For those of you who do not know what a robots.txt file does, it basically tells the robots which pages on your site they can and can not crawl. This is important because there are certain things you do not want to show up in the index, like if a folder contains duplicate content, or it's a private membership site then you don't want google giving away information for free that you are charging people for. Here is the current edition of the robots.txt file I use for all of my sites, both to give the search engine robots access to my sitemap and also to block them from directories I don't want them having access to:
Want to set up your own automated blog? Check out Auto Blog System X!
The goal of everyone who starts a blog is to find a niche market that they are really interested in, provide quality content that people enjoy, create a huge following of these people, and then make money via advertising and sales conversions. Of course, this takes quite a bit of time and you might not have hours every single day to spend working on content. If you don't provide a constant stream of quality updates to your blog though, people will stop coming back to see if you have published something new. Well have no fear because I've done a little work to see what tools and options are out there to help you keep your readers interested without putting in as much work and effort.
Embedded RSS Feeds
If you want automatically updated blog content without having to write it yourself, then set up an embedded RSS feed from someone else's site. The easiest way I have found to do this is to rely on Google's AJAX Feed API. It's simple to set up as you can enter a keyword or name of a site that you want and hit generate code. I should note that you do not want to rely entirely on embedded RSS feeds for your information, because why wouldn't the reader just head over to that site to check the new content instead?
News Related Content
Not only does Google do RSS feeds, but you can also add news-related content to your site that covers your niche. Head over to the News bar wizard to cover the expressions that your site deals with. This allows you to cover a lot of different websites with the topic that you are intersted in, rather than just a single website and listing everything they put up like with the RSS feeds.
Free Article Directories
If you are struggling to think up a topic to write about and want to just use something that someone else has already published then check out the free article directories on the web. I like using EzineArticles since it has quite a few different topics. Not all of the articles are of a high quality, so you have to search through them a little bit before you find something that is worth posting and you have to remember to keep the authors byline included so they get a little link love. Articlesbase is another free article directory that I use, and there are countless others out there if you want to do your homework.
Finally it seems that even the big boys are starting to understand that when it comes to making money on the the Internet, content is king. Just a few days ago I wrote an article about why people go online and it came as no surprise to me that "to learn" was the number one reason to surf the web. Well now that large businesses like Time Warner, Yahoo, and AOL are finally catching on.
Of course ad spending is supposed to go down 7.6% this year and since we are still in the midst of a recession, that number isn't likely to make a large jump any time soon. The reason for optimism you ask? Ad spending on newspapers, magazines, radio, and television is going down, but online advertising revenues are projected to grow by nearly double digit figures!
Most companies are considering content to be valuable because they want consumers to pay for high-quality products, but instead they should realize that higher quality content builds links, which increases your search engine presense, which builds traffic, of which more are going to keep coming back if you give them something that they are interested in. That's a nice little cycle to have, a constant flow of new traffic coupled with readers who keep coming back for more.
So, even if you run a blog or small-business, produce quality stuff that people want to keep coming back for and you'll grow your business. You don't have to charge people to read your content to make money, you can benefit from the increase in ad spending and still cash in while keeping your information FREE!
Focus recently put together a list of the top entrepreneurs of the last 100 years with some interesting figures. It starts out with Andrew Carnegie, who built his Steel empire into US Steel and then turned his attention to philanthropy. Carnegie gave away a ton of money to libraries, schools and universities and is the widely regarded as the second richest man in history, behind John D. Rockefeller (who was 10th on the list).
I think one important thing to note about the computer-related entrepreneurs on the list is that they were all born from 1955-1967. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both born in 1955 and both got started early working with computers. It's no surprise then that they built two mammoth companies in the emergine market. The internet guys came a few years later as Peirre Omidyar of Ebay was born in 1967, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com in 1964 and Michael Dell in 1965. I know Dell builds computers, but his business model was centered on getting his product direct to the consumer, which the internet was his main tool.
I did feel like the list missed out on some of the more recent guys who started mega-businesses. Where is the love for guys like Mark Zuckerberg, who founded facebook, or Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin? Do you think anyone else is missing off the list?
Here is the complete list:
- Andrew Carnegie
- Oprah Winfrey
- Thomas Edison
- Estee Lauder
- Ray Kroc
- Bill Gates
- Conrad Hilton
- Steve Jobs
- Henry Ford
- John D. Rockefeller
- Michael Dell
- Sam Walton
- Richard Branson
- Jeff Bezos
- Walt Disney
- Pierre Omidyar
- Ralph Lauren
- William S. Harley & Arthur Davidson
- Phil Knight
- Milton Hershey
Are you thinking about starting your own blog or online business? If so then the first question that you need to answer is what sort of category you are interested in writing about or what kind of products you are interested in selling and if there is going to be enough of a demand for you to make a little money at it. The Ruder Finn Intent Index is something that I came across about a week ago that can help you match up why people go online with why they would be interested in what you have to offer.
There are seven broad categories ordered from most popular reasons to least popular:
- To Learn
- To Have Fun
- To Socialize
- To Express Themselves
- To Advocate
- To Do Business
- To Shop
You can dive down into each of the specific categories, but for now let's just focus on the broad strokes. If you are starting an informational blog then it's obviously important that you are providing information that will help your readers educate themselves on the topic you are covering and to help keep them informed of current events in your niche. If you are using a blog to sell for products or services then allowing readers to do research and comparisons is a great way to hit the largest part of the online population and hopefully build enough trust with the reader so they will come back to your site when they are ready to buy.
I would also say that this study shows that entertaining your readers is important to keep them coming back. There is no reason why you can't educate the visitor while entertaining them at the same time. Blogs are also a great way to socialize with the online community as you allow people to leave comments, share stories or experiences of their own, discuss what they have read, and to be part of a community in a topic that interests them.
It's interesting that the shopping comes at the bottom of the list, since selling products is how most of us make money online. My strategy is almost always to focus on bringing as much traffic to my sites as possible, building trust with those visitors, and then matching up their interests with special offers on related products. I personally have made a lot more money with affiliate promotions and selling my own products and services than I have with straight advertising.
Why Do You Want to Identify Top Blogs in Your Niche?
If you plan on entering a market or are just interested in learning about or studying a certain market then you will want to know where the top sites are located. This is the fastest and most effective way to gather the resources needed to learn about your industry. From current events, who are the top advertisers, the size of the market, and how tough it will be to enter the market, understanding your competition is a key to your future success. It is also a great way to drive traffic to an existing site by interacting with a top blog by either commenting on popular posts to networking with the blog owner for nurturing a business relationship.
How To Identify the Top Blogs
The Technorati blog directory has a pretty good list of the top blogs sorted for you by topic. I say "pretty good" because tagging your blog on Technorati used to be considered an essential step into getting yourself established, but now that just isn't the case. Many top bloggers don't even bother adding themselves to the directory anymore, but still, I would say most top blogs are listed here and it's a good place to start your search.
Ask Blog Search
Ask has a pretty nice search engine for looking at blogs that have the keywords that are contained in your niche. You won't see very much spam in the Ask.com index and Ask built their reputation on being able to find clusters, or groups of related sites that supposedly gave a better indication of authority. The problem with Ask is that you are still going to see some strange feeds showing up in your results congesting the page.
Google Blog Search
The leading search engine on the web also does a pretty good job of helping you find related blogs with their specialized blog search. The start page allows you to click through to very general categories and here you will see massive blogs that are very generalized. When you do a search you will get a related blogs list that shows you blogs that have your keywords in their title, plus you will see the search results bringing up certain blog posts that are related to your keyword. I personally use the google blog search quite a bit to find posts to comment on that are related to something I just wrote. The problem here though is that you also get a lot of forum posts, which aren't really blogs but for some reason are included in this index.
As you can see there isn't an all-encompassing tool that will work perfectly to help you find all of the top blogs in your niche, but if you use the three sites above you can start to get a pretty good feel on what's out there.
You can get 3 FREE copies of Mike Filsaime's MDC Monthly.
Mike Filsaime is using a new way to spread the word.
He is not asking for any tell a friend of even an OPT-IN
He is experimenting with a new type of Social Viral Marketing that appears to get him backlinks to his site just for sharing the word.
This seems to be the truest form of Viral marketing I have seen yet. It uses social media and blogs to get the "news" out about something rather than Tell-A-Friends etc.
But the main thing I want to share with you is that you can get 3 Kick-Butt copies of his latest newsletter and you don't have to pay $89.00 to get it.
Just click the link below and it is yours Free!
P.S. - Even if you THINK you are not interested in his newsletters (Which are pretty good from what I see) I suggest you give it a shot for 2 reasons. 1- You may be surprised at the quality. And 2- Wait until you see how he is trying this new viral marketing.
If you really want to make money online and you don't have an email list, then I hope you do not seriously think you are making as much money with your site as you possibly can. Email marketing is something a lot of sites overlook, but is something that every single site owner who is making serious money online utilizes. There are other important tools too, such as RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and your blog posts, but the real money, the really big money, is in having a list you have built a relationship with that you can contact on a regular basis.
When you build a large email list, you have a strong asset. It's one of the few things when running an online business that you can control and that can not be taken away from you. When done right, a list is something that you can make money right away from, simply by putting together an email and sending it out.
A lot of traffic sources are viewed as assets but are not. SEO isn't an asset as Google or the other search engines could change their algorithms and cause your rankings to plummet. Your affiliates are not a strong asset either as they can start promoting a competitor or release their own product similar to your own.
The sole purpose of some sites is to simply generate as many leads as possible. These site owners do not want to sell anything directly to the visitors to their site, they want to establish a relationship with the person through email so they can make more off of that visitor in the long run.
Even if you have an ecommerce site, affiliate-based site, or make your money soley via advertising you need to add lead generation to your business model because it can add to what you already do. Ecommerce and affiliates can email leads special offers or new products, while blogs and information sites can email users a list of recent articles that users will click on to get back to your site in order to view advertisements. If you have a large email list, then you can promote to those subscribers your own products or affiliate products. You can even send out an email when you start a new site that may be of interest to your readers, instantly getting traffic to that site and helping it get off the ground.
Do not wait to start your list. Have a sign-up box on your site from day one. Some people worry about adding a bunch of content and building traffic before they worry about adding a sign-up form to their site, but they have lost the chance to entice all of that early traffic to sign up for their list.
Do not go cheap with your provider either. Sure, you can buy a newsletter program to host on your site or use a free provider with the intentions of switching when you start making money with your site, but you are going to lose a lot of subscribers off of your list if you try to switch down the line. The reason is that the reliable providers will all require a double opt-in, so you are going to have to send out an invitation to your list asking them to sign up with the new provider and less than 25% of them will likely do that. The other 75% will be lost.
So who should you go with? I recommend you start out with Aweber from the beginning since in my mind they are the best in the business. Their emails get through to your subscribers inbox and are not blocked as spam, they have a great auto-responder system, and they are trusted by all of the biggest names in the business. You can even try out Aweber for $1 your first month and then it's only $19 per month after that. If you aren't making $19 off of your list then you must have almost ZERO traffic.
Maximum PC put together a great list of 30 useful web apps that everyone should bookmark that had a few great sites that I hadn't checked out yet. If you are looking to get more out of the Internet, then you have to check a few of these recommendations out. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Screen Toaster - This is a site that I will definitely be taking an interest in. On a few of our sites we want to provide video tutorials of how to sign up for a new account, reviews of sites, and more. Basically this site allows you to capture a video of yourself doing something on your computer and then upload it to the web.
2. FillAnyPDF - This site allows you to upload a PDF file, then easily write on it wherever you want, even if it's not in editable form. I have been having problems with Adobe, so this is the perfect solution to my problem.
3. Grooveshark - A large library of streaming music that allows you to search for a song, include it in a playlist or your personal library. A word of warning here as their legality has been questioned.
4. Mint - Want to plan a budget, keep track of several bank and/or credit card accounts, and monitor your investments? Let Mint pull all of the information for you into a single account.
5. YouSendIt - Do you need to send a large file? Now you can upload up to 100 MB then email the link to the person you want to send the file to.
6. Meebo - I have a couple of different accounts for work, so this works great. I can login to several different chats all on one screen, plus you can download a notifier so it works even when you do not have a browser open.
7. Zoho - I haven't checked this out yet, but I plan to do so soon. I use Google Docs quite a bit, and this is supposed to be a beefed up version that is more similar to Office.