Organic SEO and Building Marketing Assets

Just read another very thought provoking Seth Godin post on assets in marketers.

For a marketer, an asset is a tool or a platform, something you can use over and over without using it up. In fact, it’s something that gets better the more you invest… Running an ad is an expense. Building a brand people trust is an asset.

This is something traditional business owners have to realise when marketing online. Its easy to discount an organic SEO campaign by comparing the immediate ROI (or even if you consider the ROI of a project lasting 6-12 months, or longer). Afterall, when you pay to blast an ad out in the regular channels, you might get a reasonable return. SEO projects might take longer to get started, depending on how well the site has been performing.

What many people fail to realise is that having a well performing website in the organic results of SERPs is an asset built for your company. Your leads don’t stop coming in when the campaign is done. In fact, a well optimized site can continue to perform well in the search listings for a long time (years!) if your competitors are not SEO fanatics, and as long as you keep up with maintenance of the site – adding content and building links occassionally.

Organic SEO and CoffeeThink about it this way. An ad campaign is like going out to the cafe to get a cup of coffee. Doing organic SEO is like investing in a good expresso machine and then making your own coffee at home. It may be a huge investment upfront, and regular maintenance costs (getting the beans, electricity, water, your own time to make the coffee), but if you love coffee, you’ll know that over time that investment will pay off, and you can continue to enjoy you daily cup however you want it, whenever you want it.

Would You Bother?

This morning, as I was on my daily routine commenting on blogs, I got this when I submitted to one.

Would You Bother?

This message was the only thing that was shown in the page. So it seems I was detected to be surfing “behind a proxy”, and my comment was disallowed.

First, I’m lucky to be computer trained. I know what proxy servers are, and I wasn’t using one. But for the layman, they’ll probably have no idea.

Secondly, “contact the blog owner”. Yes. Through what means? Do I have to click back and find an email address. I would at least put an email address there – or a contact form.

Thirdly and finally, the question is… would you bother? To go through all the trouble of contacting someone just to post a comment? I’d rather surf to a different site and post another comment.

The point is: If you want comments on your blog, make it easy for people to comment. I’ve seen lots of blogs that require you to create and account and login, just to post a comment. While I understand the motivation behind that (to screen away spammy comments), it is a huge hindrance for people.

Steering Clear of Online Scams

Online Scam
Photo Credit: ToastyKen

Right on the Official Google Blog, a post was added today with regard to steering clear of online scams. I think the post is very timely, and it offers excellent advice with regard to how you can check if an opportunity is genuine.

In essence, here are the tips pointed out in the post:

  1. Do a web search first, looking for reviews. (Beware of reviews which are just affiliate sites too!)
  2. If there are upfront charges for things that are offered elsewhere for free, investigate further.
  3. Read the fine print.
  4. There is no such thing as guaranteed top placement in Google, whether is organic listings or advertising.
  5. Do further investigation in pyramid schemes. Are they sustainable?
  6. Ignore all you spam mails, or suspected spam mails. If they are too good to be true, they probably are.

Here is a line right out of the horse’s mouth:

Creating a successful website is hard work – successful sites earn their money by writing compelling content, developing useful applications and maintaining vibrant user communities. Any claim that you can skip all of that and make just as much money by posting links, using a secret system, or running a kit to generate websites should be treated with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Re-read this quoted paragraph twice. Or ten times if it is what it takes.

If you are promoting a product for someone else – whether its an affiliate product, or membership site, or a network marketing program, do your sums, and always think “Is there any value creation involved in this program?” No matter what business you are in, money come always as an exchange for value.

Why Its Important to Get a Good Web Hosting Provider

Today is the last day of June, and this marks the first half of 2009 gone. And I’m glad to say I’m thrilled at the level of my business today, compared to what it was at the beginning of the year. No, I’m no millionaire yet, but enough projects to keep me very busy, hence the slack in posting here 😛

The point is, over the course of this half a year, I’ve have the luxury to work with no fewer than 20 different websites (some to a smaller extent), and these websites are hosted all across the globe. So I’ve interfaced with so these web hosting companies – their backend admin panels, ease of use, technical support and things like that.

Some of them were slow, and some have superb access speeds. Some were a breeze to handle, while others are really nutcases that really almost drove me crazy with technical support answers that go off the point for weeks without resolving the issue.

So having this experience, I really want to emphasise on this – getting a good webhosting provider from day ONE.

Web Hosting for Internet Businesses

If you had to open a retail shop, would you choose an cheap rental area that is frequented by gangsters who would come in and smash your items, causing you to have to close your shop once every 2 days, or would you prefer to select a expensive storefront right in the middle of town where you can get great traffic?

The answer is obvious. You can’t compare retail shop rental rates just by the meter. You need to know where the shop is, and what are the consequences of having your shop in that area.

Well, I’ve found the same would go for web hosting. No two web hosting a companies are alike, and even though they may give you the exact specifications in terms of web space, bandwidth, databases, email addresses and add on domains, they are different.

Basically, you pay for what you get. Pay peanuts, and you get monkeys.

One of my friends I’m working with happened to start on the “peanuts” web hosting plan years back when she first started her business. Of course, she didn’t know it then. I didn’t know too, because it was a provider I’ve not heard of at that time.

So when we started on the project, she gave me her login details and everything, so I could get direct access to her site.

Here is how bad your experience can get.

  1. I’ve tried to work on her site for about 8 occasions now, since we started about a month ago, and on almost every occassion, I experienced a server downtime of at least 10-15 minutes. Today, its been down for over 2 hours already (that’s what triggered this post!)
  2. I’ve been corresponding with their technical support for help on an unusual .htaccess issue – its been 2 weeks and 8 emails to and from them, but I’ve not got a good response. Different people handled my email every single time I replied, and none of them resolved the question directly.

And when I tried to log in to their web admin panel today, I got this:

Web Hosting

So, this is it. I’m getting my friend to switch to another provider.

Here’s what to look out for when selecting a web hosting provider

1. Real Reviews

Go on to forums like Web Hosting Talk, where you can get real reviews and comments from people who are using the provider you are considering. Many web hosting providers provide affiliate programs, so be wary of reviews that have “affiliate intentions”.

2. Peanuts are for Monkeys

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a web server, bandwidth and web space cost money. Think about this. If the web host doesn’t charge you enough, how do they pay for their servers? If you’ve got a “awesome deal” to have unlimited sites for $1.99 a month, you better be prepared for monkey service and support.

3. Know the specifications

If you are serious about your web business, ask and compare server specifications. A Pentium 286 web hosting server running off a guy’s garage is definitely going to bring a different experience to one running in a datacenter. Ask about location, CPUs, allocated memory and bandwidth.

4. Test their support

When you have decided on a provider. Take the 1 month plan (don’t commit to 6 – 12 months unless you are confident of the services), and as soon as you get your account, test out their response time for support emails. If they take more than 36 hours to get back, it is time for you to get another provider.

What do I recommend?

Personally I use Hostgator on many of my domains and Singapore Web Hosting for domains I want hosted in Singapore.

I stick to these two providers because I have experienced good support so far, and good server uptime on my reseller accounts. But don’t take my word for it, go do your own research and get a good host.

Remember, if you are operating an Internet business, your website is your retail shop. Don’t scrimp on it. In fact, pay them well so they can give you a peace of mind.

PC Show 2009 at Suntec City

The PC Show in Singapore is now on at Suntec City! It has in fact started yesterday, from 11th – 14th June 2009, 12pm to 9pm.

PC Show 2009 Singapore

Unfortunately, because of my hectic schedule this time round, I’m gonna give it a miss.

According to the press release, this time, there is also a “Lucky Purchaser’s Draw” – stand chances to win $10,000 and other prizes like LCD televisions, camcorders and MP3 players with every $50 spent!

So have the effects of the downturn in economy sunken into Singaporeans? I think not! Yesterday’s CNA news still reported thousands of bargain hunters chionging to Suntec city before the gates are open for the best deals! :mrgreen:

But I think its good for me to stay away, keep my money and save it for my iMac at the end of this year!