a month.1 Reach the right customers with search ads targeted at the audience you want.

    How does search advertising work?

    • Pay only when people click your ads.
    • Set your own price per click.
    • See when your clicks lead to sales.
    • Target your ads to the times, places, and customers you want the most.
    • Use built-in tools to get keyword ideas, audience information, and detailed reports on your ads.

    1 Nielsen/NetRatings, Competitive Site Reports, November 2004

    So what exactly is Pay Per Action (PPA)?

    The Google AdWords (for advertisers) and AdSense (for publishers) programs currently charge/pay each time an advert is clicked on and this is open to abuse by fraud publishers clicking on their own adverts or using automated click-bots to gain revenue.

    Google is oh so very aware of this and some sites are quoting figures of up to 30% of all clicks could be considered fraudulent.This is a hell of a lot of profit for the fraud-gangsters and a huge cost for advertisers even if only a small percentage of this is undetected.

    Despite the click fraud problem the advertising model does work really well and continues to attract both advertisers and publishers. This just shows how effective online ad campaigns really are!

    Google Pay Per Action PPA

    Google announced recently that they will be offering Pay Per Action (PPA) advertising in addition to their well established Pay Per Click (PPC) program.Currently in beta, and only available to US based subscribers, will this new program make huge waves in the affiliate advertising community?

    See the Google website here...

    Here's what Google say themselves:

    "Increase your advertising reach while paying only for actions that you define. First, you'll create an ad and define the action that you want a user to perform when they visit your site, such as signing up for your newsletter or purchasing a product. Then you'll set the amount that you're willing to pay when this action is completed. Finally, you'll install conversion tracking code on your website so that we can verify when an action has been completed.

    Once you've completed these steps, publishers in the Google content network can choose to place your ads on their website. You'll only pay when a user clicks on your ad, visits your site, and completes your desired action.

    Pay-per-action ads complement your current campaigns by providing a new pricing model that extends your reach and allows you to pay only when a defined action is completed on your site. This beta feature is currently available to AdWords advertisers in the United States on a limited basis as part of our beta test."

    In the next few days I will answer some of the obvious questions in regards to this enw program which holds a lot of promise for the SME Tourism Products out there.

    10 Apr 2007

    Lead Generation for the Complex Sale: Boost the Quality and Quantity of Leads to Increase Your ROI

    With the complex sale emerging as the norm in today’s business-to-business environment, it’s more challenging than ever to keep a consistent stream of qualified leads in your sales pipeline. You’ve probably lost critical hours by relying on outdated methods or spinning your wheels looking for new tactics to push the sales needle forward.

    Lead Generation for the Complex Sale arms you with a sophisticated multimodal approach to generating highly profitable leads. Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch Incorporated and expert in lead generation solutions, reveals key strategies that you can implement immediately to win new customers, accelerate growth, and improve your sales performance.

    You'll start by defining your ideal leads and targeting your ideal customer. Then, you'll construct your lead generation plan, a crucial step to staying ahead of your competition long-term. To help you put your plan into action, Carroll guides you step by step to:

    * Align sales and marketing efforts to optimize the number of leads
    * Use multiple lead generation vehicles, including e-mail, referrals, public relations, speaking events, webinars, and more
    * Create value for the prospective customer throughout the buying process
    * Manage a large group of leads without feeling overwhelmed
    * Identify and prioritize your best prospects
    * Increase the percentage of leads who become profitable customers
    * Avoid lulls in the sales cycle
    * How to increases the percentage of leads who become profitable customers
    * Know how to identify and prioritize your best prospects
    * Ready yourself for what's next – new and promising tactics

    With Lead Generation for the Complex Sale you'll learn how to target prospects early in the buying process and make the most efficient use of sales productivity and marketing resources. Plus, you’ll pursue and capture future opportunities for viable leads.

    In a business environment where your competition is growing and your budget is inevitably shrinking, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale gives you the power to drive a fast, optimal return on your investment and keep a steady stream of new customers coming your way.

    7 Apr 2007

    Google Analytics

    Again another tool that you just cannot do without. And it's free!

    Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. Focus your marketing resources on campaigns and initiatives that deliver ROI, and improve your site to convert more visitors.

    Google Analytics has the enterprise level capabilities you'd expect from a high end web analytics offering and also provides timesaving integration with AdWords. Of course, Google Analytic tracks all of your non-AdWords initiatives as well.

    In the next few posts I will try and run through how easy it is to set this up, and how to use the info this tool gives you.

    Google Webmaster Tools

    I can't recommend looking after your own web real estate enough.

    With 84% of all web searches on Google, you'd better check what Google has indexed and how and where.

    Google Webmaster Tools

    4 Apr 2007

    ScubaTravelGuide.com Announces Free Listings for Scuba Resorts

    San Francisco, CA: February 2, 2007 (DNW)

    Dive Resorts now have free access to the most comprehensive online scuba travel guide Scuba Travel Guide http://www.ScubaTravelGuide.com

    ScubaTravelGuide.com is for ANY dive resort looking for additional exposure and high search engine placement. All listings include a picture, overview, and amenities list of your resort. In addition, a gallery of pictures can be added as well as user generated reviews.

    Every Monday we will accept submissions for the home page profiles of “Featured Destinations” and “Deals of the Month”. For a limited time, the first 5 resorts to send us their requests for a home page listing in one of these categories will be posted (subject to editorial oversight). Make sure not to miss out on this great opportunity!

    Many resorts have already been added by our team. Resort owners are requested to review their information, and “take ownership” of their listing in the system. They will then be able to add, edit, and update information at their leisure. Owners should contact us if they have any questions.

    If your resort has not been added, instructions on how to add your resort can be found in our FAQ or by clicking on this link.

    Dive resorts are encouraged to have their customers report on their experience at the resort, or add photos of their trip at ScubaTravelGuide.com.

    In the near future, additional features will be added by region, including information on specific dive sites, local attractions, and other interesting dive related news. For additional information, contact Mark at mark@ScubaTravelGuide.com.

    If you want a feature you don’t see, let us know! We want your feedback.

    Google Earth publicity

    Google Earth combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips.
    • Fly to your house. Just type in an address, press Search, and you’ll zoom right in.
    • Search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels. Get driving directions.
    • Tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings.
    • Save and share your searches and favorites.
    More than this for tourism operators, it allows us to pinpoint our resorts and activity areas anywhere in the world. Prospective guests can now 'fly' in a virtual world to see where you are.

    Combining it with other online programs you can even post photographs of your resort and area to appear.

    Give it a go, download Google Earth here... And play to see how powerful this is can be for showing customers what you offer 'live' online.

    More later about kmz files that can provide a full fetaured download on your website to fly around your islands and properties. They auto run into Google Earth, and are easy to setup once you get the hang of the online program.

    Stay tuned for that tutorial with an example I did for a past client.

    Free Download Manager

    Okay, with all the downloads and programs that are getting bigger by the day, here is my solution to the drop-out problem. This FDM program is tiny to download by itself and manages downloads wonderfully. Works with my Firefox and my partner's IE7 flawlessly.

    Free Download Manager is social software as well so you get an inkling about what you're downloading before you do anything stupid!

    This program is invaluable in the small islands as our telephonelines drop out ALL the time and always after you' got 95% thru a download. This way you don't have to start again!

    Check it out, and download it here.

    Free Download Manager (FDM) is a full-featured download accelerator and manager. It is absolutely free! Using this software product you can easily download a list of files and whole web sites from any remote server via HTTP, HTTPS and FTP. With FDM the downloading process will be as easy as never before!

    FDM is a light-weight, powerful and easy-to-use application. Also this software product is well-known for its intuitive and user-friendly interface. FDM can function as a site manager, accelerator, site explorer and scheduler.

    FDM can resume broken downloads. So you needn't start the downloading process from the very beginning after casual interruption. You can resume unfinished download from the moment when it was interrupted. Also this program warns you if resuming isn't supported by the servers. It allows you to make a decision about the downloading. So with FDM you save your time and money.

    FDM is an indispensable tool for download acceleration. It splits files into several sections and then downloads them simultaneously allowing you to increase your download speed up to 600%.

    This software application can be used in automatic mode. You can schedule the following operations: set or hang up the Internet connection, exit from the program and shutdown the computer. All the operations mentioned above can be set at the specified time.

    FDM allows adjusting traffic usage. So it provides you with an opportunity to browse web pages much faster if you use a low connection speed.

    NEW! Free Download Manager is not only the perfect downloader, but also social software designed to make surfing and downloading a safer and more rewarding experience. FDM users can now request the opinion of other community members on the file they are going to download right from the download window, and also leave their own opinion about the downloaded file. In this way FDM users will always be warned against useless or malicious files.

    Read more about this opportunity on our Community Features page.

    3 Apr 2007

    Establishing a Web Presence from a Small Island

    Even if you choose not to sell online by taking credit cards, a business Web site can be a virtual marketing brochure that you can update on demand with little or no cost. Your presence on the Internet can be a useful marketing tool by providing richer pre-sale information or post-visit contact. This might temporarily differentiate your resort or operation from your competitors'. Emarketing has lessened the disadvantage that small businesses in the outer islands have faced for years when competing with larger businesses with broadband and communications galore.

    Ecommerce has redefined the marketplace, altered business strategies, and allowed global competition between local businesses. The term "electronic commerce" has evolved from meaning simply electronic shopping to representing all aspects of business and market processes enabled by the Internet and other digital technologies.

    Today's tourism business emphasis is on ecommerce — rapid electronic interactions enabled by the Internet and other connected computer and telephone networks. Rapid business transactions in taking booking deposits and unparallelled access to information is changing consumer behavior and expectations. The ability to "BOOK NOW" is driving more sales.

    Many small tourism businesses assume that the Internet has little value to them because they feel that their service cannot be easily sold online due to all sorts of old traditional ideas. But inexpensive information processing and electronic media can help most small tourism businesses provide better, faster customer service and communication.