3 Common Mistakes Using the Google Keyword Tool and How to Fix Them

#1: Not Realizing That The Default Search Is “Broad” Match Type

A common error goes like this: You search for a keyword, say themes for blogger, and see that it gets over 90,000 global monthly searches. Excited, you build a site targeting that phrase, and then are baffled when you only get a trickle of hits from that keyword, even when you start to rank highly. What happened?

By default, the Keyword tool searches by “Broad match.” This means that it includes all related searches that happen to contain those words.

In our example, hundreds of other keyword phrases, such as premium themes for blogger or best themes for blogger 2011 are all counted in the total number. And since they contain completely different words, your site likely won’t be ranking for them.

On the left sidebar of the screen, you will see “Match Types” part-way down. There you will see that “Broad” is checked. If you change it to “Exact,” for our example, you will see that the exact phrase gets only a couple hundred searches per month, which explains the small traffic. In other cases, there might actually be zero exact matches!

#2: Thinking that “Competition” Refers to Other Websites Targeting Your Keyword

Everyone wants to find keywords that only a few other websites are targeting, but using the “Competition” tab in the Google Keyword Tool for this purpose is a big mistake!

This little bar is referring to the number of advertisers who are bidding for that term; it has absolutely nothing to do with the number of competing websites in Google organic search. In fact, picking keywords with low advertiser competition will mean there aren’t many relevant companies purchasing ads, so if you use Google AdSense, you will likely get ads that aren’t very related to your website and a lower CTR.

It’s important to remember that the Google Keyword Tool was designed for advertisers, and we webmasters are repurposing it as a tool to help generate website ideas. To effectively assess website competitors for a keyword, you can use a free plugin SEO for Firefox or a paid tool such as Market Samurai.

#3: Neglecting to Consider the Implications of Different Keywords

This third and final mistake has less to do with the Google tool specifically but rather keyword research in general. Many webmasters get too wrapped up in the search volume and forget to consider the intent of the searcher as well as the general profitability of a niche.

If your goal is to promote affiliate products, for example, you might be able to find some related keywords that get thousands of searches per month, but if they are “informational” keywords and searchers won’t be interested in buying anything, a very low percentage of that traffic will convert.

Instead, it’s good to target keywords that users will search when they are actually interested in buying. Names of products and brands are typically “buying” keywords, and mixing in words such as reviews, buy, cheapest, online, and price comparisons” can provide great results.

Also, in certain niches, such as technology or blogging, most users are savvy and have become “ad-blind,” which will mean very few clicks. Other niches might not have many quality products or advertisers competing for the popular search terms, making monetization extremely difficult.

Keeping these ideas in mind will get you off to a good start in picking appropriate keywords and generating more traffic to your websites!

Article by Andrew Walsh


39 Cost-Cutting Tips for Your Small Business

39 Cost-Cutting Tips for Your Small Business

by Cathy Zimmerman

Summary: Think you’ve exhausted all the ways to save money in your business? Don’t be sure until you’ve taken a look at these 39 small business cost-cutting tips.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to re-examine your spending and look for ways to trim the fat and increase your bottom line. Here are some cost-cutting tips to get you started.

  1. Save on postage by delivering invoices and statements via email.
  2. Download free online forms instead of buying them at office supply stores.
  3. Offer catalogs and brochures as pdf downloads to save printing and shipping costs.
  4. Turn down the heat or turn up the A/C.
  5. Turn off unnecessary lights.
  6. Set your printer to draft mode to save ink.
  7. Re-fill your own printer cartridges.
  8. Switch your telephone land-line to VOIP or cable.
  9. Use free open source or cloud-based applications.
  10. Check every invoice and verify charges before paying.
  11. Pay bills on time to avoid fees.
  12. Consider telecommuting, virtual assistants, or shared office space.
  13. Review your cellular plan usage and compare rates elsewhere before renewing.
  14. DON’T cut marketing, but target your niche to get the most for your ad bucks.
  15. Cross-train your employees to help each other during crunch time instead of hiring temps.
  16. Use interns and freelancers for short-term projects.
  17. Take advantage of discounts: 2% for paying early, discount for cash, free shipping over $50, etc.
  18. “Fire” customers that waste more time and money than they’re worth.
  19. Follow purchase order requirements to be sure your invoices get paid on time.
  20. Stop selling to slow-paying accounts.
  21. Concentrate on customer service to keep return rates down.
  22. Double-check addresses before shipping to avoid costly mistakes.
  23. Include promotional material in outgoing packages: coupons, newsletters, fliers.
  24. Use email and social media instead of direct mail to test new offers and coupons for your customers.
  25. Shop around for better rates on printing, shipping, and office supplies.
  26. Use free shipping materials from USPS, UPS and FedEx.
  27. Sign up for free business directory listings online.
  28. Barter/partner for advertising – i.e. pizza delivery ads on hotel key cards.
  29. Buy used furniture and office equipment.
  30. Reuse, reduce, recycle.
  31. Share your expertise in newsgroups, public appearances, blogs and social media and get free exposure.
  32. Look for online firms that offer a free basic service (i.e. Skype) with paid upgrades when you need them.
  33. Join a networking group and find a mentor with more experience to advise you.
  34. Look for rebates/incentives to replace old equipment with newer more energy-efficient systems.
  35. When travelling, use free airport shuttles and eat lunch where there’s free wifi, but be sure to follow these wifi safety precautions.
  36. Don’t book at a convention hotel without comparing rates with your AAA, AARP or credit card discount.
  37. Meet clients between meals in a quiet upscale hotel lobby.
  38. Use free teleconference services.
  39. Participate in virtual trade shows to network without travel expenses.

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Plan Your Taxes

Small business owners are due to meet with their advisors to plan out business and personal taxes before the end of the calendar year. Some important points to talk about this year include:

  • Tax and jobs bills passed in 2010 increased the ability for small business owners to deduct new and used equipment purchases under U.S. Tax Code section 179. Small companies are allowed to deduct the full amount of the purchases upfront, rather than depreciate the cost over many years. The deductions apply to tangible equipment and personal property purchased and used in 2011, including computers, furniture, telephone systems, certain vehicles and software, machinery used for manufacturing, and leased equipment.
  • A supplement to section 179 allows for “bonus” depreciation for companies that buy more than $500,000 in qualified equipment in 2011. It allows for 100 percent depreciation, up from 50 percent last year, and applies only to new equipment, unlike section 179. Typically, bonus depreciation would be taken after companies reach their $500,000 limit under section 179.
  • If your company’s financial situation warrants, you can talk to your CPA about accelerating deductions and deferring income into next year, but don’t use this audit-risky strategy if it doesn’t make sense.
  • On the personal side, end-of-year charitable donations and Roth IRA conversions would be items to think about before the end of the year. And as always make sure you are not going to be in a position to attract unwanted IRS scrutiny on your personal or business returns.

Last-Minute Tips for a Successful Open House

Realtor Deb Staley has seen it a million times. She pulls up to an open house at a fabulous property, in a great neighborhood, at the right price, only to find an overgrown lawn, a leaf-strewn front porch and a front door covered in spiderwebs. In fact, it’s not uncommon for potential buyers to be so turned off by an initial view that they refuse to even exit the car. “I have been a real estate broker for 22 years, and I am still amazed every time I show a house that is not ready for the market, says Staley, who’s based in Searcy, Ark.
We never get a second chance to make a first impression, and for motivated sellers a first impression of their home can often make or break a
deal. Realtors know that a potential sale starts in the moment that a buyer pulls into the driveway. That’s why they take extra care to prep and ready the homes they represent just prior to an open house — and we mean minutes before.
Whether you’re helping out your Realtor or handling the sale yourself, here’s how to make the most of an open house.
1. Lighten up

Nothing helps a house like natural light, so in the moments before an open house pull back the drapes, open the blinds and let the sunlight in, says Sean Shallis, senior real estate strategist for The Shallis Group. As you’re completing your walk-through, turn on the lights in every room (including bathrooms and closets). That will allow potential buyers to see clearly and it creates a welcoming, open feel to the home.
2. Clean up

Spotlessis the word to remember. It sounds simple, but many people forget that even the smallest mess can throw off a potential buyer. Do a quick walk-through before the open house and make sure that kitchen and bathroom counters are cleared and wiped. Toss any extra clutter lying around. Dirty laundry? Purses? Books? Toys? Throw them under the bed or in a dedicated space in the garage. Just keep clutter away from buyers’ eyes.
3. Enhance curb appeal

Never underestimate the power of curb appeal. That means making sure that the front of the house is bright and welcoming. For Staley, it’s as simple as a last-minute sweep of the front porch and driveway, and a quick look for spiderwebs or dirt at any windows that flank the entrance. “As a Realtor, it is such a pleasure to walk in the front door of a home that says, ‘Welcome! Come on in!’ as soon as you walk up the sidewalk,” she adds.
4. Set the scene

Even an immaculate home can up its “wow” factor with small touches in the minutes before an open house. Soft music and a well-set dining room table can warm up the house and help buyers picture themselves living there. Something that won’t? Pets. Staley, a self-proclaimed animal-lover, is quick to remind her clients that not everyone feels the same way. Make sure pets are securely locked away or, even better, out for a long walk.
5. Get out of the house

If you’re working with a Realtor, almost every agent will tell you the same thing: It’s never a good idea for the seller to be home during an open house. So find a way to leave the house before buyers arrive. If you’re selling your home yourself, be aware of what you say to potential buyers during a showing. There’s no need to spew every detail about the house unless the buyers ask. In fact, Shallis suggests, have a friend or family member show the home. “As the owner, it’s almost impossible not to oversell your home,” he says.
Though they may seem basic, it’s little details in the eleventh hour that can make a difference in the speed of the sale and, ultimately, the final selling price. “Dirty, dark, cluttered homes can sell,” says Staley. “But if they are brightened, lightened, cleaned, and decluttered with some sense of pride of ownership displayed, they will sell for so much more.”
No Copyright Infringement intended.

14 tips for furnace and fireplace safetyBeware of the ‘silent killer’

By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News™
Q: Our house was built around 1940; the fireplace is original; and we installed forced-air gas heating about 10 years ago. We haven’t had the fireplace or furnace inspected. What do you guys recommend to get the fireplace and the furnace ready for winter?

A: Regular inspection and servicing of fireplaces and furnaces adds to comfort, makes them more economical, and most important, keeps them safe. Regular inspections can prevent a deadly house fire or the introduction of a silent killer: carbon monoxide.

Here’s our checklist to keep you cozy and safe during the winter months:

Wood-burning fireplaces

1. Inspection by a certified chimney sweep is a must. For heavy use, the chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually. Go up to five years if the fireplace is used only occasionally. The sweep should inspect for proper operation of the damper and for cracks in the flue liner, as well as sweeping the flue to remove creosote and other combustion byproducts.

2. Close the damper when the fireplace isn’t in use.

3. Install a chimney cap if you don’t already have one. You don’t want creatures building their nest in your flue.

4. When starting a fire, “prime” the flue by holding lighted newspaper at the back wall of the firebox to start the warm air rising.

5. Burn aged, dry hardwood if possible. Fir or pine burns hot and deposits creosote in the chimney. Don’t burn construction debris. It may contain toxic chemicals that will vaporize in the fire and could enter the living space.

6. Do not clean out the fireplace when the ashes are still hot. And dispose of the ashes in a place where wayward embers won’t start a fire.

Fireplace with gas starter

1. If the flame goes out, wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight the fireplace. This allows time to clear the fireplace of gas.

2. Be alert for unusual odors or odd-colored flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer or licensed technician for servicing. Contact the gas company if you smell gas when the unit is off.

Gas furnace maintenance

1. An annual maintenance check of a gas furnace extends the life of the appliance and ferrets out any hidden problems. A qualified heating contractor should vacuum out the unit, inspect the blower motor, inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, check the electronics and perform a multipoint checklist to make sure the furnace is operating properly.

2. Clean or replace the furnace filter frequently during the heating season. This ensures that air returning from the inside of the house is unobstructed and clean when entering the combustion chamber.

3. Keep vents, space heaters and baseboards clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement.

4. Ensure there is free airflow around your furnace and make sure there are no storage items obstructing airflow.

5. Do not store or use combustible materials, such as chemicals, paint, rags, clothing, draperies, paper, cleaning products, gasoline, or flammable vapors and liquids in the vicinity of the furnace.

6. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and lethal gas that can occur any time there is incomplete combustion or poor venting. Any home that contains fuel-burning appliances, such as a fireplace or furnace, should have a carbon monoxide alarm installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


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3 Tools to Actively Control Your Online Reputation

There is little in contemporary business that deals on more equity than your business reputation. Stock prices fluctuate because it, and the media tipping point is reached at alarming speed for either good and bad praise or hostility about companies globally. The first step to managing your online business reputation is to be able to monitor what is being said about you, by whom and how often. If it’s all good, it’s all good friends. Business worldwide both large and small battle every day using the double-edged, sword of Web power. You should know about the poison comments too, and of course, if nothing is being said about your business online, well, that is a problem in and of itself.

Good or Evil?
From a marketing perspective, we have the capability to reach more people in remote corners of the world than ever before, making use of the awesome reach of the Internet to connect with our blogs, videos, and shopping carts that have no physical limitations. The flip side of that coin is that we now inhabit a world where anonymous people can go for their 15 minutes of fame as impromptu authors, video producers and critics, and that can spell trouble for your organization.
Google, Yahoo and other search engines give huge credibility to sites like Wikipedia in the spirit of full disclosure, especially on big business. Trouble is, fact checking ain’t what it used to be if indeed it happens at all. Loud online voices offering great buzz on your goods and services can provide a fantastic bump even if unjustified by reality. Bully for you! The impact of spiteful haters can cost you prospects, customers and dollars to an incredible extent also.
The Most Common Keyword in Modern Business

What do you think is the most often used keyword today in business? This isn’t a trick question or a gag. It is in fact the word, “keyword”. Think about it. There is so much guidance about SEO and online marketing that focuses on how people browse the web, in particular, Google. That means controlling what keywords you use to advertise your website and be found, trying to mirror what people are searching for and in a unique enough way to minimize competition. Subsequently we have long tail keywords which are phrases like “How to winterize your boat” so that when someone does eventually look for that, our page or Adwords ad is right there to be discovered.

To keep track of your online reputation, keywords are also what you use to determine who and what is being said about you. The easy way to do this initially is obviously to Google your company name. You’re going to find your web pages to be sure, but if there is bad stuff available you’re going to see that too. If it falls on page 1 of Google returns, you have a developing situation.
Remembering to do that weekly or every few days is something that just isn’t top of mind. Here are three devices you can use to easily check out the real-time babble.

Google Alerts
Google alerts enable you to pick keywords relative to, in this case, your business name and Google will email you instances when they occur online as indexed by the Google search engine. Go to www.google.com/alerts to set this up. Depending on the size and online notoriety of your company, you can modify the frequency of these email alerts from daily to weekly. There are a couple of refining options. Choosing type = ‘Everything’ will monitor all the buzz about whatever keywords you type in, comma delimited. For most small businesses, a weekly notification should be adequate.
Here are some points for what you might want to check to see what your customers might find:
• Your business name, including any divisions or alternative names as it applies
• Your competitors
• Frequent misspellings of your business name
• Your flagship product names, part numbers and trade names
• Your key executive names– bad juju on your top people will reflect badly on your business

Social Oomph
Google Alerts keeps track of the Google database. Social Oomph (www.socialoomph.com) allows you to track tweets. You should create a free account and then go to Monitors\/Keyword Alert Emails on the left hand menu. You are allowed to set up to 50 keywords or phrases to scour the tweet-o-sphere for and email you summaries either daily or every twelve hours.
The keyword tips are the same as for Google Alerts. The cool thing about monitoring Twitter chatter is that it has a very real-time component to it. If hostility is being spread, you may have the ability to join the ongoing discussion and correct the record or counter the conversation when it is at its most poisonous and influential to your business reputation.

LinkedIn Signal
Signal is a tool currently under development by LinkedIn in conjunction with Twitter, using a similar search on discussions groups, shares and posted answers. Access it by logging into LinkedIn and going to www.linkedin.com/signal. This is a bit cumbersome with the filters and for most results, look up your name and company without the filters box selected. This is especially useful for product launches or branding efforts you might have to see if there is a buzz on LinkedIn among professionals. Unfortunately the search box appears to have no Boolean capability to add multiple search words separated by commas or expressions like’ +’ or ‘OR’.

If you’re in the consulting or professional services field this may be one where you save your searches and check periodically back, as these are folks who traffic LinkedIn. This is still in beta and isn’t significantly advertised by LinkedIn, and has a limited universe of professionals (those in LinkedIn who allow public view of their discussions) and will tell you more about trending topics than give you an overall analysis about what is being said relating to your business. I’d recommend playing with it to see if it is useful to you, but use the alerts in Google and Social Oomph to monitor the bulk of chatter.

by Karl Walinskas

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Your Marketing can be more like a vending machine than a slot machine, watch this learn how today: