Monday, December 17, 2007

How to Linkbait

There are lots of ways to go out and get other people to link to you. You can ask for it, you can promise a return link, and in some cases, you can even buy them.

An even better way of getting the links is by having something on your site that’s worth linking to. Nick Wilson over at refers to these things as “hooks” in a process called “linkbaiting”. The idea is to have something that people want. Then, when other bloggers and site owners see it, they write about it, and link back to it, or, at least, tell other people about it.

It can sometimes be tricky to think of something that is good enough to draw in traffic, and make others want to act on it.

It all starts with that hook. The hook is that idea or that thought that can capture people’s attention. In songwriting, the hook is that part, usually in the chorus, where the song’s title repeats. It’s what makes you say, “I can’t get that *&*#^! song out of my head!” In linkbaiting, you can pull from a number of categories to get your hook-y ideas.

  1. Resource Hook

This is a hook that’s based on some sort of information or resource at your site. Always relevant to your audience, your site’s niche, and your products, of course. Make a big huge list of other websites and blogs that are relevant to your niche. People will find your list of links resourceful. Also, those that are on the list are likely to link back to you.

A really good How-To article can be a great draw. Make sure that it’s clearly written and has some good tips and insights. Others will link to you. A few weeks ago, I needed to learn how to make sourdough bread. When I found a page that described it in clear and simple detail, I bookmarked it. When I blogged about my own experience making the bread, I referenced the original article.

Make it be more than just a list of a few tips.

  1. News Hook

If you can find some news in your subject area, and can be one of the first to mention it, that’s a great linkbait hook. That can be tricky, since, of course, most of us get our news from the web. So, if you find it on the web, it’s very likely that you’re not going to be the one to scoop it. Still, if it’s fresh enough, you can still get in the early waves of it.

Also, if you get a few angles on an existing story and synthesize them into a single commentary with a perspective that nobody has explored yet, you can still be early in an existing story. You can also be one of the first to point out an error in someone else’s analysis of a situation that’s developing.

  1. Contrary or Attack Hooks

These can be problematic. This is where you write about how wrong or bad someone or something else is. On the one hand, if this is well-written and well-presented, it can draw links like a bad burger draws flies. On the other hand, it can also get other people pretty upset at you pretty quickly. People like Howard Stern and other radio personalities have made careers out of this strategy.

  1. Humor Hook

Everybody loves to read something funny. Post a joke. Write a top ten list. Post a funny picture or video clip. “You know you’re a –fill in the blank- when…” All this stuff can work, especially if it’s truly original.

A long time ago, on a forum, someone posted the old “Ten reasons why a beer is better than a wife.” Someone else followed up with “Ten reasons why a cop of coffee is better than a husband.” I sat for a few minutes and made up “Ten reasons why my wife is better than a cup of coffee.” It had items like, “When my heart races, I know it’s not the caffeine!” The board was buzzing about that one for weeks afterward.

There are lots of possible hooks, and lots of possible reasons why people might link back to you. You just never know when someone will find you interesting. You can do some things to make it more likely to happen, though.

Also, always remember that when you write your link bait, make sure that you also make it bait the search engines by using strong and relevant search words. After all, if they can’t find it in the first place, they sure won’t link to it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How Brittany Spears and the Dallas Cowboys Can Help Your Website

Wait. Brittany Spears can help my website? We’re talking about the same Brittany Spears that went crazy and shaved her head, right? The Brittany Spears that has been going through all the legal troubles and custody battles for her kids? The Brittany Spears that bombed so bad at the MTV video awards? I don’t care who Brittany Spears is dating. I don’t even like to listen to Brittany Spears. How can she help my website? You mean the same Brittany Spears whose name has been used no less than eight times so far in this article?

OK, that’s a rather extreme example, and actually very poorly used, but you probably already see where I’m going with this. I call it “Search Baiting”. Other people might call it “selling out”, but as a strategy for search engine optimization, it works. Let me give you a much better example.

The other day, I was talking to one of my students in our regular weekly sessions. She had just set up her first blog on her site, and had made her first blog entry. Her site was selling all kinds of sports paraphernalia; things like: pro team jerseys, stadium chairs and blankets, and also basketballs, baseballs, footballs, and other sports equipment. In her first blog entry she exercised her right as a fan with an opinion to take the owner of one of her favorite football teams, the Dallas Cowboys, to task. She was upset about one of the players in the news, and how the team owner wasn’t doing enough to discipline that player.

As I read over her blog entry, I found her thoughts to be well articulated and well founded. But the posting lacked something: Hot keywords.

She had only used the name of the team once, the name of the player twice, and the name of the owner once. What an opportunity missed! This would be a great chance for good search engine optimization! I pointed out to her that the article could be rewritten in such a way that it had at least 3-4 mentions of the player’s name, and the team name as well. Since there was a certain amount of controversy surrounding the event, that would generate some searches.

Another example: The movie “The Golden Compass” for a while was creating quite a stir in religious circles because the author of the original book has claimed to be an atheist. The bloggosphere was abuzz with commentary and speculation about the movie. At first I rolled my eyes at it, until I saw it as an opportunity. I thought, “Wait a minute… I have an opinion about this movie, too, and my blog is all about my opinions. Why don’t I blog about it, and include the keyword a few times in my blog?” So, I did. And I got a sudden and marked spike in my traffic, which corresponded to a spike in my Google Adsense money, as well.

Hey, I can sell out, too, ya know!

Here’s the trick: It really has to fit. It’s not just about search engine optimization. It’s also about readers.

My example of Brittany Spears (hey, there’s another instance) really was a bad one. First of all, I wouldn’t pack so many repetitions of a word (or phrase) into one paragraph. It reads badly, and will turn people off, even if it does include lots of keywords.

Also, Brittany Spears really doesn’t have anything to do with my article or my audience in this blog, and I didn’t really make any effort to make her relevant. There are ways to tie a topic in to be appropriate for a given blog or a given audience, however, and with a little creativity, you can still pull it off. For example, in a blog about good parenting, you could write about how “airhead superstars” or “delinquent football players” are making it hard for your children to find really good role models, and you could pack that with keywords that will draw in people interested in those names.

So, to do it right, find a topic to write about. Something you feel is important to you. Think of a way to tie that to a common name or keyword, and write your article or blog posting.

Also, even if you can’t tie it into one of the hottest searches of the day, or the latest news or pop culture phenomenon, when you’re done making any posting, go back through your article and think, “What would someone search for if they were going to find this article?” And then review and rewrite the article to contain more of those keywords. Use the words to your search engine advantage.

One last example: Go to Mark’s Black Pot and see how many times you see the words, “Dutch Oven”…

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is Bluetooth?

What does your cell phone have to do with a 10th century Danish king?

Well, if it happens to be enabled with “Bluetooth” technology, it bears his name. Harald Bluetooth Gormson ruled Denmark and Norway in the late 900’s, and is credited with uniting much of the land that is current-day Scandinavia under one monarch.

Which is why, thousands of years later, his name has become a household word across the world.

Bluetooth technology is a way for modern electronic devices to communicate with each other without the use of wires. It basically allows one gadget to talk to and share data with another, sometimes from as much as 10 meters or more away. It’s intended for short range bursts of small amounts of information. Originally developed in southern Sweden, it was given the name of the old king because it unites different technologies of different brands and manufacturers, and allows them to work together.

So, how does that impact your cell phone?

Well, do you see those hands-free talking devices that people wear in their ears? Those are driven by Bluetooth technology. The earpiece is “paired” with a certain cellphone. That means that the two devices recognize each other and connect to each other. When you’re using one of those, the call comes in to your phone, and immediately you hear a signal in your earpiece. That alert was sent by Bluetooth. You reach up and click a button on your earpiece, and it signals back to the phone that you’re activating it and answering it. The phone connects the call, and you hear it in your earpiece. More Bluetooth. You talk, and the earpiece microphone picks up your voice, converts it to digital audio and sends it to the phone, again via Bluetooth. The phone sends it to your conversational partner, and you hear their response back in your earpiece using the same Bluetooth process, in reverse.

Meanwhile you can walk, type, use your hands, whatever you need to do.

This isn’t the only application for Bluetooth, either. Let’s look at some more:

  1. Wireless mice, keyboards and printers.

This is probably the most common use of Bluetooth outside of the cell phone technologies. Wireless mice (commonly used with laptops) and keyboards, all hooked to the computer via a Bluetooth “dongle”. These are small USB tabs that look a lot like the USB flash drive key ring thingies that people carry around to store and transport files. But instead of carrying memory, they are actually broadcasters and receivers of Bluetooth data, driving mice, keyboards, printers and other devices.

  1. Wireless headphones

When you listen to your music, do you like the cord dangling around your neck and getting tangled into everything you’re working on? No, I don’t either. A growing application for Bluetooth technology is in wireless headphones. Plug a dongle into your computer, put on your headphones and listen. Some cell phones can handle audio in Bluetooth, too, and that allows you to listen without the wires.

Need to get up and get a drink? No need to unplug your headphones. Also, many headphones that pair with cell phones also have built-in microphones so that when a phone call comes in, you don’t have to take the headphones off to talk to your friend.

  1. PDA sync

Got a Palm Pilot or a Pocket PC? Sync all your information to your computer via your Bluetooth dongle. The connection is slower than a wire, but I’ve found it to be more reliable, actually.

  1. Wireless networking between PCs

If you’ve got a few PC’s that need to be hooked up, and they’re close together, and won’t be transferring large amounts of data, a Bluetooth wireless network can work.

  1. Car Keys

Some newer cars now have Bluetooth keys. The car itself is Bluetooth enabled, and so it detects the key dongle on your key ring. It compares the codes inside, and if it recognizes it, allows access to the car.

  1. Car stereos

Again, if your cell phone, PDA, or mp3 player does Bluetooth, and your car stereo does, too, you can pair them up and play your pocket tunes in your car, just like you can with the headphones.

  1. Kiosks in Airports, etc…

Waiting for a plane? Want a magazine, book, or video on your PDA or other device? You can buy one from vending kiosks, and load it into your device using Bluetooth. Watch out, some locations are developing kiosks to send ads to your device, too.

  1. Gaming console controllers

The newest in gaming consoles use Bluetooth for their wireless controllers.

...And the list just goes on and on. As the technology develops, we’ll discover more and more uses for it, some that I’m sure we’d never imagined when it was first introduced.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How To Adjust Your Pictures

In previous articles, we’ve taken up how to take good pictures, and also how to crop and resize them.

Let’s take one last look at graphics issues, then, by talking about how to tweak them. Sometimes you get a picture, and it looks just fine in the framing, or composition, but it’s just a little too dark. Or maybe it’s a little too light. How can you fix it?

Clearly it’d be too much work to reset the item, realign the lights and shoot the picture again. Maybe it’s a picture of some people at an event. You certainly can’t gather them together and have them pose again.

Most graphics editing programs have tools that allow you to adjust the picture. Let’s talk about them. I’m going to show how to do it in, which you can get for free, but other programs function in similar ways.

First, let’s open the program and open up a picture in it. Go to the “File” menu in the upper right-hand corner, and select the “Open” command. Then select the picture you want to adjust in the dialog box that follows. Open that picture.

Before we get into editing the picture for clarity, go ahead and crop and resize it, like we talked about last time.

Now go to the “Adjustments” menu and select “Levels”, and a strange little dialog box will appear over your picture. As you make changes in this box, you’ll see the changes in your picture.

The part of this that we’re going to be the most concerned with is the sliders under the “Output” area. You’ll notice there are three of them (represented by small arrows on either side of the column). You can click on these and slide them around.

At the far right, you can see a button labeled “Auto”. When you click that, it automatically checks your picture and sets it for what the computer thinks is optimal. You’ll probably notice some improvement in the picture. I think, however, that human eyes and a little experimentation can do a lot. Also, there’s a “Reset” button. That’s convenient because if you get lost in your adjustments, you can hit that and be back to the start.

Back to the sliders. The top slider represents the highlights. These are the brightest white spots of your picture. The slider in the middle represents the mid-tones, which are not so bright, but not so dark. Then, the lowest slider represents the darkest blacks.

If you grab the highlight slider and drag it down, it turns those bright whites into duller grays. You’ll notice that it also moves the midtone slider a little bit. The whole picture becomes grayer. If you grab the dark slider and move it up, it lightens the blacks a bit. It also moves the midtone slider some, lightening everything. You’ll notice that when it gets lighter it turns more pale. That’s because the are fewer darks for contrast.

Most of your adjustments will be in the midtones. Grab that slider and move it up a bit. Notice how the darks stay dark, but the overall look of the picture becomes much lighter? You can move it back and forth just to see what it does.

Do the same with the dark and the light sliders as well. Play with the input sliders. Remember that if you get it too jumbled up, you can always reset it.

By playing with these controls, you’ll soon learn how to tweak your pictures to be clear and visible!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Get Good Blogging Ideas

I’ve been noticing a distinct trend in my blogs of late.

The funny thing is, this revelation is nothing new. I’ve known it factually for a long long time. But over the last six months I’ve seen it in action.

The more you post, the more people read. Or, in essence, “If you build it, they will come.”

Here’s what happened. At my main blog (, this summer, I got really slack in my postings. Sometimes, I’d go for two weeks without writing something new. I was just too busy. My traffic was pretty steady. Not as much as I’d like, but steady. It had plateau-ed, as they say. Fluctuations were minor, and there was no growth.

Then, I dived in and committed to writing at least twice a week. There was an almost immediate jump in the traffic, which sustained for several weeks. Then it settled into a new plateau, almost double the original traffic levels. That was very exciting news!

Also, as a result, I was noticing a significant jump in the traffic clicking over to my website, at

As I thought about what had happened last summer, I struggled to understand what had slowed me down. What was it that made the difference? One common thread stood out. What to write about?

It’s easy to get stuck without ideas. Or at least to think you have no ideas. In reality there are lots of them, blooming all around us, just waiting for us to reach over and pick them up. Here’s some suggestions on how to see them.

  1. Stop And Smell Them

I saw a cartoon the other day that really tickled me. Appropriate for the upcoming season, the drawing was of shepherds on a hillside, staring up into the heavens with brightly lit faces and awe in their expressions. As I looked at the picture I could almost hear the chorus of angels. One shepherd says to another, “I am SO blogging this!”

The point is that there are blog ideas all around us. From the most mundane to the most miraculous of events can be blogged. All it takes is a moment to recognize that something just happened, and that you can comment on it and record it for everyone, forever.

  1. Jot Them Down

The problem with the “smelling the flowers” idea is that you can’t always sit down in the moment and whip out your laptop and blog about it. And by the time you’re at your computer next, you’ve lost the idea.

Here’s a trick I learned as a songwriter: get a notebook, a small one, or some other method of writing, so you can jot down your idea. In the era of technology, there are lots of ways you could do this. I have a PDA in my pocket, so when I think of an idea, I grab it, and make a quick note about it. I don’t write the whole article. Sometimes I don’t even write more than a phrase or a word. But that’s enough to remind me what I wanted to write about and what I wanted to say. Got a cell phone? Send yourself a text message or leave yourself a voice mail. Find a system that works for you.

Then, when it’s time to blog, just open up your notes, and pick the one that strikes you at the moment to blog about. And away you go.

  1. Read A Lot Of Other Blogs

Sometimes, even when I look over my ideas list, I’m not struck. When that happens, I go out onto the ‘net and look at other people’s blogs. I have a big long list of blogs that I follow. Sometimes I’ll read the whole postings, and sometimes I just skim, but nonetheless, I’m an avid follower of blogs as well as a reader. Why? Because they give me great ideas!

No, I’m not talking about stealing someone else’s ideas, or worse, stealing their words. I’m talking about inspiration. Something someone else says will spark something in my mind, and before you know it, I’m writing.

And then, I cite them. With a link. And then I go back to their site and tell them. “Hey, I liked your idea so much that I blogged about it.” Most of the time, they link back to me, too.

  1. Read The News

Pay attention. There’s a whole world out there full of stuff that’s happening. Get aware of it. Some of it is hard-hitting, important news, like who’s getting elected, or how they’re going to fix health care in this country. Other is fluffy pop-culture stuff like who’s divorcing who and what the newest movies are.

Both of these can be good sources of ideas for your blog.

  1. Get mad

Let yourself get a bit passionate about what you’re writing. Don’t be afraid to tell it as you see it. Now, there’s a line between being upset and deliberately being provocative, controversial and outright offensive. But even that can be effective in drawing traffic.

Once you’ve got an idea, then it’s easier to just sit down and write about it. Remember: Twice a week!

Friday, November 09, 2007

How to Take Better Product Pictures

There are few things on the ‘net that will identify a website or an auction as “amateur” faster than bad graphics. Likewise, it’s hard to find something that will chase someone away from your catalog faster than unclear or badly shot photos of your products.

Now, if you’re selling things from a dropshipper or even working with a manufacturer, very often they’ll have product pictures you can get, or even download directly from their website. That’s cool, because often they’ll be shot by professional photographers, and already sized for the web. That’s so much easier.

But what if you’re selling a product you’re making yourself? Or, what if you’re selling something you already own in an eBay auction? You might not be able to capture a picture of the exact make and model off the web.

If it’s something that you’re going to be selling a lot of (in the case of the eBay auction) or if it’s something you’re going to be building your business up around (in the case of your website), you might want to consider hiring a pro, or even a good semi-pro photographer. It could be well worth it in the long run.

If, however, you don’t have the budget for that, let’s talk about some ways to make your pictures great.

  1. It’s all about the framing

One of the biggest problems I see as I look at non-professional product photos is that the item itself isn’t filling the frame. There’s a lot of space around the item, and often a lot of clutter, and irrelevant items competing for the space.

The fix? Get up close enough to fill the frame with the item. Remove the clutter from around it. Remember that the picture is of the product, not of the table with the product in the middle of it.

  1. Then it’s all about the lighting

The next biggest issue I often see is that the items are not well enough lit. This can be simply not enough light, which ends with dull and gray pictures, or it can be too much reliance on the camera’s flash, which can “white” or “bleach” out a picture with too much direct light.

My basic rule is: You will need more lighting than you think. Gather all kinds of lamps and floodlights. You’ll want to have light shining on the object from several directions: Left, right, and back. Think of the layout as a triangle with the item in the middle. Put a couple of bright lamps in each position and you might get enough light. Flood lights work very well because you can direct the light. If you’re going to be doing a lot of pictures over a long period of time, I’d recommend buying a few good photo lights.

Another option is to shoot outdoors on a sunny day. You’ll have plenty of light. Position the item so the sun shines on it from one side. The problem with this is that you’ll also have harsh shadows on the non-sunward side of the item. To lighten up those shadows, hold a big piece of white posterboard up, reflecting the sunlight back onto the item. Using posterboard instead of a mirror will diffuse the light and soften up the harsh shadows the sunlight brings.

Try and get so much light on the item that you don’t have to use your flash. A flash will send a hot, bright light straight from the camera, off the item, and back into the lens. As a result, you won’t be able to see any of the side-to-side shadows that give the picture its three-dimensional look. And, you’ll have a harsh shadow line directly behind the item as well as bright hot spots on the item itself.

With digital pictures, you can tweak the lightness, darkness, and contrast, as well as the colors in your graphics editing program after the fact. Still, the better your picture is to begin with, the less tweaking it will require.

  1. The picture space

If the framing and the lighting are working, then the next step is to take a look at the space where you take the picture. Just dropping the item onto the kitchen table isn’t as nice as having some nice cloth draped behind it.

One easy way to set up a picture-taking spot is to cut two adjacent sides out and the top off of a cardboard box, so that you’re left with the bottom and two sides forming a corner. Set a couple of books on the base to have a pedestal for your item, and then drape nice cloth over the entire thing. Gentle folds in the cloth give it texture and three dimensions. Set the item on the cloth, on the books, set your lights and take the pictures.

A “Photo Box” is another great item that you can get from a photo store. It’s a box made of translucent cloth with only the one side panel open. You set the item in the box, with the open face toward you, and shine lights toward the sides and top. The cloth will diffuse the light around the item, giving it a nice glow.

The best thing you can do is to simply take some time and experiment. Try lighting this way, that way, more, less. Look at your pictures and see which ones come out the best. It will take a lot more time the first time, but you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Then the next time you’re taking pictures, you’ll be ready!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bring Them Back

I have a few short little stories to tell, which will all tie together in a hopefully interesting way.

First of all, I was reading some emails and I got one from a guy who teaches actors how to survive and thrive in the difficult world of the entertainment industry. He always has some good advice.

This particular time, he talked about how to really win an audition. The trick, he says, is not to stress about whether or not you’re going to get that particular part that you’re auditioning for that particular day. He says that you should go in, do your best to show your stuff, and walk out with your head up.

What happens is that if you go in and do a good job, and act professional in the process, then even if you don’t get that particular role, its very likely that at some point that casting director is going to have a role that you are just right for, and you’ll get the callback for that one. In the meantime, you’ve gotten better at acting and auditioning.

The Second story: The other day, I made some Indian food in my dutch oven. I really had a good time about it, and as I shared that with some of my other dutch ovening friends online, someone suggested I look into getting a Tandoor if I really wanted to cook Indian food. A Tandoor is essentially a big clay pot, sometimes buried, sometimes encased on concrete, and heated from below by gas or charcoal. You skewer your meat and set it down in the pot, with the handle of the skewer sticking out the top. Tandoori chicken is one of my favorite Indian dishes!

So, I started checking out websites all about Tandoors, looking at prices, sizes, features, etc… I wasn’t buying yet, just learning. Just checking. I bounced from website to website and discovered a lot about these fascinating ovens. Some are quite primitive, others quite high-tech. Some are designed for home use, some for restaurants. I learned about the features and what makes this one good and that one better.

But I didn’t buy anything. Just like the casting director. I didn’t cast the part. The actors, and the websites, ended up with nothing.

Here’s where it all ties together with running a web business: Not everyone who visits your site is going to buy immediately. Some studies show that it can take as many as 6-7 contacts with your store to entice some people to drop their money. Have you failed? No. They may come back later and buy.

Now, the trick is to discover what you can do that will make that more likely to happen!

  1. Get them to leave a trace

The first step is to entice as many visitors as possible to leave you their email addresses. Offer a prize drawing. Tell them about the amazing information they’ll miss out on if they don’t sign up. Give away something free. You can’t contact them and bring them back unless you’ve got their contact info!

  1. Send out a newsletter

When you update something on your website, send out an announcement. Got a new product line? Got some new information? Did anything change at your site? If so, let everyone know! As you’re building up your list, begin using it.

  1. But not too often

I found a website that had lots of great information about web marketing. I thought the site was cool and useful, so I signed up for the mailing list. Since then, I have rued the day that I did. Now, at least every other day, if not daily, I get something in my inbox from this guy. It’s no longer useful, informative, interesting, it has crossed over into annoying, and soon will go into my spam filter.

  1. Get into other people’s newsletters

Some newsletters that address your site’s focus will allow advertising. Buy some listings in someone else’s newsletter. Or maybe trade adds. I’ll mention you in my newsletter if you mention me in yours. You scratch my back…

  1. Be well connected in a community

In addition to the newsletter, a good way to draw traffic back to your site is to be well-linked within the web community. If someone is searching for what you’ve got, and they keep seeing it in their web travels, it will eventually draw them back to you. In addition, being well-linked within a group of topical websites will boost your search engine performance as well.

So, don’t be too sad if you miss out on the sale the first time around. Just do all you can to bring them back!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What’s Up With That?

A couple of weeks ago, I got a virus.

Well, I guess, technically speaking, it wasn’t a virus, but a Trojan Horse. Really, what’s the difference? They both mess up my computer. A virus is a program that sneaks onto my computer and does something, usually malicious. A Trojan horse is a program that sneaks onto my computer and then opens up holes in my security for other things to sneak into my computer, which are usually malicious. The end result is the same. I still have to clean it up.

I first discovered this when I was on my computer, writing something. It was one of those odd moments when I wasn’t surfing the ‘net, but I was typing in Word. Suddenly, a window opened. Internet explorer. And an ad appeared in the window.

I leaned back and looked at it. It was a strange moment, because I wasn’t sure what was going on. It wasn’t like a tiny pop-up ad window that comes when you hit a site (though those are bad enough, thank you very much). This one was a full-screen window. And it was Internet Explorer. That’s odd, because I use Mozilla FireFox as my browser pretty much exclusively.

The ad itself was annoying, but at least it wasn’t offensive. Not in its content, anyway. I don’t even remember what the ad was, which shows you what an impactful message it bore.

So, I did some scanning with my Anti-virus program, and found it, among a few others. I thought I’d cleaned it off, but it kept on happening. When it finally did pop up an offensive ad, I realized the only way I was going to be able to deal with it would be to wipe the hard drive and start over.

Fortunately, I do that as a sort of routine maintenance every year or so anyway. Computers just get so much residual junk in the trunk that you’ve got to empty it and re-intall it all. I used to have to burn all my songs and other data files to CD backups every time I did it. That part of the process alone took me a few days. Last Christmas, my wife got me an 200 GB External USB hard drive so now I just run the files to that, and it takes about a half hour. Much sweeter.

So, I finally get time to do the deed, and I make my backups, and I start the disk reformatting. Then I reinstall Windows. Everything’s going according to plan. It’s only when I start reinstalling device drivers that it starts locking up. I try everything I know. Nothing’s working. I ended up reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows—I mean re-re-re-reinstalling Windows about 6 times over the course of the ordeal.

Finally, I tried enough tricks and switches to get it to work, and I’ve been happily setting up my programs and transferring my data files back. It took me over a week of evenings to make it all work.

But, this article is more than just a sob story, really…

While I was doing this, I started thinking, and my thoughts drifted to that first evening when I saw the window interrupt my writing. There was an ad in that window. I started wondering. Why would someone want to advertise their business in a space that makes their customers angry?

Think about it. I get tons of spam on a daily basis. I search through my list, select them all and delete them in a single swoop. I delete them instead of opening them for three reasons: One, they’re annoying; Two, they often carry more viruses and other malicious software; and Three, did I mention they’re annoying.

I don’t want hear about another lower mortgage rate. Real Rolexes don’t impress me, so why would I want to wear a knockoff. I’m not sure I’d trust my life to medicines bought off the ‘net, and the last thing my wife needs is for me to enhance my libido.

And yet, the ads keep on… The viruses and the Trojan horses keep throwing more in my face. It’s frustrating, intrusive and it makes me angry. And if I’m angry, then I definitely don’t have a good first impression of their company (or even a good thousandth impression).

So, what are the marketing execs thinking?

“Let’s invest a lot of money in ads that chase our customers away…”


Here’s what you should be thinking: “Let’s invest a lot of time and money in promotions that attract our audience to us!” Here are some suggestions:

  1. Identify your audience.

That’s a key first step. If you don’t know who you’re marketing to, you’ll never find them. Look out for the temptation to market to the whole world. Trust me, that takes more money and time than you probably have.

  1. Find where they are on the ‘net.

What sites are they already visiting? What blogs are they reading? What words are they searching for? What shows do they watch? Which singers do they listen to?

  1. Place your ads in those places

Bid on those search terms at Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Get links from those sites. Post messages on those forums, and comments on those blogs. Buy display ads in those eZines and info sites. Share articles and content with those sites. Get connected!

On the other hand, if you’re going to annoy me with spam and virus ads, save your money. Or, better yet, if you’re going to just flush it down the toilet, why not PayPal it to me directly? Then it would be ad money that would make me happy!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Some Cool New Ways to Use Google to Research Keywords

Quite some time ago, I wrote about the process of doing research to discover the strongest search terms. I wrote about it in terms of supply and demand. The demand of a keyword is represented by how many people are actually searching for it. The supply is shown by how many other websites are actually using that keyword (or phrase). As in all forms of valuation, something is worth more if it is high in demand and low in supply. So, in your website, you want to use lots of words that have a lot of people searching for them, and not so many other people using them.

Once you’ve discovered words based on those two basic principles, it’s very interesting to use some search parameters at Google and Yahoo and do some deeper testing and get some numbers that are useful in different ways. Many of these are done by adding certain commands or phrases in front of the word you’re searching for. These can focus your searches and give you more specific information.

  1. intitle:

When you do a search, type the string “intitle:” (include the colon, but not the quotes) before the keyword you’re wanting to research. For example, I might type “intitle:fishing” (notice there’s no spaces at all). This kind of a search would return a big list of all the web pages that included the word “fishing” in their title tags. This will give you a number that reflects more closely the number of pages that are really competing with you. This would eliminate pages that merely mention the word deep in the text.

If you have a keyword phrase, you need to put the intitle: command in front of each word. For example, I might type: “intitle:fly intitle:fishing”.

  1. inurl:

The “inurl:” command is similar to the “intitle:” command in that it limits the search results. In this case, however, it will only show the sites that include the keyword in the URL (the address). Again, this helps you see how much competition you have in a more direct way.

  1. link:

The “link”: command is a little different in that you don’t search for a keyword, but rather, you search for a URL.

We all know that inbound linking is a major factor, possibly the biggest factor, in search engine ranking success. So, from time to time, it’s valuable to know just how many other people are linking to you. Go to the search engine and type “”. What you will see is a hopefully big list of all the sites that the search engine is counting in your ranking. If’ it’s not big, then you know what you have to work on!

  1. inanchor:

This one is similar to the other keyword search commands, but with a twist. When you search a word with the “inanchor:” you’re seeing in the results a list of every page that has a link pointing to it, where the link text contains the keyword.

Got that? It’s confusing.

So, if I’m running a fishing page, and there are people that link to me using the word “fishing” on their pages, my page will show up in this list. Inbound links are important, but they get kicked up a notch when they include keywords in the link text. Here you can see if anyone is linking to you with killer keywords.

  1. * keyword

If you’re trying to think of new keyword phrases you haven’t checked yet, this one can help. I could type “* fishing” in my search. The “*”, in computer lingo, represents what’s called a “wildcard”. That means that the computer knows something is supposed to go there, but it can put anything in its place. So, for example, if I typed “* fishing” in my search, I immediately see more words that I can research. I see “fly fishing”, “sport fishing”, “saltwater fishing”, and more!

  1. News and Blogs

By searching specific areas of the search engine for a particular keyword, you can tell just how much that area is paying attention. Searching News feeds in Yahoo! will tell you how immediate a keyword is. Searching the blogs at will tell you where the buzz is.

Now, none of these is a substitute for basic research. It’s very unlikely that your customers will be using these parameters and commands to do their searching, so you’ll still want to check your results in the most common way. Still, it can give you good insights into your market and what you can do about it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kangaroos on Bicycles

It’s funny where inspiration and ideas come from. And it’s often even funnier how they get applied.

Walk with me a minute, and I’ll show you what I mean.

A long time ago, I took a college summer class in poetry writing. I had declared a creative writing minor, and they offered this class from a special guest instructor. I learned a lot from this lady, that I’ve applied in all kinds of writing (and, frankly, living) ever since.

One thing I learned was that often, exciting results come from combining two things that are completely unrelated. She taught us to randomly come up with two nouns, and then the assignment was to write a poem that contained or dealt with those two completely unrelated nouns. One girl in the class came up with a result that has stuck with me for years. Her nouns ended up being “Kangaroo” and “Bicycle”.

At first, when I heard her words, I thought, “I’m glad those aren’t my words.” My words, and my result, of course were so incredible, and so well crafted that, in the end, I’ve completely forgotten them.

But her poem came out with the line: “We love like kangaroos on bicycles…” The point of her poem was that often when we try to relate to each other and love each other, we end up as clumsy and as silly as kangaroos on bicycles, and then we crash.

Now, flash forward a lot of years. I’m working with students and websites, and I’m trying to teach them how to create truly unique content for their websites. I’m not just talking about technically unique content, where the actual words and letters are different, but conceptually unique, where you write something that truly is new.

Why do you want to do that? Because “unique” draws ”attention”. And on the web, “attention” is followed by links, ranking, and traffic.

Conceptually unique content can be a very difficult thing to achieve when your product is commonplace. Let’s say that you’re selling cookware. Do a google search. How many other people are under a cookware listing? 18 million plus, as of this writing, and you’re about to make that one more. What can you do at your site to be unique, to be different from every other site selling cookware?

Well, let’s play the same game. Let’s pick two words that are completely different and see what comes up. One of them will be the product you’re trying to sell. In this example: Cookware. The other word will be something random. How do you get a random word? Well fortunately, the internet will provide all. I googled “random word” and found a website that will generate just that. Using this marvelously useful tool, I generated a word. It actually too a time or two to get something that sparked a cool idea. But it happened. I got “Hindsight”.

Wow. What content could you provide that included the words “Cookware” and “Hindsight”?

Well, has there ever been a time in your life when something you cooked and/or served turned out so excruciatingly badly that, in hindsight, you realized that you shouldn’t have done it? Or at least wish you had done something else? What a great story that would be! What great fresh content that would be! The net is full of homemaking gurus whose houses are perfect and make bundles of money telling everyone how to be the perfect hosts. How about telling us about a time when it all went south!? Don’t you thing a lot more people could relate to that?

Let’s try it again: “Cookware” and “Swimming”?

Maybe something about cooking for a day at the pool. Or how about: “Waiting 30 minutes after eating to swim: Fact or Myth?” Maybe tips for washing your dishes in your pool. Just run with the ideas and see what comes out!

A few more points: When you’re writing content for your site, remember these suggestions:

  1. Make it both technically unique and conceptually unique
  2. Make it intriguing and/or entertaining
  3. If it’s keyword laden, it’s easier for people to find, and if they find it, they can link to it.
  4. Don’t just sit on it, announce it and promote it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to Make a Few Bucks in Just a Few Minutes

Disclaimer: This article contains no secret miracles that will make you rich tomorrow. There is no information here that you can’t find somewhere else. It contains no MSG’s, and no animals were harmed in the making or testing of this article.

What it DOES have, however is a call to action. A call to get busy and do something that only takes a few minutes and make a few bucks. A call to stop being afraid and realize that this is not complicated, nor particularly difficult. It just takes effort.

Here’s what’s going on. I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for a long time. But just recently I’ve been thinking about just how fundamentally simple it is, and how much fun it is. And as simple and as fun as it is, why aren’t more people doing it? When I teach my students, why don’t more of them follow through and do it? I’m not sure.

But here’s the process I’ve been going through, especially lately. I’ve also put the time required next to each step.

  1. Sort through my stuff (30-45 minutes)

The easiest items to sell on eBay are things you have around your house already. I call this “The Electronic Yard Sale”. Everybody has STUFF they’ve got sitting around, and isn’t being used. You could throw it away, you could give it away, or you could make a few coins off of it. The beauty of this stuff is that you don’t have to worry about profit margins. It’s not costing you anything. If you were to sell something from a drop shipper or a supplier, you have to make sure that it sells for more than you paid, or you lose money. With the things you’ve got at home, just find it and sell it!

In my case, I spent a little over a half hour and found some collectors cards and a cell phone, among other things.

  1. research the stuff (15-30 minutes)

I never post an item without first checking to see how much I’m likely to get, or even if it’s likely to sell. Sign in to eBay, do an advanced search of “Completed Listings Only” for the item you’re wanting to sell. You can see how much it’s likely to close for.

You can also use Clickincome’s Auction Analysis Pro for even more detailed research. This program can tell you what day to start and end your auction, what features to choose, and how much you’re likely to get, all based on an in-depth analysis of the last 30 days of eBay history for those items.

The cool part of that is, even with the detail, it’s still only 15-30 minutes.

  1. Choose some things to sell (1 minute)

This is the easy part. Based on your research, you choose to list the items that are most likely to make you the most money! In my case, I found a few cards that could sell for as much as $15 each, and the cell phone might go for as much as $400. Kind of a no-brainer isn’t it?

  1. Get pictures, write text (15-30 minutes)

When you’re preparing a listing, you usually want to gather all of the required information before you do your listing. Write the descriptive text, shoot and crop the pictures, etc… I do know that sometimes this can be more involved, but it’s usually not too bad. In the case of the cell phone, I captured a picture from the manufacturer’s website. The cards? I just scanned those.

  1. Post it on eBay (the same 15-30 minutes)

Creating the eBay postings was simply a matter of logging into eBay and clicking on “Sell”, then filling out the form. You copy and paste in the text, you upload the pictures. Select one picture to be your gallery picture, and save the auction. This time, it really only took me 15-30 minutes because I counted the same 15-30 minutes it took me to gather the pictures and the text. Again, sometimes it could take longer.

  1. Track the auctions (totaling 15 minutes throughout the week)

Tracking the auction means that once or twice a day, I jump over to eBay and look to see how many bids I’ve got. Sometimes, I might have to answer a question or two about the item. On a 7 day auction, I might spend a total of a quarter hour in the tracking process.

  1. Close the auction, collect the money (5 minutes)

For the most part, eBay handles this effort for me. If you use PayPal, and you have a buyer that’s alert and attentive, you can have your money on the way by the time you check the emails letting you know that the auction has ended. True, sometimes there are difficulties, like a non-paying bidder, or some extra communication that has to happen, but I’ve found that to be the exception rather than the rule. The worst that commonly happens is that the buyer didn’t happen to be at their computer the moment the auction closed, and I might have to wait an hour or a day.

  1. Ship the item. (15-30 minutes)

I play it simple here. Even when I’m shipping bigger stuff. I just drive it to a packing and shipping store, hand it to them with the address and pay them to ship it. How tough is that? When I do the cards, however, I might do that myself, because I just have to put them in an envelope with some protective cardboard.

  1. Spend the money (Insert evil laughter here…)

That’s the best part, isn’t it?

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How PPC and Organic Rankings Help Each Other

Left or right. Black or white. Night or day.

Where’s the middle ground?

All too often, I encounter people who approach Search Marketing as an “Either/Or” proposition. They somehow think that they should either do organic listings, or Pay-per-click. They don’t seem to catch the vision that the two can support each other, in an almost yin-yang sorta way.

But before we dive into that, let’s make sure we’re all up on our terms.

“Pay-Per-Click” refers to the process of buying advertising space on a search engine and it’s related sites. Usually, they are text ads that appear in a column to the far right of the search results, but sometimes it also includes some space above the listings. These are usually marked “sponsored links” or “sponsored listings”.

“Organic Listings” refers to your site’s rankings in the part of the search engines that’s not paid advertising. These are the more “natural” results of creating a good, content-filled, keyword-rich site, with plenty of inbound links.

Another misconception is that buying PPC ads will somehow get you preferential treatment in the organic listings. There are many that suspect a “payola” thing going on.

I, personally, suspect that those that run the search engines are smarter than that. If they were to breach the appearance of “fairness”, the backlash from the ‘netizenry would be swift and brutal. That being said, I do know that there is a lot that can be gained from a PPC campaign and applied to your organic efforts that would end up benefiting them both. And that brings us back to that Yin/Yang thing I was mentioning earlier.

  1. Jump Starting Traffic

Building up organic ranking can take time. It can be weeks before you even get indexed, and months before you creep up the ladder of search engine success. A major factor in Google’s ranking is simply the age of your site. Do you really want to open your doors and wait months for your customers to find you? No.

An effective PPC campaign can get traffic coming into the site immediately. When you set up your account and your ads, they can literally begin appearing on searches moments after you hit the final “Submit” button. Traffic follows.

And, with traffic can come inbound links. As people come to your site and see your quality and informative content, some will be interested in linking back to you. What do links bring? More traffic, and more search engine link popularity.

It’s also much more encouraging as a web site owner to see traffic and response more immediately.

  1. Identifying cool keywords

This is where PPC can really shine. In the process of creating your PPC account, you choose what keywords and keyphrases you want your ad to appear next to. You get to target your ad to particular searches. There are a lot of tools to help you compare the relative quality and strength of words and terms you apply your ads to. These same tools can help you choose what words to include in your site’s content. If it’s a good keyword for a PPC campaign, it’s a good keyword for your organic listing efforts as well.

Once your ads have been running for a while (and that could actually be as little as a week or two), you’ll also have some data that can help as well. You’ll know how many impressions have been placed for a particular keyword (how many times that ad has appeared in connection with that keyword), and how many clickthroughs as well.

The impressions information will show you how much demand there is for that keyword. The more the ad appears, the more people are searching that word or phrase.

The clickthroughs are even more telling. These are the keywords that people are actually responding to. These are the ones that are working. In both of these cases, it would be wise to revise your site so that they are stronger for those words.

It can work the other way as well. Suppose you’re looking at your site’s traffic report, and you’re noticing a recurring search query in your search engine referring URL’s. Not only can you go back to your site and strengthen that keyword’s prominence there, but you can also add it in to your PPC campaign, or raise it’s impact by that keyword’s bid or budget.

  1. Branding

Since Internet advertising has such trackable results, often people will ignore the value of advertising’s untrackable result. That means branding. Even if people don’t click on your ad, if they’ve seen your ad, and it’s well-made, the ad will still register in their mind. The next time they see it, it registers even more. Before they know it, your business is branded in their mind, and when they’re actually interested in buying what you have, they come to you first.

Branding is the underlying premise behind almost all broadcast advertising. When a Pepsi ad comes on the TV, they don’t expect you to jump from your chair, put on your coat, and go buy a Pepsi. But they know that the more you see it, the more likely you’ll be to buy it when you’re at the convenience store or the market.

So, don’t think of PPC and Organic listings as separate concepts. Think of them as to parts to the whole of Search Marketing, and ultimately, a slice of your whole marketing pie.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Top Ten Factors in Your Google Ranking

Over at SEOMoz, someone ran a survey of some of the best-respected SEO experts in the country. They asked them to say what are the most important factors in getting your page to rank well. The answers both surprised me, and didn’t surprise me.

What didn’t surprise me was the items on the list. These are the verses to the song that SEO experts (including myself) have been singing for a very long time. Remember: Second verse, same as the first?

What surprised me was the order that some of the items ranked. Things I had assumed were vital, were not as critical, and things that I had discounted as secondary turned out to be up at the top. But for your entertainment and benefit, here’s the list:

  1. Keyword Use in Title Tag – A major factor in ranking on a given keyword is to have that keyword (or phrase) in the title tag that appears at the top of the web browser when the site is live. This was one of the surprises. I’d known this was valuable, but not #1. So, I’ve gone back and adapted my site.
  1. Overall Inbound Link Popularity of Site – This refers to how many other sites, and how many other important sites link to you. You can’t go wrong with lots of sites linking to you. Your site appears to be valuable and authoritative. You do have to be careful just what other sites link to you and how, though.
  1. Inbound linking text (on other site) – When another site links to you, they put some text into the actual link. What they put there can have a big impact. If the words they use in the link refer to what your site is all about, that helps. If the link text has the keywords other people are searching for, even better. This is difficult to control, since it deals with what other people do. Still, sometimes when you request a link, you can send them the HTML code you’d like to have used for the link.
  1. Link Popularity within the Site's own Internal Link Structure – Pages within your site can link back and forth to each other. Having a text-based navigation bar and small text links on the bottom can help immensely, but more important is to include links to other internal pages within the body text of your other pages.
  1. Age of Site – This is simple. Old pages and older sites rank better. How can you fix that in your site? Simple. Outlast everyone else.
  1. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links To Site – Getting links from everyone and their dog’s websites is not the way to go. Getting inbound links from other relevant sites is the way to the top of the rankings. Pick and choose who you contact for linking. You want lots of links, but quality is more important than quantity.
  1. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community – If you have a niche in your market, a smaller corner of the world, and you’re well-linked in that community, that will go a long way to establishing your authority in that community, and your ranking as well.
  1. Server Uptime – Is your site down when the spiders come out to re-index you? If it happens once in a while, that’s OK, since that’s kinda what happens to all servers. But if it’s consistent, you could get ranked lower, or even dropped from the database.
  1. Keyword Use in Body Text – OK, I was surprised how low on this list this item was. I’d always known that using the right keywords in the right places in your body text was important. And it is. It’s just not so critical as linking and these other factors.
  1. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site – It’s important to have your own site be popular and valued in the linking community. Also, if the sites that are linking to you are themselves well-linked, they benefit your ranking even more.

So, what does all this mean to you and me? Well, there are a few of these things that you can’t immediately impact. Or, at least, that are difficult to impact. There are, however several that you can do right away, like put keywords in your titles, and in your body text. You can easily set up your internal page links, and aggressively seek out links from within your own topical community on the ‘net. With some creativity, you can impact many of the other factors more and more as well.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

How I Built a Landing Page to Maximize PPC

Talk about a paradigm shift…

Today I was reading some blogs, doing research, and I came across this article in the archives of Copyblogger that completely twisted my perceptions of PPC, and how to use it.

For those who might not understand just yet, PPC (Pay Per Click) is a form of advertising used mostly by the search engines like Google and Yahoo to pay their bills. What it means is that a site owner, such as myself, creates an account, creates a text ad, and then chooses a lot of relevant keywords. Then I would place bids on those keywords, like, say, 10c or 50c, or $1.50.

My ad then appears on the search engine (and other sites), and every time someone clicks on my ad, I pay the search engine that much money. The more I bid, the more money I pay. Of course, it’s also displayed more prominently, if I pay more.

But, my initial paradigm was to create a great ad, and to use it to draw traffic to my main page. After reading this article, I realized there’s a stronger, more focused way to spend this money.

Here’s the steps:

  1. Make a Freebie

Think about your site and your audience. Do you have something you can give them for free? It can be anything. It’s better if it’s downloadable information, rather than something tangible that you have to mail out, but even that can work.

  1. Create a “Landing Page”

This was the first part of the paradigm shift. I’m not going to point the ad to the home page of my site, but rather to this landing page. So, I made this page to be very clear, very simple, and very specific to my audience.

  1. The MWR Of That Page Is The Signup, Not The Sale

Remember a while back when we talked about the MWR (the Most Wanted Result)? This is the other paradigm shift. The whole point of this landing page is NOT to get people to buy from you. Instead it’s to entice them to sign up for your mailing list. That way, you can send them newsletters and other ads, and sell to them over and over again.

This means, first, that you’ll have to offer them something free to entice them to sign up. That’s what step one was all about. Second, you’ll have to make it clear in the text of this page that they’re going to be getting email from you. Do that by making it sound like something they’d be excited to get. More info? Sure! I’d love to get more from you!

  1. Make That Page Available, But Not Obvious On Your Site.

In other words, the page will be live as a part of your website, but you don’t have to link from your other pages to it. It will be exclusively for those that respond to your ad.

  1. Create Links From That Page To The Rest Of Your Site.

Once they arrive at your landing page, they might want to check out other parts of your site, other products. Don’t stop them! Make sure there are links into other parts of your site. Don’t make them so obtrusive that they obscure the free offer or the signup!

  1. Automate The Back End As Much As Possible

If you get a lot of signups, that will be great, right? Well, it can mean you could get snowed under sending off a bunch of free reports, or packaging up a free product sample. It also could mean that you’d have to extract the email addresses from each signup and add them to your list. The more you can automate that process, the less hassle you have.

  1. Set Up The PPC Account

Go to or’s advertising pages, and set up your account. It’s simple to do. Keep in mind that this is a strategy that you’ll have to pay for, so make sure it’s in your budget. The nice thing about it is you can spend as little or as much as you want. Just decide, and put a cap on your ads. The more you can spend, though, the more traffic you’ll generate.

  1. Create The Ad To Be Specific For That Audience And That Freebie Offer

Don’t go on and on about other products. Just focus on your offer and who would be interested in it. Create the text to appeal to that audience. Choose to bid on keywords specific to that offer and that audience. Remember, part of targeted advertising is screening and qualifying your customers!

  1. Watch the Good Times Roll.

If you’ve set up a great landing page, and you’ve set up a killer ad, you should start seeing sign-ups almost immediately. Let it roll, and build up a mailing list. Then, you can start marketing to that list, and bringing in buyers!

As soon as I read this, I dove right into my Clicksitebuilder and set up the page, then jumped to and set up the ad. Let’s watch what happens!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Live Every Day as If It Were Your Last

I’ve heard this saying a million times. It’s a very wonderful, heartfelt, emotional plea. It’s all about recognizing what’s important and not just what’s urgent in life. The problem with it is that it’s totally unrealistic.

Yes, it’s true. I could get hit by a bus when I step out of my office. I could die in a car wreck on the freeway on my commute. I could stress myself into a heart attack. Heck, I could be the random target of a psychotic sniper.

It’s possible…

…But not very likely.

How do I know? Well, I’ve been married for 20 years, according to my upcoming anniversary. Almost every day of that marriage, I’ve gotten up, showered, and gotten in my car. I’ve driven safely to work, did my job, and driven home safely. Nobody ran me over, crashed into me, or shot me. Later that evening, I kissed my wife goodnight and went to sleep, and managed to wake up again the next morning.

So, for those 20 years of my adult life, I’ve managed to get through the day and have it NOT be my last. Out of 7300 days (yes, I did the math), they’ve all led to “a next day”. So far.

Now, here’s my next point. If I were to live each day of my life “as if it were my last”, I sure wouldn’t spend it at work. I’d get my kids out of school and we’d go play. The problem is that I can’t do that every day, unless one of them really does happen to be my last. Because if it doesn’t work out that way, then I still have to pay for the food and shelter I use the following day. And if all I’m doing is playing in the park with my kids, I’m not making any money, and I can’t live.

And then, I guess, we would be living in the streets, and soon would come that day where we would starve or die of exposure, and it would, in fact, be my last.

So, somewhere in between my need to be with my family, and my need to provide for my family lies a balance that I have to find. It’s not an easy balance to get, and even harder to maintain.

But here are some suggestions:

  1. Date Night

Every week, my wife and I go out on a date, without the kids. I once read that the one best thing you can do for your children is to show love to your spouse. I know a lot of people that are too wrapped up in their children’s lives to take a night with their partner, but that weakens the center pole of the family tent. Your marriage is the one thing that everything else in the family hangs on.

But don’t just stay in a bad marriage because leaving it is wrong. If it’s not working, then do what you have to to fix it. Staying miserable doesn’t help.

And trust me, it’s tough to run a business effectively if your spouse isn’t supportive, at the very least, and actively helpful at the most.

  1. Date Night With Each Child

A good friend of mine takes his kids out individually, to do what the child wants to do. Not with the other kids, or friends, just himself and his child. Talk about quality time. Total focus on one child. Each one will have their turn, so it’s OK to spoil them one at a time.

  1. Church and Spirituality

Whatever your belief system, it’s a great idea to do it as a family. If you know that you’re all going to be somewhere reverencing something bigger than yourself, you all draw together.

  1. Yu-Gi-Oh Games

My son loves playing games, and currently his favorites fluctuate between Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon. He beats me at least once or twice a week. At first I let him win. Now, I try to win and I still get trounced. Do you have to learn to play Pokemon? No, but my advice is to find out what your kids love and get involved in it.

  1. Work Hard, But Monitor Your Hours

Your employer wants as much out of you as he/she can get. That’s OK. That’s what they hired you for. So, get as much done as you can while you’re at work, and then go home. Try not to work more than 40 hours a week, if you can. Everyone’s situation is different, but remember that the urgent task that your boss wants done right away might not be so life critical as spending some time playing with your kids.

  1. Hobbies in the downtime

I’ve learned that, for the most part, I do my hobbies and personal renewal when my family isn’t available. I record my music while the kids are asleep. My wife scrapbooks while the kids are in school.

So, in the final analysis, it’s good to feel the sentiment that you might not live forever, and so you should really focus on the important and not just the urgent. Don’t neglect work for family, but also don’t neglect family for work. Remember that someday will be your last, and you don’t want regrets when that happens.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.