February 9, 2016

How To Evaluate Your Own Website

This is a guest post by Dan Morris, someone I have a lot of respect for.  Find out why at FreeWeeklyMastermind.com and LettersFromDan.com

Do It Yourself Website Review

I am so annoyed by nagging problems. Even little things like fixing the spindles on the porch railing at home. But that porch railing isn’t making me money (in fact I’m procrastinating because it costs me money to fix it). The worst nagging problems are things like website tweaks that you know would increase conversions, sales, and morale if only you had 20 minutes to focus on it.

So I say make that moment today. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to give yourself a site assessment.  I break them down into 7 sections right off the bat. I look at SEO, List Building, Monetization, Internal link structure, Voice, Funnel and Social Media integration.

Let’s start with SEO. First I got to Google and type in: site: http://yourwebsitename.com and see what pages are indexed. I then look at page names, permalink structure, and meta descriptions. What I want to know is how optimized are you. I also want to know what your page names are to see if you’re attracting newbies, buyers, experts or nobody. You can learn a lot about your own habits from this exercise.  Ideally your permalinks (url’s) are set-up so that your content “title’ appears right after the slash. For instance http://yourwebsitename.com/how-to-grow-avocados/

What you might find is that your urls are not that helpful. Sometimes I see the domain url trunk followed by /cat=69 or /2012/03/5464 or /state/county/city/public-works/contact-us  Think about this. . . in all those examples you could really boil it down to the domain and the extension. For instance http://yoursite.com/nashville-public-works-contact-information. With SEO, the overall goal is to prove relevance, so look for relevance in everything you can. (At this point, don’t change anything just start making the list of things you could be doing better).

You’d be remiss if you didn’t look at the Search Queries part of Google WebmasterTools. This is where Google tells you where every one of your keywords is ranked.  That’s where you get to celebrate and see what’s working. Here I like to scour the results looking for trends. I personally recommend you read them aloud. Reading a list of keywords 500 deep is not easy when you’re looking for trends. But reading them aloud and you’ll instantly recognize when you say the same word over and over again. When you find similar keywords popping up, you know Google is finding you somewhat relevant for those terms. And that can be a great thing!

Then take a look at your list building efforts. Where are your calls-to-action? Where is the email opt-in form? What’s the offer and does it look like that offer is being tested. Are you getting opt-ins during blog comments or not? (If they’re going to put their name and email in to leave a comment, you might as well ask if they’d like to be on the newsletter list).  Basically how does the whole thing work?

Then on to monetization. Are you using AdSense and is it optimized? Are there offers built into your site? And what part of that is visible above the fold, and what part is able to be engaged when you scroll down. Every site is different here. A law firm is likely going to monetize leads, not traffic. The question is can you tie money to site visitor entry points? Can you tie it to site activity? And if you can’t tie money to either activity, entry or contact form submission . . . why do you have a website?

Internal link structure goes back to both SEO and user experience. Are you using a related posts plugin correctly? Is your linking optimized for the search engines? Is your linking optimized for the reader who wants to get smarter in every blog post? There’s not much to say about that other than take a piece of paper and see if you can draw your site structure – not from memory but from going page to page drawing links.

Another critical area is voice. And that one is easy – does your site have any character to it? Or is it straight bland posts. Period.

It goes without saying I look at the complete sales funnel. How does it work today, tomorrow, seasonally and in tune with your audience’s changing level of sophistication.

Finally, but not least important is your social media integration. Does your audience believe you’re an influence? Do they identify you with your niche? Are you visible everywhere or just to your sphere of influence? And are you using your profile to bolster your plan? Go to Klout and see what Klout thinks you’re influential in. It’s just a computer algorithm, but it does have some relevance. If your niche isn’t in that list – you’re probably not using social media right. You can do the same thing with Twitter lists. What lists are people putting you in? Business or Football?

It’s not hard to do your own objective site review, but it does require that you step back and look with fresh eyes. Be critical. Do it 10 times and frame your questions in terms of where your audience came from. Look at all those things from the perspectives of your dad, your friend, your colleague, someone who doesn’t know you, someone who got there by accident and your loyal followers. Does your site appeal to all of them, or just a segment?

Most importantly know that EVERYTHING you do online is a sacrifice. If you choose to use Adsense you sacrifice opt-ins. If you choose to have a shopping cart you sacrifice affiliate income. If you choose to appeal to the masses, then your conversion rate will be acceptably tiny. Know what you’re sacrificing and own it because a good site makes sacrifices to serve an audience and a goal.

If you’d like to have me do a complete video site review for you, please contact me at dan@lettersfromdan.com . If you want to do it on your own, feel free to ask any follow up questions in our forum at http://FreeWeeklyMastermind.com

Linked and Loaded, Part 2. Building Business with LinkedIn

In Part 1, I talked about some of the more common places to build links to your website.  Inbound links help build search engine rankings as the search engines rely on the public's "votes" when developing their indexes for keywords and phrases.

There is also a huge benefit to having people find about about you and your website on other sites and blogs.  It might simply result in traffic to your website, but it might also be an opportunity to build your brand and demonstrate expertise or product reliability.  Here's how.

There are many successful marketers who ONLY market by answering questions online.  Some of the most popular sites to do this are Answers.com and Yahoo Answers.  Forums pertaining to a niche topic or business challenges are great places to

Viveka-red-small Another great site to demonstrate your expertise is LinkedIn, the popular professional networking site.  I'm not sure most people even realize that LinkedIn members can benefit from asking or answering questions in Groups on the site – it's worth checking out!  And the price is right; free!

Whether you're promoting yourself or your company, products or services, answering questions on LinkedIn can be a low-cost/high-return activity that can result in a substantial ROI.

LinkedIn expert Viveka von Rosen blogs about all things LinkedIn at LinkedInExpert.com.  She recently posted tips on leveraging LinkedIn Groups.  I encourage you to read her entire article, but here are some highlights:

  • Do share your knowledge.
  • Do help people out
  • Do express your true opinions
  • Do take time to answer and respond in a considerate manner
  • Do re-purpose content you might already have that answers and adds
    to a group discussion
  • Do start your own discussions

Now more than ever it is important, if you want to utilize Linked in
effectively, to become active in some key groups.  These are the types
of groups I recommend my clients join:

  1. Your own industry groups – find out what is going on in your
    industry, find strategic partners and JV’s, find a job
  2. Your ideal client’s industry groups – impress potential clients with
    your knowledge, build relationships, generate interest in your product
    or service (but NOT by sending out sales messages)
  3. Big groups – you don’t know who you don’t know – it makes sense to
    join some big groups just to be able to access some key folks – I
    recommend LinkedHR
  4. Alumni group s – because we love to help each other out.

Once you join some groups (you can join up to 50) do a bit of lurking
to find out what people are talking about, who is doing the talking,
what the “feel” of the group is.  Once you get a feel, dive in and begin
to participate in an interactive and helpful way.

Great advice from @LinkedInExpert!  Many of her recommendations apply to using forum and blog comments in your marketing mix.

You can answer questions on blogs too.  Got any?

Linked and Loaded

LinksToSite2 Links Build Search Engine Rankings & Traffic

The best way to build traffic to your website and generate ROI is to build outside links to your site. There are two advantages of inbound links: 1) The search engines often use the number of links as a proxy for site popularity and 2) links found on other websites might attract humans who click on those links and land on your site.

Popularity is the key word here.  The search engines gauge your site by counting the number of other sites that link to it as part of their algorithm that renders the site ranking and people may be exposed to you or your brand on a favorite website, blog, fan page, blog comment or tweet.

Before we look at places to link to your site, it is useful to determine exactly how many incoming links to your site exist today.  There are many search engines and applications that will provide you with this information, some for more than one search engine at a time.  Yahoo is very reliable and suitable for most SMBs. 

Yahoo will tell you how many pages of your site have been indexed, as well as the number of inlinks.  Google provides similar information, but different results.

In the Yahoo search box, type in "link:www.yourdomain.com"

Yahoo Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com) allows you to manage several websites.

Here is a brief discussion of some of the more popular and effective places to link to your site:

SERPs: The Search Engine Results Pages don't actually link to your site unless someone searchers keywords that your site ranks for, but they are an indication of where pages on your site rank for various keywords.  If your site fails to show up on the first or second page of the SERPs, you should consider optimizing your pages for higher rankings.

Association Links: Links from chambers of commerce or associations are more effective than just any old link because of they are considered "authority links." Chambers are all about business and there is the local aspect, especially if your service area is local.  Associations are authorities and the content of authority sites is keyword-rich for your niche.

Social Media: More and more Social Media content is being indexed by search engines and these links, while sometimes short-lived, can help build inbound links.  Blogs especially can be sources of evergreen links that are keyword-rich.  The importance of Social Media links will increase as more relationships between search engines and Web 2.0 applications are developed.

Article Sites: There are many free article sites where you can post an article and have links back to your website, usually from your resource box at the end of the article.  One benefit of these sites is that anyone can use the articles you post as content of their own sites, but they must include the entire article without edits.  That includes the link in the resource box back to your site.  The sites that post your articles may not be as big an authority site as a chamber of commerce, for example, but the number of inbound links and the possibility of people finding your article (and your site) where your article is posted is well worth the time to write and distribute articles.

Blog & Forum Comments: The strategies for blog and forum commenting are similar; find something (often a question) that people are talking about in your niche and post a comment/answer.  You should concentrate on blogs and forums that allow you to put your site URL in your signature, otherwise you fail to get much link juice.

Social Media Associations & Communities: Web 2.0 professional associations like LinkedIn and Naymz are a great way to network, but the links from those sites can be invaluable for boosting rankings in search engines as are online conversations with members of those sites. (Meet someone on LinkedIn and have them re-tweet something or you comment on their blog post.)   You may also find benefits in membership on sites powered by Ning.

In part 2, we'll take a closer look at an effective LinkedIn strategy.

Market Research: How to Tell What Your Prospects Want

KSonRichesMagazine If you're operating a website, its likely there to solve someone's problem, right?  You want site visitors to buy your goods and services.

If your message appeals to your visitor, you have a better than average chance of engaging them than if you just sling up content without giving it much thought.

And many times, we see messaging that appeals to the site's owner, instead of his/her prospects and customers.  Look for sites that promote features, rather than benefits. (This is one of the most important things for website owners and managers to understand)

FEATURES may be of some interest to prospects and customers, but its the BENEFITS that convey value to your customer. "Features tell, benefits sell."

So, how do you find out what your prospective customers want?  How do you find the terms they use?

By visiting blogs that cover the niche.  By participating in forums and other Web 2.0 communities related to your industry.  By reading the publications they're reading.  By subscribing to online newsletters, both paid and free.

Go to magazines.com and you'll find a publication for just about anything!

Google "blog directories" to find sites that will help you find the most popular blogs by subject. Do the same with "forum directories" and "newsletter directories."

An added benefit of cruising blogs, forums and other communities is that you can leave comments and answer questions, which builds your reputation as an expert and increases your brand awareness.

Don't forget to put a link in your sig file or profile, so that when you answer questions and comment, the readers will know where to find you AND you get an incoming link to your website, which helps with the search engines.

Talk about an ROI!  I would try and spend time doing this every day, even if it's 10-15 minutes.

Sometimes it's helpful to look from the top down.  What are the biggest magazines people are reading, for instance?  Here's an article about magazines that are kicking it in 2010 in terms of increasing ad sales.  Maybe it will give you some ideas! 

But a simple trip to a well-stocked news stand or magazine section in a bookstore can be very incisive too!

What is a Trackback?

I've been asked that question several times in the last couple of weeks.  If you blog it's important to know what a trackback is and how you use it.

Essentially, trackbacks are notifications from one website to another that it's been linked to.  This action is sometimes referred to as a trackback ping.

Inbound links to your blog usually help increase your search engine rankings.  Those links are more valuable depending on a number of criteria, including those coming from a related niche, a site with high page rank and good keywords being used in the anchor text.

Trackbacks are more than simple links to a website, they also get counted as content!  The trackback links are usually posted under the main post and above the comments, like this:


Not only is a trackback an inbound link, but many blog readers will follow trackbacks as if they were saying, "for more information…"

Trackback links are usually very specific, but even a link to the primary domain can be useful.  Over time the post will move off the Home page, so a more specific link, like the example below, is best.


Someone tracking back to your post would cut and paste the code in the proper place.  The example below is from a Typepad blog.


In this case, the trackback only links to the main page of the site.

There is another benefit to trackbacks and that is that bloggers like the attention and inbound links.  It's a way of making friends with someone in your niche, who now that they are aware of you, may link back to you!

It's wise to find blogs in your niche that use trackbacks and its fairly easy to find them.  Go to Google and search on your blog's keyword or phrase followed by the word "trackback." You will see a list of blogs with trackbacks enabled.  You can then comment on their posts with a trackback in one of your posts.

Not all blogs are capable of using trackbacks.

Website Strategy: About the About Us Page

I received an email from someone who wanted to know what to say on the About Us page of his website.  Here is my response:

The About Us page is not usually the most visited page on a website, but it's important for several reasons.  One is that visitors who are considering your products or services need to believe that they will like working with or buying from you.  Many search engines are also thought to penalize websites that do not have an About Us or Contact Us pages.

The About Us page might be viewed as an extension of what you might be tempted to say on a Home page. In fact, much of what you currently say on your Home page is a good start.  Consider shortening that text and promote more of your company's benefits and unique selling position.

If you were to promote yourself in a chamber of commerce event or cocktail party, what would you say?  Something to the effect of:

"We’re Acme Widgets.  We provide a very high level of <fill in the blank>.  We do this by <fill in the blank> which benefits our customers by <fill in the blank>. 

We <list a benefit>.  We <list another benefit>.  We are conveniently located…."

I would try and link text to other pages of your site which should help search optimization.

I wouldn’t make it too long.  Visitors will sometimes visit these pages before making a final decision.  This page strategy is to explain in a broad sense what you do (rather than on the Home page) and build likability and trust. Use the Home page more to get people to take the actions you want them to take, including navigation to interior sections.

Dedicated to your website ROI.

— Kurt Scholle

Best of the Website Success Blogs (Jan 24, 2009)

This week, the Best of the Blogs is chock full of information on how to blog successfully, some useful information for Social Marketing  practices, trend spotting and some new services.

Information Week:
Google Terminates Six Services
Some surprises here!

Search Engine Guide:
New Service For Small Businesses Launches
Learn more about how your business is listed online.

Do the Little Things in SEO Make a Big Difference?
Good SEO tips that often get overlooked.

Search Engine Watch:
Google Conversion Optimizer: The Best-Kept Secret in PPC?

PPC Rockstars:
Campaign Structure and Advertising Merchandising Trends

Small Business Search Marketing:
Keyword Discovery Adds Question Phrases

White Hat Link Building – Affiliate Summit West 2009 Session Report
Creating inbound links helps search rankings.  Good stuff here.

Twitter's New Security Solution Could Pave the Way to a Future Web of Mashups
Never Give Your Twitter Password to a Stranger Again

Why We're Desperately Awaiting Feedsqueezer
Feedburner has gotten worse since Google bought them.

33 Free Trend Tracking Tools

Small Business Trends:
Top Small Business Marketing Trends for 2009
Authenticity, Word of Mouth, DIY, more…

Network World:
10 Web Sites That Will Matter in 2009

SEO Roundtable:
How to Use Google to Recover a Lost Website

Six Revisions:
12 Useful Web Tools for Designers
Construct or identify a font, webpage templates, color schemes.

How to Have Fun with Adobe
Photoshop tutorials and keyboard shortcuts

How to Create a Blogging Plan and Actually Reach Your Goals This Year
Start with one of eight plans.

5 Types of Posts to Feed Your Business Blog
In a rut? Changing the type of post may spice things up!

Blog For Profit:
Are You a Freeway Blogger or an Off-Road Blogger?
Successful bloggers tend to fall into one of these two categories.

TopRank Blog:
Social Media Marketing An Hour a Day: Interview with Dave Evans

Most Social Media plans begin with listening.

Duct Tape Marketing:
My Social Media System
John Jantsch's recommendations for daily, weekly and monthly activities.

10 Awesome Ways to Integrate Twitter With Your Website

Build Inexpensive Website Traffic and Increase Recurring Sales (Pt 2)

I said I thought there would be sequel to yesterday's post and here it is!

In addition to the 13 ideas to build web site traffic presented yesterday, there are 2 more that I would like to discuss.  There are probably dozens more to present and I probably will eventually, but Pat will have a variety of suggestions to consider and test with the 15 in these 2 posts.

14) Pat and virtually any other website owner can benefit from Social Marketing.  Much of SM is Web 2.0-like offerings, including micro-blogging (Twitter), setting up a Facebook page and participating in groups and joining the LinkedIn networking site.  All of these will allow Pat to begin making friends that may lead to sales.  Don't "sell" on these sites.  Use the sites to become known and contribute to the conversations that arise.

15) Blog commenting is important for so many reasons.  It helps you contribute to the community you serve, but the links in your signature files will be used by people who resonate to your online contributions.  Those links can help search engines find and index your site.  And links from forums may be considered "authority sites" and deliver even more link juice.

I will encourage Pat to consider trying 4 or 5 of the ideas presented yesterday and today.  Keep what works best and test a couple more suggestions.  You don't need to spend a lot of time doing it, but as I mentioned yesterday, if you're not doing any marketing or business development, you can and should fail.

If you need coaching or you want these services Done4You, please let me know.

At the very least, use me as a resource.  I'd love to hear from you!  I'd love to showcase your success using these tactics in a future blog.

Here's to your improved website ROI!

— Kurt Scholle

Build Inexpensive Website Traffic and Increase Recurring Sales

Case Study: I have a customer with a pretty decent offer on their site but very low sales.  There are a number of ways to increase traffic profitably, which results in an improved website ROI.

"Pat" has a website in a decent niche that would seem to be profitable. Pat has a significant background in the field, is passionate and provides information that can significantly improve circumstances for site visitors.  Like many information marketers, Pat would like to increase sales of monthly membership and related products and services.

But Pat is busy and may not have the desire or resources to spend significant dollars promoting the site, so what could Pat (and others) do to increase the number of prospects entering the online sales funnel?

Let me count the ways!

1) Pat has a goldmine in a Goldmine database – nearly 1,000 names of people who have done business with Pat.  Some may just be fans or others within Pat's network, but 978 names and almost as many addresses is a significant resource.  Pat should consider sending letters to them announcing the benefits of the site.  And for additional 'frequency' (see below), I recommend that Pat send out postcards to this list.  How big is your goldmine?

2) Pat could also ask these brand loyalists to refer their contacts to Pat's website.

3) Pat is a pretty decent writer and has a whole hard drive of resources that could be re-purposed into articles that could be uploaded to free article submission sites like www.ezinearticles.com.  Each article has a resource box that would link back to Pat's website.  The inbound links might help with search engine optimization, but traffic from sites that post Pat's articles will add peeps to the funnel.

4) Pat could post free articles on the site, which would improve Pat's online offering, but also provide more link bait for search engines to find, therefore improving Pat's reputation and rankings with the search engines.

5) Pat might improve natural search engine results with a modest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program.  It's one thing to guess at the terms people use to find a site, but it can be really illuminating to competently research what people are looking for.  An example is a customer who wanted to be found for "telephone installations," but research showed that people hardly use the word 'telephone' in a search – they use "phone."  Another client is a guerrilla marketing coach, but people have come to his site by mis-spelling "guerilla marketing" and "gorilla marketing."  The downside? You need to understand what you're doing and SEO can take several months to build rankings.

6) Sites can get immediate traffic using paid search (also known as "Pay-Per-Click" or PPC.) One of the other benefits of PPC is that you can set up campaigns for very specific keywords that might not be broad enough for SEO, but collectively account for dozens or hundreds of visitors.  Again, proper research is the key, and managing the bids is important to keep costs under control. It's probably more cost effective for Pat to hire someone to do this.

7) Sometimes, just submitting your site to the major search engines, can improve your rankings.  Try these:

Google          MSN          AskJeeves

Just understand 3 things:

  1. The services that offer to submit your site to hundreds of search engines for a modest fee (say $39) rarely help build your ROI.  The big search engines will not accept automated submissions.  And while some niche search engines may be effective, especially in some vertical markets, your efforts are best spent trying to rank in Google, MSN, etc.
  2. Even when you submit your site to search engines, it could take weeks before you see a benefit.
  3. Search engines put alot of creedence in sites that are updated frequently.  You need to freshen it up weekly for best results.

8) Pat can re-purpose more of the stuff on the hard drive into blog posts.  Search engines love blogs and blogs can easily be updated by nearly anyone.  It might take a commitment of 30-60 minutes a day, or Pat could develop several posts on the weekend that could be scheduled to go out a regular intervals.  Blogs are often read in news readers by subscribing to the blog's RSS feed, a free service that distributes site content.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.

9) Pat can develop another revenue stream and initiate a system by creating digital content and selling it on sites like Clickbank, where information and other digital products are sold by others for a healthy commission.  The buyers of, say a $7 or $19 e-book can then be upsold to the monthly membership product or other higher priced products or services.

9b) Pat could offer Clickbank products for sale on Pat's website too!

10) Inbound links improve search engine rankings and the sites that link to you can also provide traffic.  Pat should consider contacting other sites for a link, especially "authority" sites.  I'd recommend that Pat use the best keywords that were researched for the SEO and PPC suggestions above in the links the other sites post to Pat's site.  Pat would also benefit from using free link popularity tools that can be used to determine who is linking to Pat's competitor sites and asking for a link.

11) Pat should also link OUT to authority sites as that can improve search engine juice too.

12) Public speaking is an excellent way of promoting a website and hundreds of organizations need keynotes, workshop leaders and seminar presenters.  Some will even pay!  We've built websites for public speakers and almost all of them book more business as a result of public speaking.  Back of room sales help too!

13) Hosting a radio program, either online or on-air, can be an effective means of building your brand and filling your funnel.  But Pat might also benefit by being a guest on a radio or TV program.  Sending letters or emails to program hosts and producers should net interviews.  (I was in major market radio for 25 years.  I have some tips and tricks to help get more bang our of an interview.  Maybe I should jsut blog about it!)  Pat should shoot for Oprah or the Today Show.  Anything is possible. 

One speaker we know tries to schedule a media appearance anywhere he speaks in the country.  His approach? "Hi, I'm going to be in your town speaking to (whoever) and would like to offer (my valuable expertise) to your (listeners, viewers, readers, members.)"

That's 13 good ways to build online business!  Pat may also get even more ideas from reading any of the dozens of guerrilla marketing books that are available.  Guerrilla marketing is all about low-cost or no-cost marketing.

But, it's important to test a number of ideas to see which ones work best.  They can easily be done in your spare time, but serious marketers think about promoting their products and services daily.  And repeat, repeat, repeat.  You'll have much more success promoting to someone on multiple occasions that just once.  It's best to do it 5 times to a list of 100 then just once to a list of 500.  Use your initial success to ramp up the program.

But, by all means, put together a plan.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  And if you fail to do anything, with or without a plan, you will (and should) fail.

* I feel like a sequel to this post will be coming soon.  There are just too many inexpensive, but effective ways to market your website than what I've presented today!

Got any ideas of your own?  Share them!

— Kurt Scholle, the Website ROI Guy!

Case Studies: Reciprocal Links

Checking the ol’ e-mail bag… (Do they still make e-mail bags?  Just asking.)


I have had the exec director of (a site in a related field) ask if they could link from their site to mine. The web address is…

I think this is favorable. We have similar

My questions are:

1) What info do I need to give them to link
to my site?

2) Should I offer a reciprocal link? And if
so, where do we put things like that on a website?



Hi Mary,

ANYBODY who wants to link to your site is a good thing! They can do it with or without your permission, except for paid content and they can’t show your site in a frameset without your permission.

Developing an incoming links program is a key to website success.  It’s especially helpful if the links come from a qualified source, meaning a similar in content site.  And especially if the site is a respected resource. (Like a medical center, news organization, professional organization, educational institution or any respected in the same field.

You may want them to link to your Home page or to an interior page that is even more relevant to their audience, which saves these visitors from having to figure out where to go.  Decide where they link that would be best for you.

It’s also a useful way to get inbound links to your interior pages and not just the Home page.  Inbound links help search engine optimization success and you want links to major sections of your site.  It’s another “vote” for your site, including interior pages, that figures into search engine ranking algorithms.

Inbound links also provide qualified traffic from a site people have turned to for information.

As for reciprocal links, you can include them in the text of your site, a blog post, a “Resources” page or all 3!  Don’t necessarily  offer a link unless you think it’s beneficial to you.  But if they ask for one in return and you think their link will be important, then try and find a place for it.

Thanks for your question and good luck!

— Kurt Scholle