Fast Five in Search – Week 29, 2014

fast-five

 

If you’re a long term reader of this blog, you’ll know that I sometimes write articles for SiteProNews. Sometimes I’ll get a reader question here and I’m able to say “I just wrote an article about that topic” and point to the article over at SPN. But apart from the occasional Q&A reference, I’m not great at promoting my own articles.

So for today’s Fast Five, I thought I’d share with you the last 5 articles I wrote for SiteProNews.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) What to Blog About When You Have Nothing to Blog About – This article was inspired by the many, many webmasters who approach me about the difficulty they have finding topics to blog about. In this article, I bust the “blogger’s block” myth and show you just how easy it is to come up with topics for your company blog. I even suggest a range of topics to suit blogs in various industries.

2) Five Must-Have Spreadsheets for Online Marketing Professionals – A short piece that highlights five spreadsheet-based marketing tools that I use myself or recommend on a regular basis.

3) 11 Easy Ways to Build Editorial Links – Another article inspired by questions I get on this blog. This one talks about all the ways you can safely build incoming links to your site in the wake of Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates. This is a two part article, with Part Two over here.

4) A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Domaining – I wrote this article after my recent experience trying to sell a domain I’ve owned for over 10 years. It’s an introduction to the murky but profitable world of domain flipping and includes a detailed list of domaining resources.

and finally…

5) 20 Free Marketing eBooks You Need to Download Right Now – Trust me, you’ll want to bookmark this one. This article is a review of my favorite free eBooks and White Papers relating to marketing, categorized by theme. In the article, I’ve linked to the jump page from where you can access the PDF file for each freebie.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Q and A: How reliable is the data from Alexa?

QuestionHi Kalena

I regularly use a tool that I think is super useful but one of my colleagues believes it is bogus. The tool is Alexa.com, have you heard of it? The site seems to show really good audience demographic data and I’ve used it quite often to give clients visitor statistics and a ball-park value for their web sites and their competitors.

The site has been around a long time and I’ve shown my friend the reports I’ve generated, but he said that the data is exaggerated. After talking with my colleague, I’m concerned about whether I should be using it. What’s your opinion of Alexa?

Bruce

Hi Bruce

I’m with your colleague on Alexa – I am not a fan. In my opinion, the information they provide is completely skewed and inaccurate because of the way they gather their data and install their toolbar. Sure they’ve been around since 1996 and sure, they’re owned by Amazon but that’s about as impressive as the stats get I’m afraid. You might want to read these past articles about Alexa:

If You Cite Compete or Alexa For Anything Besides Making Fun of Them, You’re a Moron

3 Reasons Why Alexa Sucks (And They Know It!)

Alexa Says YouTube is Now Bigger Than Google. Alexa is Useless.

Why is Alexa Still Relevant?

My view isn’t just based on these articles either. I downloaded the Alexa Toolbar and reviewed it for several years before discounting it. In my opinion, you’re better off installing Google Analytics and generating more accurate statistical reports for your clients.

Kalena

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SEO Proposal Template Software

A few  years ago I discovered a terrific new business tool and I was so excited about its potential that I wrote a review article about it to share my discovery with others.

The product was Proposal Kit.  My review was called Close the Sale With Proposal Kit and I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers of that article, thanking me for introducing them to the product.

In case you’re not already familiar with the software, Proposal Kit takes the guesswork out of drafting a proposal or contract. It automates the chore of putting together a complex business proposal. Basically, Proposal Kit provides a comprehensive range of templates to suit any business requirement and helps you build a framework for your proposal to match virtually any product or service offering.

seo proposal template software

You then flesh out the templates with your own data and contact details. Templates are particularly suited to online businesses and include documents for the initial sales pitch, the planning stage, estimating, contracting, project timelines, analysis and even invoicing.

I’ve been using Proposal Kit for over 5 years now and I am still as enthusiastic about it as ever. So when developers of the product (Cyber Sea) told me of their latest upgrade this month, I was very excited.

You see, amongst the 40 new contract templates available in the new versions of Proposal Kit Pro and Contract Kit Pro is a Search Engine Optimization Services Contract, designed for SEOs just like me.

Let’s take a look at what’s been upgraded in the latest versions of the product:

sample business proposal

Proposal Packs 9.0

  • Over 300 pages of new material have been added to Proposal Pack (new templates, checklists, samples, instructional material) adding over 60% more material to this version.
  • Added 61 new proposal templates increasing the total number of templates to over 270. Templates added include: Profile, Client Summary, Abstract, Estimate, Significance, Activities, Design, Planning, Approach, Innovativeness, Project Plan, System Plan, Promotion, Site Planning, Environmental, Public Relations, Community, Coordination, Responsibilities, Documentation, Authority, Measures of Success, Dissemination, Budget Information, Wholesale Price List, Retail Price List, Cost Effectiveness, Resources, Hourly Services Contract, Invoice, Memorandum of Understanding, Credentials, Capabilities, Accreditations, Certifications, Geographic Information, Key Positions, Contractors, Legal Eligibility, Authorization, Board of Directors, Policies, Flow Chart, Board Resolution, Contact Letter, Letter of Transmittal, Support Letter, Commitment Letter, Collaboration Letters, Report, Tab, Worksheet, Supplied Form, Appendix F, Appendix G, Appendix H, Appendix I, Appendix J, Fax Cover Sheet, Bid / No-Bid Checklist, Grant Proposal Development Checklist.
  • Added a proposal bid/no-bid decision checklist.
  • Added a government grant proposal development checklist.
  • Added a complete service level agreement to the Contract and Terms template.
  • Added an additional manual for writing Federal government grant proposals using Proposal Pack.
  • 15 general business sample proposals have been added.
  • 10 Federal government grant sample proposals have been added (USDA, Department of Justice, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Housing and Urban Development).
  • New Title Page graphics have been added for “Resume”, “Contract”, “Plan”, “Submission”, “Presentation”, “Report”, “Study”, “Estimate”, “Response”.
  • The Table of Contents has been updated to add all of the new templates.

Proposal Kit Pro 12.0

Over 500 pages of new material have been added to Proposal Kit Pro (new templates, checklists, samples, instructional material) adding over 50% more material to this version.

Contract Pack:

  • Minor grammar changes made to some documents.
  • Four new categories of contracts have been added: Advertising and Marketing, Graphics and Printing, Computer Systems and Internal Company Plans.
  • 41 new contracts, agreements and related documents have been added (over 144 pages of new material): Authorization to Start Work, Replication Quote Order Form, Email Marketing Creative by Agency Agreement, Email Marketing Creative by Designer Agreement, Pay Per Click (PPC) SEO Campaign Services Contract, Signage and Printing Order Form, Print Quote Form, Colocation Hosting Short Form Contract, Managed Hosting Service Level Agreement, Web Hosting Change Addendum, Pocket Photo Release Agreement, Photo Reprint Rights Agreement, Photo Credit Waiver, General Services Agreement, Repair Estimate Quote, General Contractor Work Order, Right of First Refusal Partnership Agreement, Right of First Refusal with Non-Disclosure Agreement, Works for Hire Agreement, Project Acceptance Partial Signoff, Project Acceptance Simple Signoff, Software Development Plan, Reprint Rights Agreement, SEO Services Reseller Contract, Disaster Recovery Plan, Software Disaster Recovery Plan, Human Resources Guide Update Addendum, PDA Usage Policy, Wireless Networking Usage Policy, Application for Employment, Employment Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure, Drug and Alcohol Testing Consent Form, Employee Promotion Authorization Form, Employee Notice of Salary Increase Form, Employee Injury Report Form, Expense Report, Hourly Services Agreement, Company Equipment Checkout Form, Agency Photo Shoot Model Release Form, Employee Grievance Form, Employee Demotion Form
  • Many existing contracts have been updated with new replaceable tags and consistent usage of terms.
  • Added 20 new standard mail merge tags to many documents.

Sample Proposal Pack Template Styles (sold separately)

Estimate Pack:

  • Updated HTML organizer to help find and open documents easier.
  • Added Customer and Proposal Number tags to all spreadsheets for helping organize estimates by customer and proposal.
  • Updated line items in existing spreadsheets with additional material.
  • Added Help Desk Services Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Print Project Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Flash Animation Project Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Network Server Setup Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Software Services Project Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Added Computer Repair and Maintenance Estimate Spreadsheet.
  • Project Management Pack:
  • Renamed product from “Web Plan Kit” to “Project Management Pack”.
  • Minor updates to existing documents to update outdated material.Proposal Pack Template Styles (sold separately)
  • Added Web Development Worksheet Overview.
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Worksheet (R01).
  • Added Describe User Controlled Content Worksheet (R02).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Functions Worksheet (R03).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Users Worksheet (R04).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Administration Worksheet (R05).
  • Added Describe Your Web Site Home Page Worksheet (R06).
  • Added Project Plan Worksheet.
  • Added Project Analysis Overview Worksheet.
  • Added SEO Organic Keyword Report.
  • Added SEO Pay Per Click Keyword Report.
  • Added Customer Service Call Log Spreadsheet.
  • Added Disaster Recovery Plan.
  • Added Software Disaster Recovery Plan.
  • Added Expense Report Spreadsheet.

Visit the Proposal Kit website for details on pricing, a product comparison chart and information on how to upgrade.


SEO Proposal Template

Now, about that SEO Services Contract that I’m so excited about. Having run an SEO business for over ten years now, I KNOW how difficult it is to produce a reliable, standard contract to give to SEO clients. Search engine optimization can be such a complex process that it is vitally important your client contract spells out your services, delivery schedule, responsibilities and campaign expectations while addressing all areas of potential client confusion.

Such contracts take time to develop and can be very expensive if drawn up from scratch by a law firm. Many SEOs, especially those just starting out, simply don’t have the time, resources, knowledge or budget to have a high quality, water-tight contract developed for their business. That’s why I see the inclusion of an SEO Services Contract in the latest Proposal Kit upgrade as a boon for SEOs everywhere.

Proposal template designs (sold separately)

Even if your business already has a contract in place, the purchase price of Proposal Kit Pro or Contract Pack Pro, (both which come with the SEO contract included), is well worth the investment to be able to compare your contract with the detailed sample provided. Something important to keep in mind is that legal contracts in the Contract Pack should not be viewed as binding legal documents until they are reviewed by your lawyer. Because every business has different products, services, clients and operates in different geographical environments, legal requirements vary widely. By all means use the contract templates to draft your contract, but make sure you have the document carefully reviewed by your company law firm to ensure it meets your specific legal requirements. This is emphasized within the templates.

Not all sections of the SEO Contract will apply to every SEO business, particularly those listed under “Services Provided”, but the document is so comprehensive that you can mix and match sections and clauses that are specifically relevant to your business, such as “Delivery Dates and Milestones”, “Web Page Creation, Edits and Custom Programming” and “Keyword Selection”. I’ve already spotted three or four important clauses that our existing client contract overlooks. Not to mention the benefits of having access to hundreds of professional proposal templates from which to pick and choose to match your own business requirements.

business proposal templates

For smaller SEOs or those just starting out in the industry, the latest version of Proposal Kit could save you a fortune and give your business a much needed injection of professionalism.

Of course that goes for non-SEO businesses too!

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Review: Omni Chair from Sumo Lounge

[Disclaimer: Sumo Lounge sent me an Omni chair to keep in exchange for taking the time to review.]

When I was first approached by Sumo Lounge about reviewing their Omni chair in my blog, I thought: What? Why me? Then I realized that it actually made perfect sense.

Being one of Australia’s Top 100 bloggers means that I have a large audience that is likely to be a similar demographic that Sumo Lounge are trying to reach with their Omni beanbags.

It turns out that Sumo Lounge have just rolled out their products into the Australian and New Zealand markets and according to their site, the Omni chair is the most reviewed bean bag chair in the world. So Sumo Lounge actually get better traction from people blogging about their bean bags than they do from typical glossy mag or TV advertising. Smart!

The fact that I also dig beanbags and they offered to send me one was a pretty good incentive too. Never turn down a free beanbag in a global economic recession, that’s my motto.

But seriously, I had been using an ergonomic office chair for hours every day and was still suffering from severe neck pain. Taking the laptop into the living room to work while watching TV was not much fun either, because our sofa is one of those huge things that envelope you with cushiony goodness and it’s hard to get out of – not great for the spine OR comfortable for typing. So I was on the lookout for a more versatile chair that would allow me the freedom to work on the laptop in various locations.

So a couple of weeks ago, this THING arrived (see pic).

I don’t know who was more excited, me or my five year old. I couldn’t believe how big it was and figured it would probably fit two people depending on, erm, their positions. The bright color was great and while I could tell it was filled with traditional beans, the covering was unlike normal beanbags. It was like a cross between vinyl and plastic and was flexible but quite tough.

My five year old test-drove the Omni chair first, sitting in it for about an hour watching some after-school TV. He gave it two thumbs up. So I tried it out for a half hour or so in a kind of lazy, nearly fully laying down position while reading. So far, so good. I decided one night that I wanted to get some work done while watching a movie so it was time to try out the chair as a working location. First of all, I had to sculpt it into the shape that would support my spine and allow me to sit my laptop comfortably in my lap. I chose to mould it upright like the pictures on the site (see pic). That done, I parked myself and got to work.

At first it was kind of uncomfortable, but then I worked out that I wasn’t giving my neck enough support, so re-arranged the chair until my back was relatively straight and the top of the chair was touching my hairline. That was much better, but after an hour of typing I developed quite locked shoulders and a stiff neck. Mind you, this may have had more to do with the fact I was constantly switching my gaze from my laptop to the plasma screen.

Unfortunately, the Omni chair wasn’t high enough to use at my desk, but I did use it a couple of times while working in the living room. The Omni is best as a chair to lounge in while watching TV or performing Singstar Karaoke (ahem…). Being able to shape it to your own body or preferred sitting position is unique to this particular chair and not something I’ve seen in any other beanbag. But it’s still a beanbag and therefore not recommended for long term use if you want to protect your back and support your spine.

A week or so after the Omni chair arrived, my son came to me with a handful of beans saying that the bag was *leaking little balls*. Uh Oh, I thought. Sure enough, the chair had developed a small tear in the seam and the beans were leaching out. (photo) I had noticed when I received it that the stitching along one side looked pretty flimsy and the inner row of stitching had actually failed, meaning that beans were located along one side between the inner and outer rows of stitching, but I thought perhaps I’d been sent a manufacturer’s second and that it didn’t really matter.

But at some point after it arrived, the outer row of stitching gave way and now it has a 5 cm hole along the seam on one side so we can’t use it. My five year old son had apparently been jumping on it too, so I’m not really surprised the seam gave way. I realize now that I should have alerted the supplier about the seam breach when it first arrived. Oh well!

The good news is that I let the Sumo Lounge people know about the issue and they’re going to send me a replacement. Hopefully it will last a little longer than 1 week.

Moral of the story? Don’t let 5 year olds jump on your beanbag.

Grade out of 10 for the Omni Chair? 5/10
Grade out of 10 for Sumo Lounge’s customer service? 9/10

UPDATE December 2009:

I never did receive a replacement Omni Chair and any follow up emails to the company were ignored. Therefore:

Revised Grade out of 10 for Sumo Lounge’s customer service? 5/10

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Review:SEOSiteCheckup.com

Hi Kalena,

I noticed that your site contains information on search engine optimization. I’d like to notify you of a new, free tool for automatically analyzing URLs for a comprehensive range of SEO issues.

www.seositecheckup.com

Submitted by: Rachel from seositecheckup.com

Review findings:

For:
Easy to use due to only one field to populate so enter your URL and away you go!

Site analysis is fairly quick and results are displayed in easy to understand sections;

– High importance
– Medium importance
- Successful check

There are useful explanations and suggestions with rollover help pop-ups for each section.
In the event of the site being analyzed returning any results flagged as red or amber, the application displays detailed instructions and explanations as to why these have failed along with links and suggestions on how these issues can be resolved. These instructions can be a little technical and may be of more use to web designers and SEO specialists rather than the end user and site owners.

Against:
Browser compatibility – site appears to have been written for IE7 – slight misalignment of left edge when viewed in FireFox 3.01 and Opera 9.5

Conclusion:
There seems to be a lot of focus on the page size and even when the page analysed is less than the average page size (25Kb as stated in the application) there is still the suggestion to compress the page size further.

All in all this is a good and easy to use resource which, when used in conjunction with other site checking applications, can provide an excellent starting point or a reference for cross checking other web site optimisation processes.

Andy
Wildcat SEO

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