Category Archives for Digital Marketing

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Niche eCommerce Business has been Ringing Up Sales for 23 years

What does it take to successfully launch and grow a niche ecommerce business?

We find out when I interview Elisabeth Halvorson, founder of Cowbells.com who turned an childhood dream into a niche ecommerce success story.

Why did you start a business selling cowbells?

When I was 7, I wanted to be in the Olympics. A few careers later, I was able to catch up with that dream by delivering cowbells to cheer on athletes during the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games…. hey, mittens don’t clap. It was a RINGING success! We medaled in souvenir sales as the #2 most popular item behind the Roots beret. Since then, we’ve added more cowbell styles and a “s” to our name….

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Multiple arrows and decisions

Website Traffic Sources: Which One Should You Focus On?

You’ve built your website, it looks awesome. Launch day comes, with much fanfare. Finally your website is done!

And then you wait. And aside from your friends and family, no one seems to visit your website. So it slowly dawns on you that you need a website traffic strategy. But which traffic source should you focus on?

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Opening combination safe

4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Facebook Ads

The case for Facebook ads has been strong for a while. And only getting stronger. Yes, it’s not quite as cheap to advertise on Facebook as it was in the early days, but with the right campaign you often can beat the costs of other digital advertising, such as Google Adwords.

Facebook has gotten smarter too, its algorithm has gotten exceptionally good at optimizing your campaign so you don’t have to be a complete ninja to crush it. Yes, you definitely do need to understand the platform, but you don’t always need to get all the options exactly right.

In fact, at a Pubcon session recently Blitzmetrics’s Dennis Yu shared that once you have a winning ad set up and running, you can actually remove the targeting and Facebook will still deliver it to the right people.

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Why Keyword Research is More Important Than Ever – Infographic

I was inspired to put together this infographic when I read Trond Lyngbø’s Search Engine Land’s article:

Keyword research: a key element of SEO & content marketing.

As the introduction says: “Many business owner see SEO and content marketing as separate, but columnist Trond Lyngbø argues that solid keyword research can and should be used to inform content marketing strategy.” – SearchEngineLand

I couldn’t agree more. Augmented by customer and market research, keyword research becomes a potent tool in your hands, giving you valuable insight into just not content marketing and SEO as Lyngbø asserts but also into multiple aspects of online marketing, including social and paid traffic.

To really do a thorough job with your keyword research, you should be including less traditional keyword research tools such #tagboard. My list of 22 Keyword Research Tools has plenty of interesting tools for you to choose from.

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Is Affiliate Disclosure Required in an Email?

Confused on Affiliate Disclosure in Email?

Confused about Affiliate Disclosure in Email Marketing? So am I.

After the beta launch of my SEO for Business Owners course, I’ve been planning to do a more expanded version next year (with a better title). One component of that planning is looking for partners that can help promote the course to reach a broader audience.

If you are not familiar with this business model, here’s how it works.

  1. You find someone that has a business complementary to yours and has (preferably) a big list
  2. They email their list promoting a freebie that you offer such as a free report or free webinar
  3. You then sell your product to your newly acquired prospects
  4. You pay your partner a commission for each person that he/she sent you that bought your product

Of course this is just a high level overview, but that should be enough information for you to get the gist of it. So the question is, do you have to disclosure the fact that you are a partner (or a affiliate) in the email you send to your list?

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Is Double Opt-in Worth It?

Is Double Opt-in worth it?

Is Double Opt-in worth it?

I’ve given serious thought to abandoning my web mail account. Because I’ve had it for a long time, I have an address that is exceptionally easy to remember which is convenient, but this ease comes at a price. More and more my email address is routinely used as a “fake” email by other people. Although I do have a way to filter these “spam” emails it’s a chore to periodically go and unsubscribe from all these lists that I never signed up for. When I am less cranky about it, I tell myself that it’s an interesting peek into what people do online.

I’ve received invitations to a BBQ party in Wisconsin, a trail of notifications of Christmas shopping purchases in Florida, an admonishment to close the gate from a UK suburb association, numerous car insurance quotes, invoices, periodic pleas from a gaming site to please please come back, and even a notification from a tax software company that the IRS rejected my return.

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Cool insights from Google Analytics Referrals


I’ve just started reading Avinash Kaushik’s book: Web Analytics 2.0. Avinash is well known for his insights into the complex world of Web Analytics and his ability to distill complex topics into simple concepts. At the end of Chapter 3 of his book, Avinash lists a couple of questions that all businesses should be able to answer about their web site. The first question “How many visitors are coming to my website?” is pretty straightforward so I won’t spend much time on that one. Investigation into the second question “Where are your visitors coming from?” yielded some cool insights that I will share below.

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DMCA Takedown Procedure for Stolen Content

No one like having their content stolen. It’s even worse when it ends up on low quality spammy sites that drag your backlink profile down into Penguin target territory. If the website in question is scraping a significant portion of your content, like entire articles verbatim, filing a DMCA takedown compliant with Google can be effective way to get it removed.

First, attempt to contact the site owner and tell him that stealing content violates The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and you will file a DMCA takedown with Google if the content is not removed. If you don’t get a response, then file the DMCA takedown request. If it is a Google properly, such as a blogspot blog it can get completely removed, otherwise it will be removed from Google’s index. For non Google properties, select the “web search” option.

Reporting spam, such as paid links and malware is a different procedure.

Throw out your keywords and go creative with your blog titles

For choosing your blog titles, here’s the advice I’m sure you’ve heard:

  • Build a keyword list of your blog’s main topic.
  • Choose some criteria to pick the most promising keywords (search volume, evidence of long tail, competition or CPC)
  • Write a post that has the keyword term in the page title, post title and at least a couple of times in the post body.
Spike in Traffic shown by Google Analytics

Google Analytics doesn't lie - Sex Sells

While I’m not saying the above doesn’t work, some of my most popular posts did not use the above methodology at all. Case in point: Recently I noticed people “frictionless sharing” an article from the Washington Post titled “4 Things You Do To Kill Her Sex Drive” on Facebook which I’m sure many were unaware that the Facebook social reader app was posting on their behalf. So I wrote an article on Facebook Social Reader Apps and recommended people review their app list in Facebook and take action to not broadcast to Facebook their browsing habits.

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Hiding Affiliate Links in WordPress

Pretty Link WordPress PluginAffiliate links just look plain ugly and there is always the chance that someone will be petty enough to gyp you out of your commission by stripping out the tracking code. As a tangent I noticed a while back, these days Clickbank has a new URL that no longer include the Clickbank username (but still a tracking id). Wonder whether that is working out any better. To avoid this problem you want to hide the original affiliate link with a pretty link. This is what many mean by “affiliate link cloaking”. But cloaking has another meaning, which is showing different content and links to the search engines versus to the humans. That’s really not what I’m talking about here, nor am I going to touch on the topic of hiding affiliate links because Google doesn’t like them. I don’t really have a lot of affiliate links compared to all the content I have, so I’m not worried.

I was looking for a couple of features:

  • Ability to redirect a pretty link to an affiliate link
  • Ability to add a nofollow to the link

I had heard good things about GoCodes and was planning to install it. However it is no longer available via the plugin WordPress repository search and hasn’t been updated since 2009. Too bad as it was a nice solution.

One nice alternative is the Pretty Link plugin, which comes in a free version (Pretty Link Lite) and an enhanced version (Pretty Link Pro) which gives you the ability to use javascript to mask your links which might be attractive to the “cloaking” crowd. Not only does it satisfy the above requirements but it gives you tracking and a bookmarklet.

It’s worth pointing out that Google will still follow the link, even if you put a nofollow tag on it (confusingly nofollow doesn’t mean “don’t follow” but rather “don’t pass page rank”, so you aren’t “hiding links from Google”. If that is your goal, you can check into the paid version’s javascript feature.

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