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October 11th, 2008 admin

The concept of internet marketing is considered by many the new paradigm in value interchange. I personally think that retail sales online will probably grow exponentially over the next 2-5 years. Why? If we consider the state of the economy and the high levels of consumer debt in the american family, we probably would think that purchases based on low cost are going to take a whole new meaning. As we all know, the internet is the right channel for this strategy.

In my opinion, the shifting of local purchasing and impulsive buying, will be radically exchanged for more programed savings-based purchases online. What this means is that the United States will cease to be the place that we use to know.

The economy in third-world countries, where spending and debt are reduced, is not a “walk at the park” for everyone.  Having a harder competition for jobs and for clients translates in highly trained middle classes with a severe increase in poverty. Not to mention criminality.

The creation of jobs is, in my opinion, the only way to slow down the decline of the American capitalism as we know it. Most people would agree with me that the average American is in trouble. According to the Plastic Safety Net survey (http://www.responsiblelending.org/press/releases/page.jsp?itemID=28011726) the following things are true:

* $8,650 is the average credit card debt of a low- and middle-income indebted household in America.
* 59 percent of respondents were in credit debt for longer than one year, with an average length of just over three and a half years.
* Seven out of 10 low- and middle-income households reported using their credit cards as a safety net—relying on credit to pay for car repairs, basic living expenses, medical expenses or house repairs.
* One out of three households reported using credit cards to cover basic living expenses on average four out of the last 12 months; households that reported a recent job loss or unemployment, and those without health insurance in the last three years, were almost twice as likely to use credit cards for basic living expenses.
* 20 percent of survey homeowners had paid off some credit card debt with a mortgage refinance in the last three years, reducing their home equity $12,000 on average. Further, these households still had average credit card debt over $14,000. As a result, they were carrying 18% more debt than homeowners who had refinanced a mortgage but not paid down credit card debt—even though their incomes were almost identical. In other words, they were trading unsecured credit card debt for higher mortgage debt secured by their home.

This, made sense when 1. mortgage debt was at a lower rate than credit card debt and 2. home values where appreciating at a higher rate than the cost of financing that home.

20% of Americans have refinanced their homes in order to pay, partially, their consumer debt. It is going to be impossible for this 20% to pay their consumer debt and therefore the only option is bankrupcy. Even more alarming is to understand that some of this people will have to compite harder to preserve their jobs: lower payed jobs.

The solution: There has to be a complete change of the American mentality; is it going to happen? Do you think that advertisers will stop associating pleasure to buying new stuff?

Alex Centeno MBA.

10 Cheap ways to get new clients: For Freelancers.

September 30th, 2008 admin

Some of the ideas might be awful, some of them might be worth it. But here is a compilation of ideas on how to get new clients:
1. Ask people you know for names of potential clients. Contact these people and ask for more names.
2. Create a wish list of businesses you would want to work with, then start making phone calls. Briefly ask the right person if they hire freelancers and offer to send your services information.
3.Mass mail postcards. Find a business list of your business location. Design a strong looking postcard and a clear call to action.
4. DON’t DO SPEC WORK. This is actually one of the best recommendations that I can give you. Even though it won’t get you clients per se, it will certainly will make you avoid non-clients (anti-clients). The anti-client is the person that poses as a client, smells like a client, walks like a client but never carries its checkbook. You don’t want to do business with anti-clients, period. Honestly, this is here more to remind myself of this than anything else: DO NOT MEET, DO BUSINESS, TALK, OR INVEST ANY OF YOUR TIME WHATSOEVER WITH AN ANTI-CLIENT. Doing work for “free” is not the right way of getting the right kind of business. You may consider doing free work for charity or because you want to, but don’t use it as a technique to get new business. The easiest way to avoid the anti-clients is to ALWAYS ask for 50% upfront to start. That way the risk is divided 50-50 (which is fair). If you encounter an anti-client: run the other direction! and I mean fast! run for your life! run as if he/she was a lion or an african crocodille.
5. Cold emailing. (FREE) If you find a particular website that you would like to redesign, then find out the right persons email address and write a clear, to-the-point email that presents the “why” they need to hire you.
6. Create business cards ($25) that don’t have your name but that have your businesses name and services information (including contact information) on it. Then “accidentally” leave this business cards everywhere you go: coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores and basically anywhere where people sit down and then somebody else takes their place.
7. When you see a group meeting like for example: “The 50’s and older ladies group meeting at Starbucks”. Try to find out who the organizer is and then provide him or her with your information, then offer to pay for a free coffee or free cd or something ($5-$10) in exchange for sharing your information with their peers ( they get a free gift, you get advertising that looks like a referral from a person that has created raport).
8. Kick the dead horse. (Free to $100 per referral) When you do a job, try to find ways to advertise based on that job. So for example if you designed a site, then try to put a link back to your site in that site. Once you send the last invoice or receipt try to include a coupon on the receipt for a 10% or 20% discount for another project. Offer a $100 dollar bonus for a successful referral of a new client or something of that sort. Ask for their permission to send eventual emails to advice about the software and techniques they used on their project, and then use those emails to do so but also to promote even more your services and promotions. Ask for a testimonial –if they are a happy client– and then post it in your website, then send them an email showing them the location of the testimonial with their name. In the testimonial page make sure to include new promotions.
9. Create a COOL (make sure is a cool shirt by asking random people if they like it) tshirt with your brand. Then give it as a free gift to your clients ($10 – $20 per shirt). You can also give your tshirts as the gifts to the groups that we were talking about before.
10. Create stickers ($60-$100)with your website on it and go for a run. Then “accidentally” drop the stickers on the floor.

Nanobots, Nanotechnology and the Future of our Economy

September 28th, 2008 admin

As my birthday flies away I have been in contact with the theory of Molecular Bots or Nanotechnology. Just the thought of what could happen is very weird. Think about it for a second: Getting an injection that can make you dive without going to the surface or carry oxygen in tanks. Hendrik Shon started the whole thing even though himself was perhaps an impostor. Read the rest of this entry »

Search Spiders or Search Spy-ders?

February 14th, 2008 admin

Google
Today, checking one of our client’s indexation I noticed something fairly interesting. Yahoo Search had indexed a page that is found only by following the completion of a form. Now, this might not sound weird to most people, but for the savvy SEO this might mean a vast set of hypothesis.
Read the rest of this entry »

301 Redirection in Apache using htaccess file

January 28th, 2008 admin

[private]Last time I checked I had a difficult time finding easy-to-digest information about the 301 canonical redirection. Why does it has to sound so complicated? Anyways, I am going to explain here each of the components of an effective htaccess 301 canonical redirection. If you are one of those people that like the complicated stuff and the higher level explanations, this post is not for you.

OK, let’s start by taking a look at the entire snippet of the canonical redirection. But before we proceed, please remember two things, one is that the .htaccess is a file that can be included in any folder under your domain and therefore from this point on we will be referring to the one located in your root directory (the same as the home page). The second thing to remember is that the htaccess won’t be available in the front side of your site (the client side), therefore either you will have to log in to your Control Panel (Cpanel for example) or you may need an ftp access to your server (which is my preferred method).

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301]

The first line:

“RewriteEngine on” means that if for whatever reason the engine is turned off, we would avoid several headaches trying to find what is wrong with the code. This part isn’t essential since most of the time the engine is already on.

The second line:

The Rewrite Condition. Basically refers to a set of criteria that has to be met in order to apply  the rewriting. It is composed of two parts, first the parameter and second the value. So for example in this case, the rule’s parameter is the Host requested. The value here (^yoursite.com) as you can see has a “^” sign in front of it. This sign means “at the beginning” in regular expressions. Which would mean that the Host requested needs to have yoursite.com at the beginning, otherwise don’t apply the rule. In what cases this would be the case? For example if you had subdomains configured such as: lorem.yoursite.com or lipsum.yoursite.com. Both of this subdomains wouldn’t receive the rule because the Host requested starts with something different than just yoursite.com. The final part of the second line is the [NC] directive. This directive means “no case”, so regardless of if the request was with capital letters or lower cases, still the rule would apply. For example if the request was for YOURDOMAIN.com and another one for YourDomain.com, both of them would receive the application of the rule.

The third and final line is the fun one. Up to this point nothing has been performed yet. The third line contains the rule to be applied or the “transformer”. It is composed of three sections divided by a space. The first section is the matching. What should be match from the request? In this case ^(.*)$ means: ^ (the beginning as before), then (.*) means: match (.) any character and as many times as necessary (*); finally the $ means the end of the string. So for example, if we wanted to match the first two letters of a the word “Monopoly” we could create a match by using: (..) which would return Mo.

The second section of the third line is the application of the rule. So once we matched a specific part of the request, now what? The second part is the “do what section”. So in this case, rewrite the url as: http://www.yousite.com/$1. You might be wondering: Why $1 at the end? Well the parenthesis in the first part of the third line are containing the complete request ((.*)), so we can reference that matching by using $1. And if you had several parentesis in the matching, such as (.*)ts(.*),  you could reference the first one as $1 and the second one as $2 and so forth with as many as needed.

The final portion is the modifiers. The modifiers in this case determine the kind of redirection that is taking place. The L means that if the pattern was matched then it should be considered the “last line”. And the R=301 means that the redirection should be treated as an external redirection with header code 301 (which means permanently moved to).

I hope this helps us get a better understanding of the basics of canonical redirection.

Alex Centeno MBA.[/private]

10 Easy Tips to Get Visibility on Google Search, Yahoo and MSN

November 29th, 2006 admin

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Most people involved in the marketing of the website want to start by having visibility of their site in the major search engines. Questions like: “Do I need to summit every page to Google?” or “How long do I need to wait?” are very normal and that is why we have created this 10 easy tips that you can implement to be listed in no time.

  1. Check the linking structure of your site. Make sure that all links point correctly to unique content pages and that your site has no-broken links. Check also that all the links to a page are referenced in the same way (i.e. the home page always is linked to with the href tag: http://www.merkados.us/ and not sometimes without the www, or without the “/” at the end of the URLl).
  2. Make every page available through a text link. The best way to accomplish this is to create a sitemap. The sitemap would be an html file that contains links to all sections of your site. NOTE: if you happen to have more than 30 links in the same page, then create several sitemaps and link to them from a common sitemap file.
  3. Create unique tags for every page. Use unique titles and tags for every page in your site. Usually since your developer or designer used a template to construct your site, the tendency is to find repetitive tags across the site. Before you even upload your site, create unique tags for each of your pages by doing a keyword research and finding what keywords your users are more likely to use to find your content.
  4. Create a sitemap.xml file with all your URLs. When you do, make sure that the URLS have the appropriate names. Remove any duplication that an automated tool could have created like: “www.merkados.us” and “www…/index.php” shouldn’t be both in the sitemap.xml file. Finally verify the ownership of your site with Google™ and Yahoo! and submit the sitemap.xml file for their crawling. Check out Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer services for more information.
  5. Join open forums or blogs that allow you to include links and include a link to your site in your profile. The main idea behind this is to create links in pages that are already being crawled by the engines so that they refer the spiders to your site.
  6. Make sure that your site has unique and relevant content. Many websites decide to go to wikipedia.org and “borrow” some content to place in their sites, this obviously decreases the chances that if your site is found by the SE they would want to rank it. So sit down for 30 minutes and write your own content and remember to use promotional language to convince your audience of why you are different and better.
  7. Don’t implement any techniques that are intended to manipulate in any way your search engine listing. Avoid any kind of hidden text, cloaking, repetitive text and keywords, spamming of the title and Meta tags, and any other technique that any human user would not find useful. You want to use the richest language possible in your copy. Try synonyms for your important keywords (don’t forget to include your actual keywords in your content).
  8. Make your content readable. Make sure that you are able to read through your content and that it makes sense. Also try to use H1 tags for your title and H2 for your subtitle. Use bold type carefully. Make an effort to look at your pages without using Cascading Style Sheets; they should be reasonably organized and usable.
  9. Provide quality links from your site. Be careful of your links. Include links that are relevant to your audience and that would improve their experience. Linking is good! If done properly linking is a very positive thing.
  10. Don’t change your tags every two days. The results of your SEO efforts might easily take from 10 to 30 to 60 days to really show in the search engines (sometimes even longer). Be patient.

I have no doubts that if you follow this 10 easy steps you will be up and running in the search engines in no time. If you have no time or desire to do this, then contact a professional internet marketing agency to do it for you.

Alex A. Centeno MBA.

Internet Marketing Specialist

www.merkados.us

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