Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 Cavalcade of Canucks at My Blahg
The showcase of Canadian blogs known as the Cavalcade of Canucks is up and ready for reading.

The 18th edition of the Cavalcade is live at Robert McClelland's political and social commentary blog called My Blahg.

If you haven't read the writings of many Canadian bloggers, and their thoughts on issues ranging from Canadian and American politics to science, with a little humour tossed into the mix, here is your chance.

I have a post included in this week's edition as well.

My post is titled "Podcasting in music to the ears" where I discuss the rising importance of podcasts, as they join written blogs, on the internet.

Canadian bloggers wishing to participate in the next Cavalcade of Canucks can enter their posts by sending them to:

robert.mcclelland - at - sympatico.ca

More information on the Cavalcade of Canucks can be found in this brief summary.

In the meantime, ski on over to the 17th Edition of Cavalcade of Canucks and enjoy some Canadian blogging treats.

Bring your own hockey stick and puck, eh?

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

 New link filter: More from Google patent application
New incoming links are much sought after by every website owner and blogger.

It’s generally agreed that having abundant relevant incoming links provide a boost to a site’s search rankings. Conventional search engine optimization wisdom, coupled with experience with incoming link power, would seem to bear out that fact.

Search engines, led by link obsessed Google, value incoming links very highly, at least so we think. Some search engine optimization experts have started to place some very important caveats on the incoming link power theory.

Instead of automatically assuming the more incoming links the better, other factors may have come into play. The constant evolution of search engine algorithms, they say, may have morphed past the value of incoming links.

The dissenters from the link power concept believe, as do most modern SEO professionals, that link relevance is very important. As a victory of quality over quantity, that idea makes good logical sense.

There are other ideas that have also cast some doubt on the value of links, including a dampening filter on new incoming links, as part of the latest Google algorithm and patent application.

The thought that Google may be employing a dampening filter on new incoming links is not new. The idea has been given serious consideration, especially as part of the “sandbox theory” discussions. Advocates of the new link filter theory believe that Google does not give immediate full credit for an incoming link.

The theory says that Google provides a partial immediate credit, by running new links through a dampening filter. Only as the link ages, and remains linked to the site for a given period of time, does the full value of the Google PageRank and the link popularity receive its complete credit level.

That total link value and PageRank credit, is also measured for link theme relevance, making the process of link building much more difficult than in the past.

What the theory contends, in short, is new links don’t provide immediate benefit to the receiving website. The link popularity and Google PageRank benefit is not passed in its entirety, from the date of discovery and indexing of a new link. In effect, the theory postulates the existence of a Sandbox for new links.

Much like the Google Sandbox theory itself, there is evidence in support of this dampening effect theory. Also like the sandbox theory, there is evidence that the phenomenon doesn’t exist, or is simply one of mistaken identity.

As with all potential filters, their possible existence must be taken seriously. If there is indeed a filter in place to dampen the value of new links, steps must be taken to reduce or eliminate its effect. If there is no such dampening filter, the same sound practices will provide additional benefits as part of a well designed link building program.

Evidence of a link value filter

The question must be considered as to whether or not a fresh link dampening filter has been established as an ongoing and permanent part of the Google algorithm. If such a filter exists longer term, it could have far reaching effects on the SEO efforts of most website owners. In fact, a loss of link value kicks out one of the most important legs of the optimization stool.

Since many SEO professionals consider links to be the most important factor in the Google algorithm, there is certainly a need to examine the evidence for or against a new link filter. Should such a link dampening filter exist, a radical rethinking of SEO strategy would have to take place. There is definitely much at stake.

Many website owners have added new incoming links to their sites, but have not received a corresponding boost in the search engine rankings as a result. Conventional SEO wisdom holds that additional incoming links will enhance the any site’s placement in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the targeted keyword phrase.

Some webmasters and SEO experts no longer believe that link boost to be the normal course of events. In fact, some experts believe almost the opposite, that the new links are dampened by a filter, and could even cause a temporary drop or hold in the SERPs. Reports also are circulating that Google PageRank is not being fully passed along from new links either.

The question arises as to what would motivate Google to introduce a fresh link filter. It would appear to be a similar goal to the alleged sandbox filter for new websites. If a site adds many new links, in a very short period of time, it’s thought that Google might consider those links to be artificial.

The links might either be purchased, the result of cross linking several related sites, or perhaps part of a linking scheme such as a link farm. In other words, Google wants to make sure the links are natural, as opposed to existing only for the purposes of boosting PageRank and SERPs placements.

In order to prevent any artificial link popularity, the theory proposes that Google dampens the value of all new links until their relevance is determined.

Google’s possible purpose for filtering new links

While Google’s algorithm is not made public, it’s generally thought that Google intends to clamp down on link sales for PageRank and for ranking in the SERPs. Also on Google’s hit list are multiple interlinked sites, existing on the same ip c block, entirely for the purposes of link popularity and PageRank enhancement.

Purchased links tend to be added to a website in medium to large quantities, and often all at one time. Large quantities of incoming links, appearing all at once, might indeed trip a filter.

Google could suspect a high volume of links added at one time to be purchased, and therefore suspect. The possibility would be in keeping with Google’s strongly suspected policy of discouraging link sales. After all, Google’s guidelines point out that any type of linking schemes are against its policies.

The ip c block is the third series of numbers in the identity of an ISP. For example, in 123.123.xxx.12 the c block is denoted as xxx. Google is able to readily identify those links.

A dampening filter is not only used on such linking schemes, but a penalty filter as well. They are not the type of links that are part of the possible link dampening filter. The alleged link dampening filter is supposedly placing new incoming links in a version of the sandbox.

Google intends links to occur naturally, and with that in mind, their algorithm is apparently designed to reward natural relevant links. Google doesn’t consider purchased links, or interlinked sites to be natural, and has provided some indication that they are devaluing them. In the case of interlinked sites, Google is even penalizing sites in much the same way that link farms are given penalties.

By dampening the value of new incoming links, Google probably hopes to discourage link sales in particular. By lessening their value, and removing any immediate link boost, Google might reason that website owners will be less inclined to buy incoming links. The problem lies with the possibility that all incoming links, including natural and relevant ones, are being filtered along with the purchased and non-theme related links.

Google’s intention might be to similar to the alleged sandbox dampening filter for new websites. In both cases, the concern on the part of Google is non-natural links simply to boost PageRank and SERPs positioning. By filtering links, and determining their long term staying power, Google appears to doling out the link benefits over time.

Avoiding the filter, whether it exists or not

No one can say with any certainty that any new link dampening filter actually exists. The evidence for such a filter is based on information contained in the Google patent application, and may not reflect the overall Google search algorithm, or Google’s intentions, now or for the future.

There is a possibility that a new link dampening filter might not exist, ot might only affect certain site themes. As to its real motives, Google isn’t talking beyond what is already made public.

In any case, there are ways to prevent most new links from being dampened. Instead of worrying about new link filters, develop a sound linking policy, and any potential problems shouldn’t affect the vast majority of websites. A good linking program will bypass most, of not all possible filters, real or imagined.

A linking strategy should concentrate on developing natural incoming theme relevant links as its ultimate objective. While that goal is a bit idealistic for many website owners, it certainly has the potential to avoid any filters.

By providing precisely the type of link Google prefers, it is far less likely to trigger any dampeners, if at all. Because they are added gradually over time, relevant natural links are highly unlikely to be sandboxed.

To receive this type of natural incoming link, strong theme relevant content must be developed for the website. Good informative content for website visitors attracts links. The problem is that natural linking is a slow process, and the real world SERPs need faster attention.

Add one way directory links. Google’s spider crawls the major, and even minor directories, on a very frequent basis. Categorized directory links, especially from human edited directories, are very relevant and theme oriented.

As incoming links, they are far less likely to be filtered than links from other websites. It’s widely thought that a link from the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) provides an almost immediate boost to the indexed website.

Keep link exchange programs confined to theme relevant sites. Avoid exchanges with websites that have little to no topic relation to your site. Entirely non-relevant links are much more likely to be viewed with suspicion by Google, and possibly filtered. We already are quite certain, that Google passes along more PageRank and link popularity boost from theme relevant sites, than from topically unrelated sites.

When making link exchanges, space them out over a period of time. Instead of doing all of the link trades in one week, use a two to three month time frame instead. A longer time lag will give each link a full opportunity to be integrated into the Google system, and avoid being dampened.

If a link is going to be dampened, it may as well be delayed.

Conclusion

Many search engine optimization professionals believe that Google has implemented a dampening filter for new incoming links. The alleged filter is thought to depress the link popularity boost and the Google PageRank transfer of newly added links.

Not everyone in the SEO community supports the concept of a fresh link dampening filter. There is really no absolute way to determine whether it exists, one way or the other.

As with the controversial, and somewhat related Sandbox theory, there are techniques to avoid the filter’s impact, one way or the other. Fortunately, good SEO practices are the best route for a cautious website owner to use as prevention.

A good relevant theme oriented linking program is the best method to keep any filter to the absolute minimum.

A good linking plan is a great idea at any time; whether a filter on new links exists, or is simply a mirage.

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 Press release seminar: Mick Jolly of PRWeb
Press releases and how they can help your business are the topic of the next Duct Tape Marketing teleseminar on Local Online Marketing to be held on Wednesday, April 6.

Discussing how to use press releases to earn your company free publicity through the media will be Mick Jolly, Vice-President of PRWeb.

As you know, when the news media, whether televisin, radio, newspaper, magazine, or online picks up your press release and runs a story, your business receives valuable free publicity. Money simply can't buy that sort of endorsement, as what is provided amounts to free advertising for your company.

The teleseminar begins at 12:00 noon Central Standard Time; 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time; 10:00 am Pacific Standard Time; and GMT -6 hours.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing and Blogging Business will serve as host and moderator for this very interesting discussion.

About the seminar, John had this to say:

PRWeb is the recognized leader in online news and press release distribution service for small and medium-sized businesses and corporate communications. PRWeb pioneered "Free Press Release Distribution" and continues to set the standard for online news distribution. Mick will share his thoughts on Press Release writing and distribution and how to use PR to build your web site traffic.


The free teleseminars lead up to the grand finale Local Online Marketing Workshop event in Overland Park, Kansas (Kansas City, Missouri area) on April 20.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn about how press releases can get your business into the media spotlight.

Spaces are very limited and are filled very quickly.

Sign up for this special teleseminar with Mick Jolly of PRWeb right away.

I know that I will be listening.

Free publicity is one of my favourite topics.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

 Google patent application on search algorithms
Search engine giant Google has made the news, by applying for a United States patent, for its search engine technology formula.

Commonly referred to as the search engine algorithm, the patent application covers the various factors that go into ranking a site.

When a searcher enters a word or phrase into the search box, the mega computers at Google perform literally millions and millions of calculations according to a mathematical formula. That formula is designed by Google engineers to provide what Google believes to be the most relevant results for that search.

While not everyone would agree that the returned sites are the best fit for the searcher's needs and requirements, Google does have searchers in mind. It's even my opinion that Google is attempting to create its search algorithm to think like a real person, actively seeking information.

That is the main thrust of the Google patent information.

Google wants its calculations to think like a real person.

Google goes Pinocchio?

Many of the elements included in the patent are theories and ideas that many SEO professionals, including myself, have been suggesting for over a year.

While the information is technical, and can cause the eyes to glaze over rather quickly, there are some useful concepts for bloggers.

First of all, the older the blog in terms of time live on the internet, the better. While this is even more true of traditional websites, it does make a difference for blogs. As your blog ages, its rankings in Google will rise.

Another concept that I have talked about many times is how fresh content is very powerful in all of the search engines. Google is no exception. Fresh content is rewarded by Google. It's doubly rewarded as your blog becomes better established over time in the search engine rankings. Older sites, while still strong, slip lower in the search results over time, when no fresh content or information is added.

Google does apparently have a Sandbox filter effect.

In effect, new sites are placed on probation to see if they last, or if they are only disposable get rich quick spam sites. Those spam sites break every Google guideline in the book, but rise to page one very quickly.

The idea of spam websites is to glean as much revenue as possible, prior to a Google banning from their index. Google does ban them too. Don't worry about that one.

To prevent this sort of mischief, Google has instituted the Sandbox to keep the new sites lower in the rankings until they prove their worthiness. While the system might be unfair to new sites, it's a fact of life. There are also some ways of minimizing the damage caused by the Sandbox filter.

New links are held back in value by a fresh link filter. When first added, the new link doesn't transfer its full quota of Google Juice to the receiving page. Over time, the filter dissapates for the link, and all of the link popularity boost power is sent along to the linked site.

Bloggers are less affected because the links are from similar theme relevant blogs. Because the topics discussed are similar, the inbound links are given more weight faster by Google. The fact that links are often from within posts themselves help, as do permanent links from blogrolls.

Google is also rewarding sites that link out to other sites. Talk about another win for bloggers!

Bloggers freely link to other blogs and traditional websites. This generous linking policy, shared by most bloggers, is rewarded by Google. Higher search rankings for the helpful blogger are the benefit. The reason for this benefit, resulting from linking out, is to encourage links to other people who provide useful and interesting content.

Remember, Google is thinking like a seeker of information.

There is much more information in the patent application than what I have discussed today. This short post will serve as a brief primer to the much talked about Google search algorithm patent.

I will post more for you, in future columns, in digestable amounts.

I'll try to devote individual posts to one single aspect of the Google patent, if at all possible.

There is simply that much in the Google patent application.

As bloggers, we stand to continue to be rewarded in Google, for our generous links, and for our regular fresh content.

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 Law & Entrepreneurship News hosts Carnival of the Capitalists
This week sees a scholastic approach for the travelling business show, recognized by one and all as Carnival of the Capitalists makes a stop at a blog where law and entrepreneurship walk side by side.

This week's tremendous lineup of posts feature a legal, entrepeneurial, and business approach as we visit the University of Wisconsin Law School's group blog, very ably assisted by my friend Gordon Smith, called Law & Entrepreneurship News.

When Gordon Smith and the law students of Law & Entrepreneurship News aren't busily hosting carnivals, they are thinking about more important issues...like cheese.

This week's two part edition of Carnival of the Capitalists highlights some of the best bloggers writing on the internet today.

Blogging topics presented include entrepreneurship, management, education, legal issues, spam, insider trading, internet commerce, marketing, the national and global economies, politics, and of course technology.

As you would expect from Law & Entrepreneurship there are many discussions of business, marketing, and technology ideas galore.

It's always great to read Carnival of the Capitalists and discover the many high quality blogs out there in the blogosphere.

We don't always get to them all, and this edition of Carnival of the Capitalists has introduced many of us to some brand new ones.

As I am always privileged to do, I have an entry in this week's second part of Carnival of the Capitalists as well.

My entry post this week is entitled "Blog posting frequency and other dilemmas" where I discuss how often a blogger should post per week to develop a successful blog.

If you wish to submit an entry to next week's, or any Carnival of the Capitalists edition, e-mail your entries to the new address:

cotcmail -at- gmail -dot- com

You can always use the handy entry form at Gongol.com where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Talk about making it easy to be included!

Another brand new form for sending entries to all of the internet carnvivals is provided by The Conservative Cat. This is a great one stop entry drop, for all your blog post entries, for every blog carnival.

If you are searching for new and exciting ways to expand your blog's readership, you should seriously consider sending an entry to Carnival of the Capitalists.

Merely being included in the company, of the first rate regular Carnival of the Capitalists contributors, will enhance the reputation of your blog.

The extra visitors can't sent to your blog won't hurt either!

The growth and staying power, of Carnival of the Capitalists, is beginning to catch the attention of people outside the blogging community. Each hosting, brings a fresh assortment of new readers, to the various blogs involved.

The visitors aren't only bloggers anymore.

Readership is expanding to include the mainstream media, various government and private organizations, many businesses, and other interested people from beyond the blogging community.

Many people are introduced to some tremendous blogs that they might otherwise have missed.

Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will make a visit to Torsten Jacobi's highly informative technology, venture capital, and entrepreneurship blog called TJ's Weblog.

In the meantime, click that mouse over to the Law & Entrepreneurship Newa hosting of Carnival of the Capitalists.

If the great posted entries don't convince you to click, or the possibility of finding some brand new blogs to read doesn't do it, then certainly will lay down the law on entrepreneurship.(groan)

Blawg Review Notice

Keep in mind as well that Law & Entrepreneurship News will also be hosting the law related carnival called Blawg Review on May 2, with Gordon Smith's own blog called Conglomerate hosting on May 9.

This week's Blawg Review will be held at Notes from the (Legal) Underground, where Evan Schaeffer is looking for your law related posts.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

 Google sandbox theory validated by search engine giant
What is the Google Sandbox?

The Google Sandbox is an alleged filter placed on new websites. The result is a site does not receive good rankings for its most important keywords and keyword phrases. Even with good content, abundant incoming links and strong Google PageRank, a site is still adversely affected by the Sandbox effect. The Sandbox acts as a de facto probation for sites, possibly to discourage spam sites from rising quickly, getting banned, and repeating the process.

How would you describe the Google Sandbox in one sentence?

The Google Sandbox is very similar to a new website being placed on probation, and kept lower than expected in searches, prior to being given full value for its incoming links and content.

Why did Google institute a Sandbox?

It is thought that the reason Google created the Sandbox new site filter, was to stop spam related sites from adding numerous purchased links, and ranking highly for their keywords from the date of launch. Since Google apparently considers a high number of links pointing to a site from the beginning to be rather suspicious, the links are not considered to be natural. Another possibility is spam sites would use various tactics to rise to the top of the search results, and gain heavy sales prior to being banned for being in violation of Google’s Terms of Service; and then repeating the process continually. As a result, new sites are put into a form of probation, usually referred to as the Google Sandbox.

Does everyone agree there is a Google Sandbox?

Not everyone agrees that the Google Sandbox exists as a separate filter from other alleged Google filters. Note that not everyone involved with search engine optimization even agrees that Google uses a system of filters at all. Skeptics believe that the phenomenon merely echoes already existing Google algorithm calculations, and the Sandbox effect is an illusion. Note that Google has all but admitted recently that the Sandbox filter is real.

When did the Google Sandbox first appear?

Website owners and search engine optimization professionals began to notice the Google Sandbox effect, real or imagined, starting in March, 2004. Websites launched after that date were noticed to not be ranking well for their first few months live on the internet. The rankings were seen as poor despite good Google PageRanks, strong incoming link totals, and overall good optimization practices being employed.

What types of sites are placed in the Sandbox?

While all types of sites can be placed in the Sandbox, the problem appears much more frequently for new websites seeking rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases. All sites are likely given a term in the Sandbox, but those websites seeking rankings in highly competitive searches, are probably in for a much longer duration.

My site has never been in the Sandbox. Why not?

You can avoid having your site in the Sandbox for several reasons. If your site was launched before the March 2004 Sandbox filter, your site probably avoided the problem. Sites targeting non-competitive keywords and phrases are often left out of the Sandbox as there is little point in applying the filter. Keep in mind, however, that even less competitive search terms can be Sandboxed, but their much shorter stay can often go entirely unnoticed. If you had ownership of a domain prior to the installation of the Sandbox filter, your site would also likely be spared its probationary period.

How long is a site in the Sandbox?

Stays in the Sandbox can vary from one to six months, with three to four months being the normal time frame. Less competitive searches will be given the much shorter stay, while hyper-competitive keywords will often spend six months in the Box. The most frequent length of stay is about three months for most search terms.

Are there variable lengths of stay in the Sandbox?

The stay in the Sandbox is highly variable. The more competitive the keyword, the longer the site spends in the Sandbox. The filter will be gradually decreased over time, and will lose most of its dampening effect in about three months. Of course, for the most competitive search phrases, the Sandbox filter might remain in full force for six months.

How do I know if I am in the Sandbox?

Evidence of Sandbox activity usually is spotted by having good Google PageRank and incoming links, and strong search results in some secondary search phrases, but the site nowhere to be found for the most important searches. In such cases, it is likely the site has been placed in the Sandbox.

How do I know it’s the Sandbox and not a Google penalty?

If a site were suffering from a Google penalty, the site would not appear in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) for even the less important searches. The site would also show no PageRank or even a grey bar on the Google Toolbar.

I still rank well for some less important keywords. Why?

One of the most important characteristics, and indeed one of the marks of being in the Sandbox, is the continuation of strong placements for less important keywords. The alleged Sandbox filter is apparently designed to concern itself with the more competitive keywords as they are more likely to have spam sites, purchased and other links Google deems unnatural, and probably more manipulation attempts being made. That is far less likely in unimportant and non-competitive keywords, so they are generally left alone and out of the Sandbox filter.

If I join Google AdWords or Google Adsense, will that prevent being placed in the Sandbox?

Joining programs like Google Adwords and Google Adsense will have no effect on your site’s duration in the Sandbox. Those paid programs could provide much needed traffic while your site remains in the depths of the Sandbox, however. Participation in the various Google advertising programs will not keep your site out of Sandbox, or shorten your stay, despite what some myths would have you believe.

Are there any other Google filters that act similarly to the Sandbox?

The alleged dampening filter on new incoming links is often mistaken for the Sandbox. It’s thought by many search engine optimization experts that new incoming links are not given immediate full credit. The purpose of that gradual passing along of Google PageRank and link popularity, is to discourage purchasing of links, and various linking schemes designed only to increase a site’s standing in the Google search rankings.

If my website is stuck in the Sandbox, how do I get out?

The only real escape from the Sandbox is time. Depending on the competitiveness of your most important keywords, that time can vary from one to six months, with three to four months being the normal duration. In the meantime, continue to improve your site, and be prepared to make a rapid rise once the Sandbox probation ends.

What should I do while my site is still buried in the Sandbox?

While your site is in the Sandbox, it’s an ideal time to continue to add fresh keyword rich content and new incoming links to your site. Adding incoming links will ensure that they also avoid any possible new link dampening filter that might be in effect. They would be well aged, and ready to pass along their full value of PageRank and link popularity, as the site rises from the depths of the Sandbox.

Should I continue to add content to my site, while in the Sandbox?

Your website’s stay in the Sandbox is an ideal time to add more theme relevant content. Concentrate on adding more keyword rich pages, and don’t forget both on page and off page factors. On the page, make sure your title tags match the most important keywords for that page. Add a site map and be sure that all of your pages link properly to one another with appropriate link anchor text containing the keywords for that page. Off page link anchor text should be set up to include keywords for the receiving page as well. Don’t waste any of your available site improvement time while in the Sandbox. When the filter is lifted, your improved site will rise rapidly to its proper place at the top of the search rankings.

Should I keep getting new links to my website?

The Sandbox is an ideal time to start adding incoming links to your site. Because of the alleged new links dampening filter, adding links while in the Sandbox solves two filters at once. If the newly added links are indeed dampened by a filter, then their full value should take effect just as your site emerges from the Sandbox. Be sure to add strong keyword rich anchor text to your incoming links, and vary it to include several keyword combinations.

Are there ways of getting out of the Sandbox any faster?

Only time can get your site out of the Sandbox. The duration in the sandbox tends to vary with the perceived competitiveness of the keyword phrase. That said, there are ways to hasten your rise to the top of the SERPs upon release of the Sandbox filter. By adding some powerful incoming links, with strong link anchor text, and by adding keyword rich relevant content, your site will rise quickly from the Sandbox. Note that the rise will take effect upon the removal of your site’s Sandbox probationary period.

When my site started out of the Sandbox, its search rankings were still low. Is that normal?

Your rankings could remain weak for more than one reason. As a Sandbox survivor, your site was not in the rankings at all for your most important keywords. There is still a long climb ahead of you, and much work to do to achieve strong search placements. While your site is freed from the Sandbox, it probably is also lacking in strong incoming links, good link anchor text, and requires more keyword rich theme relevant content. Fortunately, all of these problems can be resolved, and your site can continue its rise to the top of the SERPs.

How long is the climb to the proper search ranking after leaving the Sandbox?

The length of time required to achieve your site’s proper ranking is difficult to quantify as so many variables are taken into consideration. If you have been adding well anchor text covered incoming links from theme relevant websites, your rise will be much faster than someone who has not continued to add inbound links. It will also assist your site’s rise to search prominence by constantly adding keyword rich content. Of course, the more competitive the keywords you are contesting, the longer and harder the climb.

How can I avoid being placed in the Sandbox in the first place?

The Sandbox can be avoided to a degree by purchasing and sending live a website, prior to its being fully ready for prime time. While the site will endure low rankings, it will start the clock ticking on its Sandbox duration time. Be sure to add as many incoming links as possible to get past the alleged new links filter. Keep adding content to your site. Anything that can be done to speed up your site’s appearance on the internet, including the purchase of an already existing domain, should be considered. If you have the time working in your site’s favor, it can be applied against your possible stay in the Sandbox. With proper time management, a site can avoid the Sandbox entirely.


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Saturday, April 02, 2005

 Cold calling is not all bad
Cold calling on prospective employees is not all bad, and can be effective.

Yesterday, I wrote about applying new ideas to the traditional smile and dial theory of cold calling prospective customers and clients. That system can yield results, but if used incorrectly, it's time consuming, often frustrating for the sales representatives, and less effective than more creative techniques.

I have nothing against cold calling as such.

My concern is more with businesses who place more emphasis on the activity itself than on results. Instead of qualifying and targeting leads, they count numbers of outgoing calls.

More important than the sales totals, to those of that mindset, are the number of calls made per person.

In the spirit of providing equal time to the supporters of cold calling as a sales technique, Kevin Stirtz of Better Local Marketing (via Peter Davidson of BeConnected) lists 13 ways that businesses can use cold calling more effectively.

Many of the cold calling techniques recommended by Kevin are similar to those that I initiated in my days as a Regional Sales and Marketing Manager. A decade ago, these concepts were seen as radical and dangerous to the higher ups where I was employed.

The ideas simply appear to be common sense ideas today.

Cold calling is a good business and sales strategy, if implemented and employed correctly.

New customers and clients can be added to the existing customer list, replacing those who inevitably drop off the list for whatever reason.

On the other hand, bad cold calling systems are not only ineffective, but can even be counterproductive to the business itself.

I also introduced many other non-cold calling sales methods into the company tool box. Those concepts were even more resented, by the entrenched company hierarchy, than the changes made to new leads acquisition through cold calls.

Cold calling is simply another sales tool, and not a goal in and of itself.

Use it wisely.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

 Cold calling: Not the best sales technique
Cold calling to get sales.

Almost everyone who has experienced an entry level sales position, has been required to do cold calling, on potential customers and clients.

You know the drill.

The sales manager, or more likely a lower level sales supervisor, hands you a list of numbers to call. The goal of the call is either to set up appointments for the closing representatives, or to even close a lower value sale right on the telephone.

Some businesses send you door to door.

I've done all all of these things.

Having experienced the unpleasantness of making cold telephone calls, the concept of smiling and dialing can get old very quickly. Usually, new callers are given very general numbers to call. Targeting of the better prospects simply is not for the new people.

The production quota set is often based on two factors. One is the total number of calls made. The other quota is number of closed appointments created; or sales closed on the spot, right on the phone.

It's not uncommon for the total number of calls to be declared the unspoken goal. Getting through the calling list, and making lots of dials is sometimes more important than the closing rate.

The call numbers are often the tail that wags the dog,

As a result, cold calling is often counterproductive

It's interesting to know that other people have shared similar experiences with cold calling.

There is even a Sales & Cold Calling Blog, (via Accidental Verbosity where despite the name, is not in favour of the standard cold calling techniques.

Sales blogger Frank Rumbauskas suggests creative alternative methods for sales. Rather than relying upon cold calls as lead generation, or as direct sales vehicles, other more effective prospecting concepts can be utilized.

I agree with Frank.

When I was promoted from sales in my last place of employment, I completely made over the sales department. It was a shambles. The only technique even remotely considered for lead generation was that of cold calling.

The idea was to call everyone and someone would buy.

The only problem with the cold calling system in place, was its utter failure. Despite many callers, and lots of smiling and dialing, only a few of us were ever very successful.

Turnover was high.

Fights and disputes over leads lists were common, despite the basic similarity of all of them. None of the lists were targeted in any way. There were few repeat customers. Complaints were at a very high level. Asking for referrals was simply out of the question. In fact, it was openly discouraged.

Sales numbers, as expected, were very low.

When I became Regional Sales and Marketing Manager, I changed the system completely.

Instead of caring only about the number of dials, I was concerned with sales results. In a traditional company, not open to any new ideas about sales and marketing, such boat rocking was not at all welcome.

My office, technically the smallest in the company, and located in the smallest city, had the highest level of profitability. We were subsidizing two other regions, who clung tenaciously to the older system of cold calling.

My marketing approach was even more radical, and much less welcome to the entrenched old guard. The numbers produced by my staff, who enjoyed their positions and rapidly rising incomes, were unsettling to the old boy network.

Needless to say, I got fired for changing "what worked so well for so long".

One of the charges against me was the inability to produce cold call sheets, demonstrating activity. The sales numbers, and the money in the bank, were not considered as valuable.

Talk about top management having a backward way of thinking.

Activity was deemed more important than results.

Unfortunately, that attitude is not as uncommon in the business world, as you would think.

Creativity is a great thing for building a business. It's best to use creativity and new ideas, however, in an organization that appreciates results.

Where only the appearance of being busy counts, results don't matter as much.

I have the employment termination to prove it.

Related post: "Cold calling is not all bad"

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

 Article submissions: Where to send them
Article submissions are a powerful technique for adding additional readers to your blog.

By writing and submitting informative and interesting articles, on your topics of interest, free long term publicity for you and your blog are achieved.

Here is a website that lists many article submission sites, where you can send your columns, posts, and articles. Most of the listed sites are free for some or all of your written submissions.

The various listed directories are also categorized so your article can be targeted directly to its intended audience.

Articles are selected, from the article submission sits, by many website owners for inclusion as content on their own websites. When your article is chosen, and placed on another site, there is link right back to your blog.

You gain some of their visitor traffic for your own blog. Because the site using your article is highly likely of the same topic as your blog, the new visitors could become regular readers for you.

You also gain the added link popularity power for your blog in the search engines.

Everyone wants a little added Google Juice.

A few extra readers are a good thing too.

Now all you have to do is start submitting those great articles today.

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