Thursday, May 29, 2014

Buying an existing domain name vs. registering a new one


We’ve heard the comment that “all the good domain names are taken” and therefore the person must purchase an existing domain name at a premium price. First, I’ll tell you that if you are creative, you can come up with an available dot com domain name that will work for you. We assure you that all of the good ones are not gone; just be creative.

If you’re convinced that someone has that perfect domain name and you want to buy it, we’re offering you a word of caution. Some domain names have bad reputations with search engines and your starting a new website with one of those, could put you in a big hole. Here’s what we suggest that you do to checkout any existing domain name before you register it

1. Do a Google search for “site: example.com” (with example.com being the domain name you want to purchase). If you see literally nothing come up, that is very odd and could be a sign that the domain name was used for a purpose that caused Google to delist it.

2. Do a Google search for “example.com” and “example” and read a lot of the results. You’re looking for any comments about the domain name being used for SPAM or just having a bad reputation.

3. Go to archive.org and search for the domain name. This is a wonderful service that keeps track of old versions of websites. If they have a website listed, check the content for anything that looks like it could be a problem.

4. Ask the seller to show you some statistics for Google’s webmaster tools and analytics. These could point out any problems if they exist.

If you do complete a purchase and find out there’s a problem afterwards, you can go to search engines and complete a “reconsideration request”. It will take a while to get that done but it could be the only way to get your website listed again.

So our advice is to be creative and come up with a new domain name. You’ll save money and perhaps headaches.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Selling adverting space on your website


We’re frequently asked by clients if and how they should generate some advertising revenue from their website.

I’ll first address the “if you should” part of that question. Running advertising copy on a website really makes sense if your page is informational vs. you are trying to sell something yourself. The last thing that you want to do if you’re trying to sell something is to place an advertisement on your website which will take someone away from you before they make the purchase. Further, advertising on your website is usually there because the information on your website is relevant to what’s being advertised. So if you’re selling widgets, the ads at your website should be for widget companies. Don’t help the competition.

Also, there is no point in placing advertising on your website until you’ve built traffic to a decent level. There’s no hard number but I’d say that until you have at least 1,000 visitors per month to a page, concentrate on generating more traffic vs. trying to make money from that traffic. Read a prior blog posting to learn how we recommend that you track your website traffic.

The next question is: What’s the best type of advertising to place on a website. I’d suggest that you try two methods and see which does better:

1. Google has a service called Adsense which is a way for them to place advertising on your website and share the revenue they generate with you. It’s a quality product and worth trying. You are paid for each person who clicks on an ad at your website. Do not try to generate revenue by clicking your own ads as you will get caught and be booted off Adsense.

2. If you have a website with a strong focus on a specific subject, you may be able find affiliate programs that are on-point. An affiliate program will pay you a small percentage of the revenue the company generates from sales that originate at your website. You are only paid if the website visitor clicks the link on your website and then completes a purchase. I think the best way to find affiliate programs is by doing a Google search of “affiliate programs” or “affiliate program subject” (with “subject” being what you’re trying to sell such as credit cards if you give advice on financial services). Read through a lot of affiliate programs and feel free to try a few to see what works best.

The key to generating dollars from either Adsense or affiliate programs is traffic so keep working to get your traffic as high as possible.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Top search engine listing – What not to do.


Over the years, we’re read a lot of tricks on how to get your website a top listing by Google, Bing and other search engines. Please keep in mind that these multi-billion dollar companies have hundreds of brilliant people making sure your tricks will fail. They really are smarter than you (and the guy writing some article) so don’t try to trick search engines. Create a quality website with quality copy. Here are some things that you should NOT do as search engines can penalize you:

1. Stop Stuffing keywords into your page Title. See previous blog posting.

2. Stop listing a ton a keywords in metatags.

3. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your content by stuffing it with keywords. Key word density should be about 3% or less.

4. Optimize your images since you’ll be penalized if pages take a long time to load. See previous blog posting

5. Don’t use invisible text (e.g. putting white text on a white page).

6. Paying for back links to your website or participating in link exchanges.

7. Creating complex navigation to generate more links (e.g. linking every page to every other page in a large site).

8. Avoid duplicate copy at your site or placing the same copy at multiple sites.

Both Google and Bing offer you “webmaster tools” to help educate you on creating a quality website. Here are the links:
Bing:  http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Email: IMAP vs. POP3


This is a subject that we’ve been talking about for 10 years but we’re still getting questions so we thought we’d cover it again. IMAP and POP3 refer to the settings that email software (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird) uses to access your email. If you know what IMAP is and you only access your email with IMAP or only access email through a web browser, you can stop reading and find a funny cat video on YouTube to watch. Otherwise, read on…


In the days when we all accessed our email only through one computer, POP3 was the setting that almost everyone used. Unfortunately, many people are still using it. With POP3, when we open our favorite email software (e.g. Outlook), that software downloads the email from the mail server to our computer and then removes it from the mail server so it cannot be found again by another device. If you have only one computer to access your email and you do a great job of backing up that computer, then POP3 is an okay way to go. However, those simple days are gone and IMAP is the ideal solution.

When you access email from a number of different devices (e.g. computer, smart phone, tablet, laptop), you want to have access to email from any of those devices. We think that you should not only have access to the new emails but to prior emails. That’s what IMAP does for you.

What IMAP does is keep your email on the mail server. With IMAP, the software that reads and sends your email doesn’t automatically remove email from the mail server. So the first benefit of IMAP is that emails stay on the mail server and can be seen no matter what device you use to read email.

The next benefit of IMAP is it gives you the ability to better manage your email. Whatever, I read an email and want to keep it, I file that email into a folder by subject matter. Those folders are actually stored on the mail server. Therefore, no matter what device I use to access the email later, I will find the email in that folder. So, organizing email is something that you need to only do once per message vs. having to do it on each device.

Another benefit is that your emails stay on your email server and those companies typically do a great job of keeping backups. I say “typically” because “stuff” does happen. In a previous blog posting, we recommended that you get a free Gmail email account and automatically copy all of your emails to that account as a free and easy backup method.

Finally, there is one other benefit to IMAP that you’d use rarely but it’s critical when you do. While IMAP normally stores only the email header on your computer, you can have it download the entire email onto your computer (while still retaining the original on the email server). Then if you get a new email service, you can upload those same emails in those same folders to the new service.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What web browser should you use?


For the few of you who don’t know what a “web browser” is, it’s the software application you use to view content on the Internet. If didn’t know that you’re probably using Internet Explorer which came with your PC or Safari with was shipped with your Mac. (If you're using Internet Explorer now, point #2 below is vital for you to read.)

The answer to the question of “What web browser should you use?” is that you should use all of them or at least a few of them. There are a number of reasons that’s true:

1. It’s pretty common for me to be logged into multiple services at the same time. In some cases I’m logged into the same service with two different identities (e.g. I have a few different email accounts with the same service). Rather than log in and out using a single web browser, I stay logged in with one browser (e.g. Firefox) using one identity and a different browser (e.g. Chrome) using the other identity

2. It was just discovered that Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 have a "bug' that allow someone to take control of your computer if you click on the wrong link that gives this control. Thieves are actively working to take advantage of that bug. Our recommendation is to stop using Internet Explorer until that bug is patched which should be in mid-May. However, if you still have Windows XP, Microsoft is not going to fix the problem so you should permanently stop using Internet Explorer.

3. On rare occasion, I find that a browser isn’t working properly in loading a web page. Rather than immediately restart my computer to see if that will fix it, I log into that web page using a different browser and that will frequently fix the problem.

4. Different browser have different features and by trying them all, I was able to find the one that I like the best and as that as my default browser. By the way, it wasn’t the one shipped with my computer

5. Most of the browsers allow you to improve their capabilities with the addition of “add-ons” or “extensions”. For example, I use “AddBlockPlus” to stop annoying ads in the browser I primarily use but I’ve not added that to another browser because in a few websites, those “annoying ads” aren’t actually annoying but something that I need.

Basically, I’m telling you that having more than one web browser gives you both added flexibility in how you surf the Internet and improves functionality. There are actually many different browsers but the most common ones, in no particular order are Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You can perform a quick Internet search to find where to download these for your particular operating system.

After you have installed other browsers, I suggest that you search for the most popular “add-ons” or “extensions” for that browser as you should find some tools that really help you. These “add-ons” or “extensions” are somewhat similar to add “apps” to your smart phone.