SEO Strategies – The Truth About Search Engine Optimization

The Importance of Being Online

Did You Know? Right now, over 81% of people first search online before making a purchase vs using yellow pages, newspapers, traditional "offline" methods.

Did You Also Know? – 60% of traffic that comes to the websites is from searches-From people typing in what they are looking for in Google, Yahoo & MSN / Bing. Now, if your website is not on the first page of the search engine results, then unfortunately you are now. So knowing that, I am sure you would like to know how to achieve first page search results … and it begins with proper SEO strategies.

Let's get started!

First things first!

"A little bit of information is a dangerous thing"

Well the same holds true for too much information when it comes to SEO or Search Engine Optimization. When you are taught how to drive, was it necessary for you to have an understanding of the combustion engine, correct valve timing or be able to rebuild a transmission?

Of course not!

You simply needed the facts of getting your car going safely and smoothly down the road to your destination. Otherwise you will never get out of the driveway or be too overwhelmed and never learn to drive … never achieving your desired results.

Marketing Lesson # 1 "You can not steer a parked car!"

Unfortunately there is a lot of miss information that seems to be right in line with what people are trying to sell you online today. Imagine that?
The three reasons for this are simple:

1. SEO Companies, Gurus and Consultants want you to believe that only their big brains, experience and magic wands can make your site optimized and that little old you has NO chance, so do not bother and pay us lots of money.

2. Pretend Gurus and Consultants learn a few tricks and sell their wares unscrupulously all over the web for cheap leaving you with a crappy e-book and no results.

3. Lastly, there are the true webmasters out there who take on-Page optimization well beyond where it needs to go. (in my humble & profitable opinion) If you do not believe me, go ahead and buy one of those 200 page e-books that expect you to have degree from MIT and a full working knowledge of website coding. I would rather eat glass … I know this because I have read one of these, but dozens before seeing the light.

In other words, they tend to try and paint the Mona Lisa within every site but forget to invite anyone to the museum. IE All tech and no marketing. Remember, we did talk about the importance of getting the car moving did not we?

Dispelling the Myths of Search Engine Optimization

  • PPC or paid advertising is much cheaper and faster. WRONG. Paid advertising is only as good as long as you are paying for it, where On-Page optimization is a onetime set up. Natural Search Traffic is still 60% of all traffic & you will pay more per click in advertising if your site is NOT optimized.
  • SEO results take months, if not years, to achieve. WRONG. In fact, you can expect immediate results within a few days. Nobody has the time or patience to wait these days …
  • Optimal SEO results can only be achieved by an SEO expert. WRONG. No technical knowledge or SEO expertise is needed to achieve major success when you use the right SEO Strategies.
  • Hundreds of links are needed before I can start to see significant results. WRONG. Have you ever heard the saying, "Work smarter, not harder"? You can maximize your results with very little linking.
  • The Google algorithm is complicated and takes over 100 factors into consideration. It's impossible to achieve maximum SEO results without targeting them all. WRONG. There are key areas that have the greatest bearing and weighting over search engine results. In fact, these key areas make up the majority of the search algorithm.
  • SEO software yields the best results. WRONG. Simply put, if you know the key areas to target, you'll outperform any SEO program EVERY time. It's not a complicated process if you know what you're doing. (famous last words)

What is SEO All About Then?

All right, you've been patient. Here are the essentials of what you need to know about WHAT Search Engine Optimization is all about and then I'll get to the "HOW TO's" in just a minute. Let's walk before sprinting into uncharted territory.

OK so here's you first curve ball … there are two kinds of Search Engine Optimization! What? Who knew? Well I did and now so do you.

There is "ON PAGE" SEO and "OFF PAGE" SEO.

On-Page SEO is the method of configuring your website's size, layout, text, photos and videos so that they are easy to find by the search engines when someone is searching for them online.

Off-Page SEO happens outside of the website. It is the method of distributing valuable and relevant content about your products and services onto the internet in the form of blog posts, videos, articles, forums, podcasts, etc. that all point back to your website to help raise its rank in the search engines as well as drive traffic.

Now there is a middle man (more like a Judge) in the process and that is the search engines themselves like Google, Yahoo & Bing / MSN. They go around creeping and crawling around the internet and index or rank your website based on their own formulas known as algorithms.

No one knows the exact formulas (except those web geeks at Google, but they're not talking) but we have established some definite Do's & Don'ts when it comes to optimizing your website. The other thing to understand is that the Google's & Yahoo's use both On-Page & Off-Page optimization when ranking your website. For now, we'll concentrate on the on-site SEO which is the foundation for all other web marketing anyway.

Even paid web traffic from ads will cost you less with an optimized website because the search engines will reward you for playing by their rules … And simply the one theme that governs the rules of the search engines is to protect the consumer.

The Search Engines primary job is to bring the most RELEVANT results (websites, videos, articles, etc.) to the consumer or person doing the search based on the search term they type in. For example: If you were to search for "Snake Poison Antidote" on Google, you would be less than pleased and understandably angry if it folded up websites on snakeskin handbags and boots. You get the idea.

Getting Started with SEO Strategies

1. KEYWORDS : Prior to the SEO (or the process of correctly placing the right search engine friendly elements on your site) Optimization really begins with understanding the search terms people are using to look for products and services in the first place. These search terms are commonly known as "Keywords". Proper Keyword research is where most people (even seasoned marketers) fail before they even get started. Fortunately there are plenty of free and paid tools you can be using in no time to pick out the best terms to optimize your site with.

2. PLACEMENT : After you have thoroughly done your keyword research, it is time to strategically place them in all the elements * of your site (Header, Title, Description, Meta Tags, Navigation Links, Images, H1, H2, H3 tags, Alt Tags, Body etc.) to effectively have Google and the others to index or take account of all of them to be able to rank your site's relevancy for those keywords.

* Note: All of these "elements" are simply fields easily accessible to fill in on most commonly used website platforms.

Ok, that's it!

It can not be.

Yes it can! Sort of …

Like I said there are many geekier aspects of on-page optimization which includes things like which type of site structures to use, frames, types of scripts, etc. However, with the advancement of template driven and WYSIWYG * sites, many of these aspects are already pre-coded for optimization or ease of readability for those Search Engines out there doing their creeping and crawling thing … also known as indexing.

* WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) – An interface that provides the user with the ability to point and click to insert objects, images & text into most sites today.

So with Keyword Research and proper Placement in your site are the broad strokes of On-Page Search Engine Optimization. However, "How" to do the right and profitable Keyword Research for your niche and "How" to place them properly in all the elements of your sites is where you earn your stripes.

Your SEO Strategies Next Step

Fortunately I have put together a step by step guide that will not only walk you through on-page optimization but also how to drive FREE traffic through off page optimization as well.

Remember that Search Engine Optimization is an Investment, not an Expense. Unlike paid ads, the efforts you put in to really optimize your site today will continue to pay off well into the future.

With a proper search engine optimization guide, you can easily dominate search-engines like Yahoo, Google and MSN. Ranking high on search-engines is easy and can be very profitable for your website.

Niche Marketing Strategies for Home Business

In today's intensely competitive business environment, it is usually difficult to stay afloat, particularly when you're a small home business owner working on shoestring budget. You do not have access to viable means and amenities to compete directly with large business houses and serve a broad spectrum of consumers. In such an adverse business scenario, niche marketing emerges as the most feasible and cost effective strategy that can help home business owners to stay ahead of their competitors and maximize their profits.

"What exactly is niche marketing and how can it help my home business to prosper?" This is the most pertinent question that must be impinging your mind at this joke. Before introducing you to the technicalities of the concept of niche marketing, it would be worthwhile to focus the floodlights on niche market, first. Niche market is a narrowly focused portion market that can easily be targeted. The nature of your niche market and the effectiveness of your niche marketing strategies are intricately intertwined. Here, to ensure overall growth of your home business, you would have to devise your niche marketing strategies according to your niche market.

You can not frame effectual niche marketing strategies unless you're familiar with your niche market. Identifying a niche market is all about finding a distinct segment of consumers whose needs you'll be able to fulfill successfully. For instance, you're a copywriter with expertise in writing brochures, then your niche market would include all those consumers who require brochures time and again. Once, you've identified your niche market, conduct a thorough competitive analysis to identify your direct competitors as well as determine what niche marketing strategies they are using to stay ahead.

It is usually believed that a niche market without any competitors is the best territory to establish home business. To an extend this perception is true. It may be possible that other home business owners may not have discovered your niche market. However, it may also be possible that many may have tried and failed to penetrate the territory. Here, to maintain your risks at a manageable level, it is advisable to access your niche market's receptiveness to your products and services first.

Upon completion of the process of identification of niche market, you would have to plan out strategies to market your products or services in your niche market, and this is what niche marketing is all about. Some potential niche marketing strategies with respect to home business are as follows:

o Before approaching your niche market, try to acquire as much knowledge about the needs of your target audience as possible. By abiding by this niche marketing strategy, you would be able to address the problems of your prospects as an understanding member rather than an outsider. Once, you succeed in winning the confidence of your potential customers, it will become easier for you to sell your products or services to them.

o Do not commit the mistake of using the same method to solve problems of different nature. For instance, you sell leather products primarily to men. Now, you want to include working women in your niche market. In order to do so, you would require leather products exclusively for working women. You can not convince a woman to buy products that are solely for men. In other words, you can not solve a woman's problem with men's products.

o Market your product or service in a manner that will compel your target audience to believe that this is exactly what they need or what they have been looking for. Be prepared to spend time and resource to educate your target audience about your unique product or service. Convince them that only your product or service has the potential to solve their problems forever.

o The last, but the most important niche marketing strategy is to make your target audience believe that your home business is genuine, and not a fragment of an entrepreneur's wild imagination. To achieve credibility, you would have to highlight your home business in all your marketing materials as brochures, websites, press releases and even your business cards.

After going through this comprehensive account on niche market and niche marketing, it can be deducted that the right mix of niche marketing strategies is all that is required by the home business owner to excel.

Finding Discount Web Hosting

There are a large number of cheap web hosting service providers that are offering their services and you are required to select any one of them while you are creating your own web portal, offering everything from shared-hosting packages to superior end dedicated servers to starter. There are certain points that you are required to consider while you are looking for discount web hosting, some of them are as under.

1. The disk space offered; the content, images along with the web pages that you are considering uploading to your web portal requires space, it is just like the data which acquires disk space on your personal computer. Most of the web hosting companies offers you with a limited capacity, although you are not planning on storing or uploading huge files on your website.

2. Speed and Reliability; you need to make sure that the host company you are selecting is providing you with speedy services and is reliable too. All the web-hosting companies write 99.99% up time in their advertisements but you should be asking them for their reports. If your website happens to slow down then you will be resulting in frustrated and irritated visitors and it is certainly going to affect your website’s search engine rankings. Google is have billions of web portals with it and if yours is particularly slow then it is going to move on to the next one right away.

3. The bandwidth; when you happen to download things to your systems from the Web, it requires bandwidth. Same is the case when people are visiting your web portal and they are downloading stuff, it is going to strain your web hosting service providers. Therefore, if you need to get things transferred speedily or while you are refreshing your web pages then you are required to have a certain amount of bandwidth. It may be that the Discount Web Hosting service providers are offering you with additional resources like website templates, an auto responder, unlimited emails, and cgi bin.

The above-mentioned are some of the most considerable points while you are seeking for Discount Web Hosting service providers. You should be comparing the rates of different companies to figure out that which one is fulfilling your needs and requirements in a better way. As your web portal grows, you are required to make sure that you are getting a good deal and value out of the web hosting services.

How Do Credit Card Companies Make Money?

Credit cards have gained much popularity in India over the last few years. Public sector banks as well as private banking institutions have come forward to launch a host of credit cards suiting customers with different types of needs. HDFC Credit Cards and SBI Card are the two companies with the largest market share. While banks are ready to offer you with a small loan in the form of credit cards, have you ever wondered how these banking institutions make money from these ventures?

The three main ways how card issuers make money is through the annual fee of the card, interest charged on late payment, penalties on skipping EMIs, etc. At the same time, they also earn from the businesses that accept these cards. Businesses are required to pay transaction fees to the banks which also makes up for significant earning of the card issuer banks.

But before we dig deeper into how they make money, let us first understand the term 'Credit Card Companies'. It is easy to get confused between credit card issuers and credit card networks. An issuer is the bank or financial institution from which you take the card. You are taking a loan from the card issuer and paying back to them. A credit card issuing company is usually a bank. On the other hand, credit card network refers to companies that process the transaction. Currently, there are three major networks in India- VISA, Master Card and RuPay. Apart from these, American Express and Discover cards can also be found.

So, when you make a transaction with your credit card, your money moves electronically from your bank through the network to the merchant's bank.

How do credit card companies make money?

As mentioned above, your bank makes money majorly from you and also from the merchants where you use the card issued by the bank to make the payment. Banks or financial institutions make money in the form of-

Fees

Banks charge different types of fees from their cardholders- some fees are to be paid by everyone whereas other types of fees are levied on condition. Let us talk about these fees and charges-

  • Annual Fees- You have to pay annual fees towards your credit card, especially when you are an elite cardholder and enjoy higher benefits than normal users. This is to be paid by all users. However, some banks may set a condition of spend based annual fee reversal scheme.
  • Cash Advance Fees- When you withdraw money from an ATM using your credit card, the bank charges a minimal fee for it which is normally correlated to the amount you withdrawal. This is also included in the card issuer's earnings.
  • Late Fees- Your card issuer charges fees from you if you delay your EMI payments. Banks make more money from late payers in the form of late fees.
  • Balance Transfer Fees- When you transfer outstanding balance from one card to another, the bank charges fees from you which again becomes its earnings.

Interest

The bank or financial institution has just gifted you a credit line. You have to pay the interest for the loan that is offered to you in the form of credit card. This interest cost adds to your expenses and is a method of earning for the banks. Interest on credit card is charged on daily basis for as long as the amount stands outstanding in your account. This is why experts always advise you to pay the total outstanding amount in full every month because interest will accrue on any amount that stands unpaid.

Let us understand this with the help of an example. Suppose the billing date is on 4th of every month and payment due date falls on 29th of every month. APR = 24%

  1. 10th March- Apparel Shopping- Rs. 5,000
  2. 13th March- Bill Payment- Rs. 2,000
  3. 19th March- Gadget Purchase (converted into 6 month EMI) – Rs. 12,000
  4. 22nd March- Dining Bill- Rs. 1,000

Now considering that the person does not have any outstanding amount from the previous bill, he will have to pay Rs. (5,000 + 1,000 + 2,000 +2000) = Rs. 10,000.

This will be the total amount due on 29th March. Now if the person chooses to pay only Rs. 6,000, the remaining Rs. 4,000 will accrue interest for each day until the amount is paid in full. Considering that the user again pays Rs. 2,000 on the 10th of April, let us see how interest cost works out-

Interest = (outstanding amount x 2 percent per month x 12 months) * (number of days) 365

In this case, the total interest charged would be Rs. 52.60 which is a total for Rs. 4,000 that lies outstanding for 11 days and Rs. 2,000 that lies outstanding for 18 days until the next payment. This is the reason why those who only pay minimum amount due tend to fall into debt soon sooner. Cardholders should also note that when an amount is outstanding in your statement, the new purchases that you make are not eligible for the interest free period. This is why interest charge is the easiest way how banks make money out of your credit card.

Interchange Fee from the Merchant

When you use your card at a merchant terminal, the merchant also pays a percentage of the amount to the bank as processing fees. This will also be added on to the bank's earnings. It usually ranges between 1 to 3 percent of the transaction value but may differ from merchant to merchant.

How to save yourself from paying too much to the bank?

Savvy customers plan their transactions and payments in a way that they have to pay the least amount to the bank. These are the habits you can adopt to cut your costs-

  • Pay your entire outstanding balance every month; just pay the minimum amount due is not a good practice.
  • Set alerts for your payment due dates to avoid missed payments which entail late fees.
  • Create an emergency fund to replace costlier options like cash advances from credit card.
  • Choose low annual fee or free credit cards and even if you select a card with high annual fee, make sure that the rewards are worth it.