SoftwareMarketingResource

Software Marketing Resource Articles: 2006

You wrote the code, now how do you sell it?

Saturday, September 9, 2006

AISIP Interview with Michael Halls

The following is an interview with Michael Halls regarding his acquisition of the AISIP. The questions are bolded, his responses are not.

Congratulations on your acquisition of the AISIP.

1. What was your motivation for purchasing the AISIP?

Both David and myself come from the e-commerce side of shareware. Together with our Dad (Brent) we bought out Qwerks.com in 1998. Later we started eMetrix.com and FileKicker.com. These three businesses were acquired by Digital River in 2003.

Our e-commerce background has given us the opportunity to meet hundreds of really great people in the shareware industry from all over the world. I hope that through the AISIP we can provide some value to the shareware community and keep friendships we've built alive. We'll, it's better than sending greeting cards.

2. What are your first objectives for the AISIP?

We've got some small housekeeping tasks to do like moving the website and email boxes. After that, we'll be setting up the membership database and automating renewals and memberships. I'd also like to expand the members-only section of the website and maybe tinker with the website design.

After the first annual members/renewal push, we will have some money to reinvest into the AISIP. We have discussed and identified a number of different benefits that we would like to provide developers. We'll see what money we have and what's the best way to invest it. The hope is that we'll create a snowball effect where the money we've invested will create more value for AISIP members, which will attract more developers, which will give use more money to invest, etc.

3. How do you think the AISIP distinguishes itself from other software organizations?

I'm assuming you're talking about the ASP?

The ASP is a nonprofit standards organization and the voice of shareware community. The ASP's nonprofit status and complex by-laws make it perfect for that role. I don't believe that any private group should try to speak on behalf of the entire shareware community or control something like the PAD standard.

But, there are things that the ASP can't do. For example, the ASP can't offer more benefits to it's members than it does to the public and keep it's nonprofit status. The AISIP doesn't have those restrictions. I also have the luxury of being able to make quick decisions without worrying about being thrown out of office.

4. You are known for fanatical tracking systems, how will you use this knowledge to benefit the AISIP?

I'm not really sure. The data available to shareware authors is so much more accessible today than it was in the past. Google AdWords, eMetrix, and FileKicker all include some form of sales tracking. I've also been playing with Google Analytics. Once that comes out of beta, wow!

Going forward, I think the benefit that I can provide the AISIP members is in helping them navigate the data. I'd like to be able to help them look at the data and see a story instead of just a bunch of numbers. I've got some ideas on how the AISIP may be able to make that happen.

5. When we look at the AISIP in a year, what can we expect to see?

Well I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. On a more serious note, of course nothing moves as quickly as one would like it to, but I am confident that in a years time the AISIP members will find the $35.00 membership dues well worth the investment.

more information at: AISIP http://www.aisip.com
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Monday, August 28, 2006

Shareware Industry Conference 2006 Review

This year's 2006 Shareware Industry Conference was enlightening, and entertaining. It hosted dozens of diverse and educational sessions, informational exhibits, and several humorous events. The sessions were exceedingly motivating and detail-oriented, which contributed to the creation of a focused audience. The exhibits were exceptionally interesting and the sponsored events were enjoyable for all ages. For the most part, the attendees were interesting, experienced, and willing to share knowledge. This produced one of my most memorable Shareware Industry Conferences.

Throughout the conference, I attended multiple sessions, all of which were instructive. Of those I attended, my favorites were: Reviewing and Critiquing Attendee Web Sites, New Platforms, Search Engine Optimization, User Interface and User-Centric Design.

Reviewing and Critiquing Attendee Web Sites

"Reviewing and Critiquing Attendee Web Sites," was one of the most interactive sessions I attended. Throughout the session the speakers (Sharon Housley, Dave Collins and Ben Weintraub) remained in conversation with the audience. The three speakers collected attendee's collected business cards, and then went to each individual site and provided constructive criticism to help each developer create a more professional website. I am confident that each and every developer that attended this session learned something new and interesting.

New Platforms

"New Platforms" was directed by Michael Lehman and concerned his latest project, Project Glidepath. In this session his "Glidepath Team" unveiled a new "project" that would help developers prepare their software for the release of Windows Vista. This session was innovative and informational. It genuinely seemed like a tool all developers would need.

Search Engine Optimization

"Search Engine Optimization" was directed by Sharon Housley, and Dave Collins. The first half, Sharon Housley gave organic search engine tips, and for the latter half Dave Collins Separated Myths from Fact. While Sharon spoke about concrete facts and tidbits, Dave Collins explained that there is no single universal rule to boost your search engine ranking. They also conveyed that search engine ranking is ever-changing, and what may work one month might not work the next.

User Interface

This session was directed by Sue Pichotta and Becky Lash. Sue Pichotta explained the new "look" of Vista and the implementation of the aero-glass effect. Becky Lash also talked about the various changes in Vista. Both of them conveyed their opinions to certain changes in Vista, and told developers what to expect. Having never beta tested Vista I found this session extremely helpful and useful, as I'm sure other developers did.

User-Centric Design

"User-Centric Design" was directed by Barbara Hernandez and Gregg Seelhoff. Barbara Hernandez spoke about the user experience, and explained how to make your software easy for users to use. Gregg Seelhoff spoke about making your software easy to use for everyone (particularly forhandicapped users). This session was fairly interesting, and pointed out issues I had not realized. I also attended Digital River's hosted event. One of the main attractions was motorized toilets. Attendees were invited to mount the toilets and race around an inflated track. Later on, a tournament was held, in which attendees formed eight teams of four people. They had to dress in racing outfits, race around the track, take off the outfit, dress the other person, etc.

There were also remote controlled cars, which were amusing, but got underfoot. In a corner, there were 3 arcade racing games, in which attendees could race each other. This is where I spent most of my time. This all created a most enjoyable night.

I also attended "Exhibit Night", in which sponsors set up booths and gave out free software, and goodies. Attendees were invited to receive a stamp from each booth and complete a map, in which they could enter a raffle with. Of these booths, my personal favorite was Joost Van Luer's (HC TopSystems). He hosted a soccer juggling event in which the winners received either a soccer jersey, soccer ball, or soccer shirt. At the end, I came in second place, and received the soccer ball.

All of the sessions, exhibits, and events were educational, and informational. The conference's 16 years of experience clearly shows. I recommend software developers from all over to attend this conference. I guarantee you will enjoy the sessions, attendees, exhibits, and hospitality suites.
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Friday, July 28, 2006

Everything You Need to Know About Linking

Websites that are able to amass a large number of links from related websites that contain relevant content, tend to have an advantage when attempting to rank well in the large search engines. The tricky part is understanding how to build a large quantity of quality links. With the growth of the web and increased competition, search engines are weighing link relevance, and link authority as part of their ranking algorithm

Earning Links
Link popularity is a form of "social bookmarking". Think about it, a link is akin to a "vote" from the source. Just like in the real world, a vote from a source that is known to be trusted and respected in a specific industry carries more weight and contains more social clout, so does a link from a credible online source. Web links are seen as a recommendation or a website endorsement. If the endorsements are from established respected sources in a specific sector, the link is weighed heavier than an unrelated link or links from a source that is not yet established.

The easiest way to earn a link is to provide quality unique content.

How do you know who is respected?
One way to determine the value of a website is by accessing its PageRank. PageRank is visible in the Google Toolbar and is calculated based on the number of quality incoming links that a website has. Alexa Rank and TrustRank are also indicators of a websites popularity. Alexa tracks the websites that people who use the Alexa toolbar visit. Based on these visits, they determine the popularity of a website and rank it accordingly. TrustRank is a little more difficult to pin down. TrustRank is based on the assumption that good websites rarely link to bad neighborhoods.

PageRank and Alexa Rank can be used to help webmasters assess what webpages and websites are valued by search engines. Keep in mind, this is not an end-all/be-all. The rankings should only be used only as guides. Relevance matters, a link from a respected tree website will not help a software website unless they are selling software related to trees or landscaping.

Authoritative Links
Some websites wield great power. They are not topic specific and are considered quality credible sources or "authorities". Examples of authoritative sources would be other search engines or directories like Yahoo, DMoz and Wikipedia. They are respected resources on almost any industry topics. Authoritative links are desirable and can help increase a websites popularity.

Deep Linking
Regardless of a websites topic material, if the website is well designed and informative, its generally not too difficult to attract links to a websites' main page. But what many webmasters do not realize, it is equally important to attract incoming links to a variety of pages on the website. The more varied the links to various webpages within a single domain, shows search engines that a website contains an abundance of quality material.

Anchor Text
When a publisher links to a website, the search engines consider the link text used in the link. Varied but related text in the link shows what the material is about. All links that contain the same text look "unnatural" and may be considered as "purchased" or unreliable. Search engines are partial to natural incoming links. Ideally attempt to establish varied linking text that unite in a common theme.

An example: Software Marketing Resource http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com has a number of links with text containing things like: software marketing; shareware marketing; software promotion; online software marketing; promoting software; promoting shareware. All are synonymous with software marketing and are natural phrases that would be used to describe the same website.

Directory Linking
Directories should not be overlooked in linking strategies and while webmasters should not rely on directories solely when developing strong links, they can be advantageous. Particular attention should be paid to topic specific directories. A topical directories are often consider authorities and a related link can boost exposure.

Competitive Intelligence
Webmasters looking for links and don't know where to look, should have a peak at who is linking to their competitors. Use competitive intelligence to track down quality link sources.

Give it Away
An easy way to earn links is to give something away. Whether you are providing quality content free of charge or a free software application, webmasters appreciate quality content and products that are available free of charge. Use the free item or content to draw attention to your website, if you are truly providing something of value, it will generate unsolicited links that are invaluable. Develop a linking strategy as part of your website marketing plan.

The aim should be to attract authoritative links from related sources.
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

2006 Software Vendor Awards - Nominations

Software Vendor Awards - Winners are Bolded

Software Vendor Categories Include:

E-Commerce

Best Overall Software E-commerce Value
Includes any vendor who provides e-commerce services to software developers. Nominations and voting should focus of value, features for a fair price.

BMT Micro - http://www.bmtmicro.com
Emetrix (Digital River) - http://www.emetrix.com
Plimus - http://www.plimus.com WINNER
RegNow (Digital River) - http://www.regnow.com
SWREG (Digital River) - http://www.swreg.org

Best Software E-commerce Customer Service & Support
Includes any vendor who provides e-commerce services to software developers. Nominations and voting should focus of superior customer support and responsiveness to both end-users and software developers.

BMT Micro - http://www.bmtmicro.com
Emetrix (Digital River) - http://www.emetrix.com
eSellerate - http://www.esellerate.net
Plimus - http://www.plimus.com WINNER
SWREG (Digital River) - http://www.swreg.org

Most Innovative Software E-commerce Service
Includes any vendor who provides e-commerce services to software developers. Nominations and voting should focus on innovativation, and cutting edge features.

BMT Micro - http://www.bmtmicro.com
eSellerate - http://www.esellerate.net WINNER (TIE)
PayPal - https://www.paypal.com/
Plimus - http://www.plimus.com WINNER (TIE)

Affiliate Programs

Best Software Affiliate Program
Includes any vendor who provides affiliate tracking and payment services for software developers. Nominations and voting should focus on overall best affiliate provider for software sales.

eSellerate - http://www.esellerate.net WINNER
OneNetwork (Digital River) - http://onenetwork.digitalriver.com/
RegNow (Digital River) - http://www.regnow.com
ShareASale - http://www.shareasale.com

Best Software Affiliate Program Customer Service & Support
Includes any vendor who provides affiliate tracking and payment services for software developers. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer support and responsiveness to both affiliates and software developers.

eSellerate - http://www.esellerate.net WINNER
RegNow (Digital River)- http://www.regnow.com
ShareASale - http://www.shareasale.com
WUGNET - http://www.wugnet.com/

Software Protection & Activation

Best Software Protection & Activation Service or Solution
Includes any vendor who provides software protection or activation services or solutions. Nominations and voting should focus on overall solution.

ActivateSoft.net - http://www.activatesoft.net/
Armadillo (Digital River) - http://siliconrealms.com
ASProtect/ASPack - http://www.aspack.com WINNER
Softwrap - http://www.softwrap.com
Xheo - http://www.xheo.com

Download Sites

Best Overall Download Site
Includes any website thats primary focus is to promote evaluation software available for download. Nominations and voting should focus on overall solution, traffic and design.

Download.com - http://www.download.com WINNER
Shareware Junction - http://www.sharewarejunction.com
SoftPedia - http://www.softpedia.com/
Tucows - http://www.tucows.com
Version Tracker - http://www.versiontracker.com


Best Download Site Advertising Value
Includes any website thats primary focus is to promote evaluation software available for download. Nominations and voting should focus on advertising value. What download sites provide the most bang for your buck?

PC World - http://www.pcworld.com WINNER
Shareup.com - http://www.shareup.com
Snapfiles - http://www.snapfiles.com
Tucows - http://www.tucows.com


Best Download Site Customer Service & Support
Includes any website thats primary focus is to promote evaluation software available for download. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer support and responsiveness to both end-users and software developers.

Download.com - http://www.download.com WINNER
Shareware Junction - http://www.sharewarejunction.com
Shareup.com - http://www.shareup.com
Tucows - http://www.tucows.com
Version Tracker - http://www.versiontracker.com

Most Innovative Download Site
Includes any website thats primary focus is to promote evaluation software available for download. Nominations and voting should focus on innovativation, and cutting edge features.

Download.com - http://www.download.com WINNER
Snapfiles - http://www.snapfiles.com
Tucows - http://www.tucows.com
Version Tracker - http://www.versiontracker.com

Graphic Design

Best Overall Software Graphic Design Service
Includes any vendor that provides graphical design services to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, timeliness, and cost.

Clear Image Graphics - http://www.clearimagegraphics.com
DesignOutpost - http://www.designoutpost.com
Malstream - http://www.malstream.com
SoftIdentity - http://www.softidentity.com WINNER

Best Icon Design Service or Solution
Includes any vendor that provides icon sets or icon design services to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, timeliness, and cost.

Ace Icons - http://www.aceicons.com
DesignOutpost - http://www.designoutpost.com
Glyfz - http://www.glyfz.com
SoftIdentity - http://www.softidentity.com WINNER

Search Engine Services

Best Search Engine Optimization Service
Includes any vendor that provides search engine optimizaiton services to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, timeliness, and cost.

SelfPromotion - http://www.selfpromotion.com
Shareware Promotions - http://www.sharewarepromotions.com WINNER

Software Submissions

Best Software Submission Service or Solution
Includes any vendor that provides submissions services or solutions to submit software to download sites for software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, timeliness, and cost.

Dr File Finder - http://www.drff.com
Freelance Works - http://www.freelanceworks.com
Robosoft / Rudenko Software - http://RoboSoft.Rudenko.com - WINNER
Shareware Promotions - http://www.sharewarepromotions.com


Best Software Submission Customer Service
Includes any vendor that provides submissions services or solutions to submit software to download sites for software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer support and responsiveness to both software developers and download site contact.

FreelanceWorks - http://www.freelanceworks.com
Rudenko Software - http://Submit-Everywhere.com WINNER (TIE)
Shareware Promotions - http://www.sharewarepromotions.com WINNER (TIE)

Press Releases

Best Software Press Distribution Service
Includes any vendor that provides distribution services or solutions to distribute press releases to editors and the media for software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, timeliness, and cost.

DP Directory/ Al Harberg - http://www.dpdirectory.com
MarketWire - http://www.marketwire.com
PRWeb - http://www.prweb.com
SoftPressRelease - http://www.softpressrelease.com/ WINNER

Best Software Press Writing Service
Includes any vendor that provides press release writing services to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, timeliness, and cost.

DP Directory/ Al Harberg - http://www.dpdirectory.com WINNER
Paranoid PR - http://www.paranoidpr.com
SoftPressRelease - http://www.softpressrelease.com/

File Hosting

Best Overall Software File Hosting Service
Includes any vendor that provides file hosting services or solutions to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, ease of use, stability, and cost.

FileBurst - http://www.fileburst.com
FileKicker (Digital River) - http://www.filekicker.com WINNER
SWMirror - http://www.swmirror.com


Best Software File Hosting Customer Service & Support
Includes any vendor that provides file hosting services or solutions to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer service to software developers.

FileBurst - http://www.fileburst.com
FileKicker / Michael Halls - http://www.filekicker.com WINNER
SWMirror - http://www.swmirror.com


Most Innovative File Hosting Service
Includes any vendor that provides file hosting services or solutions to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on features, and cutting-edge technology solutions.

FileBurst - http://www.fileburst.com
FileKicker (Digital River) - http://www.filekicker.com WINNER
SWMirror - http://www.swmirror.com

Web Hosting

Best Overall Software Website Hosting Service
Includes any vendor that provides web hosting services for software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on quality, ease of use, stability, and cost.

Dewahost - http://www.dewahost.com
EV1Servers - http://www.ev1servers.net
Intermedia - http://www.intermedia.net
PAIR - http://www.pair.com/ WINNER


Best Software Website Hosting Customer Service & Support
Includes any vendor that provides web hosting services or solutions to software companies. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer service to software developers.

Dewahost - http://www.dewahost.com WINNER
PAIR - http://www.pair.com
Rackspace - http://www.rackspace.com
The Planet - http://www.theplanet.com

Reviewers

Best Software Reviewer
Includes any vendor that provides a review service, includes both paid and unpaid vendors. Nominations and voting should focus on quality of reviews.

Dave Collins - - http://www.sharewarepromotions.com
Don Watkins - http://www.PCNet-Online.com
Mike Callahan / Dr FileFinder - http://www.drff.com WINNER
Shareware Junkies - http://www.sharewarejunkies.com
Tucows - http://www.tucows.com

Publishers

Best Overall Software Publisher
Includes any vendor that acts as a publisher, representing and marketing software they did not create. Nominations and voting should focus on value, overall marketing techniques, and software developer benefit.

Avanquest - http://www.avanquest.com WINNER
Great Mind Software - http://www.greatmindsoftware.com WINNER

Panda - http://www.pandasoftware.com/
Rose City Software - http://www.rosecitysoftware.com


Best Software Publisher Customer Service & Support

Includes any vendor that acts as a publisher, representing and marketing software they did not create. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer support and responsiveness to both end-users and software developers.

Avanquest - http://www.avanquest.com WINNER
Great Mind Software - http://www.greatmindsoftware.com

CD Services

Best CD Fullfillment Service
Includes any vendor that makes and distributes CDs for software developers. Nominations and voting should focus on overall value and quality.

CD Ship - http://www.cd-ship.com
Great Mind Software - http://www.greatmindsoftware.com
Pingram - http://www.PingramCD.com
SwiftCD - http://www.swiftcd.com WINNER


Best CD Fullfillment Customer Service & Support
Includes any vendor that acts as a publisher, representing and marketing software they did not create. Nominations and voting should focus on superior customer support and responsiveness to both end-users and software developers.

CD Ship - http://www.cd-ship.com
CustomCD.us - http://www.customcd.us
Great Mind Software - http://www.greatmindsoftware.com
Pingram - http://www.PingramCD.com WINNER
SwiftCD - http://www.swiftcd.com WINNER

Organizations

Best Software Organization Value
Includes any organization specifically for software developers and industry professionals (both non-profit and for-profit are eligble). Nominations and voting should focus on overall value for software developers.

AISIP - http://www.aisip.com
ASP - http://www.asp-shareware.org
ISDEF - http://www.isdef.org
SWRUS - http://www.swrus.com WINNER

Forum/Newsgroup

Best Software Discussion Forum or Newsgroup
Includes any newsgroup or forum specifically for software developers and industry professionals (both non-profit and for-profit are eligble). Nominations and voting should focus on overall value for software developers.

AISIP Newsgroups (private)
alt.comp.shareware.authors (public)
ASP Newsgroups (private) WINNER
discuss.joelonsoftware.com/?biz (public)
WUGNET (both)

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Monday, May 29, 2006

The Long Tail

The phrase "The Long Tail" was first used in 2004 by Chris Anderson a writer for Wired Magazine. Anderson used the phrase to describe business models. The article initially referencing The Long Tail referred to the fact that a small handful of blogs have a large number of links pointing to them, while millions of smaller blogs have only a handful of links. Chris Anderson described the effects of the long tail on business models and argued that products that are in a low demand can effectively and collectively make up a market share that exceeds the few of those that are in high demand.

While initially the phrase the long tail was used to reference statistical distributions, like web 2.0 the meaning has been expanded to encompass a marketing mantra.

Capturing The Long Tail
So what is meant by capturing the long tail? Capturing the small volume will result in a collectively large volume.

Keywords and keyword phrases provide a great example of how the long tail works. There are a relatively small number of keywords that receive the vast majority of searches, and additionally there are millions of keywords and keyword phrases that make up a fraction of Internet searches. So by capturing the keyword long tail an Internet marketer targets all of the less popular keywords and keyword phrases, because in mass these less popular keywords are a more significant volume than the popular keywords and phrases for a specific business sector. Internet marketers that are able to "capture the long tail" will receive significant traffic. The long tail includes everything other than the popular terms. The idea is that the total volume of lower popularity keywords exceeds the volume of high popularity keywords.

While the concept of The Long Tail is fairly simple in nature, it is very difficult to implement in practice.

Using the same example in order to grab the keyword long tail Internet marketers need to locate and optimize for keyword neighborhoods. Large online businesses like eBay and Amazon that contain user generated content tend to have an easier time of capturing the long tail. It can be a challenge for smaller online companies. Generally speaking user generated content like that found in forums and blogs, tend to be helpful when optimizing for the keyword long tail. There is no substitute for magnitude and while capturing the keyword tail will help any business increase traffic, it is important to not forget that tip to tail is ideal.
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point

I recently attended the PubCon conference in Boston. Malcolm Gladwell the author of The Tipping Point and Blink was the keynote speaker. He was very engaging and raised some very interesting points.

The book, The Tipping Point, in part discusses the concept of connectors and mavens, and how they bring about change. Connectors are those unique individuals who have an uncanny connection to an unbelievable number of other people. They typically cultivate relationships and grow extensive networks in a variety of different social circles. Connectors have extremely diverse social networks, while most individual have three to five social networks; connectors have an astounding fifteen social networks. Mavens are those individuals who consistently provide highly specific and relevant information based on analysis of a specific sector, they might evangelize a specific brand or be known for being price conscious.

Along with these unique social traits, come what Malcolm Gladwell refers to as social power. It is Gladwell's belief that in today's society Social Power is far more important than political or economic power. An interesting concept to be sure. Taking a closer look at the examples that Gladwell provided it is easy to see how important these unique individuals are to our society and the future's developing trends.

According to Malcolm Gladwell a boxing match between Jack Dempsey and George Carpentier in the 1920's was said to be the tipping point for radio. How is that possible? The radio was initially marketed as a way to receive news stories. At the time, everyone had access to the news through daily newspapers. The majority of society in the 1920's, saw little benefit in purchasing an expensive radio to hear news that was already very accessible.

An individual within RCA conceptualized broadcasting the boxing match live. The idea faced significant resistance but moved forward. Prior to the boxing match radios were installed in a multitude of locations where the general public congregated. The boxing match was broadcast live and it was the first "play by play" sports broadcast.

The boxing match was the tipping point for radio, because it reframed the purpose of radio. No longer was the radio just a mechanism for delivering news, it brought information to individual in their homes as it occurred. The key components that contributed to the success of the radio was that the purpose of radio as a communication medium was reframed. Additionally, the individual behind the idea to broadcast the boxing match was a connector, who had an extensive network of individuals to draw on.

Another key part of Gladwell's talk focussed on the notion that change can happen quite quickly. Many of us assume that complex problems require complex solutions. Invariably the more difficult the problem, the more we feel that we need to throw money at it, to resolve it. This is not always the case.

Gladwell's classic example of a complex problem that was resolved with a simple solution, was illustrated in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. While most political pundits at the time would have predicted that the wall's destruction would have a significant cost and require an exhorbant amount of time. In reality the the political climate change happened quite quickly, and the wall came down in thirty days. While most people understand the intrinsic value of political and economic power, few grasp the importance of social power.

In the US for years the government attempted to force drivers and automobile passengers to wear seatbelts. Laws and fines were instituted in many states, and the idea of buckling up was rebuffed by all. Drivers resented the government legislating what happened in their car.

Eventually the seat belt movement tried another path, they decided that they were making little progress with adults, but felt they could make strides with promoting the safety aspects of seatbelts with children. Children are vulnerable and keeping them safe made sense, to all on both sides of the issue. There was little argument and children buckled up. Being taught at a young age to buckle up resulted in children becoming the evangelists for seatbelt safety. While Mom and Dad would not buckle up when facing fines, when their children asked them to they did. A simple solution to a complex problem.

Gladwell also elaborated on the iPod's success. Gladwell pointed out that the iPod's success was a factor because of tow things. iPods were not sold as electronic gadgets, they were marketed as fashion accessories. All the advertising focused not on the features or complexity of most technical gadgets, it focused on the iPod's sportiness and design, iPod's were fashion accessories NOT scary electronic gadgets. Apple's marketing of the iPod is another example of reframing content. Additionally Apple gave purchasers very little choice. Making a decision presumes a level of knowledge that many purchasers don't have too much information can often cause confusion and doubt. iPods were presented simply and users had to select between large or small.

As far as applying this to software consider ways to reframe your product. If people think of it in terms of "audio editing software" reframe it as a way to "record history".

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage a wireless text messaging software company.
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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Google Paranoia or Cause for Concern

Anti-Google sentiment is on the rise. Web pundits have tossed around monopoly theories and privacy advocates have warned of a day of reckoning. While Google has made friends on Wallstreet, it has disappointed the technical evangelists who were once its fiercest followers. Google has grown into a big scary company and web watchers are expressing their concerns about the information Google gleans from their various services.

Google Analytics is free, no one can beat the price, but what is the real cost? The cost is your data. While not terribly important when analyzed alone, when aggregated with other information Google has access to, it could be damaging. Data mining has made the collection of data meaningful. It has become easier to find patterns and trends in large volumes of data.

While any of that information independent of other data, might be non-threatening or irrelevant to someone doing analysis, when combined with other data Google has access to, it can paint a very clear picture of how, not only individual companies are performing, but the aggregate data could possibly paint a picture of how entire business sectors or industries are performing.

The big question is how will Google use this information? Will it affect search engine ranking? Will it influence keyword costs?

Paranoia? Lauren Weinstein doesn't seem to think so, her blog post entitled "The Dark Side of Google" http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000108.html , paints a very clear picture of the danger of a single entity possessing all of the data.

According to a recent USA Today article "In just seven years, Google has emerged as one off the most influential companies of the 21st century, a multinational whose recent forays into classified ads, book publishing, video, Wi-Fi and telecom make its data empire ever more powerful." The article goes on further to quote Jeff Chester, head of the digital Center for Digital Democracy saying "Google could easily become the poster child for a national public movement to regulate data collection".

Lets take a look at Google's new analytics tool. As a reporting tool, Google Analytics offers good features and functionality. Google Analytics tells publishers who their website referrers are, what pages visitors are viewing, the length of the visitor stay, what items are purchased. Google Analytics data can be used to develop new technologies, and optimize pay per term influence ranking.

Google wants to make money, and like it or not, data is a commodity. Google will likely use the data from their various ventures to develop new technologies and personalize content. Conspiracy theorists believe that the Google's aggregate data will also be used to optimize the fees charged for pay-per-click, influence organic ranking or worse yet sold.

Unbeknownst to many users, privacy advocates say that Google's technology give Google the ability to collect enormous amounts of data about interests and online habits of web surfers. That said, Google's growth will continue to motivate privacy advocates and those in the technology field behind the Attention Truste movement to work together, to improve how personal information and subscription information is used online. I expect we will see a lot of energy and effort in this arena.

Lets face it, Google wants to make money; no, now that they are public they *need* to make money and like it or not, data is a commodity. Whether Google will use your data or not is still to be determined, but the fact remains they can if they choose to. Google's storage capacity, is as deep as its pockets, meaning that it is far ahead of competitors. All of this has motivated privacy advocates and eyes are on and will continue to be focused on Google and the type of data they are capable of collecting.
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Friday, April 28, 2006

Organic Search Engine Optimization

The fabled tales of successfully tricking search engines into high rankings have given way to a new truth, to achieve decent consistent ranking you cannot engage in tricks but on focused optimization done in a professional ethical manner. According to search sources, with the latest Google update, there is no longer an even playing field when it comes to search placement. The new Google ranking system gives an advantage to large, established businesses that have achieved brand recognition. Does this mean small businesses should give up on the Web as a marketing model? No, of course not, they simply must develop quality content. To increase your natural ranking (search engine rankings that are not paid for) you must:

Write Good Text Copy.
The website copy should contain relevant text. Websites that use text rather than large images will load faster and the search engines can easily spider the text of the website for themes and keywords. Search engines cannot discern the meaning of words and phrases that are presented as an image. If you do use an image, be sure to include a brief phrase or keyword as an ALT tag. The ALT tags help website visitors who are visually impaired. ALT tags also convey the meaning of the image to search engines.

Research Keyword Phrases.
Using terms and phrases that relate to your product or service is critical. It is important to use terms that potential customers would use when searching for your product or service. Often products can be described by a number of terms, for example soda, tonic and pop all identify soft drinks. One term might be more prevalent in a specific geographic region, which is fine if you are selling locally, but if you are selling globally, optimizing for a single popular term could be problematic. Consider optimizing different portions of your website for various keywords and phrases that relate to the product or service that you are promoting.

Provide Valuable Content.
Websites linking to a website are seen by many search engines as "votes". A link typically implies quality content. The easiest and most effective way to achieve a large number of links is to provide unique quality content. This might be a free web based tool, information or other content that is unique and relevant.

You can reprint articles that appear in our Free Site Content Forum.

Monitor.
Monitor blogs for online chatter about your product or service. If you find a product review or question on a blog consider posting a comment. Ego searches are an excellent way to stay informed and maintain a strategic advantage over competitors. Monitor keywords or phrases that relate to your product or service, and join conversations that are relevant.

Measure.
In order to know what strategies are most effective in an industry or sector, it is important to track the results. The easiest way to track web traffic and conversions is web logs. Take a critical look at referrers, trends, and what keywords result in the most traffic. Evaluating web logs will assist a webmaster in determining what optimization techniques are most effective.

Ultimately its is foolish to attempt to trick search engines into high rankings, efforts are better spent on building quality, consistent, valuable, content.
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Sunday, April 2, 2006

PR Tips for Software Vendors

While controversial issues frequently attract attention they can also alienate potential customers. Sometimes it is better to put a positive spin on public relations. A typical press release announces new leadership, products or services, but consider mixing it up a bit. A well written press release can be published increasing brand recognition and exposure. With that in mind, consider distributing press releases for the following:

Trade Show or Organization Participation
A release is appropriate if an organization is participating, presenting or involved in a trade show or exhibit. These types of announcements are often visible in trade magazines with a very focused target audience.

Awards
A press release announcing an award nomination, or win legitimizes your product or service as customers see you stand out in the industry.

Studies, Surveys or Research Projects
Not only newsworthy, these things can show how your product helped to unveil new information about the world, or a new way of looking at an issue. Remember that academic writing is different than writing for press releases. Converting the study, survey or project results into layman's terms and keeping it concise will make it easier for the general public to understand and more likely your press release will be picked up.

Milestones
Is your business approaching its 20 year anniversary? These types of business milestones allow you to profile your accomplishments over the years. A business that's been profitable for twenty years is a sure bet for local newspapers.

Innovative Usage
Profiling a customer who is using your product or service in an innovative or unusual way not only helps educate potential customers about your product or service capabilities but it also generates good will with customers who will generally appreciate the additional exposure.

Educational Opportunities
Educational opportunities the business has participated in demonstrate your desire to constantly improve the business. Examples would be presenting at a user group or conference explaining a new technology or attending seminars or classes that will increase the businesses capabilities.

Website Launch
While this may seem commonplace in our internet-savvy world, you can still make your website launch stand out. Center your release on the features of your website such as your online shopping experience, unique products and services, or anything that makes your site notable.

New Product or Service
This type of press release can be especially effective when geared toward an audience that has had a positive experience with your other products. Be specific; include examples of how your new product or service will help the customer. This can also include enhancements to products or services.

Unusual Products or Services
When you have something unusual about your product or service, this can be newsworthy. Focus on why your product is unusual, and what makes it unique. You may think of several angles that are valuable from a publicity point of view.

Sponsorships
Receiving funding for new products or services is exciting news for those receiving the sponsorship. To make it exciting for the public as well, be specific about what is being funded and why. Going a little further to explain why the sponsor chose to back your product or service gives credibility to your new undertaking.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Google AdSense Tips

AdSense allows website publishers to display contextually relevant advertisements on their website. If a web visitor "clicks" on an advertisement, the web publisher will earn a percentage of the advertising revenue generated as a result of the click. Many webmasters have built content websites around the Google AdSense model. In many cases the specific intent of the webmaster is to profit from Google AdSense. Other webmasters use Google AdSense to supplement their revenue. Regardless of the webmaster's intent, the following tips will help webmasters looking to profit from AdSense.

Top AdSense Tips:

1. Niche Sites.
Targeted niche sites that have a clear theme, tend to generate more advertising revenue simply because it is easier to achieve decent search engine placement. Be warned though, you want to chose a niche where there is a sufficient number of advertisements available.

2. Target Keywords.
When determining the sites focus, consider how much the advertisers pay for the advertisements. If the site is focused on ringtones, like Ringtone Central http://www.ringtones-central.com the payout per click is going to be very small, as ringtones are not high ticket items, advertisers will not spend a lot on pay per click advertisements. With less obvious markets use Overture to determine how much advertisers pay per keyword, it is usually similar on Google. Search Overture for a keyword then click "View Advertisers' Max Bids" in the top right corner. This will show the Overture inventory and how much is paid per keyword. Because the market has become very competitive, it will be difficult to rank well in search engines with a new website that is optimized for the terms that have the highest payout. Consider targeting terms that are moderately priced.

3. Aged Sites / Time.
Over time as a website is spidered by Google, advertisements will generally increase in relevance. In general, older websites will rank better in search engines. The closer the advertisements relate to the webpage's content; the higher the "click-through" the publishers will see.

4. Coding.
In order to minimize a websites maintenance place the Google generated AdSense code in the website template or an include file. This will allow you to easily experiment with different advertisement sizes and ad placement, and keep the web maintenance to a minimum.

5. Tracking Channels.
In order to know how effective a specific website or ad placement is use distinct channels and subchannels within Google. This will allow you to discern what performs best on a specific website. Using channels will tell you what sites are making money, what advertisements are making money and what ad position is the most profitable on a specific website. Keep in mind that you should run an advertisement for a full week, in order to properly test its effectiveness, different days of the week will vary the web traffic so comparing one week to another will give the most accurate reflection of how effective a campaign performs.

When testing different advertisement sizes, placement or color schemes be sure to leave campaigns in place for one week, different days will often result in web traffic fluctuations. Comparing web traffic, week to week will give a clear indication of what ad formats perform the best.

6. Integrated Ad Placement.
Many webmasters have been successful at integrating advertisements into a website. The easiest way to integrate an advertisement into a website is to remove the advertisement border. This will allow the ads to better blend with the webpage. Google recommends contrasting the link colors with the website colors to increase click-throughs. It is also suggested that webmasters randomize the color of the advertisements, so that frequent users will not naturally "filter" the ads.

example of integrated ad placement: http://www.golf-clubhouse.net or http://www.security-protection.net

7. Number vs Value of Advertisements.
Up to three advertisements can be listed on each page. This decreases the value of the advertisements served, so publishers should cautiously add advertisement units, as it dilutes ad inventory. In other words you want to serve the most expensive ads at all times.

8. Hot Spots.
Like web copy above the fold holds true with AdSense as well. This means that advertisements that appear without having to scroll will be read more frequently. Hot Spots are areas on a web page that result in a higher percentage of click-throughs. According to Google the highest paying advertisements are located on the hot spots.

Google does not indicate if image advertisements or text ads perform better, so webmasters are encouraged to experiment with both.

9. Highest performing Ad Sizes.
According to Google the 336 x 280 rectangle, the 300 x250 rectangle and the 160 x 600 sky scraper result in the highest number of click-throughs. Depending on the website's design and layout, publishers may experience different results with different ad sizes, placements and color schemes. Expirement and track the results for each website to maximize the AdSense payout.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Top 10 Unique Ideas for Content Creation

Building Content
A website is more than just merging photos and graphics. Webmasters must also integrate quality themed content into their website. A "sticky" website is one that attracts individuals and encourages them to return. "Sticky websites" contains content that is related and of interest to the prospective customers. A sticky site is a place people will visit again and again. By creating an atmosphere people like to revisit, will increase their exposure to your product or service.

1. Top 10
Create a top 10 list of industry sites resources, and products that are related to the website's theme. The list should contain helpful resources or authority sites that are respected and have genuine useful information. Providing a credible top 10 will help web visitors and showcase tenability of the website. Hey wait a minute, you're reading one of these right now!

Example:
RSS Top 10 - http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-top-10.htm

2. Product Comparisons
If you managed an industry website, consider creating a product or service comparison guide. Use a grid to illustrate the differences between the specific products or services. The comparison guide will be of interest to website visitors and contain unique aggregated data to assist in the visitor's decision making.

Example:
Podcast Directory Comparison - http://www.podcasting-tools.com/podcasting-directory-comparison.htm

3. Consumer Reports
Product warnings, recalls or alerts are generally issued by government agencies. The product alerts contain a list of related products, and any critical information related to that product. Consider syndicating the RSS feed of products from a specific industry or sector, displaying critical information will generate goodwill with potential customers and demonstrate social-consciousness.

Example:
Overview of Toilets - http://www.terrylove.com/crtoilet.htm

4. Buyers Guides.
Creating a buyer's guide is especially useful in the holiday season. A buyers guide or gift guide will attract both advertisers and web surfers. You can create a Buyers Guide using a web form, which effectively makes the process easier to manage. You can take the the Buyers Guide a step further, by making the guide interactive. Ask website visitors questions and offer helpful suggestions, based on their preferences. Analysis of product specifications, features, reviews and comparisons can be provided as part of an online buyers guide, important products or services can be highlighted in the guide.

Example:
Active Buyers Guide - http://www.activebuyersguide.com/ABG/clients/ABG/home.jsp

5. Tutorial
Creating educational tutorials or demonstrations about how a technology or service is effective in a specific industry or sector, is not only useful but it helps website visitors consider how they might further use a product or service. Consider providing wizards, tutorials or educational material that will assist in educating users. Educational materials also distinguishes the website publishers as knowledgeable in a specific area.

Example:
Tutorial - http://www.feedforall.com/podcasting-tutorial.htm

6. Glossary.
Decipher those difficult to understand words, for your website visitors. Despite sometimes being entrenched in an industry, consumers often remain unaware of what specific terminology means. Provide a clear, concise glossary of terms related to a product or service. Educating users about the lingo will help them better understand a product or services benefit.

Example:
Medical Terminology - http://www.hospital-software.com/medical-dictionary-online.htm

7. History.
Profile the history of an industry, event, or individual related to the product or service that you are promoting. The historical perspective will educate and attract those who have an industry interest.

Example:
What is Shareware / History of Shareware - http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/article25.html

8. Online Tool or Service.
Provide a online web tool or service. Webmasters or search engine marketers may provide a free website critique or a free tool related to the product or service they are marketing in order to attract web traffic. The tool or free service will act as a lost leader bringing web visitors to their website for an indefinite amount of time.

Example:
CSS Scrollbar maker - http://www.iconico.com/CSSScrollbar

9. Interviews or Success Stories
Generate content by interviewing industry professionals. Not only are interviews interesting to website visitors, but also webmasters might find a number of interviewees provide links back to the interview from related industry websites.

Example:
Software Success Stories and Interviews - http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/software-success.htm

10. Interactive Content.
Content that is interactive will not only generate buzz, it will draw in website visitors. One of the first examples of interactive content, the Subservient chicken, generated not only buzz, but a good amount of traffic for Burger King. Marketers have adapted interactive content allowing webmasters to cater content based on web visitors choices or behavior.

Example:
Subservient Chicken - http://www.subservientchicken.com/
My Virtual Model - http://www.mvm.com/en/go_shopping.htm (select clothes to be modeled)

Creative content building techniques can draw interested website visitors. Create timeless, unique content and watch your webtraffic and visitors grow.
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

What is Google Base?

In order for Google Base to succeed, it will need the support of both publishers and users. Quite frankly, most are having difficulty seeing the value in Google Base. Google Base, is a new service in beta, from Google that requests that publishers add their information to the "Google Base". Google Base is hosted by Google. All types of item submissions are accepted online and off-line information in a variety of formats. Google Base uses tagging similar to that found in many social-bookmarking applications, though Google refers to it as labels. The labels are used by Google to categorize or add attributes to the information, that better describes the content. The more popular specific attributes become, the more often Google will suggest them when others post the same or similar items. Additionally, items that become more popular will show up as suggested item types in the "Choose an Existing Item Type" drop down menu.

Based on the relevance of the submitted items, they may also be included in the main Google search index, and other Google products such as Froogle and Local Google Search.

Because the individual submitting the content can define the content using labels, the system is left open to rampant spam. While there does appear to be a "checks and balances" in place with each listing showing a "report a bad link" button, that allow searches to report and indicate that content has been improperly tagged, contains adult content, or is otherwise inappropriate content. It is unclear whether Google will create a hierarchy of web surfers. DMOZ and many Wiki systems, create a leadership structure of users to minimize spam, but the fact remains that both systems are prone to abuses. It is unclear whether Google will implement a similar system.

Google Base is currently available only in English. Web surfers can experiment with Google Base and browse through existing items at any time. However, to submit items, a Google Account must be created. Google Base will currently accept bulk uploads in CSV, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 and Atom 0.3 formats.

Content providers who already have RSS feeds can easily submit their content to Google Base without requiring a lot of additional work. Unfortunately at this time, each Google Account only allows for 10 feeds to be submitted to Google Base. Many content publishers have merged content topics and multiple RSS feeds into a single RSS feed. This is inefficient and may ultimately hurt the structure of Google Base, as each RSS feed may contain items that are unrelated.

One nice feature of Google Base has is a geo-targeting search feature that produces results for a very specific region. However at this time many submission do not include a product location so the geo-targeting feature, while a nice addition, will need some refinement as well.

Google Base currently produces far less relevant searches than a vertical search engine. Why Google is relying on tagging (labels) rather than the contextual spidering makes little sense. And why Google has taken the step of content hosting is unclear. Search Engines historically devalue duplicate content, the Google hosting may provide a unique twist to the duplicate content debates.

While Google Base is still in beta, it is clear that it needs to be polished. In order to garner the support from publishers and users Google articulating the purpose and intent of Google Base might help in gaining support.
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Thursday, February 2, 2006

Great Online Resources for Webmasters

As the web becomes increasingly more crowded, it is important for webmasters to take the extra step to make their web sites user friendly. There are a number of free resources available to webmasters:

What is a Favorite Icon - Favicon?
Favorite icons, also known as favicon, appear in the URL bar. When a user bookmarks a specific Web page, that Web page loads a customized icon into the user's browser, typically a tiny version of a company or Web site's logo. Because the favicon is usually displayed next to the web site address, it can act like a small logo or an icon that visitors can use to remember the web site or the site address.

The favicon is displayed next to the Web site's name in the Favorites list and can also be displayed in the Links toolbar. When a site has not created a favicon, IE will load the IE logo into the browser by default. When a user bookmarks a page, the browser will request a favicon.ico file from the directory of the Web page. If such a file exists, then the Web page is using a favicon and will return the file to the browser. Many browsers support favicons including all current versions of the major browsers support favicons, including Internet Explorer 5/6+, Firefox 1+, Mozilla 1+, Netscape 7+, Opera 7+, Konqueror 3+, Safari and more. If a particular browser doesn't have support for the favicon feature, it'll simply ignore the favicon and the presence of a favicon won't affect that browser.

Webmasters can establish branding by customizing a favorite icon. The free service from HTMLKit
http://www.html-kit.com/favicon

Custom 404 Pages.
Urls are often mistyped into browsers. When a domain is correctly entered, but the web pages full url is entered incorrectly, it is possible to display a custom error page to web site visitors. By providing users a navigational bar or assistance rather than a generic error page. The customized error page will help keep prospective customers on your site providing them alternatives.

Webmasters should also routinely check their log files and correct any pages that result in errors. Most log analysis software will provide the referring document information for a webpage (the page that the user was at prior to the current page). Use the web log to track faulty links, if the links are out of the webmaster's control (a 3rd part), consider setting up a re-direct and forwarding the traffic to the appropriate webpage.

Sample Custom 404s - http://www.web-search-engines.net/error-page or http://www.puzzle-place.net/error-page

Navigation
Clear and intuitive navigation is important so that web surfers can locate the material of interest. Many web surfers will enter your website and land on a variety of pages. It is important that they navigate your site regardless of the webpage they landed on. Links on the site, should contain text that relates to the linked webpage's content.

Consider recruiting a child or inexperienced adult to test your website's navigation. Webmasters can often learn how others view their website, by just watching.

Webmaster Tools
There are a number of freely available web tools that will evaluate a site for a variety of things. Most of the online tools will generate a report and highlight the positive aspects of the website and possibly the negative aspects of the website, as it relates to the evaluation.

Web Analyzer Tool - http://www.webmaster-toolkit.com/web-page-analyser.shtml
Search Engine Assessment Tools - http://www.submitcorner.com/Tools/Assessment/

Take a few extra steps to make your site stand up and out from a competitors.
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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Press Release Distribution: Before and After

Our company has been working in the area of press release distribution for two years. Since then we have performed a great number of projects for different types of software. Our clients come to us for various purposes and with different requests. To meet their expectations with maximum efficiency, we have developed a number of methods. We ascertained the editors requirements for press releases, perfected our skills of solving various issues underlying the process of press release distribution, and realized which methods in our business are particularly effective.

We have gained substantial experience and would like to share it with you. As experience shows, shareware specialists have many questions and concerns about press release distribution, which we address in this article.

What steps should be taken to benefit from press-release distribution? Writing a press release and sending it to a distribution agency is not enough. A successful project also requires pre-release preparation as well as post-distribution support.

Preparatory Stage

If you want to present your product on the market through the media, begin by writing a high quality press release.

Press Release Writing

A press release is a piece of art that requires creativity for its development. On the other hand, it is a document that must satisfy formal structure and text length requirements. A press release should not advertise the product. Instead, it should introduce the product to the press people and give them all adequate information about it. A press release text stuffed with advertising slogans is unacceptable.

The language used in a press release must be stylistically and grammatically perfect. A press release containing errors can spoil the impression about your company and harm its reputation. Poor grammar or a weak style in your press release may result in the rejection of your product by a potential customer even if your product is very good.

Furthermore, editors are very busy people who value their time and expect others to do so as well. Most likely they will have neither time nor desire to review your press-release. Keep this in mind and try to make the text easy for them to cite in their articles (preferably by copying/pasting).


Today you can easily find many good articles with press-release writing tips. For your convenience we have selected some interesting links:

Press release writing tips - http://www.press-release-writing.com/
Press release tips and guidelines - http://www.prweb.com/pressreleasetips.php
Common press release mistakes - http://www.prweb.com/pressreleasemistakes.php

Corporate Press Center

Your corporate website also requires close attention. We strongly recommend devoting a special section of your website to media contacts. It will be a press center for you company. It may be a single page containing the essential information for media workers such as:
- contact information;
- press releases;
- screenshots and logos;
- an offer of a free evaluation version for review.

This information will be of a great help for editors who are interested in learning about your software. The existence of such a press center on your website will give editors a good impression about your company. In a more detailed version, a press center includes the following information:
- contact information;
- press releases;
- press reviews of your products;
- press kits for each product;
- logos (in high resolution for prints and in low resolution for online media);
- screenshots (in two resolutions as well);
- awards and achievements;
- FAQ.

For your information we give below some examples of professionally organized press centers:

Actual Tools
ACD Systems press room
askSam press resources
AKVIS press room
Novastor press center
Thornsoft Development press resources

After all things mentioned above are taken into consideration, you may proceed to the stage of sending your press releases.

Choosing the "From"

We deliver your press-release from the address and name you provided. It is entirely up to you what name to choose and we recommend taking this step seriously. We do not recommend using support- or sales- e-mail addresses like support@companyname.com or sales@companyname.com. Instead, we advise you to create an e-mail address press@companyname.com or, if the name of a person responsible for press contacts is known, name@companyname.com. In fact, if you expect to be in business for any amount of time, we advise you to make an e-mail reference to a real person. Never use fictitious names as it may cause many problems for you in the future.

Post-distribution Support

Dealing with autoreplies

When distribution has been completed, wait for the results. The first portion of replies usually consists of out-of-office, delivery failure, and confirmation messages. They come within one hour of distribution as they are produced automatically. Do not panic when you see this type of messages in your mailbox. These are normal types of messages because you deal with a database of thousands of e-mail addresses. Sometimes the database contains out-of-date addresses because an editor has been replaced, a publishing company has closed, or an editor is on vacation or leave. We work hard on correcting our databases to reduce this effect to a minimum.

Do not ignore authorization requests of antispam systems such as http://spamarrest.com/, http://www.ipermitmail.com/ and others. Take time to get through an authorization procedure.

Contacting editorial staff

After a certain time you will start receiving e-mails from editors. They usually request further information or an evaluation copy of your product. Far all interested recipients will reply to the press release, but those who intend to will contact you during two to three days after the distribution. Someone can publish the news without informing you at all. Afterwards you may want to ask your new customers for the source from which they learned about your company or your product.

Be polite, responsive and open to those editors who get in touch with you. When they ask for an evaluation copy, do not be greedy. Your biggest risk is to lose one license, but without giving an evaluation copy your risk is much more. Editors' reviews often spark greater interest than expensive advertising could. Be afraid not of losing a license but of missing an invaluable chance of having your brand covered in mass media.

Within one week of distribution, it makes sense to contact again those people who replied to your press release. Ask them how they have proceeded in studying the product or writing a review. Also, ask them whether you can be helpful. More than one repeated inquiry may seem tactless and annoying. Try not to go that far.

Try to establish good working relationships with those who respond to a press release and personally inform them of new products and updates. Our service allows you to exclude your existing contacts from our distribution list in order to avoid any repeats.

Conclusion

In conclusion we want to say that the successful results are based not only on the high quality distribution but also on proper preparation and post-distribution activities. Follow our advice, which we hope can help you avoid mistakes and achieve success. Here are our recommendations:

1: Make your press release competent, informative, and objective; meet the size and structure requirements.

2: Make a press center in your website.

3: For the "From" line use a real name and a special e-mail address created for media contacts.

4: Get authorized with antispam systems.

5: Be polite and responsive to editors.

6: Give them a full version of the product for evaluation if needed.

7: Stay in touch with those editors who responded to your news.

We welcome your comments and suggestions concerning this article and the work of our company in general. Feel free to contact us at: info@SoftPressRelease.com.

About the author:
The authors of the article are Michael Tretyakov and Evgenia Kolobukhova from SoftPressRelease.com, an international press release distribution service provider, that specializes in shareware products promotion through the targeted mass media and users community. The website of the company is http://www.SoftPressRelease.com/.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Technology Predictions for 2006 and Reflections on 2005

2005 literally took the world by storm. The tragedies of the Asian Tsunami, the Hurricanes that blew through the US Gulf Coast and the earthquakes that swallowed parts of Pakistan have left an indelible mark on 2005. While mother nature cast a shadow on 2005, it was technology that delivered the impact that resulted in a huge outpouring of donations. The world was touched by the human element seen real-time in pictures and videos. Today's technology was able to deliver the graphical grittiness that portrayed the nightmares occurring half a world away.

Technology is usually thought of as impersonal, but something needs to be recognized; without technology the personal elements of the 2005 tragedies would not likely have been conveyed to the extent and timeliness they were. Reflecting on 2005 and looking forward to 2006, technology will undoubtedly continue play a significant role in the future both on a personal and impersonal level.

In 2005 Blogs gave birth to splogs, where senseless web scrapers generated massive amounts of senseless content. Spam reached a whole new level, right along side the ethical debate of content scraping. Copyrights have been stepped on and I foresee a new host of tools that will emerge to protect content.

SPAM and phishing scams were easier to recognize, but to their credit, spammers showed off their creativity, finding additional channels to inundate. From splogs to forum spam, 2005 tech users saw spam as one of life's continued annoyances. Looking into a crystal ball, I fear that social bookmarking will become the spam vehicle of 2006, weakening the value of a collective voice.

Sadly the blog saturation has resulted in web clutter. Due to increased competition and vast quantities of blogs on free hosted blog networks services, bloggers competing for audiences and web traffic will result in significant abandoned content, cluttering the web with useless ramblings. The ease of blogging that resulted in saturation will be its downfall. Credibility will again become important. Journalist, who have suffered from the blogosphere in 2005, will have a reprieve as credibility becomes an issue for bloggers. In 2006 web surfers are going to look for multiple sources to confirm facts, and rely on reliable respected sources, community content, and collaboration like Wikipedia is going to suffer and become less relevant in 2006. While Wikipedia scores well in search, it does not perform as well with accuracy. The Wikipedia community is haunted by spam and like DMOZ, it's success will be its downfall. The relevance of successful community wiki's will fade in 2006.

Cell phones have become personal homing devices, and it is near impossible to locate a cellular phone that is not capable of manipulating or taking photos, videos, graphics and text messages in addition to the traditional voice calls. It is likely the PDA will become extinct in 2006, as travelers move to a single multifunction device. In 2007 MP3 players will likely be a common feature of cell phones.

Wireless growth is still worth noting, as it has moved from hotspots, to hot zones, to hot cities. Philadelphia and San Francisco are leading the way as wireless cities in 2006.

What is in store for 2006? Privacy is a hot topic that is not going to disappear. Google and the US Government are battling a Big Brother image. Data mining has made the collection of data meaningful. Anti-Google sentiment is growing. Google has fallen from grace, while Google has made friends on Wall Street, it has disappointed surfers who have turned to Yahoo and MSN in growing numbers. 2006 will likely result heat up the search engine war with MSN and Yahoo scrambling for marketshare and Google walking a tightrope with privacy advocates on one end and monopoly theorists on the other end.

Google wants to make money, and like it or not data, is a commodity. Google will likely use the data from their various ventures to develop new technologies and personalize content. Conspiracy theorists believe that the Google's aggregate data will also be used to optimize the fees charged for pay-per-click, influence organic ranking, or worse yet, sold.

Google's growth will continue to motivate privacy advocates and those in the technology field behind the Attention Truste movement, to work together, to improve how personal information and subscription information is used online. I expect we will see a lot of energy and effort in this area.

Personalized content will be a buzz word for 2006. Whether it is users selecting Podcasts, iTunes, or purchasing Amazon recommendations the web is learning how to cater content based on user selections and choices. Web surfers see personalized content as regaining control of what they want to watch, see, or listen to. From Tivo to podcasting, users are taking back control. Yet when the web serves content that is based on past surfing habits, who is really in control?

In 2005, marketers were told in no uncertain terms, if they are not using syndication and RSS, they will not survive. Well, they have one more chance to get it right. In 2006, marketers must use RSS as an alternative communication channel. It will no longer be cutting edge, it will be a must to survive. Web surfers no longer expect to provide personal information (an email address) for marketing materials, they expect to have a choice about how they wish to receive the content.

Vendors selling through affiliate programs lost ground in 2005. Publishers found the easy money of pay-per-click advertising not fraught with the inherent problems of affiliate tracking and cookie-killers. The increase in click-fraud and content scraping on AdSense sites will even the playing field and make affiliate programs more attractive in 2006.

The world is getting smaller, and technological advancements has not only brought us tragedy, but also has opened doors and the global market is now a viable option for small businesses. I believe the globalization trend will continue in 2006.

Top 10 Winners Predicted for 2006:

Cyber Security
VOIP
Attention Data
RSS/Syndication
Copyprotection
Credibility
Privacy
Alternative Energy (reusable fuel, clean energy)
Content Filtering
VideoTunes (iTunes with Video)
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Website Resolutions

As all of us view the new year, we determine various ways to improve ourselves. Whether its eliminating bad habits, or improving quality of life, January 1st is seen as a new beginning and starting point. Your website too, can use a new look. Consider taking the website to task with these down and dirty quick improvement tips for the new year.

New Year's Resolutions for Your Website
Revamp your website. The Internet is evolving at a rapid pace, and websites need constant maintenance and occasional overhauls. As the search engines improve their algorithms, website copy and designs will need to be updated. Here are some starting points:

Remove Bad Outgoing Links
It is important that you are not linking to bad neighbors. Broken links give an unprofessional image and wastes a site visitor. Be sure that all outgoing site links are still valid, and even more importantly, go where you had initially intended. Many popular websites are sold by companies with questionable content. Remove any changed links so that you are not associated with content that is not relevant to your products, service or content.

Unique Titles
Confirm each webpage on your website contains a unique title tag. Not only do unique titles allow you to optimize different sections of your site for different keywords and phrases, but also helps search engines direct traffic to specific pages on your site when specialized keywords are used.

Optimize Graphics
Optimize website graphics to decrease the website's load time. A typical web surfer will only remain on a page for a few seconds. If you do not grab their attention, you will lose them. Shaving size off of a websites graphic elements will mean that their eyes are on your website during those critical seconds.

Update Copyright Notice
A copyright notice should reflect the year the last updates were made to the website. A current copyright notice tells visitors that the content is fresh, not stale and outdated.

Clean up HTML
HTML is a markup language and with constant maintenance it is easy to have a page with an unclosed tag. While some web browsers make allowances for poorly formed HTML, not all do. Therefore, it is important that you take a look at the HTML behind the web page and make sure that it is properly formed.

Update Meta Tags
Update and optimize meta tags to avoid excessive use of keywords. While a once popular search engine optimization technique, stuffed meta tags generally result in search engine penalties. Update meta tags to be accurate and concise without redundancy and recurring words.

Automate
If your site does not currently use templates or server-side includes, it is time to bite the bullet. Spending time now, by employing server side includes or templates will mean easier maintenance and updates later. When you change one item, it will update on all pages of your site.

Links
Increase the quality and quantity of inbound links. Links coming into your site should be from websites that contain related or relevant content. Links from related .edu and .org domains are considered of a higher value than generic links. Any outbound links, should be directed to credible websites that contain related content. The relationship and relevance of links is becoming increasingly more important in most of the search engine ranking algorithms.

Wrapped Content
Links that are embedded in a paragraph rather than a free standing, generally are viewed more favorably by search engines. Consider wrapping links in content summaries.

Size Matters
A website must contain enough relevant content to stand on its own. Obviously the more the better. However, its not just about quantity it is also about quality. While size matters, relevance is equally important. A website should be able to stand on its own, once affiliate links, and pay per click advertising is removed the site should still have value.

Aged Domains
They say with age comes wisdom. Apparently the Search Engine Gods feel the same about domains. The older the domain the better it will typically perform. Give new domains time to age.

A New Years resolution is just a fancy way of saying that you are committed to doing something. Resolve to improve your website this year.
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