The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


Your Enemy is You

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is related to my earlier blog post about how search engines don't owe you anything.

A client and I were discussing a local company that has managed to crowd out the first page of Google results for a variety of keywords and phrases. My client asked what could be done to compete with this company in Google. Two ideas came out of that question.

One: The "Problem" Might Not Be a Problem

When I did some checking into the popularity of the keyword phrases in question, it turns out there were very few searches registered in Google. In other words, the competition was dominant for phrases that few people used in their searches. Fighting to get a top ranking for an infrequently-used keyword phrase is probably not worth my client's effort.

Two: Doing Nothing Is Not an Option

I strongly encouraged my client to do something with his website. Small businesses don't have a ton of time to keep sites updated. Those who do can gain an advantage over time in two ways. First, the search engines will have more content to crawl so their sites will be more likely to show up for a variety of searches. Second, the HUMANS who come to their websites will be more likely to do business with them if the company has a helpful website - which requires content. Doing a little bit of SOMETHING consistently is better than consistently doing nothing.

Our worst enemies are ourselves. Doing the right things for ourselves takes effort. Just ask anyone who's tried to start and stick with a diet or exercise program. You can make a big difference with small efforts over time. Starting today, what will you do to make a difference in your business?

Website Security

Mark Kawabe - Friday, July 09, 2010

A client of mine has their site hosted with a local ISP. Due to some changes at the ISP the FTP login for the website had been changed.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and if you have the FTP information for a website you have the ability to manage the website's files.

In other words, this is important information.

I called the ISP to get the new FTP login. I didn't identify myself or my company and just told the person on the phone that due to the changes I needed the new FTP login to access my client's website. I was asked for the domain of the website and was given the new FTP information. I was even allowed to specify the password.

Our policy at The Web For Business.com is to provide information like this to the client directly. If a client chooses to give that information to a third party, that's their decision. Nobody but a client can get this information from us unless the client has given us permission in writing to communicate with a third party.

If I was a hacker imagine what I could have done to the website.

Ook. Happy Friday!

Search Engines Owe You Nothing

Mark Kawabe - Monday, July 05, 2010

There seems to be a persistent belief that when one has a website, it will somehow rank in the top results automatically for a variety of keywords of your choosing.

Sorry if this is the first time you've heard someone tell you this, but it's a lie.

Search engines are in the business of providing the most "relevant" results. Defining "relevant" is therefore key to understanding how results are ranked. Here's a primer:

  1. Your beautifully-designed, well thought out and sparkling website is not automatically "relevant" in the eyes of a search engine.
  2. You can "optimize" your website until it hurts, but that may still not benefit your "relevance" to a search engine.
  3. If you are under the illusion that your site "should" rank well in the search engines, keep in mind that search engines owe you nothing. It is your responsibility to understand how THEY work. The onus is not on any one search engine to understand how fantastic your website is.

How search engines work is a well-understood mystery. There are practices that most search engine marketers "know" work, but exactly how they work is a mystery - and the mystery changes from time to time as search engines update their formulas.

For example, it is "known" that Google "loves" inbound links to websites. This is why there are now things called link farms. These are also thinly disguised as web "directories". Link farms add links by the thousands to other people's websites - mostly for free but often people will pay to submit their website's link to hundreds or thousands of these sites. Have you ever been told or read that to be successful in Google they need to get as many inbound links to your website as possible? This is a half truth.

The other half of the formula is something called link "relevance". Let's say you're a breeder of Border Collies. If you ask your fellow Border Collie breeders to put a link to your website from theirs and you reciprocate, those links have some "relevance" as they're coming from one Border Collie breeder's website to another. If you also get a link from a link farm where there is no theme to the page your link is found on, that link will have lower "relevance" in comparison to the one from the other breeder's website. So, you could have thousands of largely "irrelevant" links to your website and still not rank highly in Google.

This is just one area of misunderstanding when it comes to search engines. There are dozens more criteria that make up the ranking formulas of the search engines. How each of them fits into the search engine marketing (SEM) puzzle are generally known by people in the SEM industry.

I will be covering search engine optimization and more during my next seminar series. Contact me if you want to know when our next seminars will be held this fall.

Why Sewers and Online Marketing Aren't the Same

Mark Kawabe - Monday, May 31, 2010

Here's a note I wrote to myself this morning.

"With a sewer, you get out what you put in.

With online marketing, results will vary for your efforts.

The trouble is most companies don't measure their results and stick to techniques they're familiar with. Branching out a little to try something "new" could be the thing that makes the difference. Marketing is testing, so whether you're sticking to the familiar or branching out, you have to try, measure, try, measure and repeat until you're clear that what you're doing is working or not working.

If you're not testing and occasionally failing, you're not trying hard enough. There are lots of excuses for this, but the reality is you can't do more of the same and expect different results.

Get off your duff and start changing your world today."

Thought you might find it valuable as well. Happy Monday!


New Business, No Website. Really?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I went to a restaurant that had been open for three months for the first time today. The food was good, the place was clean and the owners were very nice people. The restaurant had a nice logo and it looked to me that their chairs were custom-made to incorporate the logo and the initials of the restaurant in the design. All in all, they had put in a lot of effort to make the place nice.

However, the one thing they didn't have was a website. I asked why and they said it was because they're still working on finalizing their menu. They also didn't have flyers with a take-out menu as that's still in flux.

I can understand not wanting to print 5000 flyers with a menu that is likely to change, but not having a website to help market the business didn't make sense to me.

At the very least a single webpage with their own domain would have given people their address and phone number and possibly directions (with a Google map) of where to find them. Cost: under $200 / year.

Phone directories are the new doorstops to many and the younger generation searches for everything online. Not being online when the costs are so low is inexcusable.

Please pass this message along to any business owner you know who doesn't have a website. I'd love to know what's keeping them offline.

Kids for Change: Tanzania

Mark Kawabe - Monday, April 12, 2010

Kids for Change: Tanzania, one of the most important events of the year for young & mature professionals, will be taking place on Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

In its debut year, Kids for Change, sponsored by Leverage U, is an evening where guests will mix, mingle and be entertained in an effort to raise funds for taking Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills to orphaned children in the needy countries of East Africa.

At Kids for Change 2010 guests will indulge their senses with a taste of Africa in a night of live music, hors d’oeuvres, yummy cocktails, fantastic auctions items, raffles, gift bags and much more! This is an opportunity to leverage your organization as a globally responsible leader aligned with an important cause.

It is our goal to raise $20,000 which will fund this year’s project and secure funds to expand the program.You are invited to participate in Kids for Change by supporting the event with an in-kind donation of goods and/or services to our extraordinary auction items, raffle and/or gift bags.

Filled with unique and exclusive items, our spectacular silent auction, LIVE dessert auction, raffle and gift bags are essential highlights of the evening. As a contributor, you will receive the following:

  • Your donation will be displayed at the auction/raffle table your marketing piece placed in each of the gift bags
  • Your company logo will be displayed onscreen at the event
  • Your company will receive acknowledgement on the Leverage U websites (www.angersolution.com) and blog site (www.angersolution.blogspot.com) with direct links to your website
  • Your company will receive acknowledgment on the Kids for Change: Tanzania Website, Facebook event page and in the Leverage U newsletter.
  • Acknowledgement of your support and involvement on the Blog Talk Radio program “The Anger Solutions Radio Show” with a worldwide listening audience.

Don’t miss out on being part of such a fantastic event!!! Your generous support will help us give hope and bring conflict resolutions and communications skills training to thousands of children in schools and orphanages in the region of East Africa, beginning with Tanzani.

For further information about “The Africa Project” or Kids for Change, please contact Marlina Kinnersley, Development Coordinators directly at or (647) 882-9497.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased from www.kidsforchange.web.officelive.com.Thank you in advance for your consideration and support and we look forward to your positive response. Together we can help!

Sincerely,

Julie Christiansen, Program Sponsor, 905-329-6169 Marlina Kinnersley, Event Coordinator, 647-882-9497

Kids for Change: Tanzania 2010

Copyright

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 29, 2010

Here are a few words that ruined my day around a year ago:

" 'ABC Company' can find no reference to this image having been licensed for reproduction on your website. The usage above directly violates 'ABC Company's' and the artist's exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, display, distribute, and/or create derivative works. Be advised that any entity that violates these exclusive rights of the copyright owner is an infringer of the copyright and is thus liable, regardless of prior knowledge of the unauthorized usage. Also note, the Copyright Act provides for individual liability for all those associated with the infringement as well as corporate liability."

There was more (courtesy of 'ABC Company's' lawyers) but on the "Claim Invoice", the amount of the claim made by 'ABC Company' on behalf of its client was $4020 + GST for unauthorized use of the image.

Let me help that sink in a bit more.

$4020 + GST for the unauthorized use of ONE image on a website.

Ouch.

In this case, the image in question was provided to me by a former client for use on their web advertising. However, after consulting with a lawyer specializing in copyright law, I learned that I was still responsible for the copyright infringement because I hadn't confirmed with my client that the image in question was free of copyright and further, not only did I not check, but I didn't have anything in writing from the client.

Fortunately for me, 'ABC Company' shifted their attention to the former client and that appears to have been the end of the story for me. I suspect hundreds if not thousands of people worldwide receive letters from 'ABC Company' and other rights management companies with claims of copyright infringement. For me, it was an important lesson to learn, so I thought I would share it with you.

Whenever you get new artwork, ensure with your graphic designer that the work is indeed free of copyright. Ask where the image came from and whether they have permission to use it. Image licences can be purchased for as low as a few dollars from many stock photography sites so there's really no reason you should ever get stung with a copyright infringement.

Just a word of warning from one who's been there. It's worth $10 or $20 now to avoid the stress that could befall you in future.

How much does a website cost?

Mark Kawabe - Saturday, March 27, 2010

What is the cost of a website?

In my opinion, websites shouldn't cost anything. Your website should be a tool to grow your business. If it's doing that, then it's an investment.

If it's not, well, then you should be calling us.

Do You Know Your Sushi?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 22, 2010

My dad's a 2nd generation Japanese Canadian. As you might suspect about a guy with this heritage who grew up on the west coast, he knows when his fish is fresh and he knows his sushi. He reminds me that the word "sushi" means "vinegared rice". "Su" is vinegar, "shi" is rice. Pretty simple stuff.

Most restaurants that serve sushi don't have any discernable taste of rice vinegar in their rice. My dad comments that they're not really serving sushi - it looks like it, but you can taste the difference. Most people haven't a clue this is even an issue.

That's the way it seems to be for almost everything these days. We can look at something and think we know what it is - like sushi - but really, we don't have a clue whether we're getting the real deal or something that looks like it. Seeing all the happy people chowing down on sushi in the local all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants, it makes you wonder why it's important. After all, people are happy not knowing the truth, aren't they?

It's gotta be tough to be a trained sushi chef in this world of cheap sushi. These chefs spend years learning their craft. They make the honest-to-goodness product. That's great, but the average consumer doesn't know enough about their craft or the product. The all-you-can-eat sushi places are hopping while the restaurants that sell the more expensive authentic product have empty seats.

Does this sound vaguely like your market? It should. As entrepreneurs we face this dilemma every day. Somewhere, somebody is offering something similar to your product or service for less money. Your challenge is to communicate your value powerfully to the people who will actually care about what you have to offer.

No matter how well you know your sushi, if your market doesn't know what goes into real sushi you need to get to work educating them about the product. What makes your tuna roll better than the one at the all-you-can-eat place? Why does it make a difference that you use snapper instead of the cheaper tilapia? When prospective customers know why you offer more value than your competition you'll get more business. Without education your prospects can't make an informed decision.

The internet gives all businesses access to the same tools but the tools are meaningless unless you can communicate your value clearly and effectively. If you're not doing this now, you can get started right away by looking at your existing marketing and comparing it with your competition's. See how they are communicating their message and look for ways you can improve yours. Keep looking with a critical eye at your approach and over time you'll come up with ways to make your message stand out from the crowd.

Start now.

Get Your Head Out of Your Ass

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 22, 2010

You are so the same as everyone else that nobody cares.

"But wait - I'M DIFFERENT!!!"

So, how exactly are you different enough that people SHOULD care?

I'm waiting...

...still waiting...

...and waiting.The truth is most of us are lousy at communicating our differences which is a shame, because it's the only thing that's really important. We let potential customers assume we fit the "standards" of our industry and since we've co-operated by colouring inside the lines like everyone else, there's nothing special about us to make people go WOW!!! Yep. Guilty as charged. Me too. Been there, done that. Perhaps I'm still doing it.

But today I'm taking a friend's advice and taking my head OUT of my ass, giving it a shake and looking at myself and my business with a more critical eye. Change is happening all around me anyway, whether I want it to or not. If things are going to be different and better, change had better begin with me.

Or in your case, you. I hope you're enjoying the view and the fresh air. Now get to work on making things better.

For those of you who hate Mondays and want to procastinate until Tuesday or Wednesday when you're in a better mood, the good news is you're right. It CAN wait. The better time to start is now.

Happy Monday!