The Mender

Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter
Issue 13
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Advice and techniques for the marketing and promotion of your web site plus breaking Search Engine Optimization News and valuable resources for the serious on-line marketer.

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Welcome to "The Mender" - Issue 13

You are receiving this newsletter because you are a valued Metamend client, you have opted-in via our web site, you have added your site to Metamend's free link section or someone has forwarded this newsletter to you. This newsletter is never sent unsolicited.

Advice and techniques for the promotion of your web site plus Search Engine Optimization News and valuable resources for the serious on-line marketer.

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WHAT'S NEW AT METAMEND

New Technology Partner:
Metamend is pleased to announce technology partner status with Miva Corporation. Miva is a leading supplier of e-commerce software and services to small and medium sized businesses used by tens of thousands of developers and merchants and hundreds of hosting partners and business portals. Working together we will enhance the merging of SEO and e-commerce technologies. The Metamend SEO solution will be incorporated into the next Miva module upgrade. Welcome aboard Miva and all Miva shopping cart clients.

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New Technology Partner:
Metamend welcomes Islandnet.com to our growing family of technology partners. Providing Internet Services since 1993, Islandnet.com is Vancouver Island's longest serving ISP. Islandnet.com has built a solid reputation for reliability, excellent technical support, and a range of powerful Web-based e-commerce and e-mail management applications. Welcome aboard Islandnet.com and clients.

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New Hosting Client:
Metamend welcomes Islandhosting.com to our growing Web Hosting company client list. Providing advanced hosting services and web-based e-commerce solutions. Welcome aboard Islandhosting clients.

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New Web Site Enhancement:
Check out our new and improved Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. We've updated all the content and added lots of new answers to questions you've been asking. There is also a tutorial section explaining Meta tags and how Search Engines work plus plenty of tips to help you properly prepare your web site for optimum search engine friendliness. Hope you like it.

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ADMINISTRATOR'S CHALK BOARD
by Richard Zwicky

In the last issue, we spoke about the challenges of communications. Let's drill down a little further and look at the actual message you are trying to convey to your partners and to your customers.

A clear, concise and complete message is important for anyone trying to sell something. If you read this, and think you're not in sales, well you're probably out to lunch. Everyone is in sales, like it or not. Ever been out on a date? Ever angled for tickets to a sporting event? Ever applied for a job? Take a look in the mirror - you're in sales. What's the message you project? If you're a subscriber to the Mender, you're a well adjusted, thoughtful, interesting person, who is seeking to improve their knowledge of the Internet. We're sold - you're our kind of person.

What's the message you are using to sell your company and its products/services? Is it clear? Does everyone understand at very first glance what you and your company are all about? The first step in the process of branding - yourself, your company, the product or service you provide, is in finding one, or a series of clear concise statements which accurately describe what you do. If you can find a single statement, that's great! A series of statements which you rotate works well too. The hard part about doing this is actually taking a step back and objectively viewing the message. You know what you do; you understand the lingo but what about the rest of the world? If your message is cryptic, no one will get it. If your message is so simple anyone will understand it, then it will be effective. Being cute is nice, but being understood wins.

In the last issue we mentioned the challenges two people who speak the same language can face in a corporation. When trying to convey a sales pitch, always start from the assumption the person you are pitching to has zero knowledge of the subject. The first message; the slogan, the branding message you use needs to be clear and effective, then follow up with clear, simple content anyone can read, hear and understand. Once they have understood step one - the opening line, they'll ask for more and then you can go into the details. If you start off confusing someone, they'll walk away. It's like the old line "Come here often?" everyone has heard it and knows exactly what it means.

Yet, it works! It's simple, clear and concise. Your sales pitch should be just as as recognizable.

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MARKETING: Adapting to Seasonal Cycles
by Robert K. McCourty

Hooray! Summer is here. The kids are out of school and most people have booked time off for those long overdue vacation days. Some have already loaded up the family buggy and headed out to parts unknown. Office desks and cubicles sit empty nationwide. Phones ring unanswered. Productivity drops. Sales slow down. The great summer exodus has begun. How well are you and your business prepared for seasonal cycles? Every business (no matter what you're selling) has it's share of cyclical downturns and seasonal adjustments. Some, such as the change of season can be considered natural. Others, such as a sudden downward trend in the stock market are somewhat more unpredictable. Let's stick to the predictable.

Depending upon your particular offering of goods and/or services, Summer may be your banner season.

Should you be in the beach towel or sunscreen markets, It's natural to assume this would be your "peak" season. Should you happen to be selling Christmas decorations however, it may be a different story. Look at your business and analysis which season should be best for your product and why, then concentrate on gearing up for that season well in advance. Can you make it through a long stretch with less cash? Is your marketing money tied up in the wrong season? Perhaps you shouldn't be spending so much on advertising during the "low" seasons. Perhaps you should be spending more? It depends entirely on the product. I know this sounds like common sense but you would be amazed at how many business people never consider a change of season as a marketing or budget priority, then sit and scratch their heads as sales begin to drop.

In general, Summer is not regarded as a "high season " within the technology sector and this trend spreads across to other areas such as Internet usage. You may notice a sudden drop in traffic to your web site, which in most cases is a direct result of Summer vacation time. People want to get out and enjoy themselves, (who could blame them) which directly translates into much less time in front of their computer screens.

There are plenty of resources on the Net concerning consumer trends and seasonal buying patterns. Get some of this data and compare your particular business offering to these trends and cycles. The better prepared you are for seasonal adjustments, the easier it will be for you to make it through the slow times and profit far more from the busy ones.

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TECH TIPS: Measuring Success Through Site Statistics - Part Two
by Jonathan Schlackl

Being able to read and interpret the statistics your site generates can be a very useful exercise in analyzing traffic patterns on your site. I.E. Where your visitors are coming from and which pages they like the most. Visitor/requests indicates the origin of the visitor. Some domains listed will indicate search engine "Spiders" and "Bots" which crawl through your site. e.g. google.com - Unresolved numerical addresses are simply IP addresses that have no associated host name. In other words they are likely people who "dial-in" to connect to the Internet. An important point to remember is requests DO NOT EQUAL distinct hosts. A distinct host can visit your site 4000 times and only be recorded as 1 distinct host because they are connecting to you from the same Internet address. They may make 40,000 requests but still only be recorded as 1 host. Also a single page on your site could comprise any number of "requests" - the page itself, plus 1 request for every image, banner, navigation bar, header, footer etc. the page contains.

We interpret two stat numbers as important when divided by each other. They are "Page Views" and "Distinct Hosts" - The ratio between these two will give you a pretty good indication of the effective "relevance" of a site's traffic. The more page views per distinct host, the more relevant your traffic and the more targeted it will be - and the "stickier" your site is to visitors the better. Plan on doing some research on the web regarding web site statistics and how to "read" them. There are several opinions on which statistics are the most "valuable" and which numbers/ratios make sense and what they mean. The more you learn how to interpret your statistics, the wiser you'll become about your site's traffic and visitors.

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WEBMASTER'S CORNER: Preparing for Results!
by Todd Hooge

Often times for some inexplicable reason, web site textual content creation is slapped on the desks of Webmasters and Site Developers. Why this happens, I'm not entirely sure, as this is clearly a company-wide conspiracy to off-load out-of-the-box thinking to the people who already work too hard. Not to mention it is the job of the Marketing Department in any organization to provide textual content to the Webmasters, unless of course the topic is of a "technical" nature. Positioning and formatting text is one thing, creating it is another. So now that our job is clearly defined, what is the best way to format this meaningful text in order to:

a) best suit the site's layout.

b) best suit the search engine spiders to ensure good search engine results?

To start, you'll need to have a good understanding of the overall theme (mission statement), and knowledge of how the site needs to operate functionally (many meetings). Once you are armed with this information, you can begin to "prioritize" the layout. One major thing to keep in mind is that any search engine spider visiting your site reads left to right and top down. Also, some of them will only index the first 25k-50k of a page, so from that standpoint it makes sense to put as much of your meaningful text as possible near the top of your page. Title tags (less than 75 characters) and description tags (less than 150 characters) should contain keywords relating to the site's content and should be readable to humans. Also, use image "alt" tags as much as possible. Insert phrases with relevant keywords in them.

Remember to follow three simple guidelines that will ensure your site is user friendly - keep it: FAST, CLEAN, and PLEASANT. Also, let your visitors dictate what your site needs to a degree; and you'll be sure to please your audience. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising...

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SPECIAL GUEST ARTICLE: Email Makes The Web Go 'Round
by Shannon Kinnard - Author of Marketing With Email: A Spam-Free Guide

Picture this: you visit an industry discussion list an answer a question posted by a potential customer. Two days later, your in-box is flooded with 30 different questions about your company's services. You forward each question to the appropriate sales representative with a polite invitation to subscribe to your company newsletter. From this one post you have a batch of sales leads and even more new subscribers!

Email marketing is less about marketing than it is about building relationships. Your goal, as an email marketer, should not be about sales. Instead it should be about serving your audience. There are three keys to this important relationship:

1. Trust - the consumer is inviting you into their email in-box. Don't abuse this relationship... nurture it. Keep their information private and protect your relationship with them.

2. Service - the key to a great relationship with consumers is to give them what they perceive as a bargain: discounts, information or subscriber-only access.

3. Sales - Money makes the world go 'round; and email on the web is no different. However, sales is listed last for a reason - it takes trust by offering an excellent service before you can sell via email.

Think about how you use email to reach your consumers. Are you offering an email newsletter, hosting or participating in discussion lists, or offering auto-responders that instantly answer a prospect's questions? Email is a powerful relationship-building tool... when used correctly.

Check out Shannon's site and order her excellent book. Tell her Metamend sent you.

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BONUS SPECIAL TIPS SECTION: Using Search Engines For Beginners
by Leo Commandeur

Finding what you are looking for on the Internet can at times be a very tasking exercise and one that can also consume all your free time. Doing some research one night for alternative treatments for breast cancer for a friend of mine, was nothing short of an exercise in frustration. My first attempt yielded over a million sites. Yikes! Here are a few small tips to help narrow the gap between what you want and what you get. The following article is an introduction to the basics, there are many enhanced searching capabilities available to the users of the Internet but mastering the basics will make you not only a better golfer, but a better surfer.

Forget power searching. Don't worry about learning to do a "Boolean" search. Most people only need to know a little basic "search engine math" in order to improve their results. Here's how to easily add and subtract your way to better searches on your favorite search engine. The information below works for nearly all of the major engines.

Tip #1 - Be Specific

The more specific your search is, the more likely you will find what you want. Don't be afraid to tell a search engine -exactly- what you are looking for. For example, if you want information about Windows 2000 bugs, search for "Windows 2000 bugs," not just "Windows." Or even better, search for exactly what the problem is: "I can't install a USB device in Windows 2000," for example. You'll be surprised at how often this works.

Tip #2 - Search Engine Math

Use The + Symbol to Add
You want to make sure a search engine finds pages that contain ALL the words you enter, not just some of them. The + (plus) symbol lets you do this. For example, imagine you want to find pages that have references to both John Glenn and NASA on the same page. You could search this way:

+Glenn +NASA
Only pages that contain both words would appear in your results. Here are some other examples:

+windows +2000 +bugs
This should find pages that have all three of the words on them, helpful if you wanted to narrow down a search to Windows 2000 bugs, rather than on Windows 2000 in general. The + symbol is especially helpful when you do a search and then find yourself overwhelmed with information. Imagine you wanted to reserve a camping space in Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park. You might start out simply searching like this:

Arizona Camping
If so, chances are, you'll probably get too many off-target results. Instead, try searching for all the words you want to appear on the type of page you're looking for:
e.g. Arizona+camping+reservations+grand canyon

Tip #3 Use The - Symbol to Subtract

Sometimes, you want a search engine to find pages that have one word on them but not necessarily another word. The - (minus) symbol allows you to subtract words from search queries.

For example, you want information about John Glenn but don't want to be overwhelmed by pages relating to NASA, you could search this way:

John Glenn-NASA
That tells the search engine to find pages that mention "John Glenn" but then remove any of them which also mention NASA.

Perhaps you are a fan of the original Star Trek series but instead keep finding pages about Voyager, Deep Space Nine or The Next Generation. Try a search like this:

star trek+original+series-voyager-deep-space-nine-next-generation

In general, the - symbol is helpful for focusing results when you get too many unrelated to your topic. Simply begin subtracting terms you know are not of interest to you and you'll get better results. Next Issue we'll learn how to Multiply and Divide for even better results.

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FEATURED CLIENTS OF THE MONTH

Linda Pinkowski
The Basket Stop Inc.
Someone you know deserves a gift basket today!

Joan Peggs
The Woodbury, Victoria BC Bed and Breakfast
A most unique B&B Experience. When traveling to Victoria, BC, Canada, may we suggest: The Woodbury Bed and Breakfast.


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