Free Online Accounting

If you own a business, you know that doing the accounting is a real pain. I found out about a free online accounting service that looks pretty easy for a simple income / expense platform – that can be accessed from anywhere. Nice!

Of course, it won’t work for a real business to use – you need real accounting software for that.

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Wikipedia pages

An important part of SEO is getting good inbound links to your website. You want these links to be both relevant, and also of quality. One of the best places you can get such a link is in Wikipedia – which is probably held in higher regard than any other source by the search engines like Google and Yahoo.

I can personally attest to the value of Wikipedia and have successfully made entries for some of my clients. Alternatively I’ve also heard from people how they have tried making a Wiki entry for themselves, and then seen it be unceremoniously deleted by one of the Wikipedia editors – who at times can seem like Nazis! So here are some guidelines you can follow to increase your success rate:

  1. First and foremost, you need to get rid of any thoughts of “marketing” your website. Sure I know, that is why you are taking the trouble to do it in the first place, but you need to create a wikipedia page that isn’t marketing oriented. You are not there to sell anything other than the name of the company or person you are entering – not the products. The whole point is just to get the page entry – an inbound link to your website from Wikipedia.
  2. Not every website or company is fit to be in Wikipedia. It is a hard truth to accept sometimes, but there it is.  If you are trying to put lipstick on a pig – you need to be aware of it and press harder with the lipstick (smile). But still Wikipedia may just delete your work anyways.
  3. Put on your best journalist hat and try to write something that gives the Who, What, When, Where, and How for the subject matter. Write it like it would look in a encyclopedia even. Write it up in your favorite word editor first. You will also need to have links in your page that will validate it – so hopefully your subject matter is written about somewhere else so it can be shown to be “worthy” of the wiki entry.
  4. Now go to the Wikipedia website and sign up for an account – you have to login to edit any pages.
  5. Take a look around at similar pages to those you want to create. Maybe you want to make a page on a song writer, so take a look at other song writer pages.  Find one you like the looks of.
  6. Now click the Edit button at the top of the page, as if you were going to change something on it. Don’t change anything – just copy all the code that is there – paste it into Notebook.
  7. Do a search for the term you wish to use – for instance if I was making a wiki page for website-help-blog.com – I would type that in and search for it.  You should get a page that says the term is not in the Wiki – and this is what you want to see. There is a link there that you click to create a page with that name – click it.
  8. Now take the code from the page you liked in step 6, and paste it into the new page. Then edit the code using the text you wrote in step 3. The wiki uses special code, and there is a tutorial there you can check if you get stuck doing something. Good luck with that though – I’ve always found it much easier to just find something on another page and copy it from there.
  9. Preview the results of what you have done before you save it. Make sure it is what you want – so you don’t get deleted needlessly.
  10. Now go into Wikipedia to some other pages and link to your page – for instance maybe there is an existing list of song writers you can add your page to. Find as many of these as you can, and link back to your newly created wiki page.

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Blog Move

I’ve moved the location of the Website Help Blog from its old location into its own URL: http://www.website-help-blog.com. Please update your bookmarks, thanks.

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Disposable Email Addresses

Tired of all the spam?  One method to avoid the spam is to use a disposable email address in those situations where you have to give it out.  Say you want to sign up to access some forum or blog, and they require an email address so that you can “opt in” to their system. All you need is a throw-away email address to recieve their opt-in email – and you avoid the inevitable spam emails that will follow.

There is a website called 10 Minute Mail where you can get a free email account for just this purpose.  Pretty slick idea.

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Adding “Live Chat” to Your Site

One option available to any website owner is placing ‘live chat’ on their website. I have it on some of my websites, and there are pros and cons to having it:

Pros:

  • It is inexpensive to place on the site – some nice chat software is available for about $20 / month.
  • Very easy to set up – can be up and running in usually under 10 minutes (although you do have to set up how you want it to run, and do some testing / training on it)
  • You can raise your over-all conversion rate by being able to communicate with those people in a hurry, or with those people who want to remain anonymous.
  • The functionality for most of the chat companies is pretty high. The ‘live chat’ emblem on the site will automatically let the site visitor if you are online or not – and if not will send you an email notification someone tried contacting you.
  • An excellent side benefit is that you can get some analytics on your website visitors, like where they are located, what keyword they used to get to your site, what pages they’ve viewed, how many times they’ve visited your site, all in real time. (if you are smart, you are already getting this info with real analytics software)

Cons:

  • You have to have someone available to answer questions.
  • You can annoy your website visitors by being too intrusive – like if you have a pop-up that keeps asking them to chat.

Overall, the pros easily outweigh the cons.  It is just another tool you can use to be more successful.  Sure, having chat doesn’t make sense for every type website – but any website where a ‘conversion’ is important it only makes sense to include chat as an option.

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Color Schemes

When talking about a website design, the color scheme is an important aspect to determine – more important than I think is given credit.  An easy way to get a good color scheme is to simply look at a successful website on the web, and see how they are doing it. Then you just “emulate” what they have done!  LOL

Another way, more personal and fun, is to use a tool like the Color Scheme Designer.  It allows you to set all the different variables, number of colors, the color hues, and much more.  It will even show you the color scheme in a webpage mockup, and then let you export the colors for future reference. Pretty slick, so much so that it is easy to spend an hour or two just playing around.

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Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

A fair amount of my time is spent dealing with SEO issues, so I thought it would be a good idea to give some details on what you can do to quickly “SEO” your website – to make it search engine friendly.  Listed below are what I consider to be the most important aspect of your on-site SEO efforts. (not to confuse with the off-site tasks needing done) I’ve listed them in order of importance – and yes, they are all important.  I’m assuming you already know what your most important keywords are.

  1. Title meta tag – this is in the source code for your web page, also visible at the very top of your browser window. Each page should have a unique title tag, and it should clearly state what the page is about.  If your web page is about the instructions for using a doohickey, then it should say something like “Doohickey Instructions”.
  2. H1 tag – this is the main tag (or should be) on your website, that usually displays at the top of the page. It should reinforce the main Keyword for the page, maybe even introduce some secondary ones. Like “How to Use and Operate Your Doohickey”
  3. Description meta tag – also in the source code, this is what the search engine is likely to display, if you are lucky enough to get listed in their search results. Keep it short, clear and concise so that people looking at the search results page know to click on your link or not. “Instructions for using a Doohickey – everything you ever might need to know.”
  4. Navigation text – this is the clickable text you use to navigate between the pages of your website. All other pages of your site should have link text saying something like “Doohickey Instructions”.  You don’t want the link to be “click here”.
  5. Link text – similar to the navigation text, this is just all the other links on your site that navigate people around.
  6. Text content – lastly you want the content of your website to be “keyword rich” in that it reinforces the main keywords of the page. Don’t just repeat the same main keyword over and over – you want to create a keyword ‘theme’. Like this; Doohickey instructions, how to use a doohickey, operation of a doohickey, doohickey dos and donts, hints on using a doohickey, etc, etc.

If you do each of the above – you’ve just tackled maybe 90% of what is needed done on a new website.

(Want to see the “source code” for your web page?  Just right click on the page, click ‘View Source’ or ‘View Page Source’)

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Google Content Network

I watched a webinar today that promised to “demystify” the Google Content Network, produced by PointIt. These sorts of events are almost always pretty boring, but I go thru the pain so you don’t have to!  And also to get the occasional Golden Nugget.

What is the Content Network? The content network is made up of all the websites who signed up for Google Adsense, where the Google ads appear on your website and you are promised marketing revenue in exchange. Anyways, they had some pointers for managing the Content network in Google that made some good sense, so thought I’d pass it on:

  • Set up a campaign specifically just for your Content PPC – keep your regular Search PPC in a seperate campaign.
  • Only use a maximum of about 25 keywords in each, keep them all ‘broad’, and make sure they are all in the same theme for where you want your ad to appear.
  • Enter a bid price for each to ensure they get an ad placement into the top 4 ads
  • Initially let Google decide which websites your ads should appear on. Later use the Placement Performance Report to see how each site is doing. You can then exclude those websites that are not working for you using the Google Exclusion tool.
  • There is also a Keyword Grouper tool that will help you build good keyword “themes” in each campaign – which is important that they are tightly grouped, as the theme is how Google determines what site to place your ads on.

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Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of those things that few people pursue, even though it will pay big dividends later. How come?  Because the point is to find out what people are searching for on the internet.  Why is that important? Because you want some of that search traffic to come to your website. If everyone on the internet is searching for “widgets”, but you are optimizing your website for “doohickeys” then maybe no one ever visits your website.

Basic Steps:

  • Make an initial list of keywords for your website.
  • Go to Keyword Map and get some more ideas. The Keyword Map is a good place to ‘spitball’ ideas, since it shows relationships between keywords that you might not think of.
  • Then go to Google and find out which ones are being actively searched, which ones are not. Google is responsible for up to 75% of all search traffic on the web – and they are the “go to” source. 
    • Google Keyword Tool (made for PPC campaigns) – will give you a large list of keywords and how much competition there is for it.
    • Google Insights for Search – shows you what words are being searched most, as well as other ones that are ‘up and coming’.
    • Google Search-based Keyword Tool – this is a tool that will recommend search keywords after evaluating your website.
    • Google Trends – this tool will show you the history of any particular keyword – its trend over time. It will show you yearly cycles, which is helpful, or you can search a keyword like ‘twitter’ and watch how that keyword took off and when – or others that have petered out.
  • Now take these keywords and sprinkle them liberally all over your website. If possible, include the biggest one in your URL.

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Basic Website Design

So you need a website and your wondering about how best to design it.  Or maybe you are looking at your own website and thinking “Boy! My website sure looks like crap!” and so your wanting a redesign done. (I do that everytime I look at my own website, btw)  So what to do – should you go for a real pretty website?  Should it include lots of the latest flashy dohickys?  Or do you take the functional route?

Here is the point I make with my customers that I think is important enough to share with you – your website design should be determined by who your customers are, what it is they want, and what they are expecting to see.

  • Why are many of the most popular websites on the internet so plain looking? (Craig’s List and the Drudge Report)
  • Why does a bank, that just invested millions in a new website having all the fancy stuff on it, revert back to its former “more simple” version?
  • Why do car companies invest so heavily in their websites? (Mini-Cooper, Ford, etc)

If your website’s function is to give people online access to their bank account – it is a fact that they don’t want a bunch of BS to go with it.  Give them a big green button that says “click here to access your account” and they will be very happy. Same goes with the popular sites like Craig’s List. On the other hand if you are selling a 50 thousand dollar car, maybe it is a good idea to put lots of eye candy on the site.

So take that logic and apply it to your own situation; is your normal website visitor wanting some information quick and easy?  Are they looking to be sold to?  Find out more about your company, just to get directions?  Being able to address these type questions will tend to make the difference between a “good” website – and a “successful” one.

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