Oct. 30, 2007 – Small Improvements

We’ve been submitting links each day for www.WebCalcSolutions.com, mostly to directories. We also had a service submit the site to over 120 search engines. About a week later Google page rank climbed a notch and the Alexa rank drops almost every day.

It’s hard to tell cause and affect because we added some RSS articles and a few pages of original content a while back and the timing would have been about right to see some page rank changes from that too.

I’ll take any improvement and keep reading, learning, and plugging away at promoting each day.

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October 24, 2007 – “Sticky”: The Latest Buzzword

When it comes to websites “sticky” seems to be the latest buzzword. But what makes a website sticky and how do you make your site more sticky?

A “sticky” website is one where the visitors “stick” around finding things to do. Sticky content for your site might include articles, games, videos, news, RSS feeds, Google gadgets, or interactive tools like online calculators and quizzes, which is what my site offers (www.WebCalcSolutions.com).

This article can get you started to finding some sticky content, http://www.webcalcsolutions.com/Articles/Interactive-Website-Content.asp. Check your site’s statistics, add some sticky content, then check those stats again in a few weeks and see your average visit time go way up. And that’s a good thing.

Any content you add to your site should be something your target visitors will find helpful, informative, fun, or useful. If it’s cool but doesn’t have anything to do with what your site promotes, don’t include it! If you think creatively you might realize that many cool things you find actually DO apply to your site and your visitors, where at first glance you might have thought you shouldn’t add it to your stie.

I think I’ve figured out why lots of sites make things so hard to find…. Makes you stay longer and boosts their stickiness stats. But is that really what you want – artificially inflated numbers? Not me!

Oct. 17, 2007 – Links to My Website (www.WebCalcSolutions.com)

Apparently it’s been a couple of busy months, because I can’t believe it’s been that long!

We’ve been busy adding some features to www.WebCalcSolutions.com and responding to users who have downloaded free calculators and assessments. It’s funny how you see a little bit of everything – some people don’t finish the signup, some people give bogus email addresses so they never get their links, some people don’t ever add the links to their page, some people need help adding the links to their page, some people try to take the links from the email and change them trying to get other calculators and assessments free.

And some people actually get the links added to their page and build a page around it. It’s cool when you see your stuff running on someone’s legitimate website. We see the counters coming from those that are on and that’s pretty neat too.

I’ve been submitting links, mainly to directories because they’re the easiest I think. My goal is to get 100 links to my site added. I’ve focused on the free links (with no reciprocal required) to directories with a page rank of 4 or higher. Some say it will take months to be reviewed but most haven’t taken that long. Most say they’ll review it quicker if you pay. There’s a huge difference in prices too. Some want $20, $30 or more every year just to be included but most that charge that much it’s for a featured link. Quite a few charge $3 to $10 one-time payment for a permanent (even featured) link. I will consider paying for some of them. They all have good page rank so I don’t know how else to determine why the expensive ones are worth more?

I’m glad I have started looking for free links though, because I’m learning a lot about how much to pay. One step at a time.

I’ve mostly submitted my home page, www.WebCalcSolutions.com but I’m planning to submit some to try to draw traffic directly to the groups:

I think some of these links will bring more targeted traffic for those subjects and people will find some interactive content tools they didn’t know was available to them.

August 22, 2007 – Got a Couple of Bites on Free Calculators

Our website (www.WebCalcSolutions.com) began offering free calculators a week or so ago. It was exciting to get a couple of emails showing some sign ups! If your site could use financial calculators, health calculators, health quizzes, or parenting quizzes go check out what’s free.

I’ve really got to focus on links, after all, “Content is Queen, Links are King”. I’m not comfortable with a link campaign and apparently there’s plenty of other stuff I can distract myself with. It’s time to buckle down and stop making other things more important.

Google gadgets continue to set new records for us. We’ve been working on some gadgets that will do nothing but boost our author status – and they’re kind of fun.

There just seems to be more to do than time to do it.

August 16, 2007 – Blogging for Business?

Blogging for my website product was the furthest thing from my mind early on in my attempts to promote my site. What would be interesting to blog about? There was no doubt in my mind which blogs get attention – sensational, passionate, controversial. My product is useful to most people, but kind of boring to talk about. Now I’m not so sure that’s true…

I started another blog where I ramble on about whatever’s in the news, on the web, or just anything. I started this blog just to get my feet wet, see if I could write a little, and start to understand how the whole blogging world ticks.

I found myself all worked up one day about a story of a gang shooting and how the accused basically blamed his actions on the words spoken by someone else. I was cruising along, passionately spilling my outraged guts about this story. I just about had it wrapped up when it hit me… “I have an assessment or quiz to teach parents the warning signs that a teenager may be involved or interested in gangs (http://parentingteens.bizcalcs.com/Calculator.asp?Calc=Gang-Involvement&Group=Parenting-Teens-Assessments).

“I can write a passionate blog, a sensational blog, or a controversial blog and include  links to the tools I have created to actually help people with this.”

If you’re interested in that blog, it’s http://offthetopofmyhead.wordpress.com . Today I’ll create an entry about the preacher’s wife, Mary Winkler, who was just released from jail after serving about 60 days for shooting him in the back while he slept. Her defense was that he was abusive and the jury apparently agreed. I happen to have a few assessments or quizzes to help evaluate the warning signs of an abusive relationship (http://socialhealth.bizcalcs.com/), your own or someone you care about. I’ll mention it and include a link to it as well.

Now all I need is time to blog more and create all these great links.

August 11, 2007 – Reciprocal Links: the Scam?

Something is going on with reciprocal links that feels like a scam to me. Here’s the scenario…

I find a place that allows me to submit my link to their site. They often require a reciprocal link, which is fine and fair. But what about when they require me to add their link and give them the page reference before I can even submit my link to them? Even that may not be so bad, after all, somebody has to put theirs on first. But somewhere on their submission page there’s usually a reference to the fact that they get such a huge volume of submission requests that it may take weeks or even months to get around to evaluating your link. Now that starts to feel a little unfair! Their link will be on my site for those few weeks or months – just long enough to get soundly picked up by the search engines as a link to them – and I get nothing in return. I almost never hear from them again and eventually I remove their link, but perhaps the damage (or benefit to them) is done?

Do they really have such huge volume of requests? There was one I saw that actually showed how many requests were pending approval – a grand total of 50. Yet there’s that message about huge volume and weeks or months to get to mine. How slow are these people? And how dumb is that to put the number right on there?

That particular message has become a red flag for me and I usually move right along and don’t waste any more time on them. But I’m sure there are others doing the same thing, they just don’t bother to tip you off with a message.

What is supposed to be a win-win situation turns into a win for them and a waste of time for me.

If it looks like a scam, sounds like a scam, and smells like a scam, most likely it’s a scam.

August 9, 2007 – A Routine Week

Most of this last week was just working on the ongoing items… 

I’ve been creating gadgets from Digg.com widgets. While they are not related to calculators, they are easy and quick to create and it helps with author ranking. 

I’ve been continuing to submit links to sites and directories, learning to use the software and getting a feel for the whole process. It’s kind of discouraging because I haven’t heard back from a lot of the ones I have already done. It’s also hard to remember if you’ve submitted already to them. You would think it would be easy to search the site and find out, but it’s not always the case. (Makes you wonder how effective that directory is, huh?) I have heard that it takes many sites a couple of weeks to get your link added. I’ll just have to keep myself busy so the time will go by faster. I’m trying to remember that I only need about 100 backlinks and things will start to happen. That sounds overwhelming from where I’m at right now, but it’s really not so bad.

We have managed to do a couple of new things to the sites: 

www.WebCalcSolutions.com now has tabbed section on the home page for rss feeds for articles and blogs.

www.BizCalcs.com allows users to submit comments. It’s not live yet, but should be before the weekend is over. Check it out and leave your comments. We’d love to hear from you.

August 2, 2007 – Getting Out There With Google Gadgets

Over the last couple of months, we have created about 40 Google Gadgets from our calculators. Of all the things I’ve done to promote my websites so far, Google gadgets has brought by far the most exposure to our product – and it was almost immediate.

In case you don’t know, Google gadgets are miniature tools that can be added to your Google desktop at igoogle.com. Anytime you log in, on any computer, your gadgets are available.

The way gadgets work, the exposure of our calculators hasn’t necessarily translated into traffic to the website, even though the links are there. I’m hopeful that the familiarity of the look and branding will, over time, lead to more direct results.

There are gadgets out there that function fully (as ours do) and some that partially function (a teaser). Some are simply RSS feeds, quotes of the day, tips of the day, video clips. There is a lot you can do with gadgets. I think most every online site can offer some kind of Google gadget to help generate exposure and traffic to their site.

Your site can, and should, feature your gadgets. You just have to add a link that looks like this Add to Google on your site next to your products that have a gadget. You can go to http://exercise.bizcalcs.com/ to see how we are using it.

We have also added a Google Gadgets page, http://www.bizcalcs.com/GoogleGadgets.asp , where we show the same image you see in the igoogle directory and provide an Add to Google link for each one.

Using Add to Google links and creating a Google Gadgets page from your main site can help send traffic to your gadgets. Maybe that’s all someone needs right now, but your product or service will be in front of them every time they see their Google homepage.

You can create and host your gadgets completely within the Google environment with tools they provide or you can create them with your own environment (Visual Studio, etc.) and host them yourself.

I have also found some information that is supposed to teach you how to turn your Google Gadgets into Yahoo Widgets, which actually run on the Windows desktop. Keep an eye on the Google Gadgets category (on the menu to the right) and I’ll report what I find on that.

We have more calculators to make gadgets from, not to mention the assessments or quizzes. So I’d better get back to work…

July 31, 2007 – Adding an RSS Feed for Articles and Blogs

I hear that offering something free is a good way to get traffic and links. So the last couple of days, we decided to add the ability to offer calculators free. We already had the ability to handle it in the data, but we have to decide which ones to offer for free, make sure the shopping cart and renewal system handles everything correctly, and feature on the site the idea that some are free and add an icon by the ones that are fee. I still need to test it a bit then it will be ready to move it live.  

If you would like some free financial calculators, health calculators, health assessments, or parenting assessments for your site, visit us at www.WebCalcSolutions.com in the next day or two and check it out.

I’m also trying to concentrate on the idea of changing content that gets scanned often by the search engines. We have added an article RSS feed of relevant topics to the home page. I have some articles I want there all the time, so I’ve got to figure out how to make them look seamless. I also want to add a blog feed to this blog and a couple of others that are on topic. Then I have to decide how they act and where they go when they are clicked on.

Of course, I continue to submit links every day. So far I have mostly focused on directory listings. That has become familiar and comfortable now, so I guess it’s time to branch out and find some relevant sites to request links from. I keep coming across this magic number of 100 backlinks or inbound links. 100 inbound links is now my goal and I’m assuming things will begin to happen once I reach that magic number.

I found some neat tools yesterday. And best of all, they appear to be free. Future entries may report on how effective they really are, how free they really are, how hard they are to implement or use, etc. (Find all relevant entries by selecting ‘Webmaster tools’ from the Categories section in the sidebar.)

July 28, 2007 – I Had No Idea Bookmarking Takes So Long

Yesterday and today I’ve spent most of my time bookmarking my 2 sites, www.WebCalcSolutions.com and www.BizCalcs.com . I had created a spreadsheet grid so I thought it would be easy and not take much time – I was wrong.

We added the AddThis bookmarking tool to the sites a week or so ago and I decided it was time to use it. Having AddThis on the sites made it easier to bookmark them, but it’s still harder than you would think. Another big advantage we should get from having AddThis on our sites is that it makes it really easy for our site visitors to bookmark us. That’s really the reason to add it to your site.

So why a little trickier for me and not for my site visitors? A valid question.

One reason is that most site visitors are using one social bookmarking site (del.icio.us, digg, reddit, etc.) while I’m bookmarking to a dozen or so. Each one of these bookmark sites asks for different information and some do a better job of getting what they can from the meta tags on your site. Also you have to log in to each one as you go.

I had a hard time deciding if I should bookmark the same page everywhere or jump around on my sites so I could bookmark everything to one social bookmark site. I did some of both – I don’t think it made much difference.

I got the slight advantage of not having to log in so much if I jumped around on my sites and bookmarked them all to that bookmark site, plus I already knew what fields would be required.

On the other hand, I got the advantage of copying and pasting the same information until I was done with it when I bookmarked one of my pages to all the places I wanted it, meaning less chance I would copy and paste the totally wrong thing.

Many of these sites feature the newest submission too. So it’s to your advantage to feed them slowly so that something of yours is staying featured in the just sumitted sections. If you wait a few hours or til the next day, you’ll probably get in front of some different people instead of flooding the ones that happen to be there when you start submitting.

Another reason bookmarking is harder than you might think is that I’m bookmarking several pages from my site to get them into topics that are more specific. Plus I hear that deep links are supposed to be good. I have pages that are good under personal finance, health, and parenting. I went a little deeper and bookmarked my indivicual calculator and assessment groups too. That makes close to 25 submissions to each of the dozen social bookmark sites.

How did I decide which dozen (of the several dozen) social bookmark sites to submit my site to right away? I pretty much just looked for the ones I had heard of before then hovered over the AddThis link on my site to see which ones show on the popup window without having to click the “more” link. They matched up pretty well (surprise, surprise).

I’ve also submitted my site’s Google Gadgets page (http://www.bizcalcs.com/GoogleGadgets.asp), this blog, and my article (http://ezinearticles.com/?Interactive-Website-Content—A-Total-Makeover-(or-Just-Some-Makeup)-For-Your-Webpage&id=646359). I start from scratch when I submit these since I don’t have an AddThis link for them, so it takes a little longer.

I’m keeping a simple NotePad file so I can keep my titles, descriptions, keywords, etc. for use when I submit these same pages somewhere else down the road. I think it’s easier to capture it as it’s created than to keep trying to find it later when I need it again. This file has already proven valuable since, after the first couple of bookmark sites, I don’t get asked for any new information now.

It’s quite a job – I hope it yields some positive results in exposure, traffic, and links.