Friday, December 31, 2004

Random Suggestions for Would-Be Writers

Recently I have been doing a lot of writing for the Linknet Resource Libraries I am creating. These "libraries" are collections of articles about a wide range of topics, spread across numerous websites. Since I need many articles in a fairly short time, I have resorted to some of the more well-known article sites such as for material.

Many of the articles posted on article sites appear to be quickly written, and are often rather thin on original content. That is understandable since two of the primary objectives of posting articles have nothing to do with content or quality. The first objective is simply to stick your name in front of other people. The second one is to get a link or two pointing back at your website.

Of course this is a very short-sighted way of looking at the writing game. As serious writers will occasionally point out, what you say and how you say it are ultimately the two most important aspects of your writing. In the short term nobody much cares what you say. But in the long term your writing, and your worth as a consultant or advisor will be judged by the quality of your work.

With that in mind, here are just a few things I have noticed that bother me about many internet articles I have read. Some of these are grammatical points, and some of them are stylistic. Take them for what they are worth.

1. One of the most prevalent grammatical errors I notice is the inability to distinguish between contracted forms such as "they're" and "you're" and the possessive pronouns "their" and "your". If you are pretending to be a writer, shouldn't you know the difference between these things? Here is a simple test: if you can replace "they're" with "they are", then you have the correct form. If you can't, then you probably need the possessive ("their" or "your").

2. Many would be writers simply do not understand possessive forms and how they are different from other words ending in "s". I am not even talking about "it's" vs "its". I am talking about the difference between "ten boys named Billy" and "the boy's name is Billy". If you do not understand the difference, here is a very good article about apostrophes.

3. One of the sytlistic tendencies that is quite popular among internet writers is the use of short one sentence paragraphs. Often these sentences do not have the complete sentence structure we were told in elementary school they should have.

Sentences like this.

Or like this.

Frankly I think amateur writers should approach their "craft" with a bit more humility. They should take the time to learn grammatical rules, and they should stick with conventional sentence structure until they have proven they can actually write. This is especially the case with the type of relatively mundane subject matter dealt with in internet articles.

4. Some internet writers resort to what I call "lazy" techniques such as the use of "etc., etc.". I am really talking about myself here. To give an example of what I am talking about, imagine a sentence in which I am talking about words, sentences, paragraphs, etc., etc. This is a "lazy" technique because it allows the writer to leave a thought unfinished. The impression is that there are more things that can be added to the list, but in fact their aren't any. I have started to purge myself of this habit by replacing "etc., etc." with "and so on". I realize that isn't much better, but it will have to do for now. Eventually I will just force myself to finish my sentences.

5. Another "lazy" technique is using "asides", especially with brackets (you know, like this). Many internet writers seem to think this enhances the informality of their work. I suggest it is just self-indulgence. The next time you are tempted to put an "aside" into brackets ask yourself if you are not just indulging yourself in an excuse for not creating a proper sentence.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Learning the Blogging Vocabulary

Like so many others who started into blogging for a variety of fairly cloudy reasons, I soon found myself wondering about the acceptable protocols. In particular I would like to know if I am taking advantage of all the tools available to a blogger. I thought it would be useful to nail down some definitions.

I found a fairly old post (January 5/2003) where Phil Gyford defines some terms. You can follow the links and comments from there if your want to dig more deeply.

I also delve a little more deeply into this matter in a post at e_Marketing

By the way, I see Blogger does not support trackbacks.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

List of Free Submit Website Directories Created

I've been working hard pulling all of my Linknet Resource Pages together so I can being promoting the service with gusto by the middle of January. I've also decided to list as many of the key sites in the Linknet Network with as many directories as I can find. So that has meant I've spent a couple days searching for directories and updating my information.

I hope to eventually create lists (directories?) of directories in the following categories. I've linked the general web directories page because that one is more or less functional (although I hope to add more sites as I find them):

General Web Directories
Specialized Web Directories (e.g., Real Estate, Golf, Web Design)
Link Exchange Directories or Sites.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Testing BlogJet

I have installed an interesting application - BlogJet. It's a cool Windows client for my blog tool (as well as for other tools). Get your copy here:

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." -- Pablo Picasso

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Doing Local Business Online - Will My Product Work?

Can I sell my products online to my local area?

The question is whether or not you can reach your local market online. Forget about delivery problems for the moment. You don't have to ship your product a thousand miles. You just want to take the same product you are already selling in your current local area and promote it online. You want to know whether marketing your product online has any chance of generating new sales, or whether it might create more problems than it is worth.

Are some products suitable for marketing online and others not?

The "products" we are talking about here include both services as well as hard goods. Think of all the plumbers, home renovators, auto refinishers, pool cleaners, landscape suppliers and so on in your community and ask yourself if it is feasible to market these kinds of products and services online.

For instance, say you sell landscape products such as paving stones, top soil, crushed stone and so on. And say you already have an established business in your local area. Your geographic market area is roughly that area that you can reach with your trucks in less than, say, 30 minutes. So in other words, your target market area is any place within about 25 miles of your shipping depot.

Would it be worth taking this product online. Is your local target market big enough? Will online promotions reach a significant number of people in your local target area?

Well, it depends. To do effective online promotion you will have to create a website. Then you will have to create some sort of online marketing program. And then you will have to put a response system in place to answer customer enquiries and take online orders. None of this is free. Most of the costs will be in designing and creating the website. But there will be ongoing costs for regular marketing efforts and online advertising.

Regular marketing efforts? Online advertising? Absolutely! It is important to realize that you will be wasting your money if you just set up a website and expect customers to flock to it. It just won't happen. You need an ongoing marketing effort that includes, as a bare minimum, Search Engine Marketing and probably Pay Per Click Advertising.

I suspect that almost any product can be marketed online if you do it right. But it will be very difficult to predict the results. All you can say with assurance is that if you are persistent you will eventually gain some online "presence". And that should eventually translate into sales.

Consider some other completely different product or service. For instance, say you are a chiropractor. Is it worth taking your product online? Not just to create an online brochure, but to actually generate new contacts, new leads, and new customers? Will it be worth the effort?

My guess is it would be worth it, but you had better take the long view. There may be ways to gain instant recognition or instant clients, but I would not count on it. What you can count on is that a concerted, sustained effort over a long period of time will help you create a web presence and establish you as one of the leaders in your area. And that will result in sustained and lasting results.

In the next post I will discuss "how to make an impact".

Rick Hendershot is a marketing consultant, writer, and internet publisher who lives in Conestogo, Ontario, Canada. He publishes several websites and blogs, including Trade Show Tips, The Linknet Network of websites, e_Marketing, SuperCharge Your Website with Power Linking, and many more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Doing Local Business Online - The Conventional World View

Bricks and Mortar Store vs Online Store — The Conventional World View

Say you want to open a store to sell widgets, and let's pretend you have a choice. You can either open a bricks and mortar retail store on Main Street, or you can open a web store and ship widgets from your garage.

Some of the differences seem obvious. At first blush, it would seem that your bricks and mortar store would probably cater to a local market with walk-in traffic, whereas your web store would focus on a non-local market. In turn, this would have an influence on how you define your service. Perhaps your physical store would focus on low prices and speedy installation, whereas your cyber-store would carve out a relatively narrow niche catering to a specialty market. What this clearly suggests is that you do NOT try to reach local markets online. You use more traditional marketing strategies.

Thinking about it in this way gives us the "Conventional World View". In the Conventional World View we have two different models. We can either open a Bricks and Mortar Store and cater to local markets, or we can open an Online Store and cater to non-local markets. Here are some other features of the Conventional World View...

In the Conventional World View Bricks and Mortar Stores deal with local markets. The products sold in a Bricks and Mortar Store are usually fairly general in nature — groceries, lumber, gasoline, dental services, child care, and so on. You normally specialize in some general area, but your specialization cannot be so narrow that there are not enough local buyers to support it. For instance, you might be able to find enough local customers for a specialty cheese store, but probably not if you only sell cheddar cheese.

Also, delivery is not an issue for Bricks and Mortar Stores. Either customers pick up goods, or you have successfully addressed the delivery issues.

In the Conventional World View Online Stores deal with non-local markets. In this case, products tend to be more specialized catering to a "niche" market spread out geographically. You are not hampered by the same restrictions as a Bricks and Mortar Store. Now you can open a cheddar cheese store, because there will probably be enough prospective online customers interested in your product. Delivery is a major issue and tends to determine whether or not your product is feasible. Generally this means that online products are either digital or can be delivered economically "at a distance" without excessive cost or damage.

This is the "Conventional World View" — two different types of stores for two different types of products and two different types of markets.

But changes in online technology and behaviour patterns are bringing inevitable challenges to the Conventional World View. More and more business people are asking: "Can I use online techniques to market my products or services to a local market? Can I sell my dental services, pool cleaning, real estate services, landscaping products, discount tires, or even pizzas or Indian cuisine to local markets using online techniques?"

Who should care about this question?

Anyone who is in business should care about this question. Why? Because times and business conditions are changing. Changes are always both positive and negative. They are negative because they present challenges that many business people will not be able to meet. They are positive because they present opportunities for those of us able to "go with the flow".

The challenges are significant. As more and more people come to rely on the internet for information, the traditional media — print media in particular — will become less effective and more expensive. Printed local directories like the Yellow Pages will become less relevant because they will be out of date compared to online sources.

Competition has also made this field more fragmented. The monopoly that certain companies have had on the data that goes into local directories has generally been broken, so new players have entered the field. Fragmentation means that covering your market now requires buying more ads to reach fewer people. The gravy train that made the Yellow Pages so dominant has ended. Eventually the entire structure will collapse into a pile of second rate directories piled in the corner collecting dust.

The opportunities are equally significant. If it is true that the more and more people are moving online, then it is also true that it is just a matter of time before people use the web as a source for more and more local information. Think of movie listings, for instance. If you could find a handy, reliable, and easy-to-navigate online source for local movie listings would that not be preferable to searching through the local newspaper? Especially if you don't have a local newspaper?

So that means if your local business does not have a presence on the internet you will not be found by the increasing number of people using the web as a source of information.

On the positive side it means that those who DO have a presence will be able to capture an even more significant chunk of the online attention. Think about that for a minute. If you could make your Indian food restaurant or your landscape products consistently come up in the top one or two searches for "Indian food in Denver" or "topsoil in Calgary" wouldn't that have a major impact on your business?

Next: Part 2 — "I don't have a product that is marketable online."

This entire series of posts will be entered in the Linknet Marketing Library.

Fantastic Linknet Deal - Real Estate Section Ready

I've just spent three solid days working on the Real Estate section for my Linknet project. This involved posting more than 30 articles to a new "Real Estate Article Library", and then spreading them out across varous websites (22 to be exact). That makes the Real Estate section the most advanced and "ready for prime time". In fact I was spurred on by two subscriptions to the service from real estate websites. Posting their links reinforced my feeling that this service is going to be an incredible value.

Right now, here is what you get for $39usd -- soon to be increasing significantly...

First link on this many pages...

Second link on this many pages....

Friday, December 10, 2004

Is Power Linking Cheating?

Over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that exchanging links is a waste of time.

I get far too many requests from people who either have junk websites, or sites that are completely unrelated to any of mine (gambling, for instance). There is no point trying to explain why you don't want certain links. These people simply don't care. They're just engaged in a relatively pointless numbers game.

Add to that the fact that almost all of these link exchange pages — including my own — have no Page Rank. What that means is that exchanging links this way is worthless. Worse, it is a waste of time.

Is there an alternative?

Whether right or wrong all of us in the website game are held captive (to some degree) by the Page Rank system. And the Page Rank system is based on links. This is why absurd activities like "link exchanges" were invented in the first place.

So we all need links. Especially those of us who are relatively new to the game. Are there ways of getting legitimate links without feeding on the bottom for two or three years while you wait for somebody to notice your brilliant website?

Yes, there are. They are called "Power Linking Strategies". But before just assuming you know what I am talking about I want to put Power Linking in its rightful place, and tell you why I think it is not SPAM and not cheating.

Why do we do this? Some background

What has spawned the current link exchange frenzy is the fact that Google puts such a high value on inbound links (links pointing at your site). The entire "Page Rank" system was set up at Stanford back when the founders of Google were post-graduate studends there. The system clearly mimics the egg-headed academic reliance on "citations".

Academics (university professors and researchers) publish papers in academic journals to show they are actually doing something. The importance of a given article is eventually rated based on the number of "citations" an article has. If Professor Schwartz has 5 papers published in a prestigious academic journal and other scholars quote or refer to those papers, say, 30 times, then Professor Schwartz becomes that much more important and likely to get tenure or a pay raise, or whatever it is these guys get.

As far as it goes this seems like a fairly decent system. It is a system based on "merit". If your research has merit as judged by your peers, it will be referenced. So the more citations your research gets, the more valuable it is judged to be.

I have no idea how often academics try to abuse this system. Imagine a professor going out of his way to plant spurious references to his previous papers, or colluding with another researcher to trade citations with him. Or even better, paying someone to refer to this or that paper whenever he or she publishes something.

That kind of abuse would be a pretty serious challenge to the merit system, and I think would be pretty obvious in the stuffy world of academia. And there would be relatively simple ways of controlling it — if they really wanted to control it*.

But as with most things, when applied to the internet this system soon proved to be the object of all kinds of abuse. Webmasters very quickly learned how to manufacture bogus links. One way was to generate thousands of pages of jibberish and plant them at different places on the net. Another was to create forum posts and blog entries -- again with no real content other than a bunch of keywords strung together in semi-sensible order and punctuated with correctly formatted links. Still another was joining hundreds of "free for all" link directories.

Exchanging links is another example of this type of abuse. The Page Rank system assumes that Webmaster A links to Webmaster B's site because he likes what he sees (reads) on Webmaster B's site. But what if they just agree to swap links with no regard to content? That becomes an abuse of the system.

The first line of defence for Google is to label this kind of thing SPAM and then simply disallow links from such sources as counting. Sometimes the target sites of these bogus links are even penalized with a negative score, or banned from (free, not paid!) search results.

Is the Page Rank System too restrictive?

In the next segment I discuss whether the Page Rank system as most people understand it is "fair". Two things immediately come to mind...

First, a system based on "citations" will favor "the establishment". A cite which has been around a long time will have "momentum" and lots of citations. It is like tenure. Once you have it nobody is going to take it away from you. In the world of internet commerce that would be a tremendous disadvantage to the new guy on the block, no matter how good his or her product was.

I also ask how Google could possibly reconcile advertising with a pure Page Rank system? We don't normally dole out billboards or TV ads based on "merit". If you want a billboard and you have the money, you get a billboard (assuming your ad meets certain basic standards of acceptability). Google themselves are a perfect example of their willingness to modify the pure PR system if money is waved in their face. I'm talking about Google Adwords here.

And then in the third segment I put "power linking" into the mix. If the Page Rank system is viewed in an overly moralistic way, certain types of Power Linking that seem fine to me might be considered cheating. I try to describe what I mean by an "overly moralistic" view of the Page Rank system, and I argue against it.

Stay tuned for Segments 2 and 3.

NOTE *I don't mean to sound naive here. I am aware that many academic studies are now paid for by corporate interests, and that the results are correspondingly tainted. This really supports both of my main points. Point 1 is that in the world of academia the merit system is relatively easy to police. Point 2 is that as soon as you leave the ivory tower environment things get a lot messier.


Rick Hendershot is a marketing consultant, writer, and internet publisher who lives in Conestogo, Ontario, Canada. He publishes several websites and blogs, including Trade Show Tips, Web Traffic Resources, Marketing Bites, SuperCharge Your Website with Power Linking, and many more. He is also a closet philosopher.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Disturbing Observation about My Link Pages

Last July when we were golfing in Ireland for a few weeks I did quite a bit of work setting up link exchange "systems" for my various Linknet websites. Since I administer more than 20 active sites I felt it was important to inject some automation into the link exchange process.

I tried two or three scripts and eventually settled on LinkMachine. The reasons were pretty simple: LinkMachine was relatively easy to set up, actually seemed to work, had numerous features that allowed semi-automatic link exchanging, and had a growing group of LinkMachine users who could exchange links virtually automatically. The program also does not require a database installation (most require MYSQL) and generates static html link pages on the fly. I felt this was important because I have had spotty results getting dynamic pages indexed. I ended up installing this program on about 15 sites, and left two or three with a "manual" system where I would actually have to go in and adjust the appropriate link exchange when I wanted to add a link.

If you have followed any of my previous posts, or checked out my Power Linking Course you know that I have a keen interest in linking strategies. You may also have noticed that my faith in link exchanges of the LinkMachine kind has been steadily declining as time goes by.

Since setting up LinkMachine I have not expended much effort doing manual exchanges. I just respond to requests that come in and register certain sites with the odd directory. But that's it. As I mentioned above, LinkMachine generates static pages on the fly using my templates, updates the pages when a new link is added, and retains the same page name. So that should be an optimal arrangement as far as Google is concerned.

Yesterday I had a chance to look at the link pages on one of my main sites Small Business Online. I was a more than a bit dismayed to find that none of the LinkMachine generated link pages on this site have any PR. That's right -- "0"!. This is a bit odd, since the index page pointing directly at these pages has a PR of 4. And that usually means they will benefit from the direct link from a page with decent PR...but that was not the case this time.

So I looked around at some of my other sites and sure enough. All the automatically generated link pages have a PR of zero. That's not good. That means the links on these pages pointing to my link partners are basically worthless.

So I went a step further and looked at the link pages of some of the sites who have exchange with me and who also use LinkMachine. Same thing. Every page PR0. In fact I have found this is generally the case with all link pages -- manual and automatic. Very few of them have any worthwhile PR. Most webmasters seem to throw their junk links on these pages and have very little concern with pumping up their PR.

A couple of interesting exceptions are the three sites where I have manual link pages. You can see the pages here:
Trade Show Tips
Free Card Business Card Displays, and
Trade Show Display Experts. This last one is actually in pretty healthy shape. All of them are worth exchanging links on.

The conclusion at this point is inescapable. The automated link exchange program is a waste of time. Unless I can discover why this is happening -- for instance, maybe Google doesn't like the long involved page names generated by LinkMachine -- I would be better to scrap the automated system and concentrate on more slowly building my manual pages.

In the meantime, I will just start creating manual pages that I can use for exchanging worthwhile links. When I get around to developing a "system", the pages will be in place, and they will already have developed some PR.

-- Rick

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Getting Down to Business with Linknet

I've spent the last two days working on Linknet pages. Interest is starting to build and I'm getting the odd inquiry here and there. One marketing guy from the UK wondered if I'm setting up an affiliate network.

Answer: YES.

But not until I have all the details ironed out. The timing is just about right. My pages across the network are starting to build Page Rank. And now I just have to start fleshing out the pages by replacing some of the duplicates with fresh material. I just finished doing this with the Golf Article section. I added 12 pages of new material (new articles), and created an index page that will interlink them all. That means there will be at least twenty new pages pointing directly to each of these articles.

I also expanded the article entering system developed late last week for Small-Business-Online Articles. It is a very simple system using just one .php entry form pointing to various folders. Following on my discovery on Friday that my dynamic pages are not showing up in backlinks, I decided to hedge my bets and make my most important entries into static pages.

I'm not completely familiar with this blogging software, but it appears that static (html) pages are created by blogger for this blog (Marketing Bites), but I don't think that is the case with my b2evolution blogs over at my biz blogs. So I've started with The Weekend Golfer, my golf blog.

I created a simple entry form, and all the posts will get entered by copying and pasting, and then turned into static pages and automatically indexed. The running article summary will also serve as my home page for The WEG. This kills two birds with one stone -- I had been wondering what to do in order to kickstart The WEG, so now it's done.

I've also fallen behind in making my audio versions of these posts, but will catch up tomorrow morning.

-- Rick

Saturday, December 04, 2004

How are My Articles Doing?

Now that a few days have passed since the conclusion of "The Vinyl Project" I thought I should check to see whether any of my posted articles are showing up in searches for my MIKWs (Most Important Key Words). I did searches for four of my MIKWs in both Google and Yahoo, and here is what I found:


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KW: "vinyl banners"
Engine: Google:
Article: "Design Tips For Vinyl Banners", #31
Soruce, Placement:,

KW: "vinyl banners"
Engine: Yahoo
Article: none in first five pages
(note: is #4 and is at #5)

KW: "vinyl banners"
Engine: MSN Search
Article: none in first five pages
(only listing is for "" (#50)- a completely inactive site)

KW: "vinyl banners america"
Engine: Google
1. "The Lowly Vinyl Banner..." #2
Source: This is an old article, picked up by the webmaster of this site.
2. "Design Tips for Vinyl Banners", #4
3. "Putting Images on Large Vinyl Banners", #5
3. "The Many Ways ...Vinyl Banner", #6
(nothing else in the top 50)

KW: "vinyl banners america"
Engine: Yahoo
Articles: None
(My sites score #1 thru #5. The only "articles" to score are Linknet articles at #15 and #16)

KW: "vinyl banners america"
Engine: MSN Search
Articles: None in the top 50
(My sites score #1, #2, #3, #7, #8, #23, #27, #30. Also 3 listings on the first page are spam redirect pages)

KW: "vinyl banners canada"
Engine: Google
1. "The Lowly Vinyl Banner...", #2
Source: This is an old article, picked up by the webmaster of this site.
2. "Design Tips for Vinyl Banners", #4
3. "The Many Ways ...Vinyl Banner", #5
4. "Putting Images on Large Vinyl Banners, #12
5. "Tips for Putting Images...", #25
6. "Vinyl Banner Designs that get notices", #38
source: (old placement)
7. "What is a PopUp Display?", #46
(NOTE: article picked up and published. These guys stuck some of their links into my article, but left my links intact.)

KW: "vinyl banners canada"
Engine: Yahoo
1. "Vinyl Banner Designs that Get Noticed", #4
Source: Canada Display Graphics, Article Pages, old placement
2. "Put Your Most Important Message on Your Business Card", #20
Source: Linknet Printing Services Pages, (moderately old placement)
3. "Put Your Most Important...", #21
Source: Linknet Page on (moderately old placement)
4. "Make Your Vinyl Banner ...Masterpiece", #24
Source: BF Printing Newsletter 5. (moderately old placement)
NOTE: This site has always scored well for me, but was not (yet) included in this round of placements.)

NOTE: 16 out of the top 50 listings are my sites or articles, inlcuding #1-#6.

KW: "vinyl banners canada"
Engine: MSN Search
1. "Vinyl Banner Designs that Get Noticed", #4
Source: Canada Display Graphics Creative Services Articles (older placement)
2. "Put Your Most Important Sales Message...Business Card", #14
Source: SBO Linknet Articles (2 months old placement)
3. "Put Your Most ... Business Card", #15
Source: Creative Services Linknet Articles on (2 months old placement)
4. "Make Your Vinyl Banner ...Masterpiece", #24
Source: BF Printing Newsletter 5. (moderately old placement)



1. Google indexes articles from specific sites very quickly. Yahoo and MSN do not.

2. Certain sites consistently score while others consistently do NOT. This confirms my previous conclusions.
The sites that do best are: (didn't use it this time)

Maybe if I was to do a "submit" for some of the others they would be indexed more quickly.

3. Generally Google puts more emphasis on "articles" than Yahoo or MSN.

4. No dynamic pages reported in any of these searches. No articles from any of my database sites. This is hard to swallow. SEO "experts" and reps from the engines are inconsistent about this, but the facts speak for themselves.

I will do further analysis of more keywords, and try to do a more concise summary of my conclusions in a few days.

-- Rick


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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Vinyl Project - Week 2 Report

Well, here it is Day 14 of The Vinyl Project -- the day I was supposed to have finished my posting of 12 different articles on at least 10 different article sites.

Guess what... I actually finished (more or less). I say "more or less" because I felt I should drag out the posting on a couple of the last sites, just because of the way they are structured. But I made up for this delay by posting on some of my own sites (see the next post).

The sites I have posted "Vinyl Project" articles on are:

And that does not even include a couple others I have done some preliminary posting on, and intend to do more:

Nor does it include any of my own sites, most notably,

This project has rejuvenated my interest in writing and publishing articles en masse -- what I might start calling Power Publishing.

See my next post for more about that topic.

-- Rick

Power Publishing - Using Your Own Asseets

Here's a Power Linking Strategy I have not discussed much, simply because I have been too busy to fully take advantage of it.

Power Publishing on Your Own Site(s)

The strategy is just another version of creating content and making sure to carefully link back to your most important pages. For the sake of simplicity, let's call these content pages.

Create big batches of content pages

The idea is to create big batches of content pages. They can be on your primary site; or if you have one or two or more secondary or support sites, these content pages can be on those sites. The important thing is that these pages be optimized for the type of content you want to promote -- to reinforce the page or pages you are pointing back to. That way, embedded links pointing back to those target pages will have more force. They will be more "relevant" because the context in which they are found will be "relevant" to your target page(s).

Two kinds of content pages: articles and "tips"

It has always seemed to me that there are two basic kinds of "content pages". There are article pages and there are tips pages (I'm sure you can think of others.) Both of these formats ("articles" and "tips") lend themselves to being done in what I have called "batches". By "batches" I mean instead of writing one super duper (overly long?) article about, say, Search Engine Optimization, you can write five or six (or twenty-five or twenty-six) shorter articles. Remember, Google see links on specific pages (at least that's what gets reported), so you might as well create five or six pages where you might be tempted to create only one.

In other words, don't write just one or two articles about Search Engine Optimization. Write a whole bunch. Narrow down your focus and expand little insignificant points. The truth is, people can't retain more than a skimpy little bit of information with each read anyway.

Put your batches into sections

That means you should end up with article sections. A section for this topic, and a section for that topic. And a bunch of articles in each section with links pointing at your most important target pages.

You can see how well the concept of "Tips" fits this formula. No matter what area you are involved in, you can create all kinds of little helpful tips and publish them on your website. Put each tip on a seperate page, and make sure you embed your links within relevant keyword-rich text with anchor text pointing back to your most important target pages.

1000 Trade Show Tips

For instance, I have just started creating a new feature called 1000 Trade Show Tips. Each tip will have at least two keyword-rich links pointing back to my two most important target pages. That's a lot of links. You can do the math.

It's also a lot of work. First you have to find the content, and then you have to properly organize it.

Here is what I am doing for my 1000 Tips section. I am starting out by taking some of my previously written articles and lifting paragraphs from them. In other words, I am turning each paragraph into a "tip". Believe it or not this more or less works. Each article produces about 20 tips or so. 50 articles and I've got my 1000 tips. I will also make sure that I write my future articles this way -- so that each paragraph more or less stands by itself as a "tip".

Organize your content pages to make it easy to create more

Finally, a comment on organization. I've tried quite a few different ways of organizing articles (content pages), and most have been cumbersome and hard to work with. What is required is a simple script that lets you enter "content" into a web form and that then posts that content in pages formatted according to a preset template.

I spent quite a bit of time looking for this kind of script over the last few days. I investigated several "Content Management Systems", and "Article Managers", but most have two major drawbacks: 1. They are overkill for what I am after -- too much setup, and too many options. All I want is a way of posting and indexing articles in several sections. 2. They post the articles to a database and do not usually create static (.html) pages. Yes, I know some systems do create static html pages, but I have not yet found one I like.

The little script I settled on is called Article Manager 02. It consists of about five files. Like most .php scripts you have to do some configuring. In my case I modified the templates to give me the look I wanted, and then created five or six different sections with an integrated index.

To post articles you go to a very simple article entry form. You enter your article (html works perfectly), and it gets posted to its own static page (in my case a .shtml page). A summary of the article gets posted to the index page. So you end up with a summary page with titles, dates, short summaries of all the articles. It's very simple, very neat. Click here to see my newest Marketing Article Directory. I posted 15 articles this morning in about an hour and a half.

-- Rick

This post is sponsored by Power Linking with the Pros.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Integrating Flash Video into Web Pages

I see that Macromedia are now giving away their "Flash Video Kit" when you purchase Dreamweaver before December 31. The "Video Kit" is regularly $99 and includes Sorenson Squeeze (special "lite" version) and the "extensions" required to integrate flash video with Dreamweaver.

Dreamweaver is $399 for the full package and $199 for the upgrade. I am not a Dreamweaver user, so I am not sure why you need the special extensions. For my own web pages I can just take the code generated from Flix Pro and paste it right into a page. Front Page recognizes it as an ActiveX control and lets you make adjustments by right clicking and going to "ActiveX Control Properties". Or even easier, you can just edit the html.

Here is what the html code for a typical video insertion looks like. This was set up for a movie that was 320 x 240 with a player added by Flix Pro. That accounts for the actual "object" dimensions of 325 x 274. Replace "movie.swf" with your own file name. And replace "" with your own server address.


<OBJECT width="325" height="274"
name="./movie.swf" id="./movie.swf" codebase="
<PARAM name="bgcolor" value="000000"><PARAM name="movie" value="" ref>
<PARAM name="loop" value="0">
<PARAM name="quality" value="High">
<PARAM name="play" value="0">
<PARAM name="menu" value="-1">
<param name="_cx" value="8599">
<param name="_cy" value="7250">
<param name="FlashVars" value>
<param name="Src" ref value="">
<param name="WMode" value="Window">
<param name="SAlign" value>
<param name="Base" value>
<param name="AllowScriptAccess" value="always">
<param name="Scale" value="ShowAll">
<param name="DeviceFont" value="0">
<param name="EmbedMovie" value="0">
<param name="SWRemote" value>
<param name="MovieData" value>
<param name="SeamlessTabbing" value="1">
<EMBED width="325" height="274" src=""
name="./movie.swf" bgcolor="#000000" play="TRUE" menu="TRUE" quality="high"
loop="false" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage=""></EMBED></OBJECT>


You should be able to copy and paste into your own web page, make edits to point to your own video at the correct size. Some of the parameters may look a bit mysterious. The most important are "loop" (keep restartign the movie) and "play" (start playing when the page is loaded". These are both set a "0" which means "no".

Once I get something like this to work the way I want I just copy and paste from a working page to a new one and make appropriate adjustments.

Of course you need to encode your video as a .swf file. For that you will need either Soreson Squeeze, or, my preference, Flix Pro.

-- Rick

This page is sponsored by Power Linking Strategies and Beautiful Vinyl Banners.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Impact of Outbound Links on Page Rank

If you have been following any of my "Power Linking" exploits you will know that I have recently been writing articles and creating content-rich pages and placing them strategically on as many sites as I can. Some of these are "article" sites, some of them are blog sites, and some of them are my own sites spread around on a variety of different hosts.

Regardless of where the content is placed, one of the questions that constantly comes up is "How many links should I plant in these pages?"

Let's say I want to write an article focusing on a specific product -- for instance, "Business Card Displays" -- in order to (among other things) increase the number of links pointing to the home page of the client's website ( Should I restrict myself to planting one embedded link pointing back to the home page? Or should I embed a number of other links as well, pointing to various other pages on the site? Quite a few SEO "experts" seem to think that the impact of a link is watered down by the total number of other links on that page, and, therefore presumably, that the impact of a link pointing from a specific page to your "target" page would be much more significant if it was one of only a few on the page.

I finally got around to doing a bit of research into this question.

The "PR Leak" position is stated very clearly in an article by Phil Craven called Outbound Links". Craven says:

"Outbound links are a drain on a site's total PageRank. They leak PageRank. To counter the drain, try to ensure that the links are reciprocated. Because of the PageRank of the pages at each end of an external link, and the number of links out from those pages, reciprocal links can gain or lose PageRank. You need to take care when choosing where to exchange links."

Craven is claiming that not only will your outbound links have a negative impact on the PR of the page containing them, but the outbound links of the pages linked to will drain PR away from your page as well. We might call this "second order PR Leak". He goes so far as to suggest that you should disguise outbound links with javascript.

Unfortunately he offers no theoretical or statistical evidence to support the "PR Leak" position.

Coming down on the other side of the debate is article by Jon Ricerca called Does the Number of Links on a Page Affect Its Ranking?. Jon Ricerca concludes: "...the results are very conclusive. Google ranks pages with outbound links much higher than pages without links. The SEOs touting the ‘PR Leak’ theory are simply wrong."

Ricerca's starting point is that the PR Leak theory is simply a theory -- pure speculation -- and therefore it needs statistical data to be either confirmed or denied. The statistical data he offers is based on a relatively limited number of sites, and a relatively limited number of searches (see his data and disclaimers).

The assumption he makes is that if the "PR Leak" theory were correct, then for any given keyword a significant number of high ranking sites would have fewer outbound links than the sites lower down in the rankings. The lower ranking sites would presumably have been negatively affected by their outbound links. But he finds exactly the opposite to be the case. All of the higher ranking sites have more outbound links than the lower ranked ones!

This is all very interesting, and is certainly pretty convincing evidence against the PR Leak theory.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly what I set out to determine. This shows that outbound links do not adversely affect the PR of the page that contains them. But I really started out wondering about the impact of links on the target page. After all, this is the point of "power linking" strategies -- to enhance the ranking of the target pages. So it is important to know if a link from a page with one outbound link is given more weight than a link from a page with numerous outbound links.

My Google searches did not turn up any useful answers to this question. Indeed, it is difficult to see how a study could be set up to answer this question. Any fairly simple study would have to make some pretty serious assumptions.

In fact, I may have some of the relevant data available to me on my own sites. I could begin by finding pairs of pages within the same site, both of which are linked to a specific page in another site. The first page in the pair will have lots of outbound links, and the second page will have considerably fewer. Then all I have to do is see which of these pages in any given pair is reported in the "backlinks" for the target page more often.

If the page with fewer outbound links is reported more often, then that supports the conclusion that outbound links from pages with fewer links are more valuable (have a greater -- or at least more consistent -- impact on the target page.) If there is no difference in the frequency of reportings, then that suggests that there is no significant difference.

I will try to compile some of this data over the next couple of days, and will report back...

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Developing a Product You Can Sell Online - Part 1

Marketing Your Product On the Web
by Rick Hendershot
Online Marketing

Part 1 — Developing a Product You Can Sell Online

Finding a product you can sell online is not as easy as it sounds. Even if you have a successful offline business, the chances are better than 50/50 that all of your product(s) will NOT be suitable for online sales. Some may be; but many most certainly will not be. Your first job is to figure out which ones will work in an online environment. Here are some of the most important considerations.

The importance of finding a "niche"

Simple, easy to understand products like "books" or "sporting goods" or "electronic products" have a built-in advantage, because virtually everybody knows what they are. That means they have a ready-made market.

But it does NOT mean that easily recognized products like this will always be more successful in your business ventures — online or offline. The success of any business venture depends on being able to find a product that is recognized by a specific target market — what we will call a TARGET NICHE. And often that means NOT trying to reach a large over-crowded, highly competitive market segment.

The advantages of a narrow niche

When you stop and think about it, the reasons for this are fairly obvious. Trying to reach a large, highly competitive market segment takes resources that you probably do not have — advertising budgets and large inventories, for instance. And you will be going head to head with the big boys who DO have those resources.

So does that leave you with the "dregs" — the unprofitable markets that nobody else wants?

Definitely not. Let's consider some of these "dregs"...
Almost everybody can visualize what you mean by "Personalized Golf Balls", but most will have problems with "Duralex Floorguard Graphics", or "Medical Transfer Pipettes."
This fact presents the pipette marketer with both a challenge and an opportunity. There are relatively few people who want your pipettes. But if you can actually isolate (and reach) these people, then you probably stand a better chance of selling something obscure like this (both online and offline) than you do a more common thing like "personalized golf balls".

The reason is pretty clear, isn't it? While the market is relatively small, the number of suppliers will be even smaller. And there is a good chance these suppliers will not be nearly as sharp and net savvy as the big boys who go after the big markets. That gives you a perfect opportunity to become a major player in your category. In fact the web is the perfect place to focus your attentions, because you can become a major player in a matter of weeks, and for a few hundred dollars.

Targeted Prospects (the ones in your "niche") are ready to buy

Another important reason to zero in on a narrowly targeted "niche" market, has to do with the "mindset" of the relatively few people out there looking for your specialized product. The facts are simply these: when someone goes looking for "pipettes" or "compressed air grommet installers", they are serious. They are not looking for fun. They are looking because they NEED, or WANT these things — NOW.

Let me give you a real world example. One of our clients sells trade show display hardware and graphics. This is a "niche" market if there ever was one. When you track the number of Google searches done on keywords like "trade show displays", "popup displays", or "portable displays", the numbers are not very impressive. So when this client runs Google adwords for these keywords, their exposure rate is not very high — something like 2,000 views a month.

But guess what? The click thru rate for these ads is surprisingly high. Again, the reason is pretty obvious. People searching for this product are serious about a purchase. They are READY! All you have to do is present prospects like this with a compelling reason to buy from you rather than the other guys, and you will get a higher than average conversion rate.

Specialization is important...

In other words, specialization may be the most important key to your online success. If you have expertise, or even a little bit of special knowledge about a relatively obscure topic or product area, then that might just be the product category you should focus on.

But, of course specialization is not enough. Having a specialized product is one thing. Reaching your prospective buyers with your message is another thing altogether.


If you want to improve the traffic to your web, you can start by checking out the "power linking" resources at The Linknet Network.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

An Example of Pointless Linking

Here is an link exchange request example that fails to meet at least three of my link exchange criteria:

1. Gambling site -- irrelevant to my subject matter
2. Excessive number of links on the page
3. Excessive number of link pages in this category

And this criterion which is implicit:

4. No realistic chance of ever getting any PR.

According to my count, this site has more than 30,000 outbound links pointing at "partners". Who knows how many have reciprocated. Maybe 25%??? Even that would be 7,500 inbound links.

None of these pages — including the home page — have any PR.

So what's the point?

Is it possible this webmaster is just gathering email addresses?

-- Rick

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

When to Reject Link Exchanges

Just about every morning I begin my day by evaluating the 10 or so link exchange requests I've received since the previous day. I get this many because I administer about 20 websites, and most have an automated link exchange program called LinkMachine installed.

The truth is, I've become so jaded about random link exchanges of this sort that I think it is hardly worth my time. I get way too many requests from people who either have junk websites, or sites that are completely unrelated to any of mine (gambling, for instance). There is no point trying to explain why you don't want certain links. These people simply don't care. They're just engaged in a relatively pointless numbers game.

The requests that really irk me are the ones from webmasters or link exchange "experts" who try to get a good link in exchange for a bad one. I've mentioned this in other posts. These are the people who want a link from a legitimate, categorized link page (mine) in exchange for a link from a page with hundreds or even thousands of links pointing to their link "partners".

No thanks.

It's even worse when they want you to link to their primary (important) site, and in return give you a link back from some content-less site that is nothing more than a bottomless pit of outbound links. So their real site has thousands of links pointing in, and virtually none pointing out. Very clever. Very deceptive.This is what I have called "Link Exchange Abuse".

As a result I've been forced to abandon my normally "permissive" attitude about things like this, and create some hard-nosed rules. Here is what they are... at least for now...

1. No exchanges with adult sites.
2. No exchanges with online gambling sites.
3. Rejected if there is no link from the home page leading to the link pages.
4. Rejected if there is no defined category I can fit into. "Other" is not acceptable.
5. Rejected if there are more than 5 pages in my category.
6. Rejected if their typical link pages have more than 50 outbound links.
7. Rejected if they want to put me on a site other than the one I am linking to. (unless it is better).

That should filter out about 85% of the sites I want to reject. I'll have to fine-tune the rules as I go along to get the other 15%...

The bottom line is...I am not going to waste too much time sifting through link requests. There are better, more legitimate, easier ways to get valuable links.

-- Rick

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Vinyl Project Update

I've been reporting on my daily blow-by-blow progress with "The Vinyl Project" over at e_Marketing. But I just want to quickly summarize a couple of things I've noticed about the exercise of posting articles.

First, it is surprising how little consistency there is from one article site to another with respect to "formatting".

Some will take html, others just want unformatted text, and some will take a mixture of text and html and then make relatively unpredictable translations. What this does is drive everything towards the lowest common denominator -- namely, text only. I have a feeling this is because of the fixation with text only "ezines" and the alleged role of these article databases in providing content for them. I will comment on the "ezine" phenomenon in a future post. For now just let me say that an article database intended to be read makes more sense to me than one that pretends to provide ezine authors with content. As you will see when I get around to writing about them, most ezines (not all!) are nothing more than sales letters. Their authors don't include real "content", nor do they want any, except to support their own sales efforts. So why would they go to an article database to pick up content?

The best examples I can think of, off the top, of article sites meant to be read, are my own sites,,, and Trade Show Tips. Other interesting examples, perhaps more pertinent because they have such tremendous potential, are blogs. Now here we have "content"! Meant to be read? I'm not sure.

Anyway, back to "The Vinyl Project".... The lack of formatting consistency from site to site has meant I have had to create at least three different versions of each article: an html version, a text version, and a summary version (for at least one site that takes only an article "description" rather than the article itself.)

That's OK. It's worth it. Until further notice I still believe what I am starting to call "Article Saturation" is the best, cheapest, and fastest way to get your name, product, and (especially) links out there live and active on the web.

Getting Your Act Together

Another thing I've noticed is that creating articles in "saturation mode" -- that is, lots of them all at once -- really makes you get your promotional act together. It really forces you to figure out your products, and have decent web pages that describe them. Why? Because you can't really create links pointing to your product web pages if those web pages either don't exist, are poorly written or only partially finished.

Try it. Try writing four or five articles about different features of your primary product. And try embedding a number of links in your articles so they point back to your most important product web pages. I think you will quickly see what I mean.

Campaigns are Where It's At

One final point. I think I have said somewhere that the primary purpose of article writing and distribution is promotional. Yes, I know, these articles contain valuable information, but they are "targeted" in a way that, say, Alice in Wonderland is not. They have specific promotional objectives: to get your name out there, to identify your product, to get visitors to your website, to get links pointing to your sites and influence Google, and so on.

Therefore it stands to reason that the same tried and true formulas that apply to advertising also apply to articles. Saturation, Reach and Frequency. Distribute as many articles as you can, in as many places as you can, as often as you can.

In other words, if you think you are going to do any real damage by publishing just ONE article, there's probably no point. You need MANY articles, preferably bunched together — campaign-style — focusing on a specific product for a specific time period.

That's the theory anyway. Once I finish with my two week Banner and Trade Show Display "blitz", I should slip into "maintenance mode" — a new article every month or so. Which will give me the opportunity to do a "blitz" for some other product — for example, Linknet.

But that is next month's project.

-- Rick

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Vinyl Project - Week 1 Report

As I outlined in Promoting Products with Blogs, Part 4 I have taken on a small project aimed at creating between 100 and 120 inbound links to two of my more important product web sites. The sites are and

The plan is to create 12 content-rich (keyword-rich) articles about the two product groups featured on these two sites: Vinyl Banners and Trade Show Displays. Each of these articles will contain at least one link pointing to the home page of these two sites, and a bunch of other links pointing to various pages within the sites. I will then post these articles on at least 10 article directory / archive sites such as,, etc. 12 articles times 10 sites is 120 links.

Progress Report, Sunday, Nov 21/04

Yesterday I finished writing the last of the 12 articles and have now posted them all to the first article site, Here are the links:

Links on to "Vinyl Project" articles:

Throw in an Extra Banner Stand

Banner Star has Changeable Graphic

What is a PopUp Display?

Do Special Events Require Special Websites?

Getting Piles of Trade Show Leads

Make Your PopUp Display A Winner

Not All Vinyl Banners are Created Equal

Putting Images on Large Vinyl Banners

1, 2, 3 Uses for Vinyl Banners

Super Big Vinyl Banners

Design Tips for Vinyl Banners

#1 Way to Draw Attention to Your Event

Writing Articles is Not Easy

As I point out in e_Marketing, articles don't just fall in your lap. You actually have to think of something interesting to say, write the article in an interesting, readable way, optimize it correctly with the appropriate key words, and then build in the links. And... oh yes, you have to actually post them on a bunch of different websites.

This all takes time, effort, and creative thought. Especially when the subject matter is something as relatively boring as "vinyl banners".

One of the interesting outcomes of this process is that it gave me the opportunity to RETHINK our product line and actually develop SOME NEW IDEAS! As I have said a few times in various articles, marketable product ideas are the "holy grail" for marketers. Without viable products you have to thrash around trying to figure out what (business) life is all about. But once you've got the products, life more or less takes care of itself. Everything falls into place.

Viable Product Ideas are Rare

It is not easy. A viable "product idea" is much more than an idea. It is an idea that will WORK. In this case, it must be something that we can actually produce at a reasonable price without too much waste and other inefficiencies. And, of course, something that people will BUY.

So the development of a new product idea that actually might work is a RARE OCCURRENCE.

I think I've just hit on one. It's called BIG VINYL BANNERS.

We'll see. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

-- Rick

P.S. If you're asking "Why Vinyl Banners?"... it's because...
...the company whose products I am promoting, namely Canada Display Graphics, produces large display graphics for trade shows, and other promotional venues. Vinyl Banners and PopUp Displays are two of the company's most important products.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Why Online Audio and Video are Doomed

If you've followed some of my recent articles and posts you may have noticed my fixation on online audio and video. I'm well aware the internet as we know it is static and silent. It just sits there, and we "read" it.

"Content" is King

There are good reasons for this. Some of them are technical. Like for instance the extra bandwidth required to transmit online audio and video.

But many of these reasons are not technical. One claim often made is that the web is static and silent because it is a "content-rich" medium. "Content is King" we are told. This is supposed to make the web a serious cut above things like TV and radio — and more akin to print media like newspapers and magazines...or even books...saturated with serious content. So audio and video are not required for such a serious, meaningful activity.

The fact that web surfing is a "private", solitary activity is also important. The family does not sit around the computer together and check out their favorite website. We don't "share" the web surfing experience. One person one computer. Audio — and to a lesser extent, video — disrupt the privateness of the activity. Those of us who surf in the middle of the night don't want our computers suddenly erupting with a bunch of noise.

As online audio and video become more common these habits and expectations will change. We will eventually stop believing that written content is superior to televised content, and we will find ways to control the disruptiveness of the noise. Like buttons that turn the audio on and off, and the use of headphones to keep it private.

Hiding behind our copy

I think many internet marketers, publishers, and authors want the web to stay static and silent because this serves their purposes just fine. The truth is, creating static web pages is easy. Once you know how to get online all you really have to know is how to type. Technical knowledge about servers, html code, web programming... blogging has made all of these completely unnecessary.

We can also hide our "warts and all" behind the impersonal nature of static, silent web pages. Sure our writing will reveal something about the character we want to reveal. But it can be a completely fictitious character. This is useful for marketers — especially internet marketers — because they can say outrageously exaggerated things in print they might be less likely to say into a microphone or in front of a camera.

The real "technical" problems are not technical

But probably the single most important reason why audio and video will not work for many internet marketers is that our delivery is poor, our voices are unappealing, we look weird, or more likely, a combination of all these things. There are good reasons why not everybody can be a radio or TV personality. It is one thing to write a promotional pitch for your product. It is something completely different to present it into a microphone or in front of a camera.

I am reminded of the time I created a "video business card" for one of our sales people. A simple 15 second script took more than 3 hours to record. Take after take after take. This was not a klutz I was dealing with. He was a fairly polished guy who looked good, had a decent voice, and a pretty good delivery. Prior to this I had found that shooting video for a 30 second local TV commercial always took about 4 hours. Nothing had changed.

Four hours to shoot some relatively amateurish footage, and then another 3 or 4 hours (at least) to edit it. Is it worth this kind of hassle to the average internet marketer? I don't think so...

OK. OK... I know recording four or five minutes of audio doesn't have to take 3 hours. In my case, I've gotten the process down to pretty much one take and about 15 minutes of editing. But my point is, not very many of us are going to set up a little recording studio in their basement. Not very many of us are going to take the time to practice their delivery, edit out the coughs and stutters, organize the files, upload them, etc., etc.

And those services where you record your pitch on the phone...? Forget it. They are an interesting attempt at "democratizing" the world of online audio. But after your first telephone recording what will you do for an encore? I see there is now a similar video-oriented service... "Just use our exciting software to record yourself with an ordinary $30 webcam...then simply upload the file..."

Amazing! Have you ever seen pictures of yourself taken with one of those webcams. Cool. Very attractive. I'm sure that will get you lots of sales.

-- Rick
Online Audio and Video Concepts

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Promoting Products with Blogs, Part 4

In the third part of this series I outlined the procedure I intend to use to systematically create link-rich posts that focus on exactly the keywords and web pages that I want to enhance.

If you recall, this involved creating lists of products, features, and web pages reflecting these features. The links in my posts ultimately point at the most appropriate web pages.

I also commented on how this was going to require creating a number of "feature" web pages because I had not really done an adequate job of this when creating my product websites.

Creating Posts Galore

As you can tell by looking at this blog, and my others at I have begun this process of creating and entering posts. This is especially apparent in the blog called Trade Show Buzz, and to a lesser extent in my other marketing blog called e_Marketing.

You many have noticed a post called How many links for a PR5? When I read this and saw the numbers required to get a PR5 as outlined in this article, this reconfirmed my commitment to "Power Linking".

But it also reinforced the fact that just one strategy is not enough. Yes, I had committed myself to this "Power Linking with Blogs" experiment, and I have no doubt it is going to work. But this strategy is going to take a relatively long time, since I have to create quite a few original, content-rich posts. And then I have to wait for their impact to settle in. Eventually (I assume) my blogs will gain some PR, and eventually this will "rub off" onto my link targets. Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I have no idea how long this is going to take.

In the meantime I realized I might as well use the content I was creating as "articles", and post them to the best performing article sites — like for instance. In fact I developed a strategy to get at least 100 new links from this source pointing at each of my two highest priority home pages: and

Here is the strategy:

1. I will create 6 original articles featuring Vinyl Banners with at least one link pointing to and a number (as high as 8) of other links pointing to other important pages in this site.

2. I will create 6 original articles featuring Trade Show Displays with at least one link pointing to These articles would also have up to 8 links pointing to other important pages in this site.

3. Each of these articles will also have a link pointing to the other site. This would be easy to accomplish by putting a "For more information..." line at the bottom of each article with links to both sites.

4. I will post all 12 articles on at least 10 different article sites. That should give me at least 120 links from these 12 articles alone, pointing to each of these two sites. I will also get the benefit of all the "secondary" links embedded within these articles (120 placements).

Sounds like a plan!

Now all I have to do is write the articles (4 down, 8 to go), and start posting. In the meantime this will give me lots of content-rich material for Trade Show Buzz.

-- Rick

How many links for a PR5 rank?

In a recent issue of WebProNews SEO expert Olivier Duffez summarized some of his research into the question "How many backlinks do I need to get a PR5?".

He studied 1044 sites and concluded two main things...

1. "One needs far more backlinks in order to get a high PR than a low one". See the very brief summary below.

2. "...whatever the PR is, more backlinks than the month before are required every month to get a given PR."

In other words, this second point means that if you do not continue to add backlinks to your site, your PR will eventually start going down.

Here are some average numbers of backlinks for September and October, 2004:

Sept.PR3-12 linksPR4-60 linksPR5-220 linksPR6-1307 links
Oct.PR3-17 linksPR4-75 linksPR5-288 linksPR6-1508 links

You can see his complete report at PR Weaver.

-- Rick
originall published at

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Exaggeration and Deception are Normal on the Web

I received my usual batch of SPAM this morning. All kinds of emails promising I would make thousands upon thousands of dollars from some "home based business", and tens of thousands a month from this or that "exciting business opportunity".

People continue to fall for this stuff. Even though there are literally hundreds of thousands of websites promising to make you rich; and even though the odds of my get-rich-quick site making significant money are probably smaller than me (at 56) making the PGA tour, people continue to fall for this crap.

It has to be a combination of greed, laziness, and stupidity that drives the "market" for get-rich-quick online businesses.

I'm not saying everyone who dives into their own "work-at-home online business" is greedy, lazy, and stupid. Most are just naive. And since the entry costs are incredibly low (websites are cheap, your spare time is cheap), and there is virtually no risk...voila, we have hundreds of thousands of new "entrepreneurs".

What bothers me most about the web is the level of dishonesty, misinformation, and deception we tolerate in the name of "entrepreneurship".

I am not talking about the really blatant scams — like the letters from would-be minor bank employees and government civil servants from obscure African countries who need your help to liberate $67 million from the bank account of a dead finance minister. I get at least one of these incredibly blatant attempts at outright deception every day

No, I am talking about the other twenty or thirty emails I get every day from well-meaning newbie consultants, "entrepreneurs", and "internet marketers" who are peddling more innocent sounding "business opportunities". These people have usually aligned themselves with some con-artist-with-a-marketing-scheme. The con artist / guru then encourages them to make outrageous claims for the plan. After all, if you don't hype the hell out of a scheme, nobody will buy it. And if nobody buys it, it will be a failure.

"You want to be successful don't you?" OK then. Go ahead and lie about how successful the plan is. Even though you have a pretty good idea it won't work. And even though you know it has not worked for you (yet?).

Perhaps this is just symptomatic of our age. What's a few exaggerated claims about something as insigificant as "home-based business opportunities"? After all, we're prepared to tolerate Colin Powell and Tony Blair making exaggerated claims about WMDs that result in a few thousand people being slaughtered, numerous towns and cities like Falluja being blown to bits, and untold millions of dollars being spent on weapons that could otherwise buy food, housing, medicine, water...

Hey. What's the big deal?

-- Rick

P.S. This morning I received requests for 5 links back to one of these newbie home-based-business sites. This always presents a dilemma for me. Should I go ahead and exchange links because this person sounds sincere, and is not making outrageous claims? Or should I reject the link exchange because this is just another site with a 98% chance of going nowhere? In this case, I chose the former.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Marketing Bites Radio is now live

I've just created a home for "Marketing Bites Radio" — an audio version of many of the articles and posts you will find in this blog. If you would rather listen than read, then Marketing Bites Radio is for you.

Like all the other examples of Linknet Radio you will find on various websites of mine, Marketing Bites Radio is driven by the Wimpy Player. You can find a description of how the Wimply Player works at my Online Media site called Go to the series of articles called Is Flash Becoming a Viable Audio/Video Alternative?. You can find the audio version of these articles at Videoinabox Radio.

-- Rick

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Promoting Products with Blogs, Part 3

In Part 2 of this series I outlined how I decided to create two blog sites using Google's own for the first one, and a new domain of my own called for a series of business oriented blogs.

Once I had things set up in this way, I began the process of entering posts for promoting specific products. This process may sound a bit contrived for those of you who think blogs should be spontaneous "top of mind" journals. What I was proposing was something much more carefully structured and planned — a series of posts highlighting a range of specific features for a number of specific products. If this sounds like an "advertising campaign", that's fine with me, because that is exactly the way I decided to approach it.

When I say "highlighting a range of specific features for a number of specific products" it is important to understand this in the context of my "power linking strategy". What I am talking about here is creating links to pages within my websites that highlight specific features of the products I want to promote.

So I decided I needed to create some lists. First I needed a list of products. Second I needed a list of features, benefits, and interesting information about each of the products. And third, I needed a list of web pages where these features, benefits and information about the products can be found. When I have these I should be able to quickly put together a series of posts with lots of embedded links pointing directly at the most relevant pages within my sites.

For example:

Product: PopUp Displays
Features: Low cost, easy to set up, portable, low maintenance, low cost delivery,etc.
Links: pages highlighting each of these features.

Making the list of products is not problem. Making the list of features, benefits, and interesting tips and tricks for each product is also no problem. But finding the pages within my websites where these features, benefits and othe things are dealt with is a problem, because in many cases the pages simply don't exist.

What I discovered is that I had not structured my website(s) this way. It seems perfectly obvious that when you put a website together you should say "OK, first, what product(s) do I want to feature? And second, what are the specific features of these products?" And then set about creating pages covering these things. So you would think your website would have a page for e.g., "PopUp Displays", and then two or three or four pages focusing on specific features of popup displays.

But as I discovered, I had not really done this. Either I simply hadn't had enough time — I've been working on a large number of brand new projects over the last six months — or I hadn't felt it was necessary.

In any event, this little blog promotion effort illustrated that it is necessary, and that I had not adequately "fleshed out" my websites. Sure, I had created basic sites with product descriptions, photos, ordering information, etc. But I hadn't gone the extra mile and created the supporting pages that do the backup selling of these products. There were pages missing that should have been created — all the ones carefully and pointedly describing the most important selling features and benefits of the products I was supposed to be promoting.

As a result, before I could finish my blog posts I had to create a bunch of new web pages that I could use my "Power Links" to point to. In the end this was a good thing. But of course it meant a simple little project had just become quite a bit more involved than I had hoped it would.

Here is an example of the kind of "blog post pages" I am creating. It is a slow process, but I think this is the best way to create keyword-rich posts with the best range of embedded "power links". And in the process I will be fleshing out my most important sites — the ones with the most important products.

-- Rick
SuperCharge Your Website with Power Linking

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Syndicating Marketing Bites

"The deeper I get into this blog thing, the more I realize how much I don't know." I think Socrates said that, or perhaps it was the oracle at Delphi.

Yesterday I decided to try to get my blog "feed" to show up on a couple of other websites. You can see the result at Like most web programming chores, getting this to work was not as straightforward as I think it should be.

Step One. Figuring out what a "feed" is

First, it requires understanding what a blog "feed" is. It turns out that your serious blogging software -- like which I use for "Marketing Bites", and also b2evolution which I use for -- these automatically create a "feed" that other people can tap into and access.

Step 2. How do people access your feed?

If your blog has been automatically "syndicated" (i.e., turned into an xml file) by your blogging software -- as, I discovered, is the case with mine -- that feed will have a special address. For instance, the address for the RSS feed for my blog called "Trade Show Buzz" is "". Enter this address into your browser and you will see the xml version of the blog, as interpreted by the browser.

Of course these feeds are not really meant to be viewed in browsers -- you can just go look at the blog itself if you want to use your browser. Rather, they are meant to be viewed in a special "feed reader" like FeedDemon. A feed reader lets you create "Channels" for each of your favourite blog feeds, and lets you easily view the current contents of those blog feeds. This is much quicker and more efficient than using a browser. There are also versions of feed readers that will run on portable devices such as pdas and connected cell phones.

Step 3. Making Your Feed Easy to Find

OK. You've got a feed. And you know how to access it with a browser and with a "feed reader". The next step -- possibly optional, but I am not yet sure -- is to fine tune your feed so a) it is universally accessible, and b) looks the way you want it to look. One way to accomplish both these objectives -- and many more I am told -- is to route your feed through an "aggregator" or feed publisher.

After an extensive 5 minute search I decided to use You punch your feed address into their system, and it routes it through their own server, formatting it according to various parameters you enter. It also "universalizes" the feed making it compatible with the maximum number of browsers and feed readers out there.

This was important in my case, because blogspot (Marketing Bites) creates an "Atom" formatted feed, but the software I decided to use to post my feed on my websites (see Step 4, following) can only accept RSS format. Feedburner turns the Atom feed into a RSS feed. And then it gives me a new feed address: This is a bit easier to remember, and therefore also a bit easier to promote.

This also lets me "aggregate" my feeds all in one place, even if they are located at different addresses. So in other words, if you have five different blog feeds they could be:

...rather than a variety of different addresses. also monitors the traffic to your feed. So you can see how many people are actually viewing it. It also creates cool promotional buttons like this:

which you can stick on websites and in email signatures.

Step 4. Putting your feed on your static website(s)

Now that you have a feed with an easily remembered address, a universal format, and some formatting control, you can "feed" it to your own website(s). My preliminary research led me to CARP, an inexpensive script for integrating feeds with websites. I downloaded and installed Carp in about 5 minutes. Configuring it took a bit longer -- possibly an hour or two before I figured out how to control the way the feed looks on your page.

In order to get this to work I created a .php page with the feed instructions and configuration details, and then added it to my home page as an "include" file. That way it is not part of the actual code of my web page. That allows me to add the same .php file to any other pages (within the same site) using the same techniqe. No need to create a new feed file every time I want to use it.

I will report on this further as time goes by.

-- Rick