Where to Get Ideas for Website Content

An old colleague of mine wrote a great blog post about website content and how it relates to search engine optimization. It’s all about a developing a content strategy whereas great content is added to your website on a regular basis, showing the search engines (and those who are reading your website and visiting your website on a regular basis) that you’re a thought leader, and that you have a website that is not just “sitting there” idle. That’s what the search engines want, and that’s what us “humans” want. Content is king. Really, it is.

So, if you are unlike me and don’t think you have the ability to just sit down and write blog post after blog post and article after article all day long, then you’re probably going to need some inspiration. Some reason for sitting down and writing, some reason for sitting down and writing a blog post (you do have a blog on your website, right?).

There are a few places where you could get articles for website content:
- hire a writer (good writers are paid well)
- sit down and write it yourself (not good if you’re not a writer)
- search for a keyword at Google, find good website content, and copy/paste it onto your website (not recommended)
- search the news and write about current events and relate them to your industry or topic (good idea, but then again there’s a time issue or maybe you’re not really a writer)
- find something like articles for website content and read up on your subject; get ideas for articles or blog posts that you could write.

Researching your topic thoroughly on the web and then reading articles that have already been written for websites is a good idea; if you don’t have a lot of money to spend right now on website content, you could consider reading through Donna Mahony’s huge list of articles that’s she’s put together. Donna is doing us all a favor by making this content available to all of us on the “honor system” (if you use any of these articles for your own use or if they inspire you to write more content for your own website), then feel free to ‘give back’ to her.

I don’t recommend that you use the “copy paste” method and literally copy these articles and let them get indexed by the search engines. You would need to rewrite them somehow or use snippets of them in order to please the search engines (Google especially doesn’t like duplicate content). So, take a look at this massive collection of ideas for website content and let me know what you think.

Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization Training in San Francisco Bay Area

The Bay Area Search Engine Academy has officially opened their enrollment and registration for approaching Search Engine Optimization classes and internet marketing training for companies. Registration is limited to fifteen people in each of the training classes being held in San Ramon and Santa Clara (near San Jose), California.

The Bay Area Search Engine Academy will start the SEO training by teaching a six-step process that apparently will help their students get started rapidly without having to know a lot of technological code. “Anyone can learn our six-step process and get results,” Petty adds. The rest of the week is spent learning techniques that can get a business listed on the search engines many different ways.

Each student is encouraged to bring a wireless-enabled laptop and work on either their own Web site or their client’s web site during the search engine optimization training class. All SEO training students are given class time to show problems to the other students, get affirmative feedback, and help the other search engine marketing training students taking the course.

The Bay Area Search Engine Academy is part of the larger Search Engine Academy, started by John Alexander and Robin Nobles many years ago. They teach a standardised curriculum at all their academies around the world.

Once a student has finished the workshop and passed the exam, they receive a certificate showing they have have a thorough understanding in search engine optimization. In addition, pupils can request nationally-recognized continuing education units (CEUs) through the University of Southern Mississippi (an additional $60 fee covers the cost of the paperwork).

Here are the upcoming dates:

* San Ramon – February 22-26, 2010
* San Jose/Santa Clara – March 22-26, 2010
* San Francisco – Coming Spring 2010
* Sacramento – Coming Summer 2010

Interested students can register online at the Bay Area Search Engine Academy’s registration page or contact them directly toll-free at (888) 807-5658.

Search Engine Optimization Training Now in Washington DC

Search Engine Academy – DC, the first search engine optimization (SEO) training school in the Washington Metro area, has begun enrolling students in its upcoming certification courses. Classes are designed for people with little or no previous experience in SEO and for current search engine optimizers seeking the most current optimization skills and SEO certification.

The Search Engine Academy – DC accepts limited enrollment per class and offers a mentoring program for graduates for six months following course completion. Students complete hands-on practical exercises during the classes so they can immediately practice optimizing web pages of their choice at the workshop.

There are three search engine optimization certification choices:

SEO 2-Day Essentials – $995.00

SEO 3-Day Advanced – $1395.00

SEO 5-Day Comprehensive Master – $1795.00

Search Engine Academy – DC conducts SEO trainings in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia (Arlington, Falls Church, Vienna, Ashburn, Sterling, Chantilly, Leesburg, Woodbridge and Manassas), and Maryland (Anne Arundel County, Annapolis, Calvert County, St. Mary’s County, and Montgomery County, including Rockville and Frederick).

Two, three and five-day SEO certification classes are scheduled approximately every four to six weeks. Currently Search Engine Academy – DC has scheduled a two-day course for January 11 – 12, 2010; a three-day course for January 13 – 15, 2010; and a complete five-day SEO certification course January 11 -15, 2010. SEO certification workshops are also available on demand for companies who wish to train multiple in-house SEO specialists at their facilities.

Business owners, marketers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, webmasters, SEO specialists and consultants and people looking to start new careers can benefit from attending search engine academy classes. Students who complete Search Engine Academy certification coursework are eligible for continuing education units (CEU) from the University of Southern Mississippi.

In addition to the Search Engine Academy – Washington, DC there are Academies located in Raleigh, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; San Francisco Bay Area, California; Orange County, California; Tampa, Florida; New York City Metro Area; South Carolina; Oregon; Toronto, Canada; Montreal Canada; Singapore; Malaysia; and Indonesia. Each of the local Search Engine Academies are independently owned and operated by licensed associates of the Search Engine Academy.

Search Engine Academy is an organization of professional search engine optimizers committed to the education of individuals, businesses and web site owners in ethical ways to optimize the searchability of their web and blog sites. The Search Engine Academy – DC brings the basics of search engine optimization through hands-on experience with in-class guided instruction to students in the Washington, area. Search Engine Academy – DC also provides a mentoring program for Academy graduates for six months following completion of classes.

Top 10 Questions of 2009

ask-top-questions-2009
In a troubled economy there are so many questions people ask on a daily basis. How am I going to pay my bills? When will I find a new job? Are you really not allowed to wear white after Labor Day (wouldn’t want to blow an interview due to a ‘wardrobe malfunction’)? With all these different questions being asked, you’d be surprised to find out which ones actually made the top 10 list of questions asked on Ask.com.

More than 50 million people visit Ask each month, where they are three times more likely to enter their queries in the form of a question than on other search engines. Of course, this is understandable since there use to be guidelines on how to ask a question in order to get an answer on Ask.com. In either case, from the list below, it seems that people are looking more towards doing something about their financial future, as well as, their health. I’m surprised questions about Swine Flu weren’t closer to the top of the list. I am also VERY curious to find out the age range of the people asking question number three – and where are their parents when they do.

Ask.com’s Top Questions of 2009:

1. How much should I weigh?

2. How do I get out of debt fast?

3. How do I get pregnant?

4. What is Twitter?

5. What is Miley Cyrus’ phone number?

6. What is the meaning of life?

7. When will the world end?

8. How long does marijuana stay in your system?

9. What are the symptoms of Swine Flu?

10. What time is it?

For all you fitness marketers, and entusiasts out there, Ask.com also has a special list that focuses on what questions were asked in regards to fitness – most of which seemed centered around calorie consumption and usage:

Top Fitness Questions:

1. How many calories should I eat a day?

2. How do I get a six-pack fast?

3. What is the best exercise to burn calories?

4. How much should I be able to bench press?

5. What is Pilates?

6. How many calories do you burn running a mile?

7. What are the benefits of jogging?

8. How long does it take to tone muscle?

9. Is yoga better for you than Pilates?

10. How do you boost your metabolism?

The topics for the top financial questions asked were all over the place. They ranged from debt, to bonds, to bankruptcy. Maybe these questions show the main places people are checking out instead of reflecting one specific trend:

Top Personal Finance Questions:

1. What is a good credit score?

2. How do I file for bankruptcy?

3. How do I start my own business?

4. What is a short sale in real estate?

5. Who owns the Federal Reserve Bank?

6. How much is minimum wage?

7. How do savings bonds work?

8. What can I deduct on my taxes?

9. What is a trust fund?

10. What is a hedge fund?

The top technology questions seemed to be more centered around the idea of making a website. Sites that cater to teaching people how to make their own webpage may want to pay attention to the results of this list:

1. How do I make a website?

2. What does URL stand for?

3. How do I find my IP address?

4. What is an RSS feed?

5. How many megabytes are in a gigabyte?

6. How do I delete my cookies?

7. What is JavaScript?

8. What does FTP stand for?

9. What is a 3G network?

10. What is a PDF file?

The top celebrity questions didn’t present much of a surprise. Basically, the celebrities that did something that was news worthy made the top list. With that being said, I’m still greatly surprised about the number one question. As many times as you see Miley Cyrus jumping around on stage, and in her recent videos (not that I would know, mind you), I’m confused as to why people even bother asking this question. Just boggles the mind.

Top Celebrity Rumors of 2009:

1. Is Miley Cyrus pregnant?

2. Is Adam Lambert straight?

3. Is Lady Gaga a man?

4. Is Michelle Obama pregnant?

5. Is Robert Pattinson dating Kristen Stewart?

6. Did Chris Brown get Rihanna pregnant?

7. Are Jon and Kate getting a divorce?

8. Is Michael Phelps using marijuana?

9. Who is the father of Michael Jackson’s children?

10. Did David Letterman keep a secret bedroom is his studio?
ask-top-questions-2009

2nd Annual Biggest Search Geek Contest

teapot_blowing
Considering the fact that there are so many contests available today (like the unusual contest for blowing water out from a teapot), it does not come as a surprise to find out there is a contest to see who is the biggest geek in the world of search engine marketing. But unlike many other contests out there, this one is something you can actually make some serious money training for, as well as, from the different clients that you can draw in.

search-geek

The Biggest Search Geek brings people from all walks of life together in the name of search engine marketing. Anyone can enter online (except those who work for Marin Software, and it’s affiliates of course) by simply going to “The Biggest Search Geek” website and filling out the online application and following the instructions on the website. The contest begins on December 1, 2009 and ends on February 19, 2010. The official rules are also available online, but here is a brief summary:

Participants test their skills by answering 20 amazingly tough questions about search engine marketing (the ins and outs, and everything in between). Each entry will be judged and scored based on the number of questions correctly answered in a timely fashion (so if you think you can take a month to answer one question, think again). Each question has a possible total score of 5 points, and you can get a maximum of 100 points if you answer all the questions correctly. Partial credit for multi-part questions will be given so it does help to guess, but keep in mind this contest is designed to separate the men from the boys (or the geeksters from the posseurs). The final score will be represented as a percentage of the total questions answered correctly. Last year’s winner, Keri Morgret, went up against well over 1,600 search engine marketers to score a 76.8% and claim the title of Biggest Search Geek. This year, Keri is looking to reign supreme once again – and for good reason.

This year’s grand prize will be a free trip for two people to the Search Engine Marketing Expo (SMX) West to be held in beautiful Santa Clara, CA. The grand prize also includes round-trip airfare, and hotel accommodations. The winner will also receive an award on stage from SMX West chair Danny Sullivan, who also serves as Search Engine Land’s editor in chief. Even if you don’t win the grand prize, the SMX West expo is still an awesome happening to check out for those in the search engine marketing world.

The SMX West Expo is three days of intensive seminars, and exhibits that can help just about any search engine marketing enthusiast elevate their level of game play. A plethora of companies will be on hand to demonstrate the latest in search engine marketing tech, and grandly display highly guarded secrets to dominating your niche with SEM. Some of the topics covered will include search engine optimization (SEO), paid search advertising, analytics, social media marketing, and much more. It’s amazing how much information the event coordinators and demonstrators can cram into a few days time. Industry experts, and hopefuls come from all around to learn, network and share in the experience of the expo. If you are looking for a way to improve your skills in SEM, and be around like minded people looking to do the same, this expo is the place to be. [Read more...]

How I Met a Celebrity by Using Craigslist

Over this past weekend, my wife and I had the pleasure of a brief third visit from a real, honest-to-goodness, “household name” celebrity. This time, it was this celebrity’s husband visiting our home. And to think, it all started with a simple Craiglist ad, one that I placed on the Dallas Craigslist about two months ago.

dallas craigslist

First off, I’m not going to go into great detail about the celebrity (or her husband), not only to protect them, but because who they are really isn’t my point here. All I am going to say is that they’re household names, and most likely you have seen something that they’ve been involved with. And yes, this celebrity is in Wikipedia, tv.com and in IMDB. If you know me well, you probably know who this person and her husband is by now, but really that’s not the point.

rhode-island-red-chicken

It all started with a knock at my door. I was busy working in the house, and a good friend of mine (who lives a few miles down the road), came by and visited for a few minutes. He knew that we have a few chickens (laying hens) for our own personal use (we generally don’t sell them, just eat the eggs), and we have bought a few chickens from him before. Ron said that he would gladly bring them over, and a few hours later he did. After a few days, my wife and I decided that they weren’t getting along very well with the laying hens we have (they’re a different breed of chicken). So, my wife said “get rid of those chickens.”

Not telling my wife, I placed a simple ad on Craigslist. I detailed them rather well, what breed of chicken they were, and a few other qualities. And I was lazy this time. I didn’t even take the time to take a photo of one of these chickens, which goes against everything I know about Craiglist. If you ever post something on Craiglist for sale, always add a photo of whatever you’re selling, because that increases the chances that you’ll sell it, by at least 1000 percent.

guinea

The phone rang. My wife answered, talked to the pleasant-sounding man on the end of the line, and made arrangements to take the chickens to him on a Saturday morning. Then she got off the phone, came to find me, and yelled, “you didn’t tell me you were putting them on Craiglist. Well, we sold them, and we have to go up to their house on Saturday.” She had written everything down, even the guy’s phone number, address, and his name. Being the internet techno geek that I am, I “googled” his name. Then we found out who this man was, who his wife was, and everything from there fell into place.

We loaded up and brought the chickens to one of their homes, where they already had a few roosters, a pair of swans, and a few ducks on their pond. We spent at least an hour there, and even ended up, a few weeks later, bring them some more chickens. And just this weekend, he came by our house this time; to pick up a few guineas that we had.

So, what’s my point?
Well, my point here is that celebrities are real people, just like you and me. They go to the grocery store. They go to Walmart. They browse the web. And yes, they even browse sites like Craigslist, looking for a good deal on something. So, whether it’s an ipod, a car, or even a horse or goat, and you’re looking to sell or buy it, try Craigslist. And oh yeah, if you’re honest with whatever you’re buying or selling, you might even have a chance at meeting an honest-to-goodness, down to earth, real celebrity.

Leapfish Set to Roll Out Real-Time Search

leapfish
There are many different ways to search the internet, regardless if you are looking for videos, pictures, or what have you. Having to go to different searching platforms can be rather time consuming.

leapfish homepage

Thanks to the LeapFish multimedia searching platform, internet users worldwide will be able to enjoy the convenience of searching Google, Yahoo!, and Bing all on the same webpage. LeapFish is a new multimedia search engine that captures the variety of the web in a single search platform. This multi-faceted searching machine promises to change the rules of the game in regards to REAL-TIME multimedia searching.

Leapfish is comprised of a simple design that features a search bar at the top of the page where users can choose between searching on Google, Yahoo! or MSN. From there, users choose whether or not they are looking for sites on the web, or more specific items such as images, news, videos, and blogs. There is even an answers links for those looking for questions on specific topics. This is highly useful to bloggers who may be looking to tailor their blog posts to answer questions commonly found on the web.

As an added bonus, anyone looking for some great deals while shopping online, will find the shopping search link very useful. This specially created link helps users find the latest offerings from Amazon.com and eBay. Visitors also have a choice between using the latest version of LeapFish, or going back to the Classic version. Switching between the two versions is as easy as clicking on a link located at the top of the page.

The Classic page tends to have a much more simplistic look and feel, while the latest version of LeapFish is feature rich, and has several different sections where you can look at the latest Twitter trends, as well as, check out the latest in “Today’s Tips”. You can also hover your cursor over an image, and a larger version of that image will pop up making it easier to see what is featured on a site. You can easily switch from different media types displayed, and can even install the LeapFish toolbar to make your searching even easier.

On October 28th, LeapFish released a private demo for a select few to check out the features of this social media searching platform. It definitely met with positive reviews, and although there are a few kinks here and there that need to be worked out, LeapFish looks to be gunning for a position in the world of search engine platforms.

Overall LeapFish is easy to use, and highly intuitive, and makes searching the top three searching platforms much easier than doing the same thing in three different windows or tabs. LeapFish is definitely going to change the way people look at browsing for social media.

Why I Do Not Use Yahoo Search

Yahoo logo
First off, let me explain that I have always been a fan of Yahoo!. I mean, ever since I first heard the Yahoo! Yodel, I was hooked. I know that Yahoo! Search has always had their quirks and they recently have stated that they’ve not really been a “search destination”, Yahoo! is a portal. Sure, yes, I get that.

But this sealed it for me today. I mean, this is why I no longer am going to use Yahoo! Search. I am talking about Yahoo! Organic Search, the free search results, not Yahoo! Search Marketing, their Paid Search (their Pay Per Click).

Take a look at the search results for “mobile home”. You know what a mobile home is, you know, right? Well, apparently Yahoo! does NOT know the difference between a mobile home and a cell phone:

yahoo search mobile home

I mean, really, Yahoo! Search, why are you showing the T mobile website, a cellular phone company, in the search results for “mobile home”? Let’s compare the Yahoo! search results for “mobile home” to Google’s “mobile home”:

google-search-mobile-home

Mobile homes are where people live. They’re NOT cell phones. Yahoo!, if you’re listening to this, I have some advice: T-mobile is not a good search result to display when I am looking for a “mobile home”.

Amazon.com Shuts Down Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

amazon-associates

Amazon.com has “jumped the gun” so to speak and shut down its affiliate program, the Amazon Associates Program, to associates who live in the State of North Carolina. Amazon.com is taking this unprecedented step of shutting down their affiliate program ahead of what they’re calling an “unconstitutional tax collection scheme expected to be passed any day now by the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) and signed by the governor.”

amazon-associates-homepage

I have received a copy of an email sent by Amazon.com to a member of the Amazon.com Associates Program who is a North Carolina resident:

We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account has been closed as of June 26, 2009. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional tax collection scheme expected to be passed any day now by the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) and signed by the governor. As a result, we will no longer pay any referral fees for customers referred to Amazon.com or Endless.com after June 26. We were forced to take this unfortunate action in anticipation of actual enactment because of uncertainties surrounding the legislation’s effective date.
Please be assured that all qualifying referral fees earned prior to June 26, 2009 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with our regular referral fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of June 26, 2009, any final payments will be paid by September 1, 2009.

In the event that North Carolina repeals this tax collection scheme, we would certainly be happy to re-open our Associates program to North Carolina residents.

The North Carolina General Assembly’s website is http://www.ncleg.net/, and additional information may be obtained from the Performance Marketing Alliance at http://www.performancemarketingalliance.com/.

We have enjoyed working with you and other North Carolina-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you all the best in your future.

Best Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

In an effort to get more revenue for the State of North Carolina, the State has decided to pass legislation that would add a “click-thru tax”, a tax on sales that go through affiliates. So, if you are a website owner that provides “free content” on the internet and gain most of your revenue from affiliate marketing, you’re out of luck: the States, such as North Carolina, are starting to add taxes to your affiliate marketing efforts. New York has apparently already passed such a tax, and North Carolina’s affiliate tax is supposed to be on the law books soon.

I do believe, though, that Amazon.com’s shutting down North Carolina affiliates “jumps the gun” so to speak and it not warranted. The North Carolina tax on affiliate sales has not officially passed yet, and perhaps this is just an effort “not to have to pay” affiliates who have made them sales. No word on how many affiliates Amazon has in the State of North Carolina.

If you’re interested in following this there’s more information here and here and here and you can check the Performance Marketing Alliance for updates and what’s going on in other States.

2009 TopCoder Open Champions Announced

I have to admit that I really am not a coder or programmer. I’m more of a writer, blogger, search engine optimizer, and shameless self-promoter. As such, I’ve been a real fan of the TopCoder competition for years now. TopCoder has announced the winners of this year’s TopCoder Open.

topcoder-09-homepage

What is TopCoder?
From the site: “The 2009 TopCoder Open (TCO) is a world-wide programming and graphic design tournament that is open to all TopCoder members 18 and older, who are in good standing, and meet all other eligibility criteria. There are nine different tracks of competition as part of the TCO: Algorithm, Architecture, Assembly, Component Design & Development, Marathon, Mod Dash, Specification, and Studio Design. Taking part in the TCO09 gives you the opportunity to showcase your programming and/or design skills up against some of the best in the world.”

And they give away some great prizes, I might add.

topcoder-finalists

So, here are this year’s winners:

Algorithm Coding Champion $10,000 Prize: Bin Jin, TopCoder handle crazyb0y, of Shanghai, China. Jin, a student from Changzhou High School, also won this year’s 2009 TopCoder High School International tournament.

  Algorithm Finalists
  crazyb0y, China * (winner)          Im2Good, Norway
  Petr, Russian Federation            syg96, Russian Federation
  SnapDragon, Canada                  UdH-WiNGeR, Russian Federation
  lucasr, Argentina                   marek_cygan, Poland

Marathon Competition Champion $10,000 Prize: Andrey Lopatin, TopCoder handle KOTEHOK, of St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.

  Marathon Finalists
  KOTEHOK, Russian Federation * (winner)       maniek, Poland
  AlexanderL, Ukraine                          jdmetz, USA
  nhzp339, China                               prober, China
  Psyho, Poland                                roma, Ukraine
  wleite, Brazil                               zibada, Russian Federation

Mod Dash Champion $10,000 Prize: Ninghai Huang, TopCoder handle PE, of Beijing, China.

  Mod Dash Finalists
  PE, China * (winner)              ShindouHikaru, Philippines
  cucu, Argentina                   enefem21, Indonesia
  saarixx, Ukraine                  Margarita, Ukraine
  will.xie, China                   Yeung, China

TopCoder Studio Champion $15,000 Prize: Dale Napier, TopCoder handle djnapier, of Brisbane, Australia.

  TopCoder Studio Finalists
  abedavera, Indonesia                      djackmania, Indonesia
  djnapier, Australia * (winner)            Elizabethhee, China
  foxyhu, China                             oton, Indonesia
  mahestro, Venezuela                       oninkxronda, Philippines
  sweetpea, Indonesia                       Tricia_Tjia, Indonesia

Architecture Champion $10,000 Prize: GuanZhuo Jin, TopCoder handle Standlove, of Hangzhou City, China.

  Architecture Finalists
  Standlove, China * (winner)        argolite, Canada
  Ghostar, USA                       AleaActaEst, Canada
  the_best, Ukraine                  saevio, Romania

Assembly Champion $10,000 Prize: Pablo Wolfus, TopCoder handle pulky of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  Assembly Finalists
  pulky, Argentina * (winner)           oldbig, China
  PE, China                             pinoydream, Philippines
  retunsky, Russian Federation          BeBetter, China

Design Champion $10,000 Prize: Olexiy Sadovnikov, TopCoder handle saarixx, of Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

  Design Finalists
  saarixx, Ukraine * (winner)             argolite, Canada
  bramandia, Indonesia                    caru, Italy
  gevak, Russian Federation               Indemar, Romania
  Mafy, Romania                           nicka81, Russian Federation
  Standlove, China                        Pops, USA

Development Champion $10,000 Prize: Yanbo Wu, TopCoder handle assistant, of Adelaide, Australia & China.

  Development Finalists
  assistant, China * (winner)           Hacker_QC, China
  hefeng, China                         iKnown, China
  morehappiness, China                  myxgyy, China
  romanoTC, Brazil                      velorien, Romania
  Orange_Cloud, Russian Federation      EveningSun, China

Specification Champion: Piotr Paweska, TopCoder handle AleaActaEst, of Toronto, Canada.

  Specification Finalists
  AleaActEst, Canada * (winner)        MiG-29, Russian Federation