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Is Your Company in Google Business Directory?

One of the easiest ways to help you get on page 1 of Google is to get your company listed in the Google Business Directory. When people are searching for services in a specific city, the Google Business Directory will make suggestions right at the top of page 1.

For Landau Design we found listing our company in the directory brought us to the top of page 1 when people searched for design services in our area (type in joomla design "los angeles" and see where we come up). This happened almost overnight, and we saw the increase in our website traffic and potential client phone calls.

Create your listing

To create a Google Business Directory listing you need to create a Google account. The person who creates the directory listing owns the edit rights, so the company owner should make sure it is attached to his/her profile. When filling in the listing use as much detail as possible, especially in the categories section. Make sure your company description includes the most important keywords for your company. In the categories section put keywords and keyword phrases that clients use to find you.

Follow your reports
After you've created your listing you can come back and visit it by going to the Local Business Center link in your Google account panel. From here you can see reports that tell you how often your site came up in searches, whether people clicked on your links and what keywords they used to find you. Use this information to refine your company profile and assist in helping clients find you.

Should You Sell Advertising Space on Your Blog?

Advertising on your blog is a popular way to make some extra dollars. But how does one approach the concept of advertising? The following steps will help you determine what to charge and how to implement your advertising venture:

1) Determine if you should have advertising on your blog.
You need to consider if advertising is right for your blog. Will your readers be okay with it? Do you have space for it? Would people even pay for it? If your blog is new, it may not be something that you could sell, and instead you might want to use Google AdSense, which means you only get paid when people click on the ads. If you aren't at a place where you could sell ads, consider trading ads with another blog that is complimentary to your own.

2) Determine the value of an ad on your blog.
To determine the value of an ad you have to attempt to quantify the value of your blog. This means you have to come up with a cost per click or cost per impression value based on who visits your blog, how often they visit and how long they stay there. It's a somewhat ambiguous process to figure this out, but ProBlogger expert Daniel Scocco has written an excellent tutorial to help you determine how much to charge for advertising on your blog. If you're still stumped, you might try running through the My Blog Value calculator. While the creators claim it's just for fun, it does help give you an idea of where to begin.

2) Decide if you want to use a service to manage the advertising.
You can manually accept and place ads on your blogs and keep an Excel file to track expiration dates and due dates for payment. But there are companies that will manage the placement and payment for you. Of course they take a percentage, but they will also promote your blog in their directories so you might find other advertisers you may not have otherwise connected with. I have not used one of these services, but these are ones I have seen on popular blogs:

Determining whether to have a cost-per-click (CPC) versus pay-per-impression (CPM) or affiliate ads may determine which service you choose. Robert Bravery explains the difference between CPC & CPM in an article on his blog. Affiliate advertising means you get a commission if somebody clicks the ad and makes a purchase on the advertisers' site.

4) Decide where the place the ads
Decide how much space on your blog you are willing to give up to advertising. Advertisers will not be happy if the ads are pushed way down, so usually somewhere near the top, in the sidebar, is optimum positioning. If you are going to push ads below the fold, you might consider charging a reduced rate for this less-than-premium placement.

Hopefully this will help you decide whether to have ads and how much to charge from them. Making money from blog advertising is a common and easy way to generate revenue for something you are already doing. It's worth serious consideration as a means of generating some passive income.

Find Excellent Blogs to Pull into Your Site

Many of our clients are eager to create a site that updates itself. Pulling an RSS feed into your site is one such feature, and pulling in feeds of pertinent blogs is an excellent way to update your site without doing any work. Once the feed is set up, the list of blog posts updates itself!

How do you find blogs to include?

Use Blog Directories to find pertinent blogs
The easiest way to find blogs to include is using blog directories. These are kind of like giant phone books of blogs that allow you to search by subject to find blogs you are interested in. You can then visit the blogs and decide if they are worth pulling into your site. Some of these blog directories also host blogs (like Blogger), but most do not. here are some of my favorites:

Use Google to find pertinent blogs
Search in Google by typing in "subject matter"+"blog" and you will find many blogs on your pertinent subject. Make sure to do several searches using different keywords since the blog could be indexed many ways.

Use your social media to find blogs
Many people in the industry have gotten into the habits of reading daily blogs. Use your social networking tools to seek out others who are interested in the same subject and ask them which blogs they like to read. use LinkedIn groups to pose the question, or send some tweets out on Twitter or ask your friends on Facebook.

Use Twitter subject search to find blog links
Using the subject search in the right hand column will search the content of people's tweets. Many people use the hash tag to tag their tweets along certain subject line. This will not only lead to some interesting links, but you will probably find some great people to follow who will continue to post links to useful blogs.

What are the Advantages of Using Joomla?

Since we build most of our sites in Joomla, we are often asked what the advantages are to a Joomla-driven site. Here are the reasons we feel Joomla is the optimum solution for our clients:

Sites are built faster
We actually tried an experiment where we built a site in Joomla and then built the same site in HTML. It was a 28-page site with an image gallery, guestbook and static content. The HTML site took nearly twice as long to build as the Joomla site. Joomla is quicker and easier to implement than a traditional HTML site.

Client can update quickly and easily

With traditional HTML sites the owner of the site either has to know HTML or Dreamweaver (or similar editor) in order to update their content. Often with HTML sites there is an update cycle where the owner contacts the developer to request changes, then they have to wait for the developer to fit it into their production schedule. With Joomla, most of the content can be updated by somebody familiar with a program like Microsoft Word. This makes for quicker and easier updating of content.

Advanced functionality without development costs

There are over 4,500 plug-ins for Joomla that add additional functionality to the core program. Many of these plug-ins include complext functionality that would cost thousands of dollars to develop for an HTML site. For example, for an online calendar we use JEvents. We can install the calendar, set up categories, input a few events and set up an upcoming events sidebar in about an hour. To have this integrated into an HTML site would probably require 6-8 hours of a developers time. Joomla saves time and money!

Popular platform
Joomla is quickly becoming the most popular CMS available. Developers and designers are learning more and about how to utilize the platform, and companies are proud to share that their site was built with this open-source CMS. It's become easy to find developers to help you add-on to your Joomla site, and the popularity means more and more extensions are being developed to increase possible functionality. The best thing is, Joomla is not a fad. It has a long history and continues to evolve as the support community around it continues to grow.

What do you think are the advantages of Joomla?
Share with us in the comment section about why you think Joomla is a great choice for web development.

Be a Real Person on Twitter

I recently read an excellent article on what Follow Friday is truly about on Twitter. It got me thinking about the domain of Twitter and how different people come across with different personas. As somebody who likes to engage people in areas of interest, I want to really connect with people on Twitter. In the several months I've been using it, I have found it an invaluable information resource. I also want to use it as a promotional tool, but it seems to me the most effect method for promoting is through personally connecting with the people who follow you.

How can you be a REAL person on twitter?

1) Tweet with sincerity. There are people on twitter who tweet their every step in the day. While it may not be interesting, they are tweeting with honesty. There are others who only seem to tweet self-promotional dribble, but you don't really know who they are because they don't tweet much about themselves. Share some of yourself on Twitter so people know who the person is behind the username.

2) Engage people in conversation. If somebody tweets an area of interest to you, tweet them back. If somebody tweets an issue they're having, respond with a note of encouragement. These are the conversations that grow into trusted tweet buddies. These are the people who will get to know you, and when you're ready to promote, they will promote you. Just like in real business, the relationships create the network.

3) Don't send canned tweets. I've noticed people have a set of tweets that they send every few days. Where's the innovation in that? They are clearly tweeting for the purpose of promoting, but when using the same promotion over and over, it's clear there's no sincerity. It's not hard to come up with a 140-character sentence. If you want to promote the same link, introduce it in a different way.

4) Find people who share your interests. If you use the subject search box, you can find people who are tweeting on subjects of interest to you. Follow them, they will likely follow you. Then you will have something to talk about that you like reading and responding to.

5) Support your friends. Twitter is about sharing and supporting each other. The way support is shown is by:

  • retweeting their posts
  • sending out Follow Friday tweets
  • mentioning their blog, website in a tweet
  • engaging in Twitter conversations so people can get to know them

If you're only tweeting yourself or sharing information, you're missing out by not engaging in the exchange of Twitter conversation.

6) Remember the purpose. Twitter is about making connections. It's an excellent way to network, gain new information and find similar people to converse with. It's not about "whoever dies with the most followers wins". That just gets you a bunch of followers and not a true promotional outlet.

Here are some of my favorite REAL people on Twitter:
This post was inspired by tweets by @cwalkman and Twitter - Rules for Follow Friday by @JosephRanseth, an excellent article talking about how a sincere idea on Twitter turned into a tit for tat circus, and how we can bring it back to its roots.