3 Simple (And Free) Marketing Tactics That Can Grow Your Traffic & Sales

The people who want to sell you marketing services want you to believe that marketing is a complicated thing. They want you to believe that it takes special knowledge and experience to be able to market something effectively.

While there is some truth to this idea, the one thing you need to know is that there are some very simple and free tactics for marketing your product. While any marketing strategy eventually needs to have some investment, the following three tactics have been proven to be effective and won’t cost you a dime.

Web Marketing Facebook

It might seem weird to consider Facebook a marketing tactic, but that is exactly what it is. Facebook has driven the success of more businesses than any other website aside from Google search. When properly utilized, Facebook can be a phenomenal marketing tactic that will generate not only increased website traffic but also higher rates of customer conversion.

While some people may dismiss Facebook as being too crowded, the truth is that it can still be used quite effectively. The best part about using Facebook is that it is free. This means you have one of the most powerful marketing tools on the internet without having to spend a dime.

Twitter

While there is some evidence to support the idea that Twitter traffic isn’t worth a whole lot, the truth is that it can still generate income. While you do have to be a bit more careful about how you go about getting traffic from Twitter, it is still one of the best free social media sites out there.

When it comes to using Twitter as a marketing tactic, the main idea is that you are really looking for specific Twitter users instead of using a shotgun style approach, so try to be a bit more specific. By keeping your results a bit more targeted you really can still make Twitter and effective part of any marketing strategy.

Blogger

It isn’t really news that blogs still remain one of the most effective marketing tools on the internet. Blogs allow you to reach out to your customer base in a number of ways. This reaching out creates a feeling of community and it is this community that will eventually generate you income.

While Blogger is a very crowded place there is no question that it is a powerful tool for you to use. The best part about Blogger is that not only is it free but it’s easy to use. While Word Press may give you a bit more versatility in how to design blog posts, you have to pay for a site to host your blog – if you don’t use WordPress.com.

In the end, the above three websites are tactics in and of themselves. Each one does take a bit of special understanding, but once this information is mastered, all three can yield some very impressive results. You don’t have to spend money to effectively market a website, you just have to know where to go and how to use the tools that are out there.

Karen Wise has written many articles on how to start a website, how to build traffic, and how to use social media for an ever expanding online empire. Her articles are found on many websites and publications.

Planning Your Website Features

Web Design When you first devise your website concept, you might have a vision of cool things your website will do and a general idea how it will work, but making a comprehensive list that includes every little thing is not as simple as it sounds.

In the mind of the programmer, your vision is broken down into features that will come together to make your website work the way you want it to. Your list should include features that you might not implement right away, but would like to in the future.

One example is a chat feature; when a website is new, the chat is inactive, but when it has more traffic, it can be a great feature to have. If your list covers everything, the website can be designed to enable those features to work easily when you are ready for them. Implementing them after the fact is more work and will cost more later than if planned for before the website is built. If planned for, a click of the button can make them active when you are ready.

Figuring Out What You Need

The easiest interface is some type of content management system. The webmaster can control all of the visible content, access member or subscriber information, etc. without touching anything related to the server or database.  Most are very easy to learn and use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) feature so you can type as you normally would in a word document without worrying about code to bold, underline, etc. throughout your text.

Your content management system can tie together many different features:

  1. Photo gallery
  2. Profile information
  3. Live chat
  4. Forum
  5. Blog
  6. RSS feed
  7. Contact form
  8. Shopping cart
  9. Video
  10. User management
  11. Site search
  12. Slide shows
  13. Ad management

And the list goes on. If you don’t know which features you need, find websites that do what you want your website to do and your programmer will be able to tell you what’s involved with making those features come together.

Once you have a design template, your entire website is built within that template.

Performance

Don’t ever assume that your website will be built as an optimized website. Inquire whether your programmer builds with SEO standards in mind. If that’s not the case, work with an SEO specialist while in the planning process and you will find you will have less to go back and fix.

Fixing goes beyond the on-page optimization; if the url structure is bad off the top, your site won’t perform as well in search. At the very minimum, you should have urls that contain the target keywords for their pages without getting so long that they get spammy.

Keeping SEO in mind will affect how you name your categories, link internally, tag your photos, etc. Dynamic pages and their urls don’t perform as well in search. Also keep in mind that some systems will generate multiples of the same url, creating duplicate content on your website and splitting up the link juice for that page. If all of this is addressed in advance, when you launch your website, it will show up in search faster and have fewer errors.

Theresa Happe works with Namefind.com where businesses can find domain names and read tips for marketing online.

Building Your Squidoo Lenses

Squidoo Guru Note: This is part 3 of a series called “Squidoo Your Way To Success“. Click here if you haven’t read part 1 or part 2 of this series.

Now that you have used Long Tail Pro to create several long tail keyword phrases, it’s time to create your lens content.

Let’s Start Planning Your Squidoo Lens

  • Look at all of your long tail keywords that you’ve decided to use. These keywords will be used as the titles of your modules in Squidoo.
  • Be sure search for and use several (at least 5) long tail keywords in your lens
  • Create and enter a title for each Lens module.

Building the Lens

Now you’re ready to build your lens and include affiliate products. There are only three methods of doing this:

  • Method #1 – Use your own Amazon affiliate links. Using your own Amazon Associate ID is allowed on Squidoo.
  • Method #2 – Use Squidoo’s Amazon modules. For those who can’t obtain an Amazon Associate account or don’t want to create custom links.
  • Method #3 – Combination of methods #1 and #2.

When you use the second method, you’re going to receive 50% of the Squidoo commissions for all of the sales that are made through your lenses. When Squidoo reaches the 8.5% commission level on products that are eligible for that particular rate, you’ll be entitled to half at a commission rate of 4.25%. Be aware that commissions do vary for categories. For instance, Electronics offer a lower rate of commission. However, also keep in mind that you’re still going to get half (50%) of Squidoo’s earnings on those sales. I generally use Method #3 when creating Squidoo lenses, but you will need to choose the best method for you.

When you’re creating your lenses, instead of using your exact keyword phrases for module titles again and again, it’s best to mix the words up so they aren’t boring and repetitious. Make them uniquely your own. Don’t worry about Google search engines. Google is sophisticated enough to take synonyms into account. As long as the titles have the same meanings as the keyword phrases, everything will be fine. The key is that your lens must be readable and make sense to humans. If it doesn’t, there is a very good chance that it will eventually get locked by Squidoo HQ. Be sure that you’re creating quality, helpful content for people.

Backlinking and Indexing Boosts

Your unique Squidoo profile has an RSS feed. This gives you the opportunity to set it up on some sites. Then, anytime a new lens is published by you, a backlink to that lens will show up on those sites. You won’t have to do much backlinking to make these lenses rank because you’ll be using keywords with very low competition. All you have to do is submit the lensmaster RSS feed one time to a couple of sites. Links to all of your new lenses will be auto-generated on those sites without any more effort from you. You never have to repeat those steps again. I suggest that you promote your lens by using your social networks once they’re created and take advantage RSS directories for automatic backlinks. Your unique lensmaster RSS feed is:

http://squidoo.com/xml/syndicate_lensmaster/LENSMASTERNAME

What’s next? Build more Squidoo lenses. Note: Squidoo is a very profitable for me, but it’s only one aspect of my affiliate marketing strategy. I don’t suggest that you focus solely on Squidoo. You will need to make sure that your income comes from various sources, including personal products and websites.

How to Create Squidoo Lenses that Get Traffic and Make Sales

Squidoo Note: This is part 2 of a series called “Squidoo Your Way To Success“. Click here if you haven’t read part 1 of this series.

There are many ways that you can make money with Squidoo lenses, but first you will need to learn exactly how to go about choosing keywords and creating a profitable niche. We will discuss the best ways to create your lenses, and check how you can insert Amazon products that you want your customers to buy. The following guide will teach you precisely how to go about converting traffic and making money with your Squidoo lens.

To start, let’s take a look at some actual examples of the types of Squidoo lenses which you can use to promote Amazon products. The main website to have a look at can be found here:

http://www.squidoo.com/types-of-hair-extensions-review

The first thing you can see is that this lens promotes specific products and uses specific keywords to do so. If you look closely, you will also see that these products have been specifically selected based on how popular they are and on how much competition there is for them. The main keyword for the lens above is: types of hair extensions.

There are also secondary keywords that are included in the lens which are:

Types of Hair Extensions and Prices (Costs)
Human Hair Clip In Extensions
Best Selling Human Hair Extensions
Clip On Hair Extensions
African American Hair Weave

As you can see, these are all long tail keywords, that consist of 4 or more words. They are very specific and are related directly to the main keyword. However, they can also be searched for separately. This is how the lens will attract more traffic that can be easily converted. People searching for something specific are more likely to be serious buyers, and those are the types of people you want visiting your lens.

What Do You Need to Take Away From this Section?

  • Your keywords should meet certain criteria.
  • You should check out the sample lens for a better idea of how your lenses should be created.

Choosing the Best Keywords

There are a number of ways you can find keyword phrases, as guessing what people search for the most is virtually impossible. The first thing you should do is to find the seed keywords, which you can do using a number of different methods. The seed keywords are just one or two names for various consumer goods. These can be cordless drills, aluminum doors, cutting boards, hiking boots and more.

Here are some good ways to find these seed keywords:

  • Look around your house and job at items you own for ideas.
  • Browse through Amazon and look for these seed keywords.
  • Get your kids to help come up with a list of products. You never know, they might come up with keywords you would never have thought of. My five year old daughter has come up with several great keywords over the past few months.
  • Ask your family and friends what they want for their next birthday.
  • Check magazines and catalogues you receive.

Initially, you should come with about 15-20 seed keywords to get your started.

The next step in the process is to find the ideal keywords that you will use to create your lenses, and promote your products by attracting potential customers. One of the best ways to research and analyze keywords is to use software like Long Tail Pro. This is a fast, easy way to find profitable keywords and simultaneously search for the competition. You can also use Google’s Keyword Tool which is free to find keywords.

Once you have the main keywords, you should then check out the number of PR 0′s and those with zero backlinks. Start by creating a Squidoo lens using the keywords that have the lowest competition.

What Do You Need to Take Away From this Section?

• Find seed keywords
• Run these through Long Tail Pro to find the best long tail keywords
• Analyze the competition for these keywords
• Keep keywords that have low competition

Next up: Building Your Squidoo Lenses

Squidoo Your Way To Success

Squidoo I have outlined a well thought out and tested strategy that makes use of a very high page rank (PR7) Web 2.0 site known as Squidoo. This strategy has been developed throughout the past year by reading every ebook imaginable on Squidoo and by actually using the site and testing these techniques.

Squidoo is a free Web 2.0 site where you can write content and incorporate affiliate links into your content. On Squidoo each page is called a lens and I have developed a step by step guide to walk you through how to make these great looking web pages. By including your Amazon affiliate links inside these pages you will have a great opportunity to build a strong portfolio of quality website articles (lenses) on Squidoo all linking through to Amazon.

There is no need to know anything about HTML, FTP, hosting, buying domains or video marketing, as Squidoo does all of that on your behalf.

Strategic Objectives and Plan

To build a single page on Squidoo with the following specific characteristics:

Each lens will target:

1. Finding a low competitive keyword that will meet very specific criteria for both competition and also for product definition.

2. To complement this strategy we will then add other long tail keywords that complement your main keyword and increase natural search volume.

3. Incorporate into these keywords great selling products at Amazon using your affiliate links.

This simple three prong strategy will create an attractive and high ranking web page that you should simply rinse and repeat to make other quality website pages on Squidoo. That is how we will build a quality collection of lenses that deliver great commissions.

Understanding The Power of Squidoo

You may already be familiar with Squidoo, but even if you are not, this set of instructions are perfect for someone new. This is also ideal for those who have tried and struggled to make anything online. It is also ideal for people who have dabbled or even tried hard on Squidoo itself and not had any success.

One of the best things about Squidoo is there are no set-up costs, no domain costs and no hosting costs. Many people know this already, but there are actually several different ways you can make money by using Squidoo.

These include Adsense sharing, in text links and various revenue sharing methods. However this particular strategy is focused on promoting Amazon products (and other affiliate products) and by doing that make sales and obtain good affiliate commissions. As a result, we will also pick up some revenue sharing benefits but the main focus is on Amazon sales and commissions.

Creating An Article On Squidoo

It really could not be easier to make a great looking webpage on Squidoo. They have designed a full range of modules which you can select from and then it is just a matter of dragging and dropping them into your desired order for your webpage.

In Squidoo you are called a “Lensmaster“, your webpage is called a lens, and the parts or pieces of your lenses are called modules. All you need to do is decide which modules to include and add some text, basic HTML (if you decide to enhance your lenses), a YouTube Video and then some great looking Amazon product modules with your commission link built into them.

This is perfect for new people and for those who seem to spend a lot of money on the latest magic bullet course and never make a dime.

Tip: Most of the content that I use for my Squidoo lenses are outsourced to iwriter.com.

Why Use Squidoo for Affiliate Marketing

With the recent changes by Google, made under Panda and Penguin, trying to rank a new website can be extremely difficult. The other thing almost all affiliate marketers hate is having to building lots of links back to the new site. Backlinking is a time consuming and dreadfully boring process and many people don’t do this properly. If you’re unsure exactly how to build links properly or carry out other forms of search engine optimization, it’s quite easy to get penalized by Google.

This means that trying to get a website on to the first page of Google is extremely difficult. Google looks for unique quality content, sites with age, authority and strong links. It is also difficult to become an Amazon Affiliate in many states right now and also difficult for some to get acceptance into their program.

Enter Squidoo which offers all of that and more:

  • Squidoo has a very strong page rank of PR7 which you can use to your advantage
  • It also has authority and age in the eyes of Google and all the other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing
  • Squidoo has an extremely powerful internal linking structure where you can suck traffic from other high ranking Squidoo lenses
  • Make use of individual and profile RSS feeds which build in strength over time.
  • Squidoo and Amazon have a great relationship and there are many great Amazon modules on Squidoo
  • Can’t get an Amazon Affiliate Account? No problem! Squidoo lets you use their affiliate links and shares the commission with you
  • Don’t forget you can also earn in other ways which can start to build up quickly

That’s a pretty good list of features and benefits and the most amazing part – it’s free.

Squidoo Do’s and Don’ts

As Squidoo owns the site, it does of course have rules. They have a terms of service and it is important to adhere strictly to this. It does not affect that many products so not a huge issue, but you should read it here:

http://www.squidoo.com/squidoo/65355501-Terms-of-Service

Checking Your Understanding So Far

So to recap and clarify here is what you will have to do:

  1. Go to www.squidoo.com and set up a free account
  2. Read the Squidoo Terms of Service and adhere to those
  3. Make one lens at a time by picking a low competition keyword according to specific criteria which are:
    • The keyword should be at least 4 words long (known as long tail keywords)
    • The keyword must describe a set of products that are on Amazon
    • Brand names of any kind should be avoided
    • Have at least 100+ exact monthly Global searches (100-1000 is ideal)
    • Have at least 18 products to pick from with an average price less than $500

Picking keywords that meet this criteria is the key to the success of this strategy. Do not deviate from these criteria as that would be a huge mistake.

I have read several training courses and ebooks that recommend looking on Amazon for products with a certain number of positive reviews and on best selling lists. With this method that is not important at all. Personally, I have achieved the most sales by selecting Amazon products in the $25-100 range, as for many customers, these less expensive products are often impulse buys.

What Does A Low Competition Keyword Look Like?

Many internet marketers and search engine gurus talk about the number of competing pages in Google, in title links, anchor phrases and a lot of other search optimization engine (SEO) criteria. In theory they are probably right in most of what they say, but here is the bottom line.

Your only competition is the first 10 sites on the first page of Google that appear when someone types in the long tail keyword that you have selected. That is a much simpler and more accurate principle to understand. If you can out rank those then you will replace one of those websites, and the higher up you can reach, the more traffic you will get and as a result earn more commissions.

Here is the basics criteria that I use:

  1. There should be at least three pages on the first page of Google with a page rank of zero “PR 0″
  2. There should be at least three pages on the first page of Google with zero back links on them
  3. There should be no other Squidoo lens on the first page which targets the same keyword that you have selected (You can check this by looking at the URL and Title of the existing Squidoo lens)

If there happens to be more than 3 PR 0 sites or more sites with no back links, then all the better to really go after the keyword and rank quickly.

Understand The Importance Of The Keyword Criteria

The key to this strategy is finding long tail keywords with low competition and the above criteria will help you do that. Google and other search engines invest a lot of money and develop sophisticated algorithms that pick up what people type in to their search engine. Google then uses these algorithms to find the best website(s) that will accurately match what their searchers are looking for.

You have to figure out what people will type in when looking for something and there are some really good online tools and tricks to find out what those searches are.

Allow me to share an example of what I mean:

If you typed in blogging there are 40,500 exact monthly global searches and the competition is huge for that keyword. You might be lucky and rank for keywords like that, but in almost every case, you would never get onto that important first page in Google.

However if you tried something like “luggage sets on sale” there are still 720 exact monthly Global searches for that and it is clear what the searcher is looking for and they are also using a buying keyword.

Badly thought out keywords will mean failure for any Internet Marketer and low conversions and tiny commissions When you get it right then the opposite happens, higher searches, first page of Google, better conversions and great commissions.

Finding keywords using our criteria is the life blood of building your Squidoo business.

Understanding The Buying Cycle

Think a little about the way you buy things. Usually it starts by gathering some basic information. Then you get an idea of cost and what companies sell them. Then you start to narrow down your choices. Then you get it down to maybe a few smaller choices and then you buy.

Let’s assume you were going to buy a new digital camera. You might start with “What is the Best Digital Camera?” or How Does A Digital Camera Work or Who makes Digital Cameras?

These are information seekers at the early part of the buying cycle and we should avoid these words. Words like How To Make, How To Build etc should all be avoided as we want hot buyers with their credit card close by. Look for search terms (keywords) like:

Best digital camera for kids, small digital camera reviews, small digital video camera, buy pink digital camera

Hopefully I have communicated the vital importance of keyword selection and how central this is for success. When used with the power of Squidoo and Amazon then you know before you start, that you have a winning combination.

Next up: How to Create Squidoo Lenses that Get Traffic and Make Sales

An Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Affiliate marketing is a technique that many bloggers use to make money on the internet. The simplest way to explain it – is that you as the marketer are compensated for helping a business make sales by advertising their product, good, service or website.

Those who have a website or blog can post advertisements for products on their website (see the ads in my sidebar) and can make money when site visitors purchase a product using your affiliate link.

How Do You Make Money From Affiliate Marketing?

The amount of money that you make from affiliate marketing depends on the structure of the affiliate program that you’re participating in. For example, I’m a member of the ProBlogger Affiliate Program because I promote the eBook “31 Days to Build a Better Blog”. I earn 40% commissions each time I sell a ProBlogger eBook.

ProBlogger pays a straight 40% commission, while other affiliate programs – like Amazon.com – have a tiered commission structure based on the amount of volume that you produce each month. Pay careful attention to the structure of an affiliate program that you’re evaluating prior to joining. If necessary, reach out to the affiliate program manager to have any outstanding questions addressed.

If most cases, your sales as an affiliate are tracked by using a unique link to the product that you’re promoting. I have seen some instances where advertisers are provided with a unique coupon code that can be used to track affiliate sales.

Generally, I prefer affiliate programs that use the “link tracking” method. When a site visitor clicks on one of your affiliate links, there will be a cookie placed on the user’s computer, so even if the visitor decides to purchase the product the next day without using your affiliate link – you still get credit for the sale because you were responsible for referring the customer to the product. Note that the cookies placed on the user’s computer will eventually expire. This information will be detailed within the affiliate program structure.

Advertisers (product owners) frequently use affiliates to promote their products as they know that they will only have to pay for their marketing efforts (commissions) if there is a sale made. Advertisers also like affiliate campaigns because the costs are less than a pay per click campaign (PPC).

When Is Affiliate Marketing Most Successful?

Affiliate marketing seems to work the best when there is relationship between the blogger and their audience. Readers are more likely to follow the suggestions of bloggers when a good relationship is present. As the trust deepens between a blogger and their readership, readers are more likely to take the recommendations offered by the blogger. Of course, this isn’t always positive. This can be a negative in terms of affiliate marketing if the blogger decides to promote products that don’t work – the trust can be broken.

Affiliate Marketing Doesn’t Mean That You’ll Make Easy Money

Affiliate marketing can be very profitable, but it’s important to understand that it is not easy to make money with affiliate marketing. There are several bloggers that actually make very little money promoting advertisers products.

Factors That Are Generally Required to Become a Really Successful Affiliate

  • Website or page that receives traffic/visitors
  • Building trust with your readers
  • Finding high quality products that are relevant to your readers to promote
  • Be able to create a buying mood within your readership
  • You (the blogger) need to have good sales copy

There is also an element of risk in affiliate marketing. Bloggers who only promote specific a brand (maybe only their products) or products that are low quality can risk alienating their readers and losing credibility. It is also important to mention that affiliate marketing is more difficult in some niches due to several reasons. One difficulty that I have encountered in some niches is a lack of quality products to promote.