Sunday, August 26, 2007

Misspelling for Success?

I've seen alternative domain names chosen with common misspellings of the main domain name in mind. It's a good idea: allowing for visitor errors, redirecting them to the main site when the make a typing mistake.

"Do you optimize for misspellings?" is a new idea for me: misspelling as an SEO technique.

I wouldn't do it myself, because I'd rather have a page that seems to be written by someone who knows how to spell. But then, that's the sort of visitor I expect.

For bloggers and webmasters who are trying to attract a more literacy-challenged demographic, this might be a good idea.

Optimizing for Heavy Clickers? Think First

More traffic is better, right?

And the more clicks on your ads, the better, right/

Not necessarily.

"Outing The Heavy Clickers" shows that you should look at who creates the hot ad traffic, before you optimize for them.

Not to give the whole post away, but the people who click the most ads are the same ones who "tend to open direct mail and love to talk to telemarketers."

If that select minority of Web users is what you want, go ahead and optimize for them. But take a look at who they are first.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Big Image Plus Tiny Company Equals Credibility Gap

"On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog" was the caption of a cartoon published in a 1993 New Yorker magazine.

It's funny, and is a reminder that the Internet and the Web let people and businesses disguise themselves. To a point. An anecdote in the September, 2007, Reader's Digest (p. 161) showed what will eventually happen to an Intenet poser.

The writer hadn't received her purchase, and hadn't gotten a response from her e-mail. Later, her phone rang. a teenager at the other end apologised for the delay, and explained what the problem was. "...I can't get on my computer right now because my mother's vacuuming and this room only has one socket."

I've known people who were CEO, Director of Marketing, janitor and the office girl of the company, and whose website used phrases like "we provide quality service" and gave other indications of having at least some staff.

I understand how tempting it is to project the image of a substantial company, with a:

  • Luxurious office suite
  • Warehouse
  • Loading dock and
  • Parking lot
when all you've got is a corner of a room that you share with
  • Several kids
  • Your wife
  • A music keyboard
  • An electric guitar, and
  • A chair buried under a pile of clothes
The problem, as I see it, of inflating your online image is that, sooner or later, somebody's going to notice. Then, you've got a credibility problem. If you were deceptive, or at least alternatively truthful, about the size of your company, what else have you been hiding?

I'd rather not have that sort of explaining to do.

Since many of my online projects make use of my personality, it's easier for me to be a one-man show than it would be for someone who was trying to run an online store or repair service.

Even so, I suspect that in the long run it's better to be more open about how many of you there actually are.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sorry about that!

This blog was unavailable for at least an hour this morning.

Since you're reading this, you've come back to try accessing it again: thank you for your patience!

Google seems to have been doing some maintenance: and about time! My service has been a bit 'iffy' for some time.

I'll be back with a 'real' post as soon as I can.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A New Gym in Town, and My Mind Starts Wandering

This is a bit off-topic, but I'll try to drag Sauk Centre's new exercise place into this blog's sphere of interest.

A Snap Fitness gym opened in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, today. We've had Curves for Women and Fitness Guru in town for quite a while, quietly staying in business. Now we've got three exercise outfits, in a town of about 4,000.

Maybe there's enough differentiation to give each a different set of customers. Curves for Women, obviously, has a particular demographic in mind for its customers. Fitness Guru, where I go, has a sort of neighborhood feel to it. I've run into people I know there fairly often, and I appreciate the way that the proprietors and others who work there know me. Also the practical advice they can give about exercise and the equipment.

Snap Fitness has a very visible location on Main Street, and offers low cost, no contracts, and 24/7 access.

I hope the the new place knows what it's doing. When I moved here, there were three hardware stores in town. I shopped at all three, at one time or another, and couldn't figure out how they all stayed in business. Business was far from brisk and any.

Now, we don't have any.

Now, I'll try to drag this into the area of online business.

How much is too much? Can a market be saturated online?

Just how important is finding a unique niche?

As midnight draws near in my time zone, I haven't a clue.

Maybe I'll have answers later. Right now, all I've got here are questions.

More Advertising Advice: Read the TOS

I read through 15 Common Mistakes that Violate Google Adsense TOS (May 24, 2005) because I use contextual ads, and want to continue that arrangement.

The count is up from 15 to 18 now, and they generally boil down to common sense and following the TOS. Although I learned that I'll have to be careful about my inclination to get behind the screen and tweak code.

Keeping Your Advertising Revenue: Follow the Rules

"What to do when your [Google contextual ads] account is disabled" is a pretty good resource for people who seek online advertising revenue. The post focuses on Google's contextual ads, but I think the advice and observations have wider application.

Maybe the best advice is toward the end of the post, is to not make enemies. At least one online advertising service is susceptible to abuse by a 3rd party.

Friday, August 17, 2007

For Smart Employees, and Bosses

"4 Simple Tips For The Smart Employee."

The title is the post's best description. Nothing new here: just common sense, well-presented.

A good read for bosses who want to keep good employees, too.

Online Publicity and Marketing

Online, it's a different world. Eventually, there may be tried-and-true, traditional ways of drawing traffic to your site.

Today, we're in a much more exciting era of experiment and (occasionally crazy) new ideas.

" [Google contextual ads] $100 Movement Train," a post on "Hin's Photo Blog," introduces the reader to what I think is a good marketing/promotion idea for blogs. It is not a link exchange, except by a wild extension of the term: at least in my opinion. We'll see if I get in trouble with [Google contextual ads], over cooperating with an effort to get qualified visitors to blogs.

With each blog's link having a brief description of the blog, it's a pretty good way of finding new blogs: and somewhat similar to my "Apathetic Lemming of the North" blog: which is enjoying pretty good traffic. At least, compared to some of my other efforts.

(update, August 18, 2007)

I've substituted [Google contextual ads] for the name of the search giant's advertising program. I did this out of an abundance of caution, after a doing a little research. The experience of one of our fellow-bloggers, who was dropped from the program, has made me more cautious.

I'll be posting on that, later.

Now, about the "[Google contextual ads] $100 Movement Train" - unhappily, at this time, I'm not able to participate. Nobody's making me, I just have a set of rules that I make for myself, and 'no link trains' is one of them.

The reason for this self-imposed ban is that I'm very new to blogging, and haven't thoroughly researched the rules and culture of the blogosphere. Traffic-boosters like link trains are dubious points in some quarters, and until I know more, I'm leaving them alone.

That doesn't mean that you can't participate in Hin's plan, though. Not everyone is as cautious as I am.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

When Flashes of Inspiration Meet Flashes of Lightning

Actually, it wasn't so much "inspiration" as post-work on a rendering of a 3d graphic that's ready for posting to an online art community. I'm developing a reputation of sorts there, and prefer to post just before their weekly prime time: weekends.

I'd blocked out time Friday night to get the work done. I'd heard rumbling, but thought it might be heavy machinery or trucks in the area. A bright flash of light outside could have been headlights of a vehicle turning the corner. Fast.

The second bright flash was definitely lightning.

After a few more flashes, I decided that it was my cue to shut down, and disconnect, the computer and the laptop. I can afford to lose neither the data on them, or replace the equipment.

I was still working with the laptop when the power went out for about a minute. Not particularly good timing on my part.

I stayed up past the time I'd allotted for the post-work task, since the National Weather Service had a severe thunderstorm watch for this area. Several of them, actually. Then the warnings started.

More about that at Through One Dad's Eye.

Even though I didn't get the post-work done, I'm not considering getting a system to provide backup power through situations like this. Something like that would be expensive to buy and maintain: much more, I think, than whatever I might gain from being able to work through these infrequent storms.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

ROI: Reality / Optimistic Interpretation

I know that's not what ROI really means!

But when looking at the immediate ROI of my blogging, I realized that I had to decide whether to keep being hopeful, or look at the flattening rate of traffic growth.

Not a hard choice, really. The six blogs I started have enough material now to give a rough idea of which attract attention and which don't.

I've also noticed that the dramatic growth in the first two weeks has leveled off. Dramatically.

Finally, although I haven't had this much fun in a long time, It's time to spend a whole lot less time on blogging, and more on developing the sites I have, and publicizing them.

Not that I'm finished blogging!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Monetizing Websites: What's Your opinion?

I'm trying out this blogging service's new poll function, and gather information about monetizing at the same time. Opinions, anyway.

If you've got more than a poll checkoff to share, please leave a comment on this post.

And, let me know what you think of polls like this.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday Broke Out With Unusual Severity

Of all the tasks on my to-do list today, the only item done was my blogging.

Which is business-related. Eventually, when traffic builds up, I expect more revenue from those ads in the column to your right: and the ones between news items at the bottom.

Family matters got in the way. My wife and one of the kids were out of town for most of the day, partly to pick up my oldest daughter's laptop. That left me with an 11-year-old itching to get a laptop that's become too buggy for my oldest to use, my oldest who is tense because she hasn't been able to work on her projects while her laptop was in the shop, and another daughter who's getting over a non-serious but very irksome super-cold.

Oh, well: I got a chance to reflect. I don't what the latest thing in psychological theory is, but my experience has been that my brain acts as if there's automatic machinery, or perhaps subroutines would be a better term, that keep running when I'm not using the circuits for something else.

Whether or not that's a valid model for how the mind and brain works, keeping most of my head in idle for the day may have something to do with the mental images of banners, and a few other graphics that dropped onto the front desk this evening.

They might even be worth something.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sleep and Down Time are Important, Too

One of the things I decided yesterday was that I needed at least a little sleep.

That meant more delay with those two tasks, but it's not such a great loss.

Unless there's something very pressing, I don't work on Sunday, so there wasn't much done today. Except for blogging. For me, that's not work: It's fun.

And, because it's fun, I'll have to be very careful not to let blogging take up more time than it's worth.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Organizing, Schedules, Impulse, and Making Decisions Without Agonizing

I haven't gotten to the two tasks on today's list yet. I still hope to, but I'm running out of 'today.'

There's a bit of an excuse: going through an online community discussion thread this morning, I found a lead to two other online communities of bloggers: from a source I've learned to trust.

I'm trying to develop a fairly large footprint of places where my blogs can get noticed, so I spent quite a bit of today setting up a presence in one of them. We'll see if that was good use of, or a total waste of, time. Or maybe something in between.

Impulsive? Yes. Foolish? I'm not sure. On the whole, I think that increasing visibility of six blogs that exist, and have potentially revenue-producing advertising, is more urgent than putting a couple of gizmos on an existing website.

One thing for sure: I'm not going to spend much more time thinking about that decision. That would be a total waste of time for sure!

Feedback, or lack thereof, from the new online community will give me an answer with almost no effort on my part.

I think the lesson here is 'decide. Then move on.'

Friday, August 3, 2007

Getting Organized Without Angst

I'm 20 minutes past the end of my time slot for blogging today, but I'm not going to worry about it. I hit a promising set of posts, and checked them out while they were on the browser.

Overall, I think I've saved some time by doing this now, rather than shutting down and setting up again.

Now I'm 25 minutes past the end of that time slot.

Time to wrap up.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Eager Google Bots + Clueless Hosting Company = Lost Traffic

Eager robots and a hosting company with really bad customer relations cost a webmaster several weeks' traffic. And income.

"If Your Website Can’t be Googled……does your business still exist?" describes what happened, and gives a four-point list of how to keep it happening to you.

If you're trying to make money online, you could do much worse than spend a few minutes reading this post.

Getting Organized: Not the Best Start

It could have been worse.

Instead of working on my Sauk Centre Journal the first part of this morning, working my blogs, and then graphics for another website, I monitored the 35W bridge disaster while working blogs.

I suspect that most of my readers were more concerned with I-35W's bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, than about my midweek update about life in small town America.

However, I'm getting at the S. C. Journal entry now, and then I'll be back on schedule.

Tomorrow I Gotta Get Organized

And I probably will.

I got an inexpensive 18-month planner, scribbled the top projects for tomorrow into appropriate time slots, and set it aside for reference tomorrow morning.

And I just remembered a detail that I missed. That's what these notes are for: jotting down things that would be forgotten or ignored.

There. Got that written down: the non-trivial, time-dependent item that I left out of tomorrow's to-do list.

This system should work: it's simple, and avoids the sort of self-micro-management nuttiness I've tried before.

Time will tell. And so will this blog.

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