February 2008
February 26, 2008

Facebook Privacy: How to Protect Yourself on Facebook

Dear Rich,

Recently someone left an inappropriate response to something I posted on my Facebook page. This person isn't a friend of mine, but is apparently in one of my networks. I deleted it, but I didn't even realize anyone but my friends could see what I post! I'm kind  of freaked and concerned about posting anything else.

How do I block this person from my Facebook profile, and how do I better protect myself going forward?

--Creeped Out In Cranberry Isles

Continue reading "Facebook Privacy: How to Protect Yourself on Facebook"
Posted by Rich Brooks at 01:56 PM
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February 21, 2008

Is Your Web Site or Blog Discriminating Against the Disabled?

Yesterday I received an email from a reader of this blog. On a post called Five Secrets to Promoting Your Business Blog I included a recommendation to post to influential blogs in your niche.

Why didn't he just leave a comment? Read on...

The reader responded that one barrier to leaving comments on blogs is the use of CAPTCHAs--those annoying, messy boxes of alpha-numerics that are supposed to separate the people from the machines. Unfortunately, they can be an impenetrable barrier to people with disabilities. More unfortunately, MaineBusiness.com, which hosts this blog, uses CAPTCHA to prevent comment spam on their site. (So does TypePad, which powers my other blog, flyte blog: web marketing strategies for small business.)

The reader mentioned that census figures show 20% of the population are somehow disabled; obviously, not all of the would be stopped by a CAPTCHA, but why would you use a tool that stops the voice of your reader and quiets the conversation on your site?

Obviously, there's a very good reason for using CAPTCHAs. They help stem the tide of comment spam generated by computers. Spammers use computers to send out an infinite, unending stream of spam to online forms for a variety of reasons. These spams reduce the signal to noise ratio, clog the tubes of the Internet, and reduce everyone's productivity.

New CAPTCHA tools often give people alternatives to those messy alphanumerics. Sometimes there's also an audio option (the computer will read you the answer and you type it in) or a simple math problem (what is 2 + 0) that these spam bots haven't yet caught up with.

Regardless, it's an ongoing battle between keeping communication flowing while keeping noise out. In a recent post, I talked about some of the benefits I've seen by using some non-CAPTCHA tools on online forms. However, ultimately spammers will figure those out as well.

We are in an arms race with the spammers, and of course there are innocent bystanders that are getting hurt, or at least disenfranchised.

There's no right answer on how to handle the balance of reducing incoming spam and keeping the lines of communication open with any human who wants to be part of the conversation. Each company, each Web site owner, and each blogger needs to make their own decision.

What have you found that works for you?


Posted by Rich Brooks at 12:36 PM
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February 19, 2008

Five Secrets to Promoting Your Business Blog

Blogs can be a powerful marketing tool, but not if they remain hidden. Here are 5 simple tricks all business bloggers should do to promote their blog and reach new customers.

  1. Create keyword-rich content on a regular basis. No matter what else you do on this list, if you're not regularly posting content to your blog, it will be difficult to attract regular readers.
  2. Comment on other influential blogs in your niche. Leaving comments on other blogs will create a link from their blog to yours. Leaving inane comments will get your comments deleted, and possibly get you banned. So, leave intelligent comments.
  3. Link from your Web site to your blog. Especially at the beginning when your Web site has more trust built up at the search engines and your blog has none.
  4. Ping the news aggregators to let them know when you've updated your blog. I use Pingoat; every time I finish a blog post I immediately go to Pingoat and ping dozens of news services in one step.
  5. Link to other blogs in your niche (and click on those links.) Whether in a blogroll or in an individual post, link to other bloggers and then click on those links to, a) confirm the links are right, and b) to show up as a referrer on their traffic reports. This should get their attention and maybe they'll end up linking back to you!

There are of course dozens if not hundreds of other things you can do to leverage the power of your business blog, but if there's anything on this list you aren't doing now, I recommend starting right away.

Do you have any techniques that have gotten you more traffic at your blog?

Rich Brooks
Small Business Blogger

Technorati Profile

Posted by Rich Brooks at 03:12 PM
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February 15, 2008

What Happens When Google Blacklists You?

Are you or a contractor participating in shady SEO (search engine optimization) practices? Well, the party won't last.

At a post over at Hitwise Intelligence, Robin Goad asks, What Happens if Your Web Site Gets Blacklisted by Google? The answer isn't pretty.

GoCompare, an auto insurance comparison Web site found out exactly how ugly recently when they were blacklisted by Google. From being #1 or at least on the first page of Google for "car insurance" they dropped to (at the time of the article) page seven. You can be sure there aren't too many users go to page seven.

In fact, traffic dropped 87% for that particular keyword. For an Internet-based company, that can spell death.

Why did GoCompare get blacklisted? Google doesn't give out specifics, but rumblings seem to point to paying for mentions in blogs. (This could spell death to the pay-per-post cottage industry that has sprung up.)

Whatever this particular infraction might be, the lesson to be learned is that "black hat SEO" might give you a big boost, but the hangover is never worth it.

Slow and steady wins the race, my friends....

Rich Brooks
Search Engine Marketing for Small Business

Posted by Rich Brooks at 09:52 AM
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February 14, 2008

Travel Web Sites

Last night I put on my "tech guru" hat again--you know, the one that covers up my receding hairline--and recorded a "travel" segment on 207, Maine's evening news magazine.

You can watch it here w/Windows Media Player.

Here are the links to the resources we discussed...and a few that didn't make the segment:

Rich Brooks
Desktop Traveler

Posted by Rich Brooks at 04:02 PM
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February 13, 2008

Travel Web Sites: Inspiration, Deals and Warnings

If you're looking for a little vacation getaway you might want to check out tonight's episode of 207 (2/13/08 at 7pm on channel 6.) Yours truly will be talking travel on the Web...where to look for inspiration, great deals, the right gear, and whether a trip to Kenya is really advisable.

Tomorrow I'll post a link to the segment and the URLs we visited.

Rich Brooks
Travel Guide

Posted by Rich Brooks at 11:55 AM
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February 12, 2008

Web Developer Job in Maine

We are currently looking for an experienced Web developer.

You have experience building Web sites with XHTML and CSS. You build sites using DreamWeaver, but you can also hand code to fine tune a site. You've worked in an office before and are comfortable working with customers.

You are organized and detail-oriented. You can follow directions, but you also take initiative and are comfortable sharing new ideas to help build a better product. In a perfect world you're familiar with Joomla and WordPress.

Your duties will include building new sites, updating current sites, developing HTML email campaigns and business blogs, as well as light office duties.

At flyte you'll find a fun, challenging, engaging workplace. You'll be forced to learn new skills and grow as a developer.

If you're up for a challenge, if you want to make an impact, if you want a full-time position with room to grow, flyte new media is looking for you.

Submit your resume and cover letter at our Web site. Please include examples of previous experience, references and when you can begin.

No telephone calls, please.

Rich Brooks
Maine Web Developer

Posted by Rich Brooks at 08:05 AM
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February 07, 2008

Search Engine Tips: Improve Your Intrasite Links

Click here. Learn more. Read more. What do these phrases have in common?

They're all missed opportunities when it comes to creating links on your site.

Search engines use the words in hyperlinks in their rankings. It gives them a hint of what's on the following page. So by using "Click Here" as your link, you're telling the search engine the next page is about "Click Here."

Not very helpful, is it?

Instead, you should use targeted keywords when you link from one page on your site to another. Here are some examples (underlines are for demonstration only, they're not links):

  • Learn how to train your dog in just five minutes a day.
  • Download our new article, "Sixteen Secrets Your Accountant Doesn't Want You to Know."
  • Watch our video on baking a cake for the novice.
  • Find out why one dentist out of five recommended sugar gum for his patients who chew gum.

The "following" pages (that you're linking to) need to follow up on the keywords you used. The title, the header and the body content should all be about training your dog in just five minutes a day, or whatever the appropriate topic is.

Your to-do? Review your Web site and update all the intra-site links that are specific to the topic you're linking to.

Your outcome? This will help the search engines understand what your site is all about, and should raise your profile in the search results.

Rich Brooks
Search Engine Marketing for Small Business

Posted by Rich Brooks at 03:54 PM
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February 06, 2008

Wanted: Experienced SEO / SEM Professional

Today we begin the search for an inhouse search engine marketer. Carolyn Phillips, who had been handling the task with grace and talent is moving out west, so she's transitioning into the role of independent contractor.

It was Carolyn's passion for SEO that started us down this path. We had been outsourcing much of our SEO work to the talented folks over at HMG Search Marketing, but came to the realization that for us it was important to integrate SEO into our other Web marketing endeavors, such as email marketing, blogging, social media, analytics and designing Web sites that help clients convert more visitors into customers.

If you've got 1 - 3 years experience with search engine marketing, have strong copywriting skills, and are organized and detail-oriented, we'd like to hear from you.

You can learn more about flyte and the SEO position at our Web site, and apply there, too.

No phone calls, please.

Rich Brooks
Maine Search Engine Marketing

Posted by Rich Brooks at 09:13 AM
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February 04, 2008

Email Marketing Advice: Increase Your Subscriber Base

This month's issue of our email newsletter flyte log is entitled, How I Increased My Email Signup Rate by 5,000%...and How You Can, Too.

Hmmm...you're thinking. I know Rich is terrible with math, so he probably moved a decimal point too far to the right. Or, maybe you're thinking, I know Rich is a marketer, but I think this time he stretched the truth past the breaking point.

Well, math isn't my strong suit, that's true. And, I am a marketer and, according to Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars.

Yet, as far as my rudimentary math skills can tell, it's true. We averaged 2 - 3 new subscribers a month before I tried the process I lay out in this month's issue, and now we average 125 new subscribers a month. (Actually, it's more. I was counting total subscriber base over a 12 month period, but that includes unsubscribes. Our new subscriber rate is even higher.)

But let's be honest, you don't care about my success rate, you want to know how to increase the number of subscribers to your email newsletter. If your email newsletter signup offers nothing more than "Join Our Mailing List," this month's flyte log is for you.

To avoid missing any future issues, be sure to sign up now!

Rich Brooks
Email Marketing for Small Business

Posted by Rich Brooks at 08:13 PM
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February 01, 2008

How Much Do Incoming Links Matter to Search Engine Rank?

Short answer: very. No wait, scratch that: essential.

Developing a keyword-rich site and placing those keywords in the right spots is only half the battle. Getting quality incoming links is the other half.

Part of any search engine optimization program has to include a plan to get incoming links, whether from other Web sites, blogs (including your own), directories, or an article marketing plan.

For more on this, check out Is SEO Possible Without Inbound Links?

Rich Brooks
Guess Where This Links

Posted by Rich Brooks at 01:58 PM
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