Monthly Archives: February 2012

4 Ways to Check Your Backlinks

Reciprocal linksChecking backlinks used to be so simple – you simply dropped by Yahoo Site Explorer and boom, you could see the whole list of all the backlinks that your website has available online. Change however is inevitable and sadly, Yahoo! decided to shut down their site explorer program a few months ago. Still, there are a number of other alternatives available which can help you find out how you’re doing.

Why Checking Backlinks Is Important

For the newbies reading this blog, a quick note: backlinks are the backbone of any SEO campaign. While keywords are important and quality writing matters as well, ultimately, backlinks are what matter most. However, there are two problems with this:

First and foremost, not all backlinks actually get indexed. Google’s web crawlers don’t always check things accurately and even when they do, they tend to miss some. Secondly and possibly more importantly, Google won’t tell you which backlinks they’ve actually indexed. This means that it’s a bit of a guessing game to know how many links have been indexed. Still, there are a few tools which can help you get the answers you need:

Open Site Explorer

I’m a big fan of SEOMoz. They offer a rather expensive service plan which includes lots of great information which will help you with your SEO efforts. However, they also happen to offer lots of stuff for free, including Open Site Explorer. The thing that I really like about it is that Open Site Explorer uses SEOMoz’s own information to create an index. It does this by running server banks which try to mimic the work of Google.

Majestic SEO

Personally, I don’t like Majestic SEO. That’s not because they’re not a good company. They are. However, they tend to index many more backlinks than others do. Now while this may help to inflate your ego, it may not offer the most accurate look at how many Google is likely to count. On the other hand, Majestic SEO will give you a better picture of where you are overall. The other issue with this product is that it’s somewhat limited – you can do ten checks per day and after that, you have to pay for their services.

Ahrefs Site Explorer

A hidden gem, few people seem to be familiar with Ahrefs, but the site does seem to offer lots of useful information and does seem to have a good handle on indexing backlinks. It also seems to include less than Majestic SEO but more than some other tools, meaning that it may provide a more accurate look at your actual backlinks count as far as your SEO efforts are concerned.

Blekko

Blekko offers something both good and bad to help with checking on your backlinks. I wrote about this site a while back in this space and it’s definitely a nice service. The bad news is that they tend to be more selective about which backlinks they’ll actually index and this means that you may not get a true picture of what Google sees. The good news is that whatever they do index tends to be better quality links which means that you’ll actually find out where you have quality links on the web.

Postscript

A final note to end our discussion about checking backlinks. I know of at least four other options for checking backlinks. Two of them, SECockpit and Traffic Travis, I’ve written about in the past here. They’re both great and they both rely on Open Site Explorer to get their results. A third is Long Tail Pro, which also works with Open Site Explorer. Finally, Yahoo! replaced Site Explorer with Bing Webmaster Tools. However, I’m not really enamored of Bing Webmaster Tools because it’s pretty difficult to use compared to other options for checking your backlinks.

Top 10 Resources for Starting an Online Business

The growth and popularity of the Internet has produced numerous online entrepreneurs. Despite the internet and online entrepreneurs having been around for a long time now, it does not change the fact that as a first time entrepreneur, you will have several queries and questions.

If you search the terms ‘resources for starting an online business’, you will be inundated with responses. Impractical, though it may be to go through all of them, even skimming through the top few results can offer contradicting information. And the last thing you need is to get into a situation of ‘paralysis by analysis’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if there was a ‘master list’, that would contain all the resources that you would need to refer to ensure the start, survival and success of your online business.

Creating such a master list is what I am attempting through this article. In this article, I have tried to put together some of the most useful resources out there, which can assist you when you want to start an online business. I have considered five areas that are critical to any online business, irrespective of its nature. And I shall put forth two of the most useful (in my opinion, of course) resources available online, which cover that area comprehensively. So in all find below the top 10 resources for starting an online business.

So shall we get started?

1.  Business ideas – What are the various business options?

This is in one of the first questions you probably need an answer for when you decide to become an online entrepreneur.

The range of online business ideas is unlimited. These include affiliate marketing, offering web hosting services, blogging, e-commerce and auction selling on internet sites. These businesses require you to create a website. Some online business ideas that do not even require a website include freelance or full time content writing services and online research services for companies. In these cases, all you need is a computer and an internet connection to get started.

  •  This Business Idea Centre is a valuable resource for web based business ideas that you can explore. The estimated start-up cost for each idea is mentioned and each idea is explained in a comprehensive manner. Though (obviously) the list does not cover all possible business ideas, it is a very good place to start and take stock of what possible options are available to you if you want to become an online entrepreneur.
  • If you are looking for something that is less financially demanding, have look at a range of online home based business ideas here. Whether you want to supplement an existing income through an online business and want to get into an online business full time, you will find ideas here. A particularly useful feature on this site is its ‘Directory of Legitimate Online Business opportunities’, which you can access at once and find out if there is anything suitable for you.

 2.  Finances – how to get started? How to approach investors?

The financial requirements of your business would obviously depend on the nature of the business. For instance if you are becoming an affiliate marketer or intend to earn money through blogging, perhaps, the financing may not be such an issue.

But finance intensive online businesses include web hosting, becoming an e-bay consultant, operating ecommerce portals etc, where you may need to approach external parties for finance.

  • Know more about various finance options available like banks and financial institutions, angel investors and even borrowing from friends and family from this resource. This resource has informative articles on how best to make a positive impression on a prospective investor.
  •  A must read article that offers simple yet effective tips that will really help you clinch that meeting with your investor from the word go.

3.  Staff – do you need help or can you ‘go it alone’?

As your online business takes off, you may find yourself needing more help. Though not initially, but surely later, you have to take decisions on hiring staff for your online business.

 4. Marketing- How do you market your business, so people become aware of it?

Promotion is an essential component of any business, online or offline to ensure success. The good news is you do not need huge marketing budgets to promote an online business. Simple, cost effective techniques work just as well. It is all about choosing the right channel of promotion and targeting the right customers.

5. How to Survive in the big bad (online) Business World?

The competition in online business scenario is quite intense. The low barriers for entry are responsible for there being a large number of players in any sector or niche of the online business world. Therefore, you need to know exactly what you have to do and do it right so that your entrepreneurial flame keeps burning and is in no danger of prematurely getting extinguished.

  • With the economic scenario still bleak, these tips will show you how to keep your ecommerce business alive and kicking in spite of the recession.
  • The online business differs from an offline business model in several ways. As a result, the rules for survival are different. As a simple example, an online business is ‘open’ all the time and does not close at a fixed time like a regular brick and mortar business.  These tips for your online business survival discuss this and other issues and how they impact your online business survival. A must-read, especially if you are a first time online entrepreneur.

In Conclusion

 As I mentioned earlier, the internet is full of resources to help the first time online entrepreneur. I have listed a few, which in my opinion, offer comprehensive guidance and help. Do you have any other resources that you feel will be helpful to would-be online entrepreneurs? Share it with me. If you are an online entrepreneur yourself, I would love to hear your success story.

Do share if you have special resources that you referred to and still continue to refer. It will be helpful to my readers who are looking to begin their career in the field of online business.

 

What Is SERP Turkey?

One of the questions that any SEO professional needs to be concerned with is whether or not your headlines are attracting clicks, regardless of where they happen to be on the results page. One clever blogger over at SEOMoz came up with a way to check on this – SERP Turkey. In essence, this program is designed to allow you to see which headline most people will click for any given keyword search.

Why This Matters

The fact is that getting accurate information about titles is important because for all that you may get yourself highly ranked, if you don’t get a good click through rate, it won’t really make a whole lot of difference in the grand scheme of things. After all, rankings aren’t worth a whole hill of beans if you happen to be getting very few clicks.

Split Testing

Another thing that you can do with SERP Turkey which I found interesting is that you can set up limits on Google and have it search only titles which you set up so that you can in essence create a split test of different titles to see which ones might actually get higher click through rates. SERP Turkey makes this easy by in essence allowing you to import a Google search results page and then set up your test.

How It Works

Basically, in order to use SERP Turkey, you do have to spend a bit of money. Not much money. But as little bit of money is still needed. In essence, what you’ll be doing is setting up a SERP Turkey page which will allow people to choose the headline they feel best matches a given keyword. Now, you may be asking, how do you get people to take your little survey? Well the answer there is – you spend money.

Enter Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a website I’ve written about in the past. It’s designed to allow you to pay people for various small tasks – everything from looking at your YouTube videos in order to improve your view rate to taking surveys to getting content written for your website (be forewarned though that content writing on Mechanical Turk tends to be pretty bad quality).

The author of SERP Turkey suggests that you simply set up an Amazon Mechanical Turk job and offer it to all comers to have them take your survey. You can then set up a page which includes all first page results for a given keyword (thus allowing you to see which of your competitors would get higher click throughs, assuming you don’t rank in the top page) or set up a site specific search if you want to split test your titles.

Be Sure to Be Careful About Countries

Since you’re not likely to pay more than a few cents for each person doing your survey, you’re likely to attract lots of people from lower income countries. This can skew your results because, if you are primarily targeting Americans, results from say Indians may not be quite as accurate as you’d like them to be.

You can however choose which countries to allow for your Mechanical Turk jobs. Be forewarned however that if you want only Americans, it may take longer and you may have to offer higher pay to get them to do your job.

Other Ways to Get Survey Results

You can also ask people on Twitter or even on your mailing list to take a look. While SERP Turkey doesn’t seem to have a way to track individual clicks, if you did this through something like your Aweber account, you could potentially use a redirect and thus find out who is doing the survey. Then, simply offer a raffle for the participants (be sure you have enough people to justify your gift though).

Either way, SERP Turkey is a neat little program which is offered for free in and of itself and which can help you to pick out some useful data about which titles and or meta descriptions are more likely to attract click throughs.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post