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Ecommerce & Web Marketing Ezine.
August 10, 2003 

View the TTB Ezine Archive

Welcome to our new subscribers!

Suffering Summer online slump?

As summer lingers on in the Northern Hemisphere, there's a definite impact on the ecommerce. Many merchants I communicate with are reporting the traditional summer slump, with sales down up to 60% in some industry sectors - then again, some sectors such as travel are understandably peaking. I guess we just have to find a way to get people to go online at the beach ;).

If your online business is experiencing the traditional slump, it may be a good time to start thinking ahead to next year and diversifying your Internet based interests. It doesn't matter how much web marketing you do, if the audience isn't there, it just isn't there - better to sink your time and dollars into something that will work during the quieter times - such as travel and holiday oriented topics.

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Original articles - great for marketing and search engines

Something else that's a worthy activity during the quieter times is the development of quality content in the form of original articles, reviews and tutorials. Taming the Beast.net was built on this strategy and it has served us very well over the years - the emphasis being on *original*. There are so many sites out there that publish up other people's writings, and that's fine - but you'll find that these articles appear on hundreds of other sites as well. This can have a number of effects:

Transfer of authority

People arrive on your site looking for information. They expect you to be knowledgeable in your field. If they read an article or tutorial with an author's signature line that points to another site, they will be encouraged to visit that site instead.

Search engine ranking dilution

Search engines are becoming increasingly better at picking "duplicate content". What will tend to happen is that the site that the article originated from will pick up the brownie points in rankings and your copy of the article can get buried. This isn't *always* the case, but it's well known that this is how a modern engine is meant to work - again; it's an "authority" issue.

This doesn't mean to say that if your site has a number of articles contributed by other web site owners that you will descend into search engine hell. If you had a 50 page site and 40 of those pages were articles by *one* external author, then you may have ranking troubles. All things in moderation - use different authors' material interspersed with your own original content.

Sales opportunities lost

Based on both these points, the inevitable occurs - majority of non-original content = sales going to others.

Viral Marketing through articles

Now let's reverse this situation. Let's say that you start creating your own articles and tutorials. The temptation is to keep them for yourself, but in reality the best thing you can do is to then offer them to other site owners for publication (with strict guidelines of course) for free. This is a form of viral marketing. You can learn more about viral marketing here:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/viralmarketing.htm 

If your articles are decent and contain valuable information, you will see an increase of visitors to your site and consequently; sales. Search engines will notice that other sites are linking to you and follow these links. A greater presence on other sites can substantially boost your rankings. It does work - we've proved this time and time again. Original articles offered for reproduction are one of the best web marketing tools around.

The negatives

One major problem does arise through offering articles for reproduction - misuse and plagiarism. The articles we offer have reproduction guidelines - at times they aren't followed. It's important to follow up these people. In some cases the misrepresentation is an honest mistake and is rectified quickly. 

In other cases, webmasters may purposefully leave out your signature lines and links pointing to your site. These people are easy to deal with. If a polite request to either remove the content or fix it is ignored or refused, simply contact their hosting company. Most web hosts are sensitive to copyright issues and will quite happily pull the offenders account if they don't toe the line.

One other issue that does occur is that at times your articles may be used as a part of another webmaster's spam ezine. People then may target you as the perpetrator if your name and site details are viewable. It happened to us once - very frustrating. You can learn more about the experience here:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles2/spam-complaints.htm 

Monitoring reproduction of articles

With some regular monitoring, you can decrease the incidences of misuse. A month or two after publishing a new article, perform searches on an engine like Google for specific strings of text from your articles to get an idea of who is using them. I ensure that every article I release for reproduction has a number of unique strings that probably wouldn't be found elsewhere. 

They don't have to be complex strings - as long as you encapsulate the search query in quotes, you'll get a fairly accurate return. As for those sites using content who don't appear in major engines, they are harder to track, but they are less of a threat to your bottom line.

Ideas for articles

Even if you're not an experienced author, you can still put together great articles. Ideas can be gained from industry newsletters and articles you have read that appealed to you. If you are going to base an article on another, ensure you do not infringe on copyright - you'll basically need to rewrite the whole thing. Other articles can be useful for gaining a framework for your own.

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Reciprocal link marketing

Over the last 18 months; an entire industry has been created from the concept of link exchanges. I'm not referring to the "top sites" scripts that have been around for years, but the manual form of link requests. 

It's an art form unto itself and a very important marketing strategy. Unfortunately, not many webmasters have the knowledge to do it well. I've updated my article (originally published early last year) on this form of site marketing which can be viewed here:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/articles2/ internet-marketing-etiquette.htm 

That's it for this issue. Thanks for taking the time to read the ezine, I hope that you are finding the information of value.

Other resources on Taming the Beast.net

Search engine optimization tutorials

General web marketing & promotion articles

Online business security articles and tools

Affiliate marketing strategies and tutorials

Ecommerce tutorials and guides.

Web development tutorials and articles

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast.net
http://www.tamingthebeast.net
Tutorials, web content, tools and software
Web Marketing, eCommerce & Internet solutions. 
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