You Don’t Need a Website – Just Facebook, NOT!!!

web-vs-fbI recently read an article online (so you know it had to be true) that said, “You don’t need a website, only Facebook and LinkedIn.”  The article went on to say with all the changes to SEO and the cost of creating a website, why not put all your marketing eggs in the Facebook and LinkedIn basket.   After reading the article, my response, “Are You Freaking Kidding Me?!?”

 

While Facebook and LinkedIn are important marketing channels, why you would even consider putting all your marketing efforts into channels that you don’t control?  Case in point, January, 2014, Facebook announced that many posts by pages will no longer show up in the news feed of individuals, even though they have liked the page.   And this is not the first time they have made changes that negatively affect business marketing and it won’t be the last.

 

As business owners, we tend to look at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the other social media sites as marketing opportunities.  But except for LinkedIn, all the other social channels were created and continue to focus on individual, social relationships, not business and marketing.  We are the ones that diligently try to use them to create marketing opportunities.

 

I will agree that with all the changes Google has made over the last few years, it can be frustrating for a website owner to keep up with the factors that affect the ranking of their website.  And while many of the tricks and techniques that once worked, no longer do, Google still emphasizes one thing every website owner can control – content.  Correction, quality content.  And this is the one factor that will never change.  Google’s mission has always been to create the best search results anywhere.  Quality content will always fulfill that mission.

 

Back to the article I read, the bottom line was that the author was ultimately trying to sell their Facebook and LinkedIn system.  I am certainly not opposed to programs that teach you how to maximize your Facebook and LinkedIn efforts (like my Ninja Marketing Dojo).  But a balanced approach is a must.  Having a website and blog, plus identifying  and utilizing the social media channels where your audience hangs out should comprise your online marketing plan.

 

If your Facebook page has thousands of likes, with a Post Reach well above 50% and Engagement numbers that closely parallel your likes, then take the gamble and ignore the need for a website.  Otherwise, you’re playing Russian Roulette with a bullet in the chamber.  There’s a pretty good chance, the results will be disastrous.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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Say No To Template Websites

keep-calm-and-just-say-noToday’s article comes from my “what in the heck were they thinking file”. Being a passionate champion for small businesses, it makes me furious when I see large companies offering website design services with the inferred idea that it will generate tons of traffic. Here is an example what I mean.

 

I recently met with a potentially new client about doing some search engine optimization (SEO) on their local Tucson business website. They had paid a large company whose name you would know if I mentioned it, to create their website. In addition, they also paid them for a monthly SEO package designed to improve their search rankings. What prompted their call was the fact that they were NOWHERE to be found in a search for a keyword phrase that had very little competition. As I reviewed the site, I noticed several things. First of all, the site was built using the company’s website builder program, which the business owners could have done themselves.  I would have assumed an “expert” paid to build the site could have used something more sophisticated than a template builder program.

 

The second thing that stood out was the first occurrence of any of their keyword phrases in the HTML code. The homepage had about 250 lines of code and the first time any of their content appeared was on line 207. Google looks at that and says, “if we have to crawl three fourths of the way through this site before finding what it’s about, then it’s not a “real” site that we should consider.”  Which means there’s a pretty good chance this site will never show up in any search.

 

The third thing I found as I looked at the HTML code for the images was they were missing keyword tags, which is a very basic element of SEO.  Now that would be understandable if the customer had built it themselves, but to have paid extra for the “experts” SEO package is ridiculous. It’s almost like stealing.

Being a small business owner, I absolutely understand the budget constraints and the need to create a web presence as inexpensively as possible. The prospects of a “free” or next to nothing priced website is very attractive. And that’s fine for a business that needs a portfolio type of site that they will hand to prospective customers. But if lead generation and getting found in the search engines is an important consideration, these sites won’t do.

There are alternatives that are affordable. WordPress is a perfect example of an easy to use, but very search engine friendly website builder program. It’s available on most of the large hosting companies for free and there are hundreds of templates to choose from to create a nice layout.

 

So before you get suckered into the commercials that are rampant today, stopped and analyze what you really want your website to accomplish. Then interview several website designers to see what your options are. Should you decide to go with WordPress, my Ninja Marketing Dojo has a complete tutorial on how to use WordPress.

 

Realize that the return on a zero investment is still likely to be zero, whereas investing a little money in a good website can easily pay for itself with just a few new customers.

 

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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Gmail Now Allows Email From G+ – Ninja Marketing Tips

stressGmail has made a change that can have some impact on you.  This week, Gmail announced their latest update will allow emails can now be send to anyone in G+ without having their email address.  The sender will not be able to see what email they are sending to.  Their email will go into the Social folder in Gmail if one is setup.  Only when and if the recepient responds, will the sender be able to see the email address.  From then on, all emails will go into the Primary folder.

While this sounds like a good idea, I think differently.  Since very few people know about this, or utilize only are small percentage of the Gmail functions, the ones that will use it will be spammers and other unscrupulous marketers.  True, they may only be able to email you once, I can see my Social folder filling up with tons of spam.

The video above shows you how to adjust your Gmail setting so block emails from anyone in G+.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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To Update or Not To Update WordPress – Ninja Marketing Tips

To Update WordPress or Not To Update WordPressTo update WordPress or not to update WordPress, that is the question. Okay, so Shakespeare wasn’t a blogger. But if he was, he would had to deal with the question of updating WordPress too.

WordPress, like other software programs, is continually changing. Some updates are to fix bugs or security leaks. Others are enhancements that users have requested. But unlike Windows updates, WordPress updates don’t automatically happen and you’re not prompted by a pop-up window. The only way you know if an update is available is to login to your WordPress dashboard.

Finding WordPress Updates

While WordPress will normally work fine without updating, there are drawbacks to not updating. Updates that contain security patches are important to keep your site safe. Older releases of WordPress (pre 3.4 versions) had memory limits that won’t run some of the newer plugins.

Here are 5 things to consider when updating your WordPress site:

1. Start with a backup of your site. There are several good WordPress Backup plugins you can use, but the easiest way is export your site. From your Dashboard, go to Tools, Export and choose all content. This will download a backup copy to your computer.

2. Don’t skip releases. While it’s possible to skip a minor release, never skip major releases. For example, you are running WordPress 3.5. A minor update, 3.5.3 is released, then a few months later major release 3.6, followed by another major release, 3.7. You could skip directly to the 3.6 but if you tried to go from 3.5 to 3.7, there’s a good chance your site will become locked.

3. Download the server files. Use an FTP program and download the files from the server to your local computer. That way, if the update goes south, you can reload the original files and be back up and running.

4. Updating Themes and Plugins – Themes are what control the look and layout of your WP site and plugins add functionality to your site. Like the WordPress platform files, themes and plugins will often be updated for the same reasons WP files are. If the theme or plugin was updated to plug security holes, then it’s important to perform the update. The Updates tab on the dashboard will show you what plugins and themes have available updates. If you go to the Installed Plugins page and visit the site for the theme or plugin, often you will find the release notes to see what was covered by the update. Use this to determine if you need to apply the update.

4. Don’t overwrite the theme files. Theme files can be used as is, modified within the theme control panel in the dashboard or actually add to or modify the code. If you have done the later and your theme has an update, you may want to manually apply it. The automatic update (clicking the update button in the Updates tab) will simply replace all the files with the new ones. If you modified a page by adding something like a slideshow to the code, the changes will be overwritten and lost. With the backup files you downloaded in step 3 above, you can easily replace the one or 2 files you changed.

5. Help, I updated and now I can’t get into my dashboard (or site). If you happened to skip a release and now your site doesn’t work, you have a couple of options. Using an FTP program or the File Manager from your website’s CPanel, remove the directories WP-Includes and WP-Admin and all the files inside, plus all the WP files in the main WP directory. Then upload your old files via FTP. Login to your dashboard and it will update the database and your site should be back up.

To update, you will need to add the skipped releases one by one, starting with the oldest first. You can download the older versions by going to http://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/ .

Bottom line – with the popularity and prominence of WordPress today comes the increased attention from hackers. While it can be a pain in the behind to update, it’s going to be better than having your site compromised or defaced by hackers.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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Link Popularity Isn’t So Popular Anymore

Link-popularityIf you’ve been in business more than a few months and have a website, you’ve more than likely gotten several calls or emails promising to get you #1 in Google.  And some of you may have even paid one of these “SEO geniuses” to do that for you.  If you did, you should read on.

For several years, the preferred tactic of SEO companies was to create an inbound linking strategy (inbound likes refers to links to your website from sites other than your own.)  Strategies varied from link exchanges with other sites to adding your site to every possible directory on the web all the way to commenting on blog articles.  This was a very effective strategy.  I have a client that paid a SEO guru megabucks to build a link campaign, plus build 30+ keyword-rich articles, that resulted in a top 3 listing on Google for a competitive national keyword.  My client was enjoying the success that brought — until the May release of Google’s Penguin and Panda updates.  Shortly thereafter, his site plummeted below 150 and in some cases 300.

As I began exploring the causes, Google Webmaster Tools began reporting Manual Actions, a section that showed when Google took adverse action against a site.  Exploring that showed that his site had be penalized for multiple reasons.  First was for having an excessive number of links on his site, all revolving around a couple of keyword phrases.  Google considered those as spam links whose only purpose was to artificially influence the search results.

After removing those, the next Manual Action report showed a large number of inbound links from what Google considered low quality sites.  Many of these sites are nothing more than glorified link farms, sites with little or no content, created for the purpose of displaying Google ads and generating revenue for the site owner.  The process of removing these links has proven to be an arduous task, investigating the links, finding a contact for the site, sending a link removal request and following up.  Google has initiated a Disavow process, which as a last resort, will help disassociate those spammy links from the website.  I say last resort because with Disavow, the link is still out there. Lets face it, we’ve probably all seen an instance when a software update caused something that was working to stop.

To check your site for low quality links, it’s as simple to check.  Do the following Google search – links:www.yourdomain.com (using your website address).  The resulting search will show you how many links Google finds. Examine the list and look at each site that’s linked back to your site.  Some factors to look for:

  1. Does the site have any quality content?
  2. Is the site just a directory of web sites?
  3. Is the link just a listing to your website or is it a blog article someone has shared?
  4. Is the related to your industry (a complimentary, non-competitor business)?

Make a spreadsheet or list of the sites that have low content quality, low value directories or web site listings.  In that list, add the contact email for the site if you can find it.  Contact the site owner and ask them to remove your link.  Periodically, do the Google links search again to see which links have been removed.  Once you have exhausted the removal efforts, you may want to use the Google Disavow tool, a part of Google’s Webmaster Tools.  Or better yet, contact your webmaster to have them handle the process.

Be proactive.  Don’t wait until Google slaps your site to take action.  While you may never have a problem with links, it’s like buying insurance.  Better have it before something happens because after the fact, it’s too late.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend – IGoogle

Goodbye Igoogle.All good things must come to an end and so, my old friend, IGoogle is going away. If you haven’t used IGoogle – well you missed a great tool but don’t start now. November 1st it will be no more.

IGoogle is Google’s customized home page, ala My Yahoo, etc. What I liked about it was the fact that I could aggregate all my “stuff” in one home page. I could check my Gmail, Google calendar, read my blog articles, access my bookmarks, even check my social media sites, all on one page. No need to open multiple windows. It updated every few minutes making it easy to see important emails or messages. IGoogle was one of the time saving tools I taught in my 10 Minute Social Media seminars.

But for reasons unknown, Google has chosen to put IGoogle out to pasture. So now what do I use for my browser home page? Well, like any vacuum, something is waiting to fill the space. There are several alternatives but the closest to IGoogle I’ve found so far is IGHome.com. It offers gadgets for Gmail, Google calendars, Google bookmarks, and tons more. Everything from latest news from all the major news services to stock market news; from local weather to cartoons and jokes.

IGHome.com also allows you setup multiple tabs. I have a second tab setup for specific blogs I follow, like Google Central, Social Media Examiner and SEOmoz. I even added a gadget for Evernote and Feedly (that aggregates all my RSS feeds.) There is even a way to import your IGoogle setting into IGHome (although mine didn’t import everything.)

There are a few things things I’ve found that aren’t as good as IGoogle. The biggest is the Gmail gadget. It doesn’t use the Gmail folders like the IGoogle gadget did. Instead of gettting just the Primary folder emails, I get everything. I’ve looked for a setting but so far without any success.

The Google calendar in IGoogle showed a small month calendar on top with the agenda below. The IGHome gadget only the embedded calendar which is a choice of Agenda, Week or Month views, rather than the hybred.

Now before you rush over to IGHome and start setting up your page, wait. Apparently the huge volume of us flocking away from IGoogle has put a strain on their servers (which may be why my import from IGoogle didn’t work so well.) Adding gadgets or making changes is very slow. There is a not on their home page saying they are adding new servers this weekend, which should improve the site’s responsiveness. So I would wait until then before checking it out.

Assuming that the site speed will improve, this looks like the best alternative for us IGooglers. So, goodbye old friend. I’ll miss you…at least for a few days.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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Setting Up POP3 Emails in Gmail

If you use it, Google’s got it.  Need to create a powerpoint presentation, spreadsheet or word document, Google Drive will do it.  Need to keep your appointments organized, Google Calendar’s the program.  Managing your email on the go, think Gmail.

Everyone is aware of Gmail as a free email program, but did you know you can manage all your email with Gmail?  For years, I’ve always advised clients to setup Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express or some other email client program, so they can receive emails from their website (POP3 emails).  Sometimes it would setup easily, other times it was a nightmare.

Another problem with POP3 emails today is syncing with smart phones and tablets.  My own experience was hit and miss.  Some days I’d receive several emails from my website email, then go hours, even days without receiving a single email on my Android phone.  Very frustrating.

But now, there’s another option that’s much simpler.  Gmail.  Anyone with a Gmail account can add up to 3 additional email addresses to their account.  Now, when you check your Gmail, your regular emails will appear in the same stream.  And by syncing your Gmail account to your smart phone, all your emails are readily available.  No more needing an email that you downloaded to your desktop mail program while you’re out.

Another bonus from using Gmail for your email addresses is the Google Spam filter.  Server anti-spam programs are functional, but not real aggressive.  Google has one of the best spam filters around.  And the cool thing is, Google will even filter your POP3 emails.  No need to keep an anti-spam program up to date.  Just let Google do it.

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Gmail Changes – Good or Bad

Gmail users are up in arms.  Oh my goodness, they’ve changed the Gmail layout!   Why would they do that?!?  What will they change next, personalizing my search?  (Oh, yeah, they’ve already done that.)

Over the last week, Google has changed the layout of Gmail, adding tabs that organize your email into different folders.  You can potentially have 5 tabs in your email – Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums.  The outcry is over the fact that determines which folder the email goes into.  Users are stressed that they might miss an email because it went into a folder they didn’t check.

Gmail Change

I personally like the change.  I get tons of emails every day and found myself missing client emails lost in the flood of newsletters, offers, and other less important email.  Now, my primary folder gets a handful of emails each day and I can monitor it quickly.   One of the objections I’ve heard for the new layout is users might miss courses, etc. that come via email.  But it’s easy to drag any email that falls in the other folders to the primary folder.  All future emails from that address will go to the primary folder.

One of the loudest cries is from email marketers who are worried that as their emails get relegated to folders other than the primary will not get opened.  It’s going to make marketers get more creative with their subject lines so they stand out better.  If you’re a “glass half full” type of person, your email may have a better chance of getting read since readers may tend to open the other folders when they have time to review them instead of during the hectic time when they only have time to tend to critical issues.

If you’re one of those that just hates the change, you can go back to the old version.  From your Gmail settings, go to Configure Inbox and uncheck all the boxes.  That will revert your layout to the old version. That way you won’t have to seek counseling.

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Don’t Accept My Facebook Friend Request!!!

Facebook Friend RequestWhatever you do, don’t accept my friend request!  Now I’m sure you probably paused in your tracks reading that saying, “Why would you send a friend request if you didn’t want me to accept it?”  Well the reason is it probably didn’t come from me.

Within the last month I’ve accepted friend requests from several people that I thought were already in my friends list. I assumed that they had deactivated their account for some reason and were restarting it. But what actually happened was someone faked their account. The fake account was complete with their cover photo as well as their profile photo, so it looks legitimate.

Soon after accepting the friend request, I got an instant message chat pop up. Although it seemed a little formal and a little odd because I had never had a Facebook chat with this person in the past, I thought maybe they had a question about something social media related. But the conversation never really went anywhere. Mostly generic “how you doing” type stuff. Since I was in the middle of a project I didn’t take time to engage the chitchat and closed the chat window.  The next day my news feed showed a post from the “real”  friend saying their account had been stolen. I immediately went in and unfriended the imposter account.

The reason  Facebook accounts are being cloned is an attempt to scam the friends of the original account holder. The common sequence is to post a few things to make the page look legitimate, then send out friend requests to everyone on the original account holders friend list. Once those friends accept that request, the imposter can then send out a “plea for help”, banking on our sense of community and charity to help somebody in need.

Facebook has made it easy for imposters since any photos you share publicly on Facebook can be downloaded. You do have the option to make your photos visibile only to  friends but when you apply that to your cover photo and your profile photo, someone that might be a potential friend can’t verify it’s really you since they can’t see your picture.

While the fake accounts are not hacks and are not a threat to you, they use your name to take advantage of your friends.  Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

1. Change the visibility of your Friends List to make it visible only to friends.  That way, an imposter won’t be able to harvest your friends, rendering their scam plot ineffective.  To change the visibility of your friends list, go to Friends and click the pencil (edit), select Edit Privacy from the drop down list.  Change your Friend List setting from Public to Friends.

2. Look Before Accepting – Before you accept a friend request from someone you think is already in your friends list, go look.  Go to your Friends list and search for them.  If you find them in your friends list, DON’T accept the request.  Better still, click on their name and go to their profile page.  Click the setting button to the right of the Message button.  The drop down menu will give you a Report/Block option.  Report the page to Facebook.

3. Don’t Fall For The Scam -   Think about it, if you were needing help financially, would you publicize it on Facebook?  More likely, you would contact your close friends and family directly.  With smart phones, we have a full contact list at our fingertips.  If you aren’t sure if the new friend request or the plea for help is legit, call, email or message them directly (not through the new page.)

4. Unfriend If You Friend by Mistake - Should you friend one of these imposter accounts, identify it in your friend list and unfriend it immediately.  Better to be safe than sorry.

As with many good things, there will always be bad apples, lurking, looking for the opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting, trusting people.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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My Glasses, I’m Helpless Without My Glasses

Change is Good.Any self respecting child of the 60′s will remember Fearless Fly, the ordinary house fly that puts on his glasses and becomes a superhero. And in his mousy, non-superhero voice would say, “My glasses, my glasses, I’m helpss without my glasses.” I felt like Fearless Fly today.

I got new glasses today with progressive lenses for the first time. It’s been a challenge trying to get used to the change. My monitors have to be adjusted, finding the right tilt of the head to see just about anything. Heck, I even thought I had gotten taller when awkwardly trying to step up on a curb. Change sucks!

Does anybody like change? If you don’t know that answer, pay attention the next time Facebook changes something. You will think the world is coming to an end with all the moaning and complaining. People don’t like change.

The same people that were lamenting for the old Facebook when Timeline appeared were the ones shouting from their soap box in rebellion when that version changed. You can’t please some people. But change is often a good thing.

Ever heard the definition of Insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The world of marketing is a perfect example. How is your yellow page and newspaper advertising working for you today? How about the MySpace page? Change is inevitable. Change is necessary if you want to move forward.

Review your marketing plans. Has your target audience changed? Does your existing marketing message speak to your customers/clients today? If not, it’s time for a change. Today, online marketing is like television today, there are dozens of channels to tune in to. Which one is right for you? You wouldn’t advertise perfume on a Nascar race. Nor would you advertise auto parts on the food channel. The same is true for online channels. If you are a mortgage lender that specializes in reverse mortgages (for ages 65+), Twitter’s probably not a smart choice.

So repeat after me – “Change is Good. Change is our Friend.” Just remember, if it wasn’t for change, we would still be talking on the phone with a cord attached, while crowded on the couch with the whole family watching network TV and having to consult the World Book encyclopedia or the library when you need to do research. Thank goodness for change.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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