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The provider of affordable website hosting presents - When The Dumbest Idea Is The Best One

This post is an excerpt adapted by Brian Carter from the forthcoming book The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice On How To Get Your Dream Job And Make More Money, by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn. Brian and Garrison will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at http://thecowbellprinciple.com/getnotified

Have you seen the More Cowbell sketch from Saturday Night Live? It’s more than just funny. Believe it or not, it’s a powerful metaphor for a successful work life. And it provides insight into the kind of people you need on your team, and what makes an effective team.

Everyone has at least one cowbell — it’s your unique, profitable talent people pay you for or your company’s unique offering. It’s something people have a fever for. When you discover it and give those people a ton of it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others. It’s a win-win.

A cowbell is simultaneously something you love doing and something other people really want as well (although, as we’ll see, you still will have detractors and critics). A cowbell creates joy for you and other people. It makes them yell for more. They can’t get enough.

Sometimes the Dumbest Idea Is the Best One

 “I’m telling you guys, you’re going to want that cowbell.”

— TheBruce Dickinson (Christopher Walken)

Garrison once worked for Hendee Enterprises, a company that came up with industrial solutions. When one customer approached the company looking for a way to prevent moisture from getting into its paint vats, Garrison suggested a simple alternative to the warping, leaking covers the customer was using: “Why don’t we put a giant shower cap on there and you can throw the caps away every day?” Five engineers said it was the dumbest idea ever, borne of Garrison’s lack of education and understanding of the idea. But the covers had to be disposable because any wood or metal fabrication would warp or degrade. And caps made of special plastic and elastic wouldn’t cause static electricity.

The customer bought 250 boxes of 500 covers each. Now every paint vat in the country is required to have this cover and it’s sold in 30 countries. Not bad for a dumb idea, huh?

“I’m telling you guys, you’re going to want that gargantuan shower cap.”

— slightly modified by TheGarrison Wynn

We often confuse simplicity with stupidity. It’s easy to think that if something is simple, it must not be the best or most effective. Wrong! Sometimes an idea seems dumb because you’rebeing dumb. Or snobby.

Ignore the Snobs… For the Most Part

There’s a big difference between what movie critics like and what the mainstream public will pay to see. In the 2000s, Brian often looked at Rotten Tomatoes to decide whether to see a movie, until he realized that he often disagreed with the critics whose reviews were featured on the site. Sometimes you want to see a mindless action flick, and most of those are disliked by movie critics. And some of the top-grossing movies are universally panned by the critics.

IMDB is a great resource, because it contains both mainstream viewer ratings and metascore, which is a measurement of critical response to the movie. If you’re in the mood for something mainstream, ignore metascore. If you want to have a great time AND have your mind blown? Look for a movie that does well with both metascore (over 70) and high user ratings (above 7.0).

Movie critics are, at worst, snobs. They want something new and unpredictable, but often what people like isn’t much different from what they liked 10 years ago. At best, because critics watch more films and think about them more than others, they have more insight than the average person.

What underlies snobbiness is nothing more than a kind of elite stubbornness. We have a way of doing things that has a tradition to it; it’s the “right” way to do it. If you’re doing something in a way other than that, we know it’s not as good.

A snobby high school girl says, in essence, “My situation is far superior to yours. You can’t make a contribution to me. By virtue of your birth, I should not even acknowledge your existence.” What is this? Nothing more than a defense mechanism. High school is tough, so to look unafraid and invulnerable —to prevent people from bullying you — you look down on others first.

For us, the question is whether snobbiness — whether it comes from outside or inside ourselves — helps you create things that tons of people like. Sometimes, you definitely need to have standards. But sometimes snobbiness creates an intellectual paralysis that leads to creating things that only a small number of other snobs like.

One thing we’re sure of: If your inner snob is causing writer’s block, you need to exorcise that self-judging demon.

Try Something Stupid

Is there something you’ve been afraid to do that you thought was a pretty good idea but you believe others would view as stupid?

Exercising through stupid ideas leads you to better ideas. Look at all the stupid contraptions we humans tried to fly in our quest to get airborne! Sometimes the onlyway to genius is through stupid.

We can guess that Formula 409 means the other 408 spray cleansers didn’t work. Number 17 probably sprayed dirt onto dirt. And Fantastik may have had had an earlier version called Purty Good. “How’s that clean?” “Oh, Purty Good… a lot better than Not Bad Spray!”

Are stupid ideas a good idea? Yes.

Since when is the first idea the best idea? If the first idea were indeed the best idea, then progress makes no sense.

Be Willing to Be Crazy

Every city has some local dealership with a crazy commercial. If you were an intellectual, acting like that would kill your career, but nobody cares about the sophisticated furniture guy. Crazy Eddie Furniture beats that guy every time.

Mattress Mack is one of the most successful businessmen in Houston, Texas – so successful he once lost a $7 million football bet. In his commercials, he held a big wad of money and yelled, “We’ll save you money!” Mattress Mack did, however, lose to chainsaw-wielding Hilton “That’s a Fact Jack” Koch in a Conan O’Brien contest for most annoying advertiser.

If you’re buying cheap local TV ads, it’s good to be crazy. Crazy can be an advantage in certain other industries too; it depends on the market. And even if you’re not the craziest person or company in oyur market, a little occasional craziness reassures your customers that you have a pulse. Which is good, because, most of the time, dead people don’t sell a lot of stuff.

The post When The Dumbest Idea Is The Best One appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | When The Dumbest Idea Is The Best One | 30 Oct 2014, 2:51 pm

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - Load Balancing and Failover Improve Hosting

Everyone wants their traffic to go viral, but most don’t realize that if they do get mentioned on a major site or go viral on social media their hosting company is likely to take their site down. When this happens, they lose the benefit of having gone viral!

The reason for this is traffic limits on almost every hosting solution. If you go over your traffic limit, some hosting companies may charge you for the overage while others will immediately take your site offline.

This is only one disadvantage of typical hosting plans. Another is server failure. Your site is typically hosted on only one server. If that server has a hard drive head crash or any other technical failure your site goes down.

Content Delivery Network

By using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) also known as a Content Distribution Network, your site is hosted on multiple servers in diverse locations. This is the ultimate protection against technical failures, power outages, and internet slowdowns.

CDNs also provide caching in multiple locations closer to the end users, decreasing page load times. Other benefits are enhanced security and resistance to DDoS attacks thanks to high capacity networks of servers.

Server Failover

The best CDNs automatically reroute traffic from a failed server to the backup, ideally without human intervention. Some CDNs require the process to be activated manually while others provides automatic failover detection to immediately activate your preconfigured backup server and alert you via email.

Example of CDN failover in action

 

Load Balancing

With Google’s emphasis on page load speed, using a CDN with load balancing can be the easiest method to decrease delays.  The idea is to have multiple servers that can serve traffic and then use the CDN as the “middle-man” to distribute the incoming requests between these multiple servers. There are many load balancing methods. Legacy CDNs usually rely on Anycast routing while the more modern ones take it a step further with layer 7 load balancing solutions.

The benefit of the later method is that, while Anycast routing using the shorter path from user to server, the layer 7 load balancing is also able to route traffic to servers based on their current traffic load.  Using both helps you not only take the shortest path but also to choose the best recipient. However, with Anycast-only solutions you always run the risk of overcrowding the popular servers while leaving the un-popular ones un-visited and underperforming.

Security

CDNs are a very effective method of protecting your site from DDoS threats and other cyber-attacks because a CDN network of servers can handle vastly more requests at one time and because its servers are positioned on the edge of your network, where they can expect all incoming traffic.

“An effective defense against an HTTP flood can be the deployment of a reverse proxy – in particular collection of reverse proxies spread across multiple hosting locations. A reverse proxy is somewhat akin to a bouncer at a nightclub, deciding which guests are allowed into the party, where the real web server is. By deploying many bouncers in different locations, the crush of incoming traffic is split into fractions, lessening the possibility of the network becoming overwhelmed.”

Today some CDN platforms also provide websites with Web Application Firewall (WAF) and even offer the options to add custom security rules for organizations that want to tweak the default security policies.

Simple Implementation

Manually implementing your own load balancing or failover solution is extremely complex. Mistakes could lead to loss of traffic and other undesirable side-effects (i.e. temporary loss of Google rankings). Fortunately, implementing an existing CDN solution can be as simple as changing the DNS for your site at your domain registrar to route your traffic through the CDN.

How CDNs Work

When an internet user goes to your URL (such as www.yoursite.com), instead of the domain name server (DNS) pointing directly to your original server that hosts your site, the CDN will send the user to the server closest to their location (based on their IP address) or least busy instead. Depending upon the size of the CDN, there could be dozens of copies of your site each on a server in a different location.

Do You Need a CDN?

Huge sites with thousands of simultaneous visitors spread across the world need CDNs. Whether you need a CDN or not depends on the type of site you run and how critical it is for you financially for that site to stay online

Business focused websites will benefit from the security aspects, faster page load times and additional availability options. With commercial CDNs services available for just few dozen dollars a month, and freemium CDNs offering free plans and trial offers, any site owner whose income is derived from being online should consider upgrading to the use of a CDN.

The post Load Balancing and Failover Improve Hosting appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | Load Balancing and Failover Improve Hosting | 28 Oct 2014, 12:17 am

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - Boosting Your E-commerce Profits

Building an online business can be complex and tricky, not least as most customers now turn to the internet to make their purchases rather than physically go into a store. Imagine the frustration it saves around Christmas. With this in mind, websites are determined to make purchasing on their websites extremely easy for their customers.

One of the key things to consider when enhancing your e-commerce business is to ensure the customer has ease of use of the website to find the products or services they need.  While the website ease of use is extremely important, there are other factors you should consider when enhancing your e-commerce website.

Build product information

Customers want to have as much information about the product or service as possible. You need to highlight all the features and benefits to give them a reason to buy it. Alongside this, you should give customers a chance to review items they have purchased and having a representative respond. This will build up a

relationship of trust by having someone respond to reviews, either thanking a customer or offering to resolve a negative response.

Provide customisable options

If your system allows you, include options for your customer purchases such as personalised gift wrapping, engravings or handwritten notes. Adding this personal touch to your service will boost your reputation, maximise profits and possibly cause the customer to refer you to a friend because of your excellent customer service.

Provide contact details

If a customer is unhappy with their product, or if they are unsure about a method of payment (or any other enquiry), be sure to include contact details. For customers who are unhappy with their purchase order, providing a way for them to contact you can help resolve any negative situation. If a customer cannot contact you with a query, they may go to the competition for the same product or service.

Visual appeal

There is no point in having a well-written description of your product if you don’t put an image alongside it. Visuals are everything when it comes to selling a product. It is a great way to grab a potential buyers attention, especially if you have the product set out nicely and professionally photographed.

Provide examples of the item in use, or use it against other items, creating an outfit if you sell clothes is an excellent way to suggest other items the customer can purchase.

Further reading: Tools to create awesome visual content

No hidden prices

Make sure the customer knows the price of shipping before the final checkout. This will allow them to make a final decision rather than feel annoyed over hidden charges. Making them aware of the shipping costs will make them less likely to drop the purchase. Also, you should include as much information about the shipping as possible. Customers like to keep track of their order, so providing this information will excel your customer service. 

Managing an e-commerce store should not be overly complicated and allowing the customer to use should not cause frustration. Remember to be honest about your service and allow them the chance to contact you about anything regarding their product. For more advice on how to manage an efficient e-commerce store, a marketing specialist can provide information on systems that will make establishing your business online a lot easier.

The post Boosting Your E-commerce Profits appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | Boosting Your E-commerce Profits | 24 Oct 2014, 1:28 am

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - 7 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Twitter Campaign

If you’re like a lot of people, you want to have a million Twitter followers. Or, if not, you want a lot of them. But did you know that there are things that you can do to actually drive people away from being followers? Here are some of the mistakes that you can make on Twitter.

Not Utilizing Images

Using images in your Twitter posts will cause the tweet to use more space in the feeds and therefore they help with driving engagement. Tweets which include images have 200% more engagement when compared with those without. Although images aren’t appropriate for all tweets, it’s a good idea to use them when possible.

Not Using Hashtags

Using hashtags is one of the best ways that a business can insert itself into trending topics and conversations that are related. This also helps to double engagement. An example would be using #TBT or #throwbackthursday to become part of a huge regular conversation on Thursdays. It’s best to repost old advertisements or images rather than new ones since it’s called Throwback Thursday.

Only Using Twitter to Promote Yourself

Everyone on Twitter uses it to promote themselves in one way or another. That’s a given fact. But a big mistake that a lot of people make is just using it for promoting their business. Why shouldn’t you use it just for promoting your business? There are several reasons:

It’s annoying to read. People don’t like following you just to have your business shoved down throats. It’s bad customer service. Give them information that is going to be helpful and they’ll come back. It doesn’t win you a lot of followers. Retweeting things that other people have tweeted will make you stand out and show that you care about others.

Only Posting Links to Your Content

This goes along with the above tip. Yes, you want to get people to read your stuff and yes you want visitors to your website. But you also want people to be interested in what you have to tweet. A good strategy is to find articles that other people have written that are related to your business or your own content. This should be content that is helpful to your followers and that people will find interesting. This is going to make more people follow you.

Only Posting at Certain Times

Yeah, we know you’re busy. But it’s not a good idea to post everything the same time on a certain day of the week. For one thing, it’s going to be annoying to your followers. For another thing, those tweets are only going to be seen by the people who go on Twitter at that time. It’s better to spread out your tweets throughout the day and week.

Not Starting With a Character

A lot of people on Twitter make this mistake – they start out a post with @username. So what’s the problem? When you start out with that, it means that the only people who can see this is you, the @username, and the people who are following both of you. To stop this from happening, you can put something like a period in front of it. So say you want to announce your new blog. You could say something like . @myblog is now live! Come see what I have to say.

Not Using Tweetable Quotes

Tweets about your new article are good. Direct quotes from your new article are even better! Want to take advantage of using tweetable quotes? There are two great tools that you can use to do this – Clicktotweet, which is free, and TweetDis, which is premium.

So there you have it, some of the mistakes that people make on Twitter. If you are always using Twitter for your business, there are a lot of tools that you can use. Here is an excellent article about Twitter tools and how they should be used to help you and your business.

The post 7 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Twitter Campaign appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | 7 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Twitter Campaign | 4 Oct 2014, 4:30 pm

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - Effective Branding: Utilising The Power Of Branding In Content Outreach

People listen to advice from people that they like and trust. In the digital age, often the people that are most trusted are those who we have never physically met.  Think of your favourite tech or hotel review blog and how invaluable their advice is. I, for one, would not dare to buy a new device without first checking with tech radar to see how it measures up against the competition and if it is worth spending a premium to upgrade.

Bloggers blog about every topic under the sun and bring with them a cachet and built-in audience that, if handled correctly, can be tapped into by the use of content outreach. Content outreach is the process of finding a partner outside of your business through whom you can get your message out to the public. By choosing the correct outreach partners, you can increase your profile and credibility by borrowing theirs, but charm is key.

Many established and wanna-be established brands seek to identify marketing partners, but a major fault is finding a partner who is a less than ideal fit. For the big boys, money can sway opinion; but for those of us who are working with limited resources, research and finesse are required to build relevant, mutually-respectful and beneficial partnerships that can succeed. Below are some tips on identifying and partnering with content outreach partners.

Identify your brand

Know your company’s strengths and what your differentials are, or at least what you would like them to be. Think through who your target audience is. Are you marketing a mass market product that is going to be adored by all? Unless you are selling ice cream, the answer is probably no. What’s your niche market? Are there any obvious blogs that you know catering to that market? Are you confident in your product or service? If not, this is the stage to start becoming confident about it. If you do not believe in what you are offering, how are you going to be able to convince others of the value of your offering?

Get to searching

The first thing that you need to do is identify a blog that is likely to have an audience which is interested in your product. To give a ridiculous example, there’s no point hooking up with a vegetarian website to try to promote your new range of livestock burgers.  The importance of research cannot be understated. Once you’ve identified what your brand means and who your likely audience are going to be, get to Twitter and Google and try and find out where they go and who they respect. Scribble down any names that seem relevant so that you can come back to them later. At this stage you are looking for breadth rather than depth in your searches. Brandi offers some tips here on what to look out for when thinking about which bloggers to reach out to.

Go Sherlock

Once you’ve identified the key mavens in your field, dig into their lives. Find out about the blogger, they are people just like you and usually with a great passion for the often thankless task of writing.  If they’re hosting a blog then they probably have a public Facebook and/or Twitter page. Follow them and learn about what makes them tick, what are their interest, what piques their attention and what causes meltdowns. This information is going to be invaluable at the next stage.

Houston, We Have Contact

Once you know what colour socks your target wears each Wednesday, it is time to get in touch. This is where your personality needs to come into force. People do business with people they like and you are asking for a fairly big favour. You want this person to put their own credibility on the line to help you out. This stage is essentially a sales pitch, yet it is unlikely that money is going to change hands. Reciprocity and synergy are the key words here. How can the two individuals who are interacting benefit each other, where is there crossover and how does this person pointing people in your direction benefit him/her? These are things you need to have ready in advance, although you do not need to jump straight in with the pitch.

By all means take some time to engage in chit chat, build up a friendship and it doesn’t have to be a fake one. If your audience is the same then there is a good chance you have shared professional interests, if nothing else. Seek advice and consult over an issue which makes the other person feel like the voice of authority. Show them that you respect them and let things grow organically from there. It shouldn’t feel forced.

If you believe in your brand and know your audience then there is a logical symbiosis to the promotion of your product. Should you be a company that makes something, send it over and let the blogger try it out. They’ll appreciate the gift and if you believe in your product, then you are going to get a good review, too. For other services you can point to records of success, or even offer a free sample, perhaps some web development services if you are a web developer, for example.

Other means of contact

While emails, Twitter conversations and Facebook messages are the easiest way to get in touch, they may not be the most beneficial. There is very little that is better than a face-to-face meeting for building lasting relationships. Brian Zeng offers some useful tips here on alternative ways to make contact with the bloggers you have targeted and these are golden. Find out what functions they are attending, networking events, etc. I am not saying you should stalk them, but an accidental meet up and bonding over canapés is a great way to build a lasting relationship. Here’s a post about the relationship between Brand and Blog and how you can maximise this tie-up.

Some examples of successful outreach

Of course, paid content is guaranteed to get eyeballs, but they may be wasted. Sponsored Buzzfeed lists have drawn some attention recently, and this is definitely an example of one way to guarantee a big audience. However, a cost benefit analysis may well show that there are cheaper and more creative ways to reach your audience that focus on the human to human connection that is essential to content outreach.

A benefit of doing this outreach method is boosting your brand and services by being mentioned in your partners’ websites. One good example of outreach is to write about informative and creative ways to promote your niche and product. This should appear on your blog.

Char-Broil – The Outdoor Cook’s Favourite

One of the major outreach success stories is that of Char-Broil. They partnered with the best of the bunch when it comes to outdoor cooking bloggers and these partners get access to products to review, mention and even get to write blog posts on the Char-Broil site. The relationship is fully synergized as both sides get extra content and exposure. This is the very model of the reciprocal content outreach partnership. Char-Broil do pay some of these bloggers, but the process of identifying the best fit really is the key takeaway message from the Char-Broil example. Methodical and targeted, partnerships developed organically.

Going Further with Ford

Ford’s approach shows great confidence in their product and is the model for open engagement with the public. While a newspaper advert telling us about the latest Ford may capture some attention, it’s a passive experience and one in which suspicions may be running high due to the public’s increased advertising literacy and awareness of when they are clearly being sold to. The content outreach approach blends advertising with social media and Ford encourage their content outreach partners to be as critical as possible with full transparency.

The approach puts everything out in the open and comes across as a more sincere and authentic form of engaging with the public. Ford also gets to really see how people feel about its products and make changes to their approach moving forward. Again, finding key mavens is important and ensuring that your bloggers are professional and of sufficient quality is a must, but the Ford model shows the kind of transparency that is becoming more expected with consumers in the digital age.

Micro-Level Love for the Smaller brands

My wife loves shopping. I don’t. Online shopping then makes us both happy. She gets to experience the shopping and I don’t have to leave the house. Either way my pockets hurt anyway. I started to notice recently that my wife likes to buy from independent retailers who run their businesses through Facebook. I have no idea about their legal position on taxes, etc., but that’s not my concern here.  It is clear that at this micro-level that there is a desire to get the name of the vendor out to the biggest possible audience, often by having somebody with some existing kudos showing them some love through a ‘like’. The best option would be to have a celebrity customer, but if not then a positive review from a well-respected blog would do the job just as well. As you have hopefully garnered by this point, relationships are key and partnering with those who have an interest in your product as well as a ready-made audience for you to tap into works, even if you are a tiny fish.

Getting up close and personal

Relationships are key to success in business. No man is an island, but that doesn’t mean that all archipelagos are even. There are no short cuts to success, but there is little substitute for methodical research. You must know your product and understand why others will be interested in consuming it.

Once this is done, think about your favourite blogs and what makes them successful. You may be lucky and find that the perfect partner is already somebody you subscribe to and have a relationship with. If not, get to finding out who fits best and target them. You don’t want to have too many partners, but a few well-positioned bloggers with decent readership and kudos are going to help you out an awful lot.

An example of how you could reach out by email is shown here. This email style has been successful in establishing a relationship with a blogger. It comes out natural but most importantly, it comes out as personally as it can get.

Hello Jane,

My name is Denise Connors and I am a big fan of your blog ukstylishblogs.com because I also love everything about fashion and trends. I follow you in Facebook, Twitter (@janestyles) and Google+.

I love reading your Facebook posts about the latest style trends and retweeting your Twitter posts. I just recently read your blog “How to be Stylish Without Really Trying” and it definitely made me a fan. I see a lot of similarities with our tastes in fashion and couture.

I’d like to know if you accept contributions from fans of your blog. I am willing to contribute wholesome and creative content relating to fashion trends.

Regards,

Denise

Fashion Fanatic

www.MediaBuzzer.net

 

At the contact stage you need to sell without selling. Partnering up should seem like the most natural thing in the world for your outreach partner to be doing, but you also will need to incentivise things somewhat, either with samples, reciprocal marketing or advice. Take your time considering your approach. There is no universal piece of advice on this, but being polite and charming never hurt in any walk of life. After that, hopefully you’re good to go and both parties can thrive.

Remember, there are thousands of other companies like yours, having the same ideas as yours, doing the exact same processes as yours. Make yourself stand out by focussing on the essential element – the personal element.

The post Effective Branding: Utilising The Power Of Branding In Content Outreach appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | Effective Branding: Utilising The Power Of Branding In Content Outreach | 28 Sep 2014, 3:44 pm

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - 4 Ways To Test Your Business Idea In An Afternoon

My first business ideas were absolutely horrible.

It wasn’t that they weren’t going to work for one or two small reasons, there were massive holes in the logic-of-how-this-is-ever-going-to-make-anyone-any-money-ever.

I built an algorithm that tried to predict someone’s personality by looking at their tweets. I considered founding a government defense contracting company to bid on defense contracts. I thought about trying to visually map out all data on Wikipedia.

You get the picture.

Over time though, I began to see patterns in these bad ideas. I started to realize why so many successful people preach about the power of persistence and taking action. If you just continue trying stuff, you’re going to start building patterns in your mind of the types of things that work and don’t work. It’s as simple as that.

Today things aren’t quite as frustrating. I’ve built a couple of successful businesses so I’m more aware of what the common pitfalls are.

I’ve developed four thresholds that every new idea I have needs to pass before I’m willing to invest any significant time or money into it. Whenever I have a new idea or meet with an entrepreneur, these are the first four questions that need to be answered:

1. What burning pain are you solving?

Paul Graham sees a lot of entrepreneurs go through YCombinator and he says that the number one reason a startup fails is by,”not making something users want.” In other words, nobody cares about the problem. If the problem you’re trying to solve is painful enough for a given customer, they’ll be willing to compromise with a crappy solution, that’s the definition of an early-adopter.

About 80% of my initial ideas failed because of this: I didn’t validate that the problem I was trying to solve actually existed. It doesn’t matter if your product solves a particular problem better than anything else in the world, if it’s not solving a burning pain then it’s going to be very difficult to build a business around.

Be clear in your mind about what problem your product or business is solving.

2. What are your analogs?

An analog is an example product or service that people are currently paying for that solves the same problem that your product or service is supposed to solve. Find some examples of people paying right now to solve this problem.

Your product or service can be completely different, but you want to know that people are willing to open their wallets to solve this problem. (There are a lot of problems that are “nice-to-solve” but not “must-solve.”)

An example of an analog would be if I had an idea for a machine that could zap my teeth and they’d be clean for the rest of my life. People buy toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash right now so I have a general idea that people are willing to pay something to solve this problem. (How much they’re willing to pay is another story.)

3. How do you know your solution is better?

If you know that the problem not only exists, but is acute enough that people are willing to pay, now you can start determining if your idea is superior to the existing solutions. The best way to do this is through customer development (AKA talking to your customers).

Customer development is a technique used to help you objectively determine if the people who feel the pain you identified in threshold #1, who may even be using products or services you found in threshold #2, find your solution better. The best way to do this is to actually go out and talk to them.

4. Can you find 10 customers to pay you right now?

Most ideas, even if they’re highly product-oriented, can be made into a service to solve the problem. This doesn’t scale, but the process teaches you everything you need to know about the viability of selling your idea. Don’t get fancy – use craigslist, ebay, your local newspaper, whatever.

Put up a one page static site with a buy button. If you’re a hardware startup, use Kickstarter. Find your first 10 customers before thinking about anything else.

As George E.P. Box said,

“Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

There is no entrepreneurship formula that works for everything – but there are formulas that make things much easier. In the process of taking your idea through this four-step process, you’ll learn a lot about the longer-term viability of your idea.

The post 4 Ways To Test Your Business Idea In An Afternoon appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | 4 Ways To Test Your Business Idea In An Afternoon | 27 Sep 2014, 3:48 pm

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - High-Quality Directories and How They Add Value to the Web

I am in the industry long enough to have witnessed both the growth and decline in the popularity of “web directory” phenomenon.

Web directories emerged prior to search engines as the means to help people discover websites online. During Google times, web directories were used to build backlinks and extra visibility for a website. Then they became popular among link builders – from where the concept abuse started.

There is an argument that link building hasn’t killed web directories. What happened instead is that directories were no longer needed (search engines did the job) but is it really so? To me, it’s the same as to say that Wikipedia is not needed thanks for Google Knowledge Graph (yes, I realize the knowledge graph is being built based on Wikipedia, hence the sarcasm)

The difference between web directories and search engines is that high-quality web directories are heavily moderated. The purpose of today’s web directory is to provide the well-structured database of high-quality websites.

Hence good directories can still be useful:

To build your site co-citation signals To put your site in the most relevant immediate contest To build more brand name mentions and awareness (to help build digital footprint)

Below I am listing selected directories that are still driving value to your website (if you are listed there) but more importantly, provide valuable user experience.

Featured sites:  

Requirements to be listed

Why is it here?

Dmoz

No “mirror” and non-original-content sites”, no sites with illegal content, no sites with mostly affiliate links

The fact that Google still trusts Dmoz enough to show “anchor text or listings from” it is pretty self-explanatory.

Business.com

“Sites must serve as a resource for businesses or business professionals”. They actually have very strict guidelines listed here

Listing your site there actually drives traffic and brings trust. Note: I did find a few a bit forced “exact-match anchor text listings there” which I’d avoid if I were them

Dir Journal

No sites with broken links, only family-friendly sites, sites with cross-browser support, no sites with pop-ups,

Each site has a separate page listing * some stats, helpful links as well as description and most useful pages from that domain. That could become a powerful brand name asset! They also offer free webmaster tools and have a separate “local” directory

JoeAnt

“Our users expect relevant results with appropriate ratings”: sufficient content and contact info (for business websites) are required

I actually LOVED the site search feature ** showing different features of each website: It shows the site is very-well curated!

Yahoo Dir

Cross-browser support, no sites with “under construction” pages

It’s hard not to mention Yahoo when talking about directories. They say it’s too expensive to justify it though.

Jasmine

No pharmacy, affiliate-only, redirected sites (The guidelines are rather vague: “it is difficult to name the exact websites we reject”)

Best results are labeled. Category pages have lots of content beyond links. They provide 100 / 300-word review for each site (So they write the copy themselves: Neat!)

Abilogic

No websites with illegal or pornographic content, no affiliate or MLM sites, no mirror and non-original sites

The site overall is very user-friendly. I liked the individual listing pages: They have “related articles” and the ability to comment and rate

Isoosi

I actually couldn’t find clear quality guidelines on their submission page (I can assume it’s located elsewhere)

Positions itself more as a “human-empowered” search engine (they claim to have a crawler of their own), has a great focus on community

*Dir Journal listing screenshot:

**JoeAnt search results:

Honorable mentions:

I wasn’t able to find any arguments pro or against the below directories (or something worth noting in the “Why is it here?” column above), so I am just listing them because I know they have a very good reputation:

Aviva directory: One of the oldest, best-known directories out there. They say it’s trusted and can even drive traffic. Alive Directory: Interestingly, it shows number of clicks on each link (A good sign it’s actually able of sending traffic) Skaffe: I like that they show Google Plus button and have “Address” and telephone. I wish they supported that more (most listings provide no telephone; I couldn’t find a zip code that would have any search results)

Further reading:

Lots of local directories are listed here Web App Directories to Promote Your Startup by Justin McGill @jus10mcgill Major Search Engines and Directories at Search Engine Watch.

What are your thoughts about web directories nowadays? Please share your thoughts!

The post High-Quality Directories and How They Add Value to the Web appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | High-Quality Directories and How They Add Value to the Web | 8 Sep 2014, 2:49 pm

The provider of affordable website hosting presents - 7 Best Presentations from ClickZ Live San Francisco (Available for Download) #CLZSF

August 11 we were enjoying ClickZ Live San Francisco. I did a few live coverages including one with Jim Boykin and Chris Boggs.

Today, for everyone who has missed the event or who wants to download the great presentations discussed there, here are the 7 Slideshare uploads from the event:

1. Analytics Swiss Army Knife by @thomcraver of Internet Marketing Ninjas

Analytics Swiss Army Knife from Thom Craver

Mentioned tool: SpyFu

2. PPC Peak Performance: The Definitive AdWords Audit Framework by @LarryKim from @WordStream

Larry Kim’s Presentation at ClickZ Live San Francisco August 2014 from Internet Marketing Software – WordStream

I have also been live-tweeting this session:

#CZLSF an example of an ad that triggers emotion= WIN / ads jackpot! – @larrykim pic.twitter.com/VSYP8IoBLc

— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) August 13, 2014

3. Mobile Advertising in the Marketing Mix for AT&T by @gregstuart

ClickZ Live in SF – Mobile Advertising in the Marketing Mix for AT&T from Greg Stuart 4. Leveraging Events for Triple Digit SEO Gains by David McClellan @HesDave from CBS Interactive

Leveraging Events for Triple Digit SEO Gains – David McClellan CBS Interactive from David McClellan 5. Boosting Social Ad Results with Audience Segmentation: Nowspeed and Hitachi Data Systems by @SharonHDS

Boosting Social Ad Results with Audience Segmentation: Nowspeed and Hitachi Data Systems from Sharon Crost

Why Advertise on Social Media?

Huge Audience: Billions of People Strong Momentum: Projections to double annual ad spending from from $4.6 billion in 2012 to $9.2 billion by 2016. Advanced Ad Targeting: Targets consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Multiple Engagement and Conversion Opportunities: Generate engagement, likes and followers, as well as traffic, leads and sales. Mobile: with the social consumer on-the-go for proven social ROI (70% of FB users are mobile) Low Cost per Click and Cost per Conversion 3 6. Using linguistic analysis to break through the noise by Benjamin Spiegel @nxfxcom

Using linguistic analysis to break through the noise – #CLZSF – Benjamin Spiegel from Benjamin Spiegel

Mentioned tool: Rapidminer

7. Driving Revenue Over Leads by Bizible CEO Aaron Bird @birdstweets

Driving Revenue Over Leads #CLZSF from Bizible Marketing Analytics

Best resource mentioned in the presentation: Use this simple checksheet to determine the alignment between marketing and sales from both a team and data point of view

Also read: 30 tweet-sized insights from #CLZSF

Register at ClickZ Live Chicago!

The post 7 Best Presentations from ClickZ Live San Francisco (Available for Download) #CLZSF appeared first on SEO Chat.

Source: SEO Chat | 7 Best Presentations from ClickZ Live San Francisco (Available for Download) #CLZSF | 25 Aug 2014, 4:18 pm

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