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Pointing Your Domain Name; DNS, A, MX, CNAME

You just purchased your first domain name from GoDaddy.com or other domain registrar and are ready to set up your new blog or website.  Since you have chosen not to host your web site on Godaddy you will need to point your Domain Name to your web host’s domain name server, which will resolve your IP# web address into your new domain name.

Domain Name Servers (DNS) act like the Internet’s phone book or directory assistance.  DNS translates user friendly domain names that are easy to remember into computer number IP addresses or Internet Protocol Addresses.  Your web host will usually give you the DNS  information in the intro email or on the first page of the cpanel.  They are long number addresses that look like ns01.example2.com / ns02.example3.com.  Your web host and registrar will usually have detailed instructions on how to update the DNS.

Once your domain name is hosted at your web hosts DNS then you can start using the different functions of DNS.  Per comptechdoc.org a database is made up of records and the DNS is a database. Therefore, common resource record types in the DNS database are:

  1. A – Host’s IP address. Address record allowing a computer name to be translated into an IP address. Each computer must have this record for its IP address to be located. These names are not assigned for clients that have dynamically assigned IP addresses, but are a must for locating servers with static IP addresses.
  2. PTR – Host’s domain name, host identified by its IP address
  3. CNAME – Host’s canonical name allows additional names or aliases to be used to locate a computer.
  4. MX – Host’s or domain’s mail exchanger.
  5. NS – Host’s or domain’s name server(s).
  6. SOA – Indicates authority for the domain
  7. TXT – Generic text record
  8. SRV – Service location record
  9. RP – Responsible person
  10. HINFO – Host information record with CPU type and operating system.

Most of the above DNS functions will never be used by the average user.  The three common DNS records updated are A, MX and CNAME.

  • A Record – Address Record assigns an IP address to a domain name or sub domain
  • CNAME Record – Canonical Record makes one domain an alias of another
  • MX Records – Mail Exchange Records maps domain name to mail servers

Some of you may never change any of your DNS records and that’s normal for many small to medium business websites since many web hosts will handle most of these functions for your web site.  Your web hosts will usually have detailed instructions, examples and sometimes video tutorials on how to updates these DNS records.  Many times your web host’s support group will update these for you if needed.  A few of you like me, will decide to use Google Business Apps for our email and will need to update our MX records to point to Google Business Mail.  Google provides a great support on updating your MX records here http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=33352.

In the past updating DNS was very daunting but now with user friendly control panels like CPanel updating DNS has almost become easy for the average computer user.  If you need any help managing your DNS please give me a call at 817-965-1982.

Thanks
Steve Parker
Internet Marketing Consultant
Ft Worth, Texas / Dallas / DFW TX

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Testing new Twitter embed

ok, looks like it works.  pretty cool.

This new Twitter embed in the WordPress Green update is live now to use.  Now I need to figure out what I would use it for?

Stay tuned

Choosing a Web Host for a Small / Medium Business

Find the right web hostOnce you’ve done your keyword research and purchased a few domains, you are probably ready to choose a web hosting company to host your website.  I am assuming you already have access to the Internet through your phone, cable satellite company or ISP.  You might already have a web host and unhappy or designing a new site with unique requirements and need to do a little homework.  Either way, let’s look at how to choose a web host for a small to medium sized business SMB.

If you are designing a small informational website without video and do not expect a significant amount of traffic then you probably do not need to make a huge requirements list.  But, if you are still in the design phase and think you may add videos, database, blog, a shopping cart, CMS like WordPress and over 150 to 200 web pages then you might need a requirements list to make sure your short list of web hosts can handle your requirements.

What to think about when developing your web host requirements:

  1. Reputation and Reliability of Web Host
  2. Business Reviews / BBB / Professional Referrals
  3. Location  - Local or National
  4. Technical Support / Customer Forums  / 800#
  5. Shared Hosting / Dedicated / VPS
  6. Bandwidth Requirements
  7. Disk Space Needed & near-future requirements
  8. Price / Value / Quality
  9. SSL Capabilities
  10. Disk Space
  11. CPU Speed / RAM
  12. Server OS Window / Unix – Apache vs Windows
  13. CMS / dB / Script / Language Support
  14. One Click Installs of Key Software
  15. Backend Control – Panel CPanel
  16. eMail / Pop3 / IMAP / Forwarding
  17. Domain Name Services / DNS
  18. Web Logs and Stats
  19. eCommerce software
  20. Own Servers / Rented / Reseller

Yes, its a tough decision but don’t let it overwhelm you.  If you choose a reputable web host you will have upgrade options and most of the pricing is very similar.

Here are a few web hosting services that I would put on my list to review:

  1. Yahoo Small Business
  2. Hostgator
  3. Dreamhost
  4. Network Solutions
  5. RackSpace
  6. Blue Host
  7. GoDaddy
  8. InMotion
  9. Aplus.net
  10. WebHostingHub

For more information CNET has a great web hosting buyers guide that you should check out.

If you need any help choosing your next web host, please feel free to give me a call at 817-965-1982.

Thanks
Steve Parker
Internet Marketing Consultant
DFW / Dallas TX / Fort Worth Texas

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SEO is all about Quality Content not just Stuffing Keywords

I’ve been doing SEO since 1995 and it has always been about quality content that provides value to your visitors.  That does not mean not to optimize your site but you must have “real” content not just stuffed keyword landing pages.  That’s why every website today should have a blog and be updated at least monthly if not weekly or daily with press releases, product announcements, white papers, industry news, company news, and information that will benefit your visitors.  Natural and Organic SEO is so much cheaper than pay-per-click advertising and traditional advertising vehicles.  Below is a great article about this SEO topic from a leading SEO firm.

Salt Lake City, UT (PRWEB) June 10, 2012

Following recent attempts by Google to improve online search results for consumers, SEO.com warned businesspeople this week that it is now more important than ever to understand how to strengthen Internet marketing efforts without offending the search engines.

Google penalized those who used aggressive search engine optimization tactics to improve where their websites ranked in the search results, said Greg Shuey, vice president of client services for SEO.com, an SEO services company.

“Providing high-quality content is key to ranking well in the search engines,” Shuey said. “When a website is built for search engines instead of its visitors, it could be penalized in the search results.”

The latest tweaks to Google’s search algorithm aimed to target “webspam,” he said.

via SEO.com has Advice for Business Owners who are Struggling to Recover from Latest Google Changes.

 

If you are looking for an SEO Consultant or just need a jump start to your Search Engine Marketing, please give me a call at 817-965-1982.

Thanks,
Steve Parker
Internet Marketing Consultant
Dallas Fort Worth Texas / DFW TX

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EcWid – New eCommerce Software Plug-In

I came across Ecwid ecommerce shopping cart plugin the other day researching a Facebook email plug-in and I am very excited about EcWid and looking forward to integrating it into my CoachParker.org WordPress blog and Facebook pages F to sell my youth football playbooks.  Heck, I’ll integrate the shop into almost all my websites.  Stay tuned as I review Ecwid soon.

The modern shopping cart comes in a variety of flavors. At its core, the shopping cart is a means for online users to purchase products or services. Most shopping carts these days are full affairs, carrying all manners of website creation tools. This is great if you are just starting out and have no website to speak of…. But what if you had a website already? What if that website was very successful? Do you have to revamp it completely just to sell products? No, you don’t. Instead Ecwid offers a shopping cart, with a huge amount of features that can be integrated into just about any situation. Have a great site? Keep it! You have a jaw dropping Facebook page? Keep it! In both cases, all you have to do is add a few lines of code and both can have full shopping cart integrations. In fact, you can have both run by the same shopping cart so you have no inventory or billing headaches. In our book, this is a shoe-in for an Editors’ Choice Award.

Ecwid makes it easy to fully integrate a shopping cart into a wide variety of online environments and for that it receives an Editors’ Choice Award for June 2012.

http://www.ecwid.com/

via WebHostMagazine.com | Editors-Choice-to-Ecwid-for-Shopping-Cart-Software__Easily-Integrate-Shopping-.

 

ecwid ecommerce shopping cart software facebook wordpress paypal

How to buy a Domain Name for your Website

You’ve done all your keyword research and decided on your primary and secondary domain names and now you need to purchase your domains.  You’re probably a US based small to medium-sized business / SMB if you are reading this article, so I will assume you will host your website offsite at your Internet Service Provider ISP and or Web Server Host.  Many of these companies offer domain name deals when purchasing web hosting from them. I’ve done this in the past and I prefer now to purchase my domain names from accredited ICANN domain registrars that focus on domain registrations.  Today I use GoDaddy and Network Solutions primarily and have a few domains purchased through Yahoo Small Business that I purchased about 10 years ago through my Yahoo hosting package.  I hope to eventually transfer everything to GoDaddy to make maintenance and renewals more efficient.

Registering a .com domain name will usually run $8 to $20 dollars depending on registrar and menu of add-ons you might pick.  I stick with the basic registration and make sure I can manage the DNS.  DNS management let’s you point your domain name to a server or a another web address depending on what you want to do.  Just make sure when you purchase your domain name your registrar has  user friendly and robust DNS management tools.  The GoDaddy DNS management is one reason I prefer Godaddy to Network Solutions and other registrars.  But, you might prefer another registrar’s DNS tools and it comes down to personal preference.

Here are the large accredited ICANN domain Name registrars (US) that I would use to register a domain name.

  1. GoDaddy.com
  2. enom.com
  3. NetworkSolutions.com
  4. Register.com
  5. NameCheap.com
  6. Moniker.com

As I stated in the above paragraph, I keep my web hosting separate from my domain registrations now.  In the past web hosts made it difficult to transfer and point domains to other web hosts.  They did this so you would be forced to use their web services and not shop around for other alternatives.  So, now I try to use a company focused on selling and managing domains to purchase my domain name from for myself and my clients.

When I purchase my new domains I stick with the basic registration.  I don’t add the privacy feature or additional email storage or any of the funky registrar security coverage.  I just want the domain name and the DNS management tools.  I will use my web and email host tools once the DNS is pointed over to those domain name servers.  For example you might point your Godaddy registered domain name to a Hostgator domain server and the point the MX email records to Google Business Apps for business Gmail.  I’ll go over hosting and email DNS updates in another article. :)

If you need help purchasing and managing your domain names, please feel free to call me 817-965-1982.

Thanks
Steve Parker
Internet Marketing Consultant
Fort Worth, Texas / DFW / Dallas, TX

Choosing the perfect Domain Name

The name on the front of the jersey is what really matters, not the name on the back.  – Penn State Coach Joe Paterno

Choosing the right domain name might be the most important Internet Marketing Strategy just behind keyword research since keyword research will help you select the perfect domain name for your website.  I maybe be biased because I am a search engine optimization believer and have professional experience choosing domains for my own Internet start-up companies and client sites for almost 20 years.

I am a firm believer in choosing keyword related domain names because of my personal experience with Coloradojobs.com and the fact that Google puts a high value on the domain names / URL strings to rank websites within its search results.  This domain naming strategy is especially true for new brands with little market exposure since most of the general public will never search on your unknown brand name.  How would they know to search on your new brand name?  But, they might search on a keyword that relates to your services or products.  You have a better chance of successfully launching your new website with a keyword rich domain name as your main domain.

Like Coach Paterno’s quote above it’s not about the name of the back of the jersey.  It’s about the team, the overall big picture, the end goal for the school and not just satisfying a player’s ego.  Don’t get stuck on your company’s name / brand as the primary domain name, because you can always have multiple secondary domains pointing to your website and one of those can be the branded domain name.  Your website’s goal will be to sell more services and products not to announce your brand to the world, although that will happen as more people find your site through your keyword rich domain name.  Let your PR and traditional marketing strategies launch your brand name.  Unlike the brick and mortar world where customers see your store name as they drive or walk by most people will find you on search engines and unless you’re a worldwide brand like Nike most people will search for “red and black track shoes size 9” and not your new NikeKillerBrandX name.

I know I know your saying but I’ve spent all this money with our ad agency on research and marketing to launch this brand surely we should use it in our domain name.  If you have a multimillion dollar a year ad budget and a great PR team then sure lead with a branded domain name.  If you have limited resources I would stick with a keyword rich domain name like ColoradoJobs.com or combine the two strategies and go with something like NikeSports.com or ReebokShoes.com.  And remember you can always point your branded only (company name) domain name to your website as a secondary domain to use on your marketing literature and use for emails.  Google and the other search engines will only index your primary domain name and use this for ranking purposes.  Plus, if you have the time and budget you can set up multiple websites with differing domain names to achieve your brand and Search Engine Marketing strategies.  Many companies now have websites for their corporate brand and ecommerce websites or blogs for their products and services.  Think out of the box and do not limit yourself.

Here are a few other domain name tips that you should use.

  1. If you are a US company, only choose a .com top level domain.  Most people still do not realize there are other suffixes like .org and .net. Plus Google seems to like .com domains.  Outside the US you want may to choose your country TLD.
  2. Keep the spelling simple and only one spelling combination otherwise your traffic will most likely go to an affiliate marketer scamming your sales.
  3. Watch out for numbers in your domain name is it a “3” or a “three”?
  4. Keep it the name short and sweet.  Sure you can use 67 letters but why, try for less than 20.  Think about how hard that is to type into a browser.  Also don’t use words that are hard to spell.  Think 3rd grade words.
  5. Stay away from dashes.  People hate dashes.  I hate dashes.  Trust me they don’t work in your main domain very well. Live and learn.
  6. Make sure it’s easy to type withOUT a lot of weird letters like Z and X
  7. Try to make the domain name easy to remember and pronounce.  Hard to pronounce words are hard to remember and spell.
  8. Watch out for trademark and copyright issues
  9. Don’t use a similar domain name as someone else.  You will just lose traffic and confuse customers.  Not to mention #8 above.
  10. Singular or plural?  Well if that’s an issue make sure to get both and use the best sounding one as your primary and point the other to the site, just in case.

At the end of the day think KISS.  Don’t get too complicated and over think the general public.  Simple is always better.  Sure you might win the award for the best new Brand name but is that really your goal? Just remember your ad agency wants to win the Brand name award you want to win at business.

If you need any help choosing a domain name, give me a shout at 817-965-1982.

Thanks
Steve Parker
Internet Marketing Consultant
Ft. Worth, Texas / Dallas / DFW TX

Keyword Research – Costs Little but Worth Gold

The most important visitors to your website are not your customers but Google, Bing, Yahoo and other top search engines.  A majority of your website visitors will be referred to your website from search engines.  So yes, you need to design your website for your customers but you better make sure Google loves your website too.  And, Google loves words not pictures.

Shakespeare says, “Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” and so goes web marketing without properly researching what words and phrases that your customers use to find your website. Guess wrong and your online sales and traffic will go to your competitors and well, that’s Hell.

Your keyword research goal is to come up with 250 to 500 prioritized keywords and phrases.  So before you buy your domain and set off designing your website, think about Words. What best words and phrases describe your company, services and products.  Maybe you already have a website with the most amazing Flash design and high end images, and can’t figure out why your online sales aren’t growing exponentially.  Unfortunately on the web, a picture is not worth a thousand words.  Search Engines cannot read images.  Keyword text content drives search engine indexing and ranking, not fancy high end graphic image or Flash websites.  I use the 80 / 20 rule for text to images and that maybe too high for some. Be wary of the website developer / designer that does not ask you about your keyword SEO strategy before setting off to design your website.

The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style. – Jonathan Swift

To begin your keyword research write down the top 10 to 25 words or phrases that describe your business, services and or products.  Don’t hold back let the brainstorm of words flow.  Next, ask your friends, family and co-workers what they would type into Google if they were going to try to find your business, services and or products.  Ask them for 10 to 25 words or phrases.  Try to ask a few people that are outside your industry for their help to get an outsiders viewpoint.  Once you have all the lists back, consolidate and sort based on similar words and phrases.  You should have about 100 to 200 words and phrases to review.

What I like to do now is review the top ten words and phrases and use them in an actual Google search.  If you are logged into Google log out so you get an unbiased search.  For each keyword phrase I review Google’s first page search results both paid, unpaid and local.  I summarize this information in an excel spreadsheet; Company name, actual url string from browser, page title, meta description, meta keywords, H1 tags, Main menu / tags, first paragraph, contextual links, last 25 words on the page.  You can also find a keyword density tool and find the top words on the page and log those.   You can also do the same thing for Bing search results.   Yahoo and Bing should be very similar if not the same.

Once you have your list and all the data from your competitive keyword research, you will have 250+ keyword phrases.   Once you have these keyword phrases and competitive URL strings you can add to your list by using the Google Adwords Keyword tool by typing in the keyword and or URL and coming up with keyword variations with search volumes and pay-per-click competition data.  This search data will help you prioritize your keywords for popularity and competitiveness / difficulty.  If the word and phrase has a high competitive value then you know it’s going to take a ton of work to get your site ranked on the first page of Google for this keyword phrase.  May times short tail keywords (one word or two word phrases) will be highly competitive leaving the long tail keywords for your benefit.  Most people search using long tail search phrases, especially when they are ready to make a purchase decision because they’ve already done their homework and know exactly what they want to buy.  For example, if someone wanted a Wilson Triad racquetball racquet, they probably would not search just on the short tail keyword phrase “Wilson Racquetball” but on the long tail keyword phrase “Wilson triad racquetball racquet xs grip.”  Potential customers searching on the long tail phrases will have a much higher sales conversion rate which is great for your ROI, especially if you are using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Your excel spreadsheet should have a ton of data plugged into it and hopefully you have come up with your 250+ keyword list.  The more long tail keywords the better.  Don’t filter these phrases too much, because these are golden sales invitations.  I usually set up a master keyword Excel sheet with the phrase / popularity / competitiveness columns.  Now you can do a quick data filter sort in Excel and sort all of your keywords based on search popularity and competitiveness.   Eventually I will add another column for page and I will assign the keyword to a particular web page. I usually assign 2 or 3 keywords a page.  If you’ve been listening and do a little math, your site will have about 100 to 200 web pages to capture your keywords.   Google loves sites with more than 50 pages.  Think of your web pages with assigned targeted keywords as entrances / doors into your business.  The more ways a customer can enter your business the better, don’t close your door just because you don’t want to create another page.  That page could be worth $500 over the life of your website.

The main marketing strategy of any intelligent web marketing manager is keyword research.  It’s that simple.  Keyword research will not cost you much and will pay HUGE dividends in the long run.

“Good words are worth much, and cost little.”- George Herbert.

The Rise Of Local Mobile Pay-Per-Call – 3 Tips For SMBs

Sounds like Pay per Call should be a part of your Local Search Strategy….

Local mobile pay-per-call advertising has kicked into high gear in 2012 — in fact, we recently reported 30 times the number of mobile pay-per-call ads in Q1 2012, when compared to Q1 2011.Since mobile devices are not only search tools but phones at their core, mobile pay per call is a natural ad model for businesses aiming to capitalize on ever-expanding consumer mobile usage.While national ad programs formerly comprised the majority of pay-per-call ads, SMB campaigns have taken a huge leap as local ad programs now represent 62 percent of pay-per-call ads.

via The Rise Of Local Mobile Pay-Per-Call – 3 Tips For SMBs.

Marketing to Millennials: You’d Better Learn to Keep Up – Yahoo! Small Business Advisor

This is a great article and here is some meat.  I highly recommend visiting the link and reading the full text.  My two sons are  Millennials and they have cell phones and tablets.  They are all over mobile commerce.

5 Things That Work Marketing to Millennials

Clearly, reaching Millennials requires a revamped marketing approach. “You have to learn new tricks,” Yarrow said. “It’s the future of your business. If you don’t, you’re going to expire when the older generations expire.”

These five principles can get you started:

1. Use innovative technology in effective ways. Matthews points to a Nucleus campaign that used interactive videos to support the launch of a new luxury hotel in London. The technology, from Los Angeles-based ClikThrough, allows companies to tag videos so viewers can get more information by clicking or hovering over objects and places in the video.

“Using this ClikThrough video, we were able to not just show the location, but show what you could do within five minutes of the hotel on foot,” Matthews said. “Every restaurant, every shop is actually tagged within the video so you can hover over the video and get more information.”

2. Be interactive. That means more than letting users click on videos. It means listening to customers and involving them in everything from product design to marketing. It’s especially effective in building recommendation generators that turn consumers into marketers so companies don’t have to churn out one-way messages. Yarrow points to a Kleenex promotion that allowed consumers to go to a website and Facebook page to request a free sample of tissue to be delivered to someone else. “That’s brilliant,” she said.

3. Move fast and hit hard. Millennials want their information now and their products just as soon, and they want to be intensely entertained and engaged. One way to grab attention and create an impression of speed and urgency, Yarrow said, is to promote limited-time offers, such as discount coupons that must be redeemed that day.

4. Find and engage influencers. Even the smallest company can recruit Millennial ambassadors, Wells said. “If you’re a pizza place, figure out who’s important in the community and give them free coupons to bring in their friends,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a huge, over-the-top campaign. And it’s never been easier or cheaper to do than now.”

5. Make cause-related marketing mean something. Millennials are unimpressed with superficial support of causes, Winograd said. They want commitment to the cause to permeate your entire company. One good example is TOMS Shoes, a 5-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., company that has sold more than a million pairs of shoes on the premise that for every pair a customer buys, it will donate a pair to a child in need.

via Marketing to Millennials: You’d Better Learn to Keep Up – Yahoo! Small Business Advisor.