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Five Key Factors for Compelling Web Content

Readers-searching1-618wAlthough content has always been considered the be the “king” when it comes to writing compelling web material, with the rapidly increasing numbers of websites “out there”, never has it been so vitally important to make your content better that of your competition, so it pays to take the time to create high quality articles that visitors truly want to read.

Forget about taking shortcuts; no matter what niche or business you are in, the quality of your articles, posts & sales material will always be the key to a successful online venture.

To write content that really conveys the message you want to get across, take note of these 5 key factors:

Make It Easy To Read
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Keep that in mind many people skim-read webpages. Your target readers are probably subscribed to several news feeds or  blogs, so if you want to hold their interest, you need to make your content easy to read.

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Remember readers like white space, so use short paragraphs and bullet points or numbered lists with subheadings. Use web recommended fonts because research has shown them to be the most easily read by the majority of readers. A particular font might appeal to you, but that doesn’t mean it will have universal appeal or be easily read by others, especially those with poorer eyesight.

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Add graphics to your articles where that is appropriate as this makes the structure of your post more visually appealing and helps to keep your article focused on the point you want to get across.

Good Quality Material

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While it is true that you can get articles written very cheaply when you don’t want (or don’t have time) to write them yourself and also true that some so-called “gurus” claim to still make money using poorly written articles, these guru’s may well have a very large list of people who will buy whatever they recommend, regardless of quality.

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Therefore, it isn’t a good idea for you to do what they do because you want to build a good reputation for yourself, build your business so that your readers and customers see you as a quality provider and will be more interested in your next offer. Remember, it is easier to sell something to an existing customer than it is to find a new one.

Be Natural

Cute_Vector_Robot_Character_176x189Don’t try to fill your article with keywords; make your sentences flow in a clear, informative and entertaining manner.  Search engines have evolved to the point where you will be penalised for overuse of keywords, rather than rewarded in the rankings.

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The best advice is to stop worrying about keywords. If you are answering the questions your searchers are asking then the keywords will come into the content naturally.

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Of course you can add some in on purpose after the article is finished, but in a way that does not upset the flow. Keywords should be secondary to creating an article that’s interesting and informative.

A comfortable Length

Funny_Robot_Vector_Character_25_2There may be accepted “rules” as to how long your online articles should be, but every article and every subject is different, so use your common sense about it.

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Imagine that you are the person searching for your content; ask yourself if you could find the answer to what you want to know in just 100 – 150 words? If the answer to this is “yes”, then 100 -150 words is long enough! The key is to use as many words as are required to address the subject without getting off track or including unnecessary detail and very often, that will require a lot more than 100 words.

Current

Most online content becomes out of date and needs updating from time to time. Yes, some things don’t change much over time, like how to grow vegetables or recipes, so articles about these subjects are considered “evergreen” because they are still relevant long after being written. Robot_Vector_Character_with_Thumbs_Up_175x215 However, just because they are still relevant doesn’t mean you can re-hash them without penalty from the search engines.

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Remember that Google, Bing and the like are businesses too, trying to please their customers (searchers) so they will reward those who upload content that is fresh, up to date and original. It pays to take advantage of this fact by keeping on top of your industry and keeping your readers informed. 

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It is a mistake to take shortcuts when it comes to high quality content. In the long term, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to write material that will convince your reader to take action and join your list or buy whatever you are offering.

The Humble Computer Mouse

The choice of computer mouse is a very individual thing and depends on many factors:

  • How many hours a day you work at your computer?
  • Is your primary computer a desktop, a laptop or notebook or even a tablet; but you won’t be needing a mouse if it is a tablet, will you?
  • How big your hands are.
  • Do you want/need to use wired, wireless or bluetooth?
  • Whether you use the scroll function or not.
  • Do you suffer from wrist pain?

In some of these instances, the cheaper type mouse that comes with your computer will serve your needs adequately, but if you, like me work for about eight hours every day, the comfort and functions of your mouse are particularly important.
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On the left below is a photo of the first mouse I paid in excess of $60 for and never regretted it at all. It was comfortable in my largish hands and I didn’t ever suffer any wrist pain even though I worked at my PC sometimes up to 12 hours in a day. The day I dropped it on the tiled floor and broke it was a very sad day for me.
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Luckily I was able to buy another different model  but with the same profile within a couple of days. That one too has died lately so I’m looking for a new one, the Kensington mouse on the right below might well be the one since I have had a word in Santa’s ear!
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The logitech 2nd from left has served as my laptop mouse for a couple of years – it does look a bit battered, doesn’t it? Very similar profile and quite comfortable. The third photo shows my big hands – imagine my right hand wrapped around one of these tiny mobile models! However, I do carry a retractable one around in my laptop bag, as a backup and the occasions when an extra mouse is needed to test someone’s computer.

 History of the computer mouse

Tracking Technology

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Did you know that the name mouse is derived from “Manually Operated User Select Equipment”? This makes the argument about whether more than one computer mouse should be called computer mouses or computer mice (as we do for the rodent variety). It seems there has been no absolute ruling and generally computer companies avoid the issue by calling them mouse devices. Probably mouses is technically correct, but it sounds awkward and people tend to use mice for the plural form.
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The original design for a mouse was mechanical; the mouse had a ball in a compartment underneath and embedded around the edge were some little rollers. These would clog up from the dust and dirt from the user’s desk and needed cleaning to keep the mouse running smoothly (I did this countless times when clients or friends complained that their mouse wasn’t working properly). There were also four sliding type feet that clogged up as well, but these devices were a boon when the alternative was just keyboard shortcuts.
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Along came optical technology and made our lives so much easier. A small LED on the bottom of the mouse translates the movement of your hand into movement of the mouse pointer. Laser mouse devices work the same way, but using a laser instead af the LED. Laser mice have a higher dpi (dots per inch) which means they are more sensitive. For general users this extra sensitivity is not really needed, but graphic designers and gamers often appreciate the difference and make a laser mouse their choice.

Wired Connectors

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The early mice (see above) had a serial connector plug, see picture below. Serial ports were the original standard for interfacing any device with any other device on a computer. Later, a smaller 6 pin Mini Din was introduced by IBM on their PS/2 personal computer and this led to the connector type being called PS/2. For many years PC’s had PS/2 connectors for both keyboard and mouse.
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Some computers still come with two PS/2 ports, but more commonly they just have one, the USB (Universal Serial Bus) being the most common type of interface on all computers, whether PC or Mac. All USB ports look the same, but there is the original USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 which allows much faster (almost 40x as fast) or increased delivery capabilities. The ports are backwards compatible, so you can plug an old USB 1.1 device into a 2.2 port and it will still go.

Wireless

Originally the mouse device was connected to the computer by a cable using one of the technologies above, but nowadays you have the choice (an increasingly common one), to go with wireless. The early hassles of wireless connections seem to have been ironed out and wireless usually works very easily on any platform. Yay! So much more freedom.

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Radio Frequency – this is the most common type of wireless interface. A generic mouse operates on th 27MHz frequency and the mouse is powered by batteries. More expensive models can come with rechargeable batteries or charging docks for the mouse. They may use higher frequencies and have a longer range.
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bluetooth.
Bluetooth was useful for lower speed devices like a mouse and was common on early laptops. They are also battery powered and use the 2.4GHz radio frequency to communicate with a receiver/charger supplied with the package or some other Bluetooth adapter...
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RFIDRFID (Rapid Frequency Identification) technology uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data to automatically identify and track tags, which for a mouse is movement. Developed by a company called A4Tech, the mouse must be used in conjunction with the included mose pad, but the advantage is that it is wireless and no batteries are needed.
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Wheels and Buttons

Nearly all mouse devices nowadays have three buttons, with the middle button also being a scroll-wheel. This scroll wheel is essential in my opinion to navigate up and down your screen and on web pages. Any other buttons, typically on the left hand side for a right handed mouse or on the RHS for a left handed mouse, can be programmed by the user to carry out different functions.

 

Buying a computer mouse

A quick search on eBay will show just what a variety of choice there for buying a new mouse – some are fun, some are fancy, some for serious gamers and some ergonomic models for users like me. So how do you choose?

Narrow down the options with these requirements:

  • Do you want wired or wireless?
  • Do you need laser or will Optical suit your needs?
  • What size – full-sized, medium or small (also called compact,  mini, mobile, laptop etc)
  • PS/2 or USB? USB is more common but if your computer does not have many USB ports, but does have PS/2 ports, using a PS/2 mouse (or keyboard) will leave an extra USB port available for other peripherals.
  • Scrolling – do you need left and right as well as up and down?
  • Buttons – does your work (or play) require advanced features?

A great place to see what is available is on eBay, even when you want to shop locally. The wide variety of mouse devices listed there will give you a good idea of all the functions and help you narrow down your choice.
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I have a mouse collection on eBay, just for the fun of it – see some of my pics

See my Collection here http://www.ebay.com/cln/plfbus/Fun-Fancy-Mouse-Collection/66866785015

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Keeping in Touch at Xmas

Nearly Christmas time again and the end of another year – it's amazing how fast the time goes by.

Christmas is a time for family and friends, for catching up with those you haven't seen for a while and for telling others you appreciate them and how much they mean to you. What better way than to send them a greeting whether as a phone call, a letter, a card in the post or an e-card or perhaps a personal video greeting. 

 

Do not be daunted by some of these ideas as they can be fun to make and your sentiments are appreciated by the receiver. Let's start by examining the options: 

If you want to make your own greeting cards, or just want some festive icons to add to emails or web pages, you can get these great Xmas icons free from Mighty Deals – just click on their "Free Stuff" tab. They come in 3 sizes, 64 x 64, 128 x 128 &  256 x 256 so come in very handy for a variety of projects. Mighty Deals also have Xmas stickers free just now – they are on currently on page 2 of the Free Stuff. There's heaps of other graphics in the free stuff as well, so check them out.  

 

Xmas Icons For e-cards with a unique touch, you can't go past Ojolie.com  –  I first heard about Frederikke's cards way back in 2008 (see my earlier blog post for more information) and have renewed my very low priced membership ever since ($12 for one year and $18 for 2 years). I've lost count of how many cards there are available, but there's a wide selection for all sorts of occasions and the great thing is that the membership area keeps track of that cards you have previously sent to the people on your email list there. They have a nice selection of free cards as well for you to try for yourself. Many of my friends have commented on the delightful cards I've sent them, so check them out at Ojolie.com or on facebook.

 

If you'd like a video to share this Christmas, try Animoto – they make it easy to use your own photos, text & even videos to produce a professional looking video message.  You can make a free one of 30 seconds or less with some limitations on the number of your own photos you upload but the cost is reasonable if you want to a bigger project. The free one below was made in about 4 minutes just as a demo.

The compliments of the season to you all. Trish

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

Promote Your Home Business

Use the same marketing tools as a standard brick and mortar business, to promote your at home venture.

Advertising your service or product, is just as important, if not more, when you work from the home. It is important that the public knows how to find you and that your business exists. In order to find success in running your own home business, you must be totally comfortable promoting yourself.

As the owner of a home business, you will need to talk up your business to a large number of potential customers. You have to be able to make your customers feel that your business and products are of the highest quality. Learning to successfully self-promote, is one of the keys to making big time profits.

Participate in trade shows that focus on your particular product or service. Trade shows provide a great way to network with others in your industry. It is also an effective way to promote your business to many potential customers by providing you with a setting to demonstrate your product or service.

Create a mailing list for your home business. This can either be through snail mail or the internet. Let others know about any special deals you are offering or just promote your business.

You can also send out small updates or newsletters to your customers to let them know what has been going on. This will increase traffic to your web site.

Examine all of the ways your home business appears in the marketplace and be sure you have a consistent message and presentation.

Whether it is your business cards, web site or social media business page, keeping your messaging professional and synchronized helps you promote your business appropriately and clearly across multiple channels.

Having a home business does not mean you have to stay home.

Get out of the house to network and promote your home business.

Promoting your business will help make your business grow and in turn make you more money.

Being active in the community will help to spread the word of your business. Business cards are a great way to promote your home based business and get your name out to the community.

Search for free business cards online and then distribute them wherever you go, including grocery stores, dentist offices and your children's schools.

Set up an advertising and promotional item budget for your home business and make sure you stick to it.

Advertising, free products, printing and more can add up quickly.

When you stick within your allotted budget, you help your business stay on track. Your budget will grow over time and you will be able to spend more money to promote your business down the line.

Promote your home business by offering a coupon for a free sample or a discount for your services. People are attracted to free offers, so this is a good way to bring in new customers. People are more willing to try a new business if they do not have to risk their own money to try it.

If you are caught by what is being called the "latest recession" and you are  wondering, "How is my family going to get by?", see if some of these ideas and helpful tips can help you survive and improve your financial situation.

My Favourite Freebie that I Got From Randy Smith

I have talked about Randy Smith before on my blog; he is one of the genuine internet marketers out there who really wants to help people be successful too.

His blog, Randy's Ramblings (http://randolfsmith.com)   is a mix of personal and business and is always entertaining, contains helpful business ideas and links to freebies to help beginners as well as those further along. 

Of the many very useful freebies, the one that wins hands down for me is the IMA Link Cloaker as it has been a great time-saver for me.

After setting it up on it's own domain, I now have all my affiliate link details  and cloaked links in one place instead of having to scramble through all the various blogs and sales pages where I first set them up.

Before I used the IMA link cloaker, I tried keeping a spreadsheet detailing where everything was, but some weren't recorded, some were on the list but were no longer correct & there were quite a number of duplicate cloaked domains for the same destination.

Apart from keeping track, the best management feature of the IMA link cloaker is the ability to verify the link with one click form inside the software – so much faster than having to copy and paste the cloaked link into a browser tab to check for errors or to make sure a link is not out-dated.

This might not be a useful tool for you, but it's well worth checking out Randy's blog for any of his other useful freebies if you have any interest at all in choosing internet marketing to earn a bit of extra income; you'll learn a lot and also meet some really good people in the randolfsmith.com  community.

Best wishes
Trish