Bing Keywords Secret

Within the wonderful world of internet marketing, traditional Google keyword research is dying.  And I’ve got good reason for saying that:  I’ve discovered the Bing keywords secret.

I’d noticed lately that search results on Google were become sparse for certain topics. (I suspect it might have something to do with Google’s peculiar abhorrence for anyone who might make a dollar online except themselves.)

I decided to see what was happening on Bing, and was stunned by the meaty results I got.

I put these Bing keywords to use, and my article clients quickly reported back that they were getting noticeably higher results using articles written with my Bing keywords.

Facebook and Bing Integration

It shouldn’t be surprising. Facebook is conjoined with Bing — not Google. Just the other day, Mashable reported that Facebook and Bing were rumored to be planning integration of Facebook-like data into search. As you no doubt know, Facebook seems to have taken over the globe this year — they’ve even made a movie about it (which reportedly spiked Facebook’s popularity by a ridiculous degree, within days of its opening).

Facebook comparison in QuantcastA look at data on analytics sites such as Quantcast and Alexa show a rapidly-ascending rise in Facebook’s use since August 2010. Alexa lists Facebook in the #2 spot, snapping at Google’s heels.  Considering Google has traditionally controlled and ruled the net since its birth, that’s truly something to think about.

Bing is also clean and streamlined.  And — unlike Google lately — doesn’t crash twice or more daily. But that’s a minor point, compared to the heady fact that, thanks to its Facebook connection, it’s setting itself up as a true “social search” engine.

Has Google Suggest Migrated to Bing?

Bing also provides you with a juicy list of searches that drop down the instant you enter your keyword (exactly like the old “Google Suggest” function I’ve been missing).

Will I abandon Google?  Certainly not.  True `Research’ means covering your subject thoroughly and squeezing out every last drop, looking for the diamonds among the dewdrops.  And considering Google does still sit in #1 spot, it would be plain foolhardy to throw the baby out with Google’s murky bathwater.

But while my clients are reporting noticeably positive results, Bing is going to be a vital part of my online research protocol.

The Cat Ate My Password

Well, since I last wrote a post here, I lost my computer (it fried in the heat wave to end all heat waves, back in the early summer)… and along with it, I also lost all my saved passwords. That’s an embarrassing thing to admit, She Said Airily; but hey, it could happen to you…

…that is, if you’re right-brained, which I am. (You left-brained folks sensibly keep well-organized, alphabetized databases, instead of sticking little colored post-its all over your computer monitor as yer main back-up system.)

Actually, the colored sticky post-its haven’t been a bad back-up system for me: But I forgot to take into account the fact that I also have a right-brained cat.

Very right-brained.

Well… alright: Way off in space-brained – he’s both Siamese and cognitively impaired. (Poor little tyke was stillborn; took 5 minutes to revive him, the breeder cheerfully told me months later.)

He likes batting the little colored stickies and watching them flutter prettily all over my office. Which is what happened with this blog’s log-in information.

But really, my log-in problem started with me being too clever for my own good. That is… way too clever for a right-brained person.

I decided that having “admin” as my log-in username wasn’t very safe, so I hired an expert to change it to something very complicated while beefing up my WordPress security. And the new username was so random I drew a complete blank after my Siamese ate my green sticky note. (I know he ate it, because he threw what was left of it up again.)

Fortunately, my expert is both left-brained and highly organized. She kept a record of the new username.

Too bad I didn’t think to ask her about it till now. Too bad I’m right-brained.

But at least I can still feel smug about hiring a left-brained person…

“Should copwriters get involved in affiliate marketing?”

This is a question that gets kicked around copywriting circles, and one I get asked directly, every now and then.

My take is that the real question is probably: “Should I indulge in Affiliate Marketing? Is it a good fit for me?”

Would it be an extra source of income for you, would it take too much time away from your writing services, does it fit with your ethics, is it something you love, et cetera…

If you find yourself with ethical questions, is it really your values you’re questioning – or your discomfort with being “pushy” (an attitude peculiar to women the recent virtual telesummit “Bold and Classy Women and the Psychology of Selling” hosted by Anne Johnson opened my eyes to – it was absolutely incredible, by the way; and I’m signing up again next year!)

Dealing with your Own Discomfort

Affiliate marketing expert Angela Wills recently pointed something I found helpful in clarifying my own uneasy feelings about affiliate marketing: That ethical affiliate marketers pay for the products they endorse, find them genuinely useful, and expend a great deal of work and unpaid time promoting the product to their list via articles, blog posts, forums and creating graphics and promotional materials. They are doing their list members a service by alerting them to products they’ll genuinely be glad to discover.

She thinks that people who say: “This is not an affiliate link, by the way” as if it’s some kind of virtue are subliminally sending a message that there’s something not quite nice about affiliate marketing – when what they’re really dealing with is their own discomfort.

And as for the fly-by-night sort of marketers who are out to make a quick buck, don’t mind what they’re pushing and don’t invest the time in proper research and preparation, Angela makes short shrift of them today on her Marketer’s Mojo blog.

What It Really Means

But to get back to our question… If you’re a copywriter whose clients include internet marketers, having grounding and experience in affiliate marketing is almost mandatory. You don’t have to rival Rosalind Gardner in the time you invest and the results you get – but you should know exactly what you’re talking about.

There’s no reason why copywriters shouldn’t be affiliate marketers as well an anyone else on the planet: It’s a matter of personal choice. But I suspect most professional copywriters are simply too busy. If you don’t see me post affiliate links all over the place, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe in affiliate marketing.

It simply means that copywriting is my first love and today, I’ve got a deadline to meet!

Mysteries of the Blogosphere

blogosphereYou read all these “How to be a Successful Online Entrepreneur” guides, and they all talk about:

  • Being organized and managing your time online
  • Maintaining a constant “presence” and being “visible” to your list
  • How easy WordPress (and blogging) is

Bah. Humbug, I tell you!  Myths, all myths!

I admit to being too busy to make the time I should for posting, lately – but it isn’t a time management issue – it’s those Unexpected Web Glitches that mess up my perfectly organized schedule!

Today I checked my blog and discovered that in Google Chrome, my blog sidebars had disappeared. Since this is my main business site, I spent an unscheduled 40 minutes testing and re-testing it, checking all my settings… and nothing seemed amiss (but it still wasn’t displaying). I was using the latest version of WordPress; all my widgets (the ones that should have been displaying in the sidebars) were internally present and accounted for; and I hadn’t done a single thing to the blog setup since the last time I saw it displaying correctly.

I have to say, I really like Google Chrome. It’s the perfect browser if your only option is a limited-memory Turbo Stick wireless plan (Firefox is such a megabyte hog, I’ve given up on it). But Chrome still doesn’t support extensions very expertly, and it apparently still hasn’t ironed out several little glitches and bumps.

Chrome, WordPress or User: Which to Blame?

I don’t know if my Disappearing Sidebar issue was a Google Chrome thing… or some WordPress error. After 40 minutes, I gave up in frustration and wrote this post (which originally concluded differently, since the sidebars still weren’t showing up) …but lo and behold, when I previewed it just now, the Disappearing Sidebars suddenly…

came back.

YARRRGH!

(Why Me, O Lord? I needed that 40 minutes!)

Of course, the reason I’m right to the wire, instead of having a comfortable leeway, is because last week, I lost 2 entire days after a site I had to research on behalf of a client project blessed me with an incredibly nasty virus. I had to Stop the Presses and have my entire computer overhauled, to eradicate all viral traces and repair the damage (which cost almost as much as the project earned).

And I know, I know… I should have stuck to my Perfect Schedule. But the reality is… it’s a harrowing thing, when half of your site suddenly goes AWOL!

(Ya know, they don’t tell you about these “little” time-wastin’ glitches in Entrepreneur Skool…)

Think I’ll go drown my sorrows in a nice hot cup of  Fair Trade Yukon Dark Roasted. (How do you deal with these sort of internet monkey wrenches?)

Online Market Research 101: Access My Library

Very quickly, I’d like to share a new online market research link I just discovered by accident. It’s a site called Access My Library, and what it offers is the ability to research over 30 million articles online – and, what’s more, you don’t have to pay.

What it does is find a list of all articles, in response to your search term. Then you sign up once (by entering your zip code) and it instantly suggests all the local libraries in your geographic area. Pick the biggest, and click; and if the article is in their database, you have instant access.

More than One Use

Conversely, you can use Access My Library as an article suggestion or possible niche research tool.  If you click on a Topic (category) name, you will see various areas neatly laid out, including a hot topic  “Featured Article” of the day, as well as specific subcategories

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Business
  • Consumer
  • News and Advice
  • Culture and Society
  • Education
  • Government, Law and Politics
  • Lifestyle and Personal Interest
  • Medicine and Health
  • News and Current Events
  • Science and Technology

Reliability Rating

Where does it fall in reliability? Somewhere between using an authority site, and the mess of spurious articles on the net.  It does access legitimate, in-print publications, which generally means better quality data, since offline writers are required to document, cite and substantiate sources as a matter of course; whereas misinformed or unscrupulous online writers can – let’s be frank – make up anything, if they have access to a website.

But on the other hand, Access My Library is monetized, and probably CPA-ized too, since it basically captures a lead (your zip code), so take that into account.

I’ll definitely use it again: For one thing, it proved to be a convenient, handy and lightning fast way to find reputable articles on my subject!

Working with Difficult People 101

Last post, I wrote about copywriters not being mind-readers. Lest you think this was just me enjoying a chance to vent, let me clarify my purpose in writing it. And let me also say, the regular clients I have now are absolutely great – but I have run into this scenario enough times in my 20+year career to know that each time I take on a new client, it can be an education process all over again.

And let me also say, my clients would tell you I’m not even a fraction as cranky as I may sound here!

The reason you should care about providing your copywriter with as completely filled-out a Client Questionnaire as you can take the time to provide – or as many materials and examples as you can assemble – is simple. It:

  • saves you money
  • results in a better-targeted and better-converting product.

After all, you wouldn’t go to a garage, knowing your car was making a funny rattle in the front right passenger corner, and say: “Fix my car. Just make it right.” Would you?

You’d want to be as specific as possible, so you didn’t return the next day and find out they gave it a tune up, a wheel alignment, rotated the tires, changed the oil, and finally (after all that) found and fixed the wheel bearing in the front right corner that was causing your initial problem.

A Recipe for Disaster

Of course, my analogy is slightly flawed, because a mechanic wouldn’t play guessing games as to where the problem was – he’d hear the noise. And he’d cheerfully have no hesitation charging you through the nose for such extras, enjoying the carte blanche you gave him by default to the full.

But no copywriter is going to write a broadly generic product and not care if it hits your target market or not: More likely, they’re going to bug you for more details… and try to be patient and courteous when you get annoyed; or when you read the results of your own half-hearted and impatient specs, and freak out, yelling: “No! THAT’S not what I wanted when I said “affiliate profits” – I really meant “selling affiliate products solely with ClickBank”. Can you just tweak it?”  (And you both know perfectly well, he means “scrap it and rewrite”…)

Having a copywriter ghost-write your work is a two-way street. You’re both two halves of a whole – the product – and you both need to work as a team. You both have to input whatever you can to create a great product, to the best of your ability.

And if you really haven’t got a clue what you want the copywriter to write about, don’t freak out because you didn’t get that detailed recipe book on “1001 Ways to Make Irish Stew with Only A Crockpot and Two Onions“…

…when the only ingredient you gave your copywriter was “some sort of cookbook”.

Copywriters Are Not Mind Readers

This is something copywriters see all too frequently…

You, Mr. Client, want a quote:  Ms. Copywriter sends you one of her standard quote sheet/questionnaires to fill out about your project, to see if she can fit it in her schedule, plus determine what she will need to charge.

It comes back to her with several sections ignored, and the answers you do provide looking rather like this:

Who is your ideal paying customer?  – “Man”

Please provide project specs and details “Ebook on PPC Marketing”

What you are looking at here is the perfect way to either get your project turned down on the spot – or pay more than you need to. “Man” is not an Ideal Paying Customer – it is a highly generic demographic.  “Ebook on PPC Marketing” does not constitute project specifications and details: It’s a Vague Suggestion.

Yes, of course most copywriters can whip you up an eBook out of thin air – but you have to at least say: “Whip me up an ebook on PPC marketing – you have free rein and I’ll be happy with whatever angle you come up with.”

Mind, you’ll pay top dollar, and the quote will be higher than it might otherwise be: Your copywriter knows already she is going to be doing twice the work (and a lot of hand-holding and “tweaking”).

You’re Going  to Have To Rewrite the Whole Thing”

Besides, the moment a copywriter sees “man” instead of “30-something stay-at-home-dad with no skills, desperate for some paying work, who knows thoroughly how to navigate the internet because he spends most of the day gaming online”, the copywriter knows she is going to encounter the following scenario:

Oops, Ms. Copywriter, you’re going to have to rewrite this whole thing! When I said “PPC”, I really meant just Google AdWords. Besides, you’ve geared this towards professional internet marketers, and I really wanted it to teach unemployed stay-at-home dads with no skills other than being able to game on the net and hang out on Facebook how to make some money.”

This sort of client inevitably follows this with about 2 pages of solid detail as to what they did – and didn’t – want in the ebook.  You end up with the equivalent of a complete new project to write… and they want it for free, since it’s a “tweak”.

(Ms. Copywriter howls in frustration: “WHY couldn’t he tell me all this in his INITIAL QUOTE?”)

Don’t get me wrong: Like I said, many copywriters haven’t the slightest problem with creating an eBook out of thin air, based on a subject title alone… but the less specific communication you provide, the higher your initial quote will be.

And you won’t get free rewrites.

If you do have a vision in mind, but can’t be bothered to write more than “man” and “PPC ebook”, don’t expect your copywriter to happily rewrite the entire project – especially as a “tweak”.

Copywriters are not mind readers. Neither are clients. Let’s get better communication happening all round. Clients, what do you wish your copywriter knew? Copywriters, what’s your pet client-related frustration?

(Thanks www.pdclipart.org for the gypsy graphic.)

Yesterday I received the following email from my busy friend, Sandi.

“Hi Marya,

You won’t believe what I just did: The last couple of days, I’ve been busy downloading lots of really good info. A few minutes ago, I decided that I would like some herbal tea so got everything ready to make it in the coffee maker (the water goes into the resevoir & down into the pot which contains the tea bag).

I waited a few minutes & then realized that the water wasn’t coming out. I said to myself “Why isn’t this downloading?” I laughed when I realized what I had said.

(I had plugged it into the right outlet… but I hadn’t turned it on.)

Sandi”

I laughed out loud when I read Sandi’s note. As for me, when I shut my eyes, I tend to see multiple browser tabs.

What do you think? Is it time to weed and focus your marketing efforts for 2010? It is for me: I’m biting the bullet and working hard at being more organized, with time for my goals; not just clients’. (You’ll know if I’m succeeding or not with the “time for my goals” thing by the number of posts here, this year!)

What are you doing to reclaim your life for 2010?

Want to know about a stunningly simple but powerful free tool that not only will delight your clients, if you’re freelance copywriting… but dramatically help your writing too?  Today, I’m going to share one of my most potent Secret Weapons as a writer: Let me introduce you to ArticleChecker.  I use it on the rare occasions I write blog posts or articles for clients. (I usually specialize in information products and sales letters but, every once in a while, a regular client will want a batch of articles and blog posts to go along with his ebook or special report.)

ArticleChecker advertises itself as a “plagiarism checker” – and that is indeed its primary purpose. Plagiarism consists of copying another writer’s work and claiming it as your own.

So does that mean I want to catch myself plagiarizing someone else’s work?  Is there even such a chance?

Heaven forfend!

What I use it for is to detect a far more insidious writing evil: The dreaded “duplicate content” that Google penalizes bloggers and website owners so heavily for using.

“Duplicate content” is not always material that is deliberately plagiarized. It can occur organically and naturally, when you unconsciously resort to using clichés… or just mundane, habitual phrases.

When I enter a blog post like this one in ArticleChecker, I will usually find anywhere from 0-4 sentences that either contain a cliché or a really over-used, mundane phrase. The chances are far more than one in 1,000.  So let’s copy-paste what I’ve typed, so far, and see what nasty duplicate content it “catches”… article-checker-results

Wow!  Surprised me!  I thought for sure it would nail me for “one in 1,000” but apparently there are 15 other instances of the phrase: “Of course not, silly!” on what the Corner Gas dude likes to call “the interweb”.

You remove the offending phrase, or change it.  Copy-paste into ArticleChecker’s textarea box again, and Voila! New results!

article-checker-results-cle

If you’re not already using ArticleChecker (or its paid professional equivalent, CopyScape) seriously consider doing so, next time you write a blog post or article.  Get in the habit of running your finished post through either of these services, and you’ll not only always delight your clients with clean, fresh content – you’ll lose those clichés, grow more aware of over-used, boring phrases – and become a better writer!

Contact Form Blog Tip

I’ve just installed Mike Challis’ Fast and Secure Contact Form blog plug-in on a personal blog site, and I’m so pleased with how easy it was to set up and how well it works, I thought I’d share.

You can find it easily by searching right within WordPress when you’re adding plug-ins. It works by creating a completely new page with the contact form embedded. You just add the page to your navigation; in my case, via a “Contact us” link in the sidebar. Your new contact page does the rest.

It’s highly customizable, and there’s a link right in the plug-in blurb to an easy-as-pie screenshot showing you exactly what to do.

Includes CAPTCHA and Akismet support, and no Javascript is required. Here’s what it looks like after a minute or two of customization on my Christmas blog…

form3

There are lots more features. You can check them out at Mike’s site.

Fast and Secure Contact Form is perfect, if you’re looking for a simple option.

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