Hi, welcome to my blog! I am taking on a manageable amount of new clients this year at extremely affordable rates. What I offer is personalized web coaching, domain hosting, web design and marketing all in one. I am mainly interested in helping artists, authors and craftspeople build an internet footprint and sell their product, services or information online. If you are interested in finding out more talk to me and I will work within your budget to help you succeed. I will also not accept any client I do not believe has something useful to offer others online and no money will be passed until you are up, running and confident in your skills to do it yourself. Your success is my success! -Aaron Pratt

Blog for an Artist

Wendy Bill is looking to build an audience online to sell her pet portraits so that is exactly what we named her domain “Pet Portraits by Wendy”. Her latest pet portrait is of one of her own dogs named Sandy B who is extremely cute! Wendy also does other art but I have stressed that she focus on just a few ideas to make them work. She can branch out later because this is how it is in search engines. If you are looking to build relevant traffic to sell product online you need to make a splash in only a few areas, watch the ripples roll out, then monitor human interest and perfect your art, product or service.

The site I am developing clouds the meaning of “blog” because it is not just a blog, it is a fully functioning website with RSS feed, Atom, XML sitemaps, Ping Services and all the other things that are important for communication with search engine robots and ranking algorithms. Her site also validates 100% in CSS, Feed and HTML which gives one the advantage of eliminating any possible error in code.

I am pretty happy with Wendy’s progress and am learning much about keeping the creative mind in focus. She will do very well online in the future even with the growing, stiff competition in the “pet portrait” area. I will do well in coaching and hosting individuals on my server because it is something I enjoy!

Eco-Spheres

Eco-Spheres are intricate and interesting. They are made up of submerged tree like plants, air, salt water, and creatures. Eco spheres are totally self-contained.

The eco-sphere is very much like a chuck bloom painting. His detailed early miniature work. The difference is that these eco spheres are real.

Little worlds enclosed in glass…

They are natural. But the nature of them is so counter intuitive to our ad hoc way of thinking. This makes each one simply wonderful to stair into.

They are made up of living things. Water over earth, air over water, and life to transcend the two into one. Eco-spheres are encased in the craftsmanship that formed them.

It’s amazing that such novelty exists.

Image of two Eco-spheresThe original eco-sphere is made from salt water. The plants and animals that bring life to each other and the sphere co-exist in a symbiotic existence that in more overtly noticeable when they are enclosed in this actual miniature world.

Within the exterior form there exists micro organisms that manage the filtration for each other and the larger creatures such as algae, and shrimp that live in the filtered ocean saltwater.

You will never get over how cool these orbs are, set one on a shelf near a shaded window and look away from your computer monitor to rest your eyes and reflect on the possibilities of contained future environments.

Buy Eco-spheres on Amazon.com directly from Ecosphere Associates, Inc (the company who makes them)!

A blog for an author

Image of a blog made for an authorI am developing a blog for an author named Maria Channell who is publishing her first mystery book titled Ellis House in January. Maria is already working on her second book late into the night because she works, has two boys, cooks and takes care of a husband and home. I can relate to the time management thing because I am a stay home dad.

When Maria is ready to blog, I will set her a login and password and she will be blogging on her way (that is, if she chooses). Now she sends me copy and I post it as well as offer advice on how to market herself online. I highly suggest getting to know WordPress, it is more than just blogging software, it is a powerful content management system!

If you are an author (or just someone who has something they want to market in a low cost, efficient way) talk to me and I will set you up on my new virtual private server.

Search engines and reputation

online reputation managementA few people have noticed that if you do a search in Google and Yahoo! for “Aaron Pratt” you find my Internet Marketing Guide. When people look for me online I want them to find this website first.

When a future employer, friend or business acquaintance searches for you online who do you want them to find? Do you want them to find an old MySpace or Facebook account where you were acting like a complete fool? What would a recruiter think of those pictures of you half naked and drunk? Good times, for sure yes BUT… would those images help land the job? How about a current employer who is looking for a few people to layoff?
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Planet Earth DVDs

Planet Earth DVDs come in 11 parts, on four discs, and offers exciting educational audio-visual insight into the realm of Nature for everyone, better than actually going to a zoo, using film technology to the limits bringing distant and uncivilized regions into the comfort of your living room.

The astonishing, the awesome, the awe-inspiring… What aspects of this giant planet we live in, really come to life and bring that feeling of power to life? The awesome power of Nature is everywhere, and this series takes hold of it, reintroducing Nature into our lives, preparing us to witness the magic that silently surrounds our cities.

Planet Earth Trailer

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Going the extra yard by answering your phone

I got a call a few minutes ago from someone looking to buy a rain barrel.

I answered my phone (cell phone) while playing with my son in the living room saying “Hello this is Aaron”.

There was a pause (as there always is) then, “I am talking to Aaron?!?”

Me “Yes you are, can I help you?”

Customer “Oh hi Aaron, can I order a barrel over the phone?”

Me “I do not have credit card processing in my home but you can order from my site, can I help you with anything else?”

Customer “No, but thanks I will go online and order now and call you if I have any questions.”

What I noticed from this person’s voice is the drop in stress level when she realized there was a real person on the other end of the phone who stands behind everything he does. People are so used to getting answering machines or talking to people who often know nothing about what they are selling. As a rule I put my personal phone number on sites that start getting traffic and allow easy access to myself 24/7.

Here is another example of how going the extra yard helps. A man called me today wondering why his rain barrel had not arrived because my site clearly states that I ship units once a week. I was a little busy and was just coming in from working the early morning before my wife goes to work and it is my turn to take care of my child (home sick today). To make a long story short, the man sounded confrontational as if he was preparing to be let down. I said “Not a problem, I am just getting in but let me check Fedex to see where you product is, ah OK it appears that it will arrive later today, is there anything else I can help you with”? The man in an obviously more pleased (almost guilty for sounding aggressive) voice said “No I am all set, thanks a lot” and went away excited about having his barrel arrive today.

What did I accomplish by answering my phone?

1.) impressed a customer to purchase my product by simply being there for her to answer a question.
2.) diffused a possible situation where someone might have been upset if they didn’t get an immediate answer.

If you own a business and do not answer your phones I suggest you do so even if it is only for a day to better understand how important “service” is. You can also learn from complaints from people who can’t access a part of your website or that something is not clearly described to improve your service even further. Those are the calls I love and will often try to do a little extra for these people.

Are you willing to go the extra yard to ensure the success of your business? Answer your phone!

Rebranding a website

I am interested in re-branding a website in search engines. I am starting off simple and have reviewed a few dog supplies found on Amazon.com to develop content to be crawled and indexed. The website not long ago was used to sell dog gift baskets for a neighbor, to make a long story short there just wasn’t enough sales to make it worth continuing. In this case the first task is to train (or divert) robot crawlers to remove reference to old content and index new.

I am looking to build out in a new direction which can be complicated. For those of you who know anything about removing content and changing the course of a website this can lead to all kinds of issues because search engines are very primative. In order to succeed I must rebrand and develop a new flavor to get human exposure from organic search. With organic search comes links and yes, traffic.

You also might have heard the line “Do not build websites for search engines, build them for humans” but there will be no humans visiting if the site does not rank for a few things in organic search.

I review items to help others out in finding stuff they are looking for online so it fills a purpose, wish me luck!

Update: I had a second thought and renamed the site Abby’s Pet Gifts & Supplies to not limit it to just dogs.

Blending Google Adsense

I have been blending Google Adsense into a few of my websites to study where people prefer to click and have found an interesting trend. People who click Adsense are fully aware of what they are clicking because they choose the ad block that is highlighted and clearly labeled “Ad Center” rather than the one that has no border and is blended into the website template.

Below are two images, one is to show how I have Adsense setup on my website. Adsense covers an entire column to the left of the content because it is believed to be a “hot zone” but look where people are actually clicking. That’s right, they are clicking in a little 200 x 200 pixel box that has a black border on the right of the website!

I tested this for a few hours over the last couple of days and can now safely conclude that consumers looking to buy stuff prefer transparency over trickery.

Multiple aStores

As promised Amazon is now offering multiple aStores under one Associate ID and will give an extra 4% on earnings from aStore redirects (purchases). I am taking full advantage of these features simply because iframes do not junkify a website. Iframes separate ads from content much like Google Adsense does so they can coexist in a search engine friendly environment.

With this version of aStore you can now:

  • Build and maintain multiple aStores under one Associate ID
  • Feature up to 54 products in each category
  • Create custom categories containing products from multiple Amazon categories
  • Create multiple instances of individual Amazon categories
  • Control the display order of the products on each page
  • Specify products to feature on Category and Subcategory pages
  • Populate products to categories using Listmania lists

(from Amazon email notification)

Earning a little revenue from Amazon and Google keeps one motivated and multiple aStores allows you to do so from multiple websites or blogs.

Amazon Associates or Commission Junction

I have been trying out b>Amazon Associates and adding affiliate links to my content that offers 6% per sale. I also am sampling a few companies that offer their products from Commission Junction averaging 10% per sale.

At first it might seem that 10% is much better than 6% but you might be missing an important fact. When people click on an affiliate link and the traffic is driven to Amazon.com they often buy other products. Amazon.com has a vast selection, well setup website and trust in their brand.

Amazon wins hands down, that’s right, after several weeks of using Amazon links on my sites people have bought all kinds of different things not even related to what I was reviewing. People get lost on Amazon.com and this often will end in a sale.

So if you ever have a marketer try to sell you a new affiliate system and they use Amazon’s small 6% per sale as a negative example remember, that 6% is easily 10% or more in other sales made for unrelated traffic.

My sites are small but there is no doubt of Amazon.com’s potential for earning affiliate dollars for larger sites, combine that with Google Adsense and you could do well.

Organize the World’s Information

Google’s said goal is to organize the world’s information which to me should also be my goal as an internet marketer. Yes the phrase “internet marketing” and “organizing information” might not be a perfect fit but all data is information and no matter if your content is about environmental issues or shiny expensive automobiles it still needs to be organized correctly.

If you are lucky enough to own a handful of blogs and have the time to observe you learn that a successful site is like a library where every book has its place.

If you have a category on “internet marketing tools” all content related to that phrase should go within that areas subfolder to focus on and strengthen it in it’s cocitation.

If you write in an unorganized style and often repeat the same phrases in multiple posts you can dilute your internet footprint.

Keywords should be bolded and titles should be accurate to let search engines and people know what you are trying to market.

If you are linking out to other sites make sure the data you link to is accurate, trusted and most importantly useful.

If you do not follow technical issues something that is beyond your knowledge can screw you up like not having a 301 redirect in place (canonicals) or no 404 page present when pages are not found.

Individual pages should be highly focused if you are interested in ranking for things that are related to your niche.

Put content within a subfolder that is about one subject and separate each page describing various aspects of that subject without spilling over and diluting like content.

Ever seen someone who blogs too much and complains about not being found for anything in the search engines? Yep, I have a blog that is a mess in its focus, I fail to organize information in an understandable way and confuse my visitors and search engines at the same time with my poorly structured unorganized content. Most of what I do is for self education so it doesn’t matter to me but if you are trying to rank for a product this stuff is do are die.

One mistake I often make is writing brainy stuff, content that is filled with concepts and ideas that have not been talked about. There is not even words for this somewhat spiritual realm of marketing ideas so it is better left unsaid, that is if I am looking to be found in search engines.

Search engines (even google) are nothing more than primitive robot algorithms that retrieve and try to make sense out of content, don’t serve up a language a search engine or human visitor can not comprehend.

You can not expect a robot to understand concepts it has not yet seen just as you can not expect a child to understand adult conversations.

To train a robot you have to organize it’s information in an understandable easy to follow way. If you offer new concepts it will look for others who offer similar ideas and try to put you together with them even if it is not a good match.

Ever seen a person with a blog ranking well for subjects written about in a minimal style using few words? I have had two sentence posts that out rank whole great articles in search engines because they make perfect sense in the least number of words.

Search engine robots that have the task of crawling huge numbers of websites like to be served up organized easy to follow information.

Search engine algorithms understand minimal well organized content, they can not handle posts like you read above.

Organize your websites information to allow search engines to correctly organize the world’s information.

New Features for Amazon Astores

Some new features were added to Amazon aStores this week, most importantly, search engine friendly descriptions and headings.

* For those of you linking from your website to your aStore rather than embedding it, we have added the capability to put a link back to your website in the store navigation.

- Use this with extreme caution, if you are looking to rank your aStore it might be smart not to link back until you have established an internet footprint.

* Advanced users can now remove both the header and category navigation when embedding the aStore within existing websites.

- This allows you to flawlessly embed the aStore into an existing site making fit.

* The custom product description length has been extended, allowing you to say more about the products you recommend to your customers.

- This is very good for search engines, new products require unique descriptions or they are seen as duplicate content which is weak for ranking.

* Product detail pages now display a “crossed-out” list price followed by the Amazon.com price.

- Better for sales.

* The page title in the browser now displays the name of the aStore combined with the category name or product name, making aStore more search-engine friendly.

- Another search engine friendly feature indeed.

I have not completely given up on Amazon aStores and now with more search engine friendly features you just might be able to rank for a few things in search engines gaining that important organic search engine traffic.

Ken Schwaber Scrum Video

Ken Schwaber is a co-developer and evangelist of an organizational process called Scrum. Scrum is basically a way of getting people involved in a project to work in “sprints” which optimizes development.

By the adoption of the Scrum philosophy engineers can better function. Ken mentioned that Yahoo uses Scrum during a recent Google Tech Talk session.

Ken also warns of how product management can put pressure on engineers to increase their velocity which lowers the quality of the product. If this Scrum system is understood and adopted by all within a company, it can actually bring products to market much faster.

Implementing Scrum is painful because if there is any weakness you and others WILL know about it.

Scrum is transparent and works quickly to eliminate bottlenecks and increase productivity.

Scrum Video:
Ken Schwabers Google Tech Talk

Learn how the scrum process works:
The Scrum Development Process

Read Ken’s Latest Book:
Agile Project Management with Scrum

Internet Content Trust

Rhetoric and Dialectics

Ever since the invent of rhetoric, more than 2,500 years ago, the art of being an orator has shifted greatly, but now, more than ever with the advent of internet content, has the art been about honest trust.

Rhetoric comes from the ancient Greek root words eirô (orate) and tekné (art), which together forms the art of the orator, or the art of speech. And like all forms of art, the artist must be creative and passionate about their art.

Passion and creativity are essential to good internet content, but also, the truth must be told. To this the word dialectics comes into play. Dialectics comes from the ancient Greek roots dias (exchange) and ética (ethics), the exchange of ethics or morals.

Good internet content is built not merely on creativity and passion alone, but also trust. Without being able to truly trust what we read, we never want to read anything. And we need to trust that what we read is what we want to be reading.

That can be very delicate nowadays out on the internet, where people need to sell products and services quickly and inexpensively.

Optimizing companies sell internet content for cheap rates, but how many sell trust? People want trust. And in the endgame, long-term sales in any market are determined by who inspired trust and who did not. Those that do not inspire trust are only interested in short-term profits, and will never last.

Being heard today might be everything to a person today, but tomorrow, unless they truly spoke with passion, creativity and from the heart, they will not be heard again tomorrow. Like a single match flame that burns brightly fast then dies soon after.

Product reviews, site reviews, online magazine reviews, informational articles, five paragraph articles, newscasts, blogcasts, 250 word limit, 500 word limit, 1000 word limit, 1500 word limit, half an hour, one hour, two hours, four hours…etc.

Content is about these things, sure, but being organic and offering what people want to read has nothing to do with web spiders. They may be slow, but the spiders will catch up.

The internet is a grand achievement and the more people do things the wrong way (focusing on technology) the more the technology will advance and change.

What will not, nor has not changed in the last 2,500 years, are the laws of rhetoric and dialectics. Passion, creativity and trust make for a long-term relationship between internet content writers, the marketing agency, the products site and the products client (web surfer).

Who is going to finally read the internet content? What do they want to read? If you cant write the truth about a product, then people will not want to read it, final.

People want to hear appealing things sure and less the unappealing. But if the unappealing is essential to being straight forward and honest, it needs to be told because it is the truth.

People want to enjoy what they read; that is passion. Being passionate about what we write is what opens the gates of creativity and honest trust. Creative internet content is the kind that builds on ones own experiences and knowledge with just a twist inspired by the passion of the poetic muse.

The flurry of keystrokes in a fire of fueled passion that is directed to one element, the readers trust is what makes internet content last, and endure the melting torch of the algorithm for all time.

Related:
Challenging the Semantic Web

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