Monday, February 14, 2005

 

UNDERSTANDING READABILITY IS CRITICAL

The content of your web site should be written with readability in mind. Those who provide written content that does not reflect an understanding of internet readability research are losing an opportunity to have their message heard more often and more clearly.

Studies demonstrate that the internet poses very particular challenges and opportunities with respect to how information is actually read.

There are many elements of readability that require consideration.

Font choices (both in size and actual font) can have an impact on readability. For instance, research has demonstrated that fonts lacking serifs outperform fonts with serifs. This revelation runs contrary to the long-held understanding that fonts utilizing serifs speed reading.

Previous research was conducted on traditional page reading. An examination of readability specific to computers reached opposite conclusions. This underlines the importance of understanding readability specifically in terms of computer and internet use.

Color choices, column widths, page organization and other features are all being examined as new research regarding web readability is conducted. Anyone hoping to be successful with a content-rich site must keep abreast of new studies and their conclusions.

There are other considerations particular to writing content. Of course, all potentially visible grammatical and spelling errors must be avoided. Content providers should understand “scannability” and the scanning habits of internet users. They should also be fully aware of the structure types that aid in readability and encourage visitor examination.

Content should be written in an appropriate contextual voice. Marketing-heavy language requires additional cognitive processing burdens on a reader, reducing its effectiveness. Those who tailor their messages in concise, objective language at an appropriate reading level for their audience can achieve a better response.

Although achieving an understanding of content readability requires time and research, it is necessary for those who want to maximize their content’s value to readers. Even great writers need to acquaint themselves with new research and study regarding readability.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

 

CONTENT, CONTENT, AND MORE CONTENT KEY TO TRAFFIC STRATEGY

You may have encountered the article "26 Steps to 15k a Day" (previously titled "Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone") while looking for an overview of developing a high-traffic web site.

If you haven't read it before, I would certainly recommend it:

26 Steps to 15k a Day

Although one can take issue with bits and pieces of the article, it does provide a great overall perspective on developing sites. It also underlines a message I feel is essential to would-be internet successes: You need content and a lot of it!

Brett Tabke recommends having at least 100 pages of "real content" prepared prior to launching a site.

He observes that text content should outweigh html content.

Hammering the point home, he states over and over again the need to add new content as regularly as possible. Timely, quality content is at the core of his strategy for success.

Often you will see experts encourage the regular use of high-quality fresh content, but I think this article does a great job of taking that somewhat vague directive and explaining exactly what it requires.

If you are looking for serious traffic, be prepared to add fresh content on a daily basis.

Friday, February 11, 2005

 

THE VALUE OF ADDING FRESH CONTENT

Your site’s design is optimized to be search engine friendly. Your advertising strategy is impeccable. The graphics are great. You were savvy enough to generate and edit some very good initial content that really sells. You have a great product and the right price.

You are off to a good start, but all of that hard work still isn’t enough. Upward movement in the search engines still isn’t happening the way you had hoped and sales are lagging behind expectations. What can you do?

Add fresh content.

The reason we have all heard the expression “content is king” so many times is because it is an indisputable truth. Content drives traffic, sells products and makes sites sticky. The search engines love good content and perceive plentiful text as proof of a site’s value.

Everyone knows just how important content is. Unfortunately, they often overlook the importance of adding fresh content on a regular basis.

Good initial content helps encourage the search engine spiders to check you out. That same content helps attract and maintain your first wave of visitors. That is the value of initial content.

If you want a successful internet venture, however, you need to keep those spiders coming back again and again. You also want your first wave of visitors to have a good reason to return to your site and to recommend it to others.

The most effective way of reaching these goals is to add new, fresh content regularly.

Sure, an occasional new paragraph or two might be somewhat helpful. In order to truly take advantage of the power of great content, however, one must add more material as often as possible.
Many experts recommend adding as much as a full page of content every day, if possible. Following this strategy can take your site from being an interesting internet pit stop to a widely recognized source of information. Search engine placement, return visitors, links back to you and overall enhanced credibility can create a flood of traffic—and sales.

Good site construction is essential, but regular maintenance—particularly with respect to content updates—can be the difference between success and failure.

How does one produce great new content? There are a few options:

You can write and edit the content yourself. This requires an expenditure of time and effort. It also means you need to develop solid writing, research and editing skills. It does, however, allow you to tailor your content to the exact needs of your customer base and to custom-tailor the new content to your particular business.

You can use free article or syndicated content. The web is full of free content. These articles and materials however, will require you to place links back to the original authors. The same free content is also likely to appear in multiple locations, decreasing its value to customers and search engines. Even free content that is a “good fit” for your site will not be a perfect match for your exact needs.

You can outsource your content production. Hiring a content provider or author does require a financial outlay. However, it allows you to get professional materials designed to meet your site’s particular needs. Custom-authored fresh content avoids the pitfalls of free content and enables you to invest your time in other projects and areas that may be a better fit for your particular skill set.

If there ever was a day when one could simply build a site, leave it alone, and reap significant financial windfalls, that day has passed. The internet is too competitive to “build it and leave it.” Every day thousands of new sites jockey for Google positioning and hope to pull your customers away. Regular content update—adding fresh content—
is essential for any site’s long-term success.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

 

THE SUCCESSFUL USE OF FREE ARTICLES

One of the best ways to increase your site’s visibility and traffic is by authoring articles and then offering them for free at a variety of locations. Each article contains your URL, thus creating a link back to you every time it appears on the internet.

The power of links with respect to search engine placement is tremendous, and having your name spread across cyberspace increases your credibility and reputation. A successful article creation and distribution campaign can pay huge dividends.

However, it is easy to turn this potential bonanza into a disaster! An unsuccessfully operated campaign can lead to negative publicity and poor performance. It also risks wasting the considerable time and energy required to conduct an article campaign. Those considering using content as a promotional tool need to make sure both the production and distribution components of the strategy are enacted flawlessly.

Poor content is a very common error. Excited at the prospect of building an extensive backlink library, the site owner quickly authors a series of haphazard articles and submits them to various locations.

Although acting quickly does help increase your exposure quickly, poor content leads to very poor results.

Many sites that welcome submissions may refuse to use the article. The power of articles is well-known and many sites are flooded with free submissions. As a result, they are becoming more selective and may decide not to accept a less-than-stellar piece.

A poorly worded or uninformative article, even if accepted at an article clearinghouse, is unlikely to be picked up by other webmasters. One of the chief advantages of an article campaign is its potential for exponential growth. An article appears in one location, leading three others to use it. Those three sites lead to use by others, ad infinitum.

If the actual content is of low-quality, that growth potential is nipped in the bud even if the article is accepted by an initial target.

Inferior copy also reflects poorly on the author and his or her site. Although a primary goal of an article campaign may be increasing backlinks, one must also realize that people may actually read the article—and that it has the author’s name and URL attached!

Instead of promoting the business, a poorly-written article can actually advertise inadequacy—potentially driving business away and reducing the supplying site’s credibility.

Using free articles as a promotional tool requires well-written and well-edited content that provides readers with valuable information.

It is not only important to write good articles, it is important to distribute them correctly. Shooting your article off to a half-organized list of potential targets can seriously undermine your campaign’s effectiveness.

A successfully article-based advertising campaign requires a well-researched and comprehensive list of submission targets. When one considers the effort required to produce effective content, it makes no sense to follow through with a less-than-optimal distribution plan.

Distribution should be targeted to sites that are likely to accept the submission and are visited by others similarly interested in your content and using it. Additionally, article authors should make sure the sites to which they submit allow clickable URLs in resource boxes and must be sure to take advantage of those locations providing an opportunity to use anchor text in their links.

Appropriately distributing an article can be tedious work. The sites that accept submissions often require completing a membership process prior to presenting the article. They may require an eventual confirmation after an email is sent to the author before publishing. They use different submission forms, making automation extremely difficult.

However, great distribution is at the heart of a successful article campaign.

Using free articles to increase your exposure and link-base is effective. That effectiveness, however, is contingent upon great execution in both production and distribution.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTENT EDITING

The importance of editing online content cannot be underestimated. The internet is a rapidly crowding marketplace. Every day thousands upon thousands of new sites are created, and many of them may hope to become your top competitor.

You may have a great design, a perfect product or service, the right price and plenty of information. However, if your presentation suffers from sub-par editing, your efforts are sure to fall short.

In a rapidly expanding arena, it is an absolute necessity to stand out and to separate your site from the competition. Perfect editing is one important way to make sure you create that separation.

There are at least three overwhelming justifications related to sales success that underline the need to make sure your words are presented flawlessly.

Editing Provides Maximum Credibility:

Your commercial venture requires customers who are willing to trust you. In order to convince anyone to part with their money in exchange for your product or service, they must feel comfortable dealing with you.

The anonymous nature of the internet prevents you from utilizing many of the traditional “brick and mortar” trust-building strategies. You are, in essence, reduced to your web site. As such, your site must exude professionalism and credibility.

Errors in presentation can kill consumer confidence. The internet marketplace is viewed with a great deal of skepticism by many. If a visitor finds errors in your text, they are likely to wonder if you are legitimate and serious about your offerings.

Whether accurate or not, errors create the perception that your site was built in haste and without great care. This raises warning flags to potential customers that you may be out only to turn a quick buck and may not be a credible seller.

In a relatively anonymous setting, consumers would prefer to deal with businesses that appear to be established, professional and credible. A simple error could result in countless lost opportunities.

Editing Reduces Misunderstanding and Confusion:

Poorly or inaccurately worded content can create confusion for visitors. This confusion may prevent purchases altogether, or may create misunderstandings that lead to subsequent customer service issues.

Those who stop at your site should be presented with a clear understanding of what you are offering, what it accomplishes, and your policies and prices. Failures of explanation inevitably lead to problems that cost both time and money to repair.

Careful editing and clearly-worded text screen out potential problems before they happen, resulting in fewer customer service issues and more sales.

Editing Increases Stickiness:

You installed content on your site for a reason. You want a lot of qualified traffic and you want return visitors.
Astute surfers are likely to click away from your site quickly if they are not presented with helpful information. Confusing or inaccurate text turns readers off immediately. Instead of being perceived as a quality resource, you site is viewed as an online junk collection. Few are willing to spend the energy required to sort through what they believe to be a junk pile.

Errors destroy the credibility of your content and become a reason for surfers to stay away from your site, rather than to return. Poor content is hard to read and is simply too difficult to trust.

Well-edited materials encourage repeat visitors and increase a site’s perceived value.

In the rush to produce an operable site, editing often is overlooked or is performed haphazardly. This mistake can lead to incalculable losses. As such, anyone seeking to turn a profit online must place great focus on content editing.

Checking for spelling and grammatical errors is only the beginning of a successful editing campaign. Flawless presentation requires adherence to appropriate style guidelines combined with a keen understanding of how readers use and interpret information presented on the internet.

High-quality editing is a labor-intensive and potentially time-consuming task, but the rewards certainly justify making sure your content is offered flawlessly.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

 

NOFOLLOW ILLUSTRATES NEED FOR GOOD LINKING PLAN

Recent happenings on the blog spam front and pending widespread implementation of "nofollow" clearly illustrate the need for webmasters to seek out effective new means of developing links back to their sites.

The blog explosion created a great opportunity for savvy marketers--they could post their URL's in the comments of blogs and reap the benefits of links back to their sites as the search engines crawled through.

Some undertook blog-marketing responsibly. They found blogs legitimately related to their sites and offered insightful, relevant commentary on issues. In exchange for adding to discussion, they were rewarded with a link.

Others found more nefarious ways to take advantage of the link opportunity, and "blog spam" became a concern. Comment sections of blogs were bombarded with URL's that were not even tangentially related to their content. Incidents became increasingly common and obvious.

Google and the other major search engines determined this blog spam was undermining their efforts to create search engine rankings that accurately reflected the quality and utility of web sites.

And now, as a result, we have the "nofollow" tag. Inclusion of the tag tells search engine robots to ignore a link, rather than cataloging it. The command will automatically become a part of many blogs, as Blogger (a Google enterprise) and several other major blog hosts have announced their intention to build the feature into their offerings.

There is some question as to the efficacy of "nofollow." Already, some bloggers who are not enamored with the concept are protesting the move and establishing "nofollow free zones." A quick look through the forums demonstrates a desire on the part of many to discover workarounds for the tag. Some argue that implementation of the technique will not be universal, and its overall impact will not be quite as severe as some believed.

There is no question, however, that "nofollow" will reduce the effectiveness of link-building strategies utlizing blog commentary. As "nofollow" is implemented, site owners who have relied on these techniques will undoubtedly see a drop in their incoming link totals.

Recent "nofollow" events are another chapter in a growing saga regarding linking tactics and the search engines.

Link free-for-all pages were once the promoter's way to create traffic. Now they are overlooked by the engines--if not banned outright. Partner pages and other mass link dumps have gradually declined in importance.

Link trading is dying due to its cumbersome nature and limited effectiveness. Totally organic link accumulation is slow and gets even slower as the market crowds.

Cross-linking techniques are risky and are generally only available to those who own a myriad of sites.

Where will new links be found? One option offering serious potential is actually building off-site links in the form of freely distributed content. Authoring a valuable, informative article and distributing it with a byline (resource box) containing a link back to one's site, offers a splendid opportunity to increase links. The results are tremendous and are generally felt relatively quickly.

Though effective, article authoring and distribution is not a simple process. The supplier must have appropriate information regarding submission locations. The content must be good enough to result in acceptance at those sites. The supplier must be prepared to embark on the tedious process of submitting articles to site after site.

It does require a significant investment of time, energy and expertise and corner-cutting is not a good option. A low-quality article, or an ineffective submission plan will produce no tangible result and could actually decrease a site's credibility and marketability.





Monday, February 07, 2005

 

ABOUT ARTICLE STAFF

Article Staff provides one-stop solutions for those who would like to take advantage of article-based web site promotion or who need other internet content assistance.

We author articles to meet our customers' specific needs. Our content is presented flawlessly and is guaranteed 100% original. We can construct articles of any length for virtually any need. We design search-engine friendly, sticky content that produces results.

Producing great content, however, is only the start.

We are able to take the articles, attribute the material to our client, and distribute it to a multiplicity of internet locations. The articles we write will not simply show up on our clients' web sites. They will become widely available to countless potential customers.

This distribution system increases the value of content exponentially. Articles appear in a diversity of great locations and are available to a nearly infinite number people. Each article is outfitted with our clients' information and URL. These articles increase traffic as reader after reader clicks on the provided link.

Additionally, each location displaying the content also dislplays the link to our client, creating linkback after linkback--a key to improving search engine positioning.

This type of viral marketing is well-known for its effectiveness, but is often not pursued because of the time and effort it requires. The Article Staff completely eliminates those concerns .

We author the materials after consulting with our customers. After a client approves a piece, we immediately begin submitting the perfected material to our carefully developed list of article suppliers, ezines, online newsletters and other sources. In a manner of days, custom content is created and distributed to a wide audience.

Think of the marketing edge Article Staff can create. Everyone knows that great content is the key to any successful internet endeavor. We author materials that can improve search engine placement, drive and keep traffic, and pre-sell products and services while blending seamlessly with your message, look and tone.

We then take great content to the next level--leveraging articles to increase our clients' profile and presence, creating the potential for hundreds of valuable linkbacks, and driving traffic directly from the articles themselves.

Article Staff will produce that "one great article" a customer needs or dozens of pieces as part of an ongoing campaign. We accept clients with needs of any size.

Our rates are set at bargain levels and our customer service is impeccable. Article Staff allows anyone doing business on the internet to have a complete editorial staff at their disposal.

Contact us at articlestaff@usa.com with any questions.

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