Friday, October 31, 2008

Q&A: How do I get my new website listed on the search engines?

Question: How do I get my new website listed on the search engines?

Couple ways:

1- Pay someone (sometimes worth it, sometimes a waste of money. If they mention 'thousands of search engines' they are full of crap.)

2- Find the free "add links" for each list/directory/search engine you want to try for, then wait the 1-6 months to be listed.

3- Use the pay 'rapid review' links on most of em to cut your time down.

4- Build a network of link exchanges.

Focus on Google(60%), Yahoo (30%), AOL (5%) & MSN (5%).
Rest of the sites out there tend to pull from those 4 to build their listings.

Googles Adwords and Adsence are good. Just pay attention to the rules they have as they will cut you off if they think you're trying to cheat the system.

Metatag use is an art. Make sure whatever you use in your tags is in your page. You can focus different tags for each page and fine tune.

Don't expect immediate results.

Search engine optimization and listings are an ongoing work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tip Of The Week : Dealing with all those "Forward this" emails.

No, Bill Gates is not going to send you $100 for forwarding on this email.
No, that little 11 yr old girl is not going to get money from teh Red Cross if you report this 100 times.
No, Microsoft ic not tracking this email.
No, sending me this email is not going to install the super duper antivirus tissue paper on my system.

Every day, I get at least 1 of these or a thousand other email chain letters. I am constantly surprised at this, because often those forwarding them are intelligent and educated people.

Before you forward on the next virus warning, sob story, free offer, etc, check it out with the guys who track these things.

See also here

Monday, October 27, 2008

Identity Theft. Myths, Reality and Safety

Identity Theft. Myths, Reality and Safety
by Bob Hubbard

It happens every day. Thousands of people find their bank accounts drained, their credit ruined or worse. The media and others have created a fear, or almost panic situation in people today. "The Internet's Fastest Growing Crime" they say, but is it really? Here I will attempt to expose some of the most common myths concerning this issue.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) identity theft is actually on the decline while costs rise. This conclusion is based on surveys performed by the FTC and BBB in 2003 and 2004.
- 2003 - 10.1 million U.S. victims - $51.4 billion.
- 2004 - 9.6 million U.S. victims - $52.6 billion.
- 2005 - 9.3 million U.S. victims - $54.4 billion.
- 2006 - 8.9 million U.S. victims - $56.6 billion.

So what is identity theft?
Identity theft falls into four categories:
- Financial Identity Theft - using another's name and SSN to obtain goods and services.
- Criminal Identity Theft - posing as another when apprehended for a crime.
- Identity Cloning - using another's information to assume his or her identity in daily life.
- Business/Commercial Identity Theft - using another's business name to obtain credit.

So how do the criminals obtain your information?
Usually through the victims own negligence.

Wait a minute, I hear you saying. Doesn't it come from all these security breaches and lost laptops I keep hearing about?


Very little of that information ends up in criminal hands. Losses through online phishing attempts are also minimal as most people are aware of them and take proper precautions.

The majority of identity theft comes from lost wallets, checkbooks and credit cards, followed by friends or relatives with access to your personal information, or corrupt coworkers. Computer related thefts of information account for less than 10% of the total.

Relatives account for one third of all identity thefts!

But, what about email and message boards and online banking?

Perfectly safe, if you use some common sense.

Myth - Online Banking is not safe.
Truth - Untrue. Online banking is safer, as there are less papers to misplace. Be certain that you are on an encrypted connection (the little lock symbol). By banking online, you can see your transactions within days not weeks, allowing you to detect problems quicker.

Myth - Online ordering is riskier than shopping in person.
Truth - Untrue. If the site is using a reliable real-time processor, your transaction is safer than shopping live. No human sees your personal data, there are no carbons to sign, and no paperwork to lose. Be certain that the site uses a secure processor. When you shop in person, you create a paper trail and often hand your card to an unknown person. When dining out, what really happens to your card after you hand it to your server and they vanish for 5-15 minutes with it?

Myth - Sending a check is safer.
Truth - Untrue. When you mail a check, you have no idea who will see it, or what information might be stolen. Your check contains your name, address and banking information. Paying online with a card through a properly secured payment site is safer.

Myth - If I tell you who I am, you can steal my identity.
Truth - Untrue. Use an internet search engine like Google and look up your name. You might be surprised to see how many people share it. Locally, there are 5 others with my name. Your name alone, is not enough to steal your identity. A thief will need other information such as bank accounts, tax id, or other similarly confidential information. A name alone is very rarely enough. One needs other personal information to match up with it for a name to be of any use to the thief.

Myth - If I use a PO Box I'm safe right?
Truth - Untrue. Your mail can be intercepted at any point. Be certain that you have your box setup so that only authorized individuals can ask for your mail at the desk. Be aware of who has access to your keys, and if you notice a slowdown in mail, make sure no one has placed an unauthorized forwarding order on your box, or home.

So, how can I really be safe?

The first step, is to make sure that your computer is secure. Install a good firewall and anti virus program, and regularly sweep it for spy-ware.

Secondly, don't leave important information like banking information, passwords, pin numbers, or tax information where just anyone can find it.

shred all important documents when you throw them away. This includes utility bills, tax documents and anything with your social security number.

Regularly check your credit reports. You can get a free credit report from each of the 3 main agencies by going to
Please note the https rather than the usual http. This signifies a secure web site.

Be wary of giving out account numbers or your social security (tax id) over the phone or by email.

When you buy new computers, be certain to wipe the old one clean. Format the hard drive several times over at least, or better yet, use a utility to overwrite the old drive with gibberish.

Review your accounts regularly and report missing statements and other discrepancies promptly.

The reality is that one is at greater risk of theft from their own carelessness (trusting family, or discarding sensitive documents improperly) than shopping online from a reliable site or participating in a forum. Use some common sense, and you'll be fine.


Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts sites and He is president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists as well as a professional photographer. More of Bob's articles can be found at

Copyright ©2007 Bob Hubbard - Copies of this article are free to distribute, provided all text is retained intact.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Q&A: What should I look for in a web hosting company?

Q&A: What should I look for in a web hosting company?


Looking for and finding a reliable hosting company for your website is a key component in your business success. When researching a company here are some tips:

1- Use Google.
Use Google to look for other sites hosted by the company, as well as reviews of their service. Include words like "sucks" and "fraud" to find complaints.

2 Visit and check there as well.
WHT is the largest hosting discussion community around, and is regularly visited by thousands of hosts and their customers.

3- Check references.
If possible, find others who are using them and see how their service has been.

Some things to look for:

1- Connectivity to the rest of the Internet.
Are they running off a single cable, or do they have multiple connections to provide backup should 1 fail. Avoid hosts with a single connection, and run from anyone hosting out of their spare bedroom. That works for a hobby site but not for a serious business.

2- Uptime.
You'll see almost every host list 99.99999999etc uptime. But check those reviews and see what they were really providing. A few extra 9's doesn't really mean anything, but if a number of people are complaining about connection problems, that's a good sign to avoid that host.

3- Support
Everyone seems to offer email support, but that doesn't do you much good if your email is inaccessible. Look for a host who offers a help desk that allows you to track your issues. Email support is a default, but look for hosts who also offer support through instant messaging. As usual, phone support is golden, provided you reach a human who can help you, and not an answering service or voice mail. Try calling their support line a few times and see how long it takes to be answered, and if you get a live person.

4- Reliable Hardware
Cheap is cheap. Reliable hosts use quality components, and keep a supply of spares on hand to minimize downtime in the event of hardware failure. While modern server hardware is pretty solid, they do still run hot, and memory and drives and powersupplies do occationally fail.

These are a few of the many tips that will help you find a good host for your site.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tip Of The Week : What to do first with a new PC?

Some tips on what to do before using your new pc:

Remove Norton or McAfee.
Install Grisoft or another system friendly free AVS.
Install Adaware and/or Spybot spyware protection
Check that firewall is up and running correctly.
Make sure all Micro$oft updates and security packs are installed.

For more advice, check out this thread on MartialTalk.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Reality of Anonymous Posting.

The Reality of Anonymous Posting.
By Bob Hubbard

There are well over a 10 million forums, lists, chat rooms, news groups, blogs, journals and discussion areas on the internet today. On many of them, there is a debate on using handles or aliases or fake names. The bottom line is, there is no such thing as true anonymity online today. Oh, there are ways you can make it harder to figure out, but with enough time, resources and in some cases money, your identity can be found.

The first level of anonymity is the handle. A handle, or alias can be anything from a nickname, to a login name, to a cute saying or a fake name. "DaffyDuck2525" and "Nose Picker" are 2 examples of aliases. In some cases, they reflect a fantasy personality, associated with things like science fiction fandom, or reenactment organizations. Many people use them for fun, and don't really hide much, however there are those who will gladly use as many false identities as they can, to cause trouble and give the illusion that many hold a certain opinion, when in truth, it is only a few. Some sites have forbidden the use of handles, as it is hard to hold a professional discussion with someone named "Hot Dog" using the picture of a puppy n fire as their public face.

The second level of anonymity is the fake name. This is different than the handle, which is often obvious. The fake name is the easiest way to hide, as there are few ways to verify you are who you say you are online. Some people go to great lengths in their use of fake realistic names, creating elaborate histories, and getting one or more known-real people to vouch for them. When put on the spot, they will often claim to have never been photographed, or taped, and will refuse any meetings requested of them. Their verifiers will step to their defense and reiterate that they are real, and they know them well. While many sites will allow the use of handles, they will insist that you "sign" your posts with your name. While this can give some credibility, short of requesting notarized copies of government issued ID or credit cards, these are hard to prove especially when enough known-real people insist on their existence. Other means must be used to disprove this tactic.

The third level is the fake or throw-away email address. We all get tons of spam, and hear worries of identity theft daily. Some resort to temporary or throw away addresses through the numerous free email services out there. A favorite tactic of spammers and certified internet troublemakers, also known as 'trolls', more and more the free services are being blocked from reputable sites.

The forth level of anonymity if the proxy server / anonymizer service. These services, sometimes free, sometimes for a fee will allow you to surf the net, under a sort of 'cloak'. Some background information is needed here. Each computer that connects to the internet is assigned an id number, called an IP address. It's kind of like a phone number for your computer. When you connect to another computer, it gives your IP number as an identifier. The anonymizer service doesn't block your number, it simply reports a false one to the answering system. While hard to identify and block, they are not perfect. Not all services are as anonymous as they claim, and there are ways to find who really did make the connection, a fact that some today have discovered the hard way after law enforcement traced them.

In short, regardless if you surf as "John Smith", "Jeffery Dillion III" or "Captain Caveman", the people who run the sites, the engineers at the data centers who run the computers, and the boys in blue can with some time and effort, find out who you are.

The use of a handle can be fun. It adds flavor to hobbiest sites, can be used to advertise your business or your proficiency at a subject. They can also however be used to cause problems, sow dissent and otherwise disrupt a community. More and more, professionally oriented sites are either discouraging them, or banning them outright as a result.

So, use your handle, have fun, but don't be expected to be taken seriously unless you post under a verifiable real name. After all, who would take advice from someone named after a mouse?

Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts sites and He is president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists as well as a professional photographer.

©2007 Bob Hubbard - Copies of this article are free to distribute, provided all text is retained intact.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Q&A: What should I look for in a web developer?

Q&A: What should I look for in a web developer?

A good web developer must know what they are doing, be able to produce a solid site on time, be accessible, and honest. Some things to remember are:

- Check References.
Use Google to look up their reputation, and include certain other key words like 'fraud' and 'scam' to see if there are any complaints. Check as well. It's the largest web host forum around.

- Do NOT pay by wire transfers like Western Union.
Western Union is a great way to send money to people you know. It's not a reliable way to send money for services however unless you have an existing relationship with the reciever. Avoid any host or designer who pushes for a western union payment.

- Check Previous Work
Looking at a web developers portfolio will help you to know if their design style suits your own. Some work with complex multi-leveled layouts, while others aim for simple and straight forward designs.

- Look under the hood.
When visiting websites that the developer claims they did, check the code. Does it have meta tags? Is it clean, or is it scrambled? Is there an author link back to the developer or does it list someone elses name? Many designers put hidden tags in to site code as a form of signature. It doesn't hurt the site and isn't visible to your regular surfers, but it does sometimes expose liars.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tip Of The Week : Clearing Browser Caches

There are an easy dozen+ ways to surf the web, and every so often you need to clear out the cruft to get things working smoothly again. Here's a link to a walk through of most web browsers cache clearing instructions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Misunderstanding your Rights - Freedom of Speech and the Online World

Misunderstanding your Rights - Freedom of Speech and the Online World
By Bob Hubbard

Recently, events on several discussion boards, and online communities have left me shaking my head, yet again, in disbelief. It seems that too often, when someone is moderated on a discussion board, or mailing list, or chat room, that they start screaming about their "rights" being violated. As if they are somehow allowed to say whatever they want, whenever they want, without worry of censure, or repercussion. Often, these complaints bring up the American Constitution, more specifically the First Amendment, as the reason why these comments should be allowed. Other times, it is used as the reason why an online rant, vent or other such scree should be allowed, and the poster held not-liable for its contents.

I am going to cite one such comment here. I am not singling this person out, there have been many such comments made. Few however actually take the time to cite the actual Amendment.

Disclaimer: The following LJ entry falls under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights states, "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." With that said, by clicking on the LJ cut, you understand that you cannot file any lawsuit or press any charges against me."

Ok. Let us take this apart, piece by piece.

"congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Translation: Congress will make no law saying you cannot worship as your believe.

"or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;"

Translation: Congress cannot deny you the right to say or print your mind.

"or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,"

Translation: Congress cannot deny you the right to gather together as long as you remain peaceful.

" and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Translation: Congress cannot deny you the right to contact your representative and tell him about your problems.

Here is the misunderstanding. Congress, and by meaning, the Government, cannot do this. It does not deny private enterprise the right or ability to do this however.

If I, as a private enterprise, decide that I will not allow swearing, you may not swear while having dealings with my enterprise.

If I decide that I do not want you to discuss certain biological acts in the presence of my 5 year old, that does not "violate your First Amendment Free-Speech rights".

If I decide that no discussion of Floppyology will be tolerated on this site, then, one may not discuss Floppyology here.

Too often, ill informed, poorly educated, and the outright stupid seem to think that the US First Amendment means they can say whatever they want.

It Does Not.

As I wrote several months ago in response to one such claim: "
We aren't Congress. The people who scream the loudest about this right being violated, seem to constantly be those who understand it the least. Simply put, it doesn't apply on a web board. The only rights as to what may be said on a private board, are the rights granted to you. Our rules are pretty clear on what is not allowed, and we allow a great deal of leeway as to what you may discuss and how. All we usually ask is that you do it in a friendly way. Before screaming at us about your rights being violated, you may want to take some time to actually understand just what rights you have, and the responsibilities they require of you."

If I as a newspaper, or magazine, or book, or e-zine publisher refuse to publish what you wrote, I am not violating your 1st Amendment Rights. It may be censorship, it may not be. It may simply be that the publishers of said publication feel that your comments do not fit with their target. For example, an anti-war piece may be excellently researched, well formed, and well presented. But a very poor fit in a magazine about bunnys. The editor of "Bunny Weekly" would be within their own rights to not run your piece.

The First Amendment applies to US Citizens, and protects them from Government Censorship.
It does not protect you from Private Censorship.
It does not protect you in a foreign nation.
It does not apply to non-US Citizens.

It is designed, specifically to prevent the US Government, from denying certain rights to US Citizens. Period. It doesn't stop a newspaper from pulling a story and it doesn't stop a web forum from removing a post. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best when he wrote "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic". You have the right to free speech. You also can be held accountable for its use.

The writers closing comment "
With that said, by clicking on the LJ cut, you understand that you cannot file any lawsuit or press any charges against me." is what is considered a "click-through" license. It does not magically forgive libel or defamatory comments. IF you write libelous and defamatory statements, regardless of any "click through licenses", "waivers" or their ilk, you may still be guilty of libelous statements. You may still be sued by the wronged party. You may still be liable for damages. You may still go to jail.

This may look like I am targeting 1 individual. I am not. I have been dealing in the "online" world now for 20 years. For 5 years I have been running numerous online communities, full of interesting and wonderful individuals. There is sadly a trend it seems however, when someone is moderated, or suspended, or even banned from a forum or list, or simply doesn't get their way, that they scream about their rights being trampled upon. Before one goes on about their rights being suppressed, one should take the time to see not just what those rights really grant, but also what responsibilities those rights demand of the holder.

Otherwise, you run the risk of not simply looking foolish online, but of losing those rights altogether in todays world of ever encroaching government abuse.

Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts sites and He is president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You built it, but will they come? Some tips on getting traffic to your website.

You built it, but will they come? Some tips on getting traffic to your website.
By Bob Hubbard

Your new website has gone live at last! After weeks--possibly months--of labor, it’s online and it looks great. Only one problem remains: How do you get people to visit it?

Well, you can wait the 1 to 6+ months for the backlogged search engines to catch up and list you. But you need traffic now. So what do you do? I’m often asked this very question by our clients. In this article I’ll give several suggestions to help you promote your website for maximum exposure. Some will fit better than others, depending on your target audience, but all of them are proven strategies for success.

1: Realize that the Search Engines are only part of the puzzle.
Getting listed takes time and tweaking. Most of them are backlogged by months, and it’s getting tougher to get listed in them. Of course you can spend a lot of cash to get yourself listed under ‘Automatic Self Cleaning Water Strainers’, but would you get the same results under just ‘Strainers’? A well thought-out plan for getting listed can take up to a year to fully realize results. You must do other things to get the word out in order to get both immediate and long-term results.

2: Don’t depend on your designer to advertise for you.
Too often companies and individuals have websites built, do nothing to promote the site themselves, and then wonder why it wasn’t as successful as they hoped. You don’t expect Kinkos to pass out your flyers; why expect your designer to know how to market your business to your customers? Their job is to develop a site that meets both your and your clients’ needs. You must spread the word to your prospects yourself, through all means--online and traditional.

3: Put your website’s address in front of everyone.
You wouldn’t leave your phone number off of your business cards--why leave off your website address? Make certain it is on all of your stationery, flyers, brochures, etc. Put it on the back bumper of your cars and vans. Put it on your signage and in your front window. Put it on your promo items and give them away like mad! People like freebies, and if they are useful, they will keep them around. The more visible you make it, the more times people will see it--and the more they see it, the more likely they will visit.

4: Yellow Pages ads.
Spend the extra money to get your web address added to your yellow pages listing. That little extra effort can lead to new leads. Many people will check out listings as follows: Biggest color ads, biggest black-and-white ads, smaller ads, text only box ads, and line ads. Adding a website to your ad can greatly increase your inquiry rate.

5: Issue a press release.
This step is often overlooked by start-ups. Taking the time to properly prepare a release can greatly benefit your business.

6: Reciprocal links.
Find websites that complement yours and propose a link exchange. This has a dual benefit: You gain traffic from their visitors, and the more companies that link to you, the higher your ranking in some search engines. You must do your research here, but if properly implemented you can see great rewards from this strategy.

7: Your regular advertising.
Make certain that any print or media advertising you do has your website mentioned somewhere in it. Too many times this simple step is overlooked. You cannot rely on Internet advertising alone to make your site a success. Even and E-Bay have to use traditional advertising. Have you seen the “Do You, uh, Yahoo!?” ads? There’s a reason!

8: Visit web forums and the Usenet newsgroups.
You can successfully advertise your company through these discussion groups (formerly known as “bulletin boards”), but be careful, especially when advertising on Usenet. Many people frown on advertising there, so be sure to carefully research any group you wish to advertise on before making your post. A few extra days patience can save you from a major public relations nightmare.

9: Publish an e-newsletter.
This has many benefits to you. It helps establish your credibility. It helps keep your clients and prospects up to date on your company and its offerings. It educates. It adds content to your website. The content helps you get better listings with the search engines and as it changes on a regular basis it helps bring return visitors. Return visitors will in many cases put your website address on their links pages which in turn helps drive traffic and boost search engine rankings. A well done, Opt-In (they subscribe) newsletter can also provide you with a detailed mailing list of people interested in what you have to offer. The costs of emailing are almost nil. Done properly, this can be a great boost.

10: Your business card.
Make it a mini-flyer, include your website, and pass them out whenever you can. When you go to trade shows or conventions, take 500-1000 and hand them out to everyone. Go to every booth and trade cards with them. “But I have plenty of my old ones”, you say. Well, unless your cards are works of art, throw them out and get new ones with your web address on it and send 2 to every customer and prospect you have.

11: Email. Let us not forget email. You and your employees probably send several emails each day, at the minimum. Make sure that your web address is featured in the ‘signature’ of each email. Too many times I receive email from clients and prospects that have missed this simple step. Many modern email programs allow for multiple signatures so you can have 1 for each occasion if you wish.

The message is: In order to see your site succeed, you need to promote it. There are millions and millions of websites online. While the numbers vary, it is estimated that only 40-60% of the web is listed on search engines. That means that the other 40-60% must be doing something else to get traffic. You wouldn’t open a store in your basement, tell no one, and then wonder why you went broke. Starting a website online is like that, except that you have the power to route a superhighway through your front door. You simply have to promote it using all of the means at your hands. Keep in mind that this is only an outline, and that many of these steps are more complicated than they may seem to be. Only by properly researching the correct approaches will you get the most success from them. Give these tips some thought. I’m sure you will find several that will work for you. Good luck! See you on the web.


Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists.

“Webifying” your Business for the Martial Arts Industry By Bob Hubbard Ok, so you have a website. It’s live, it’s open for business but, now wha

“Webifying” your Business for the Martial Arts Industry
By Bob Hubbard

Ok, so you have a website. It’s live, it’s open for business but, now what do you do? One of the hardest things about having a website, is always getting it noticed and used. You will hear people talking about “search engines” and “directories” and a ton of geeky jargon, but what can you do to make your site more visible and get more visitors? Several things in fact, that don’t require a PHD in computers to understand or do.

One of the fallacies is that a search engine listing is all you need. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to GoDaddy (one of the leading domain name registrars) over a million new web sites are registered every day! Google, the leading Internet search site, currently indexes billions of web pages. Billions! Obviously, you are going to need more than just a search engine listing.

So, what do you do?
Simple. You do what has always worked. You tell everyone, and let word of mouth be your best salesman.

1: People need to know your site exists in order to go there.
When was the last time you went someplace you didn’t know about? Almost never, right? The web is the same way. People almost always go where they plan to go. Making people aware that you exist is a main part of getting noticed and visited.

So, how do you do this?

  • Put your website on everything going out of your business. Put it on receipts, invoices, letterhead, business cards, boxes, class handouts, flyers, etc. If it leaves your business at any time, make sure there is a website address on it.
  • Place it prominently in your windows. Remember, your window works 24/7/365 for you. Make sure that you have 3 key pieces of information on there: Your name, your phone number and your website.
  • Have a custom bumper sticker made for your vehicle that lists your website. You can also have a local vinyl or sign company do some work for you that advertises your business on your vehicle. Be certain to include the web site! Your vehicle spends a lot of time in parking lots. Let it be a mobile billboard for your business and work for you.
  • If you sell or give away “branded” merchandise (sports bottles or towels for example), have the website included.
  • All advertisements that you run must include your website address.
  • Make sure that all of your students, parents and instructors know about the site. Remind them regularly about it.

2: People need a Reason to go there.
Knowing you have a site is not enough. People need to be told to go there, and they need to know why.

  • When talking to a prospect on the phone, don’t just tell them about the classes. Tell them that “and information can be found on our website” or “Our full class schedule is always available on our website,”. If you have a web coupon, be sure to mention it as well. Everyone likes to save a buck, and pointing that out will almost guarantee that they will take a look at the site, and hopefully, also pass the address on to someone else.
  • When talking to your students, parents and instructors, be sure to mention that class schedules, upcoming events, school news, and whatever other areas of interest you have there exist, and encourage them to check regularly. Ask your students to link to the school site from their web pages. When doing “Tell a Friend” promotions, be sure to suggest that they also tell them about the website. Update your site regularly, and announce the updates at every class for a week after the updates are done. “Our class schedule on the website has been updated. You can print a copy for your own use right from there.”
  • Update your site regularly, and let everyone know about it. Students, parents and instructors all should be checking the site out regularly. Encourage feedback on the site and ask your students and instructors for suggestions on improvements. This involves them in the process more, and makes them feel good. Updates are especially effective if done after an event, and photos and reviews are included. Most people love seeing themselves, and the “Hey everyone, I’m on my schools website working with Master Z” can get you great word of mouth promotion for your site.

3: You need to do some promotion of the site as well.
When talking to a vendor, inquire if they do link exchanges. A link exchange is where you put their banner (a small image) and a link to them on their website, in exchange for them doing the same for you. These are good ways to help boost your visibility and rankings on the search engines.

  • When you go to other events or seminars, ask if you can bring flyers or other handouts to help promote your school. Many will say yes. Even if they say no, be sure to bring several business cards with the address on them with you. This way, you can do some personal networking and exchange cards.
  • When talking to key people in your art (your instructor, the guest instructor of the seminar, etc), find out if they have a website, and would be interested in a link exchange as well. Many people are very happy to do so.
  • Make certain that all your newspaper, magazine, phonebook, radio and TV advertisements mention your website.
  • When you do trade shows, you want your website address visible and prominent. Many people today will write a website down before they write the phone number.
  • If you frequent web forums and mailing lists, most will allow you to include a small block of text, often called a “signature” in your postings. Do so, and make sure that, if allowed, you include your website.
  • Most email programs also allow you to include a signature. Add one to all outgoing messages.

Having a successful website is a lot of work. Gone are the days where you can just put it up, list it on a search engine, and watch traffic role in. Each day, over a million new sites go up. That’s a big ocean in which to shine, but, with the proper promotion, you can start a motion that builds to a popular and successful web presence. All it takes is some old fashioned promotion.

Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists.

Email Marketing Tips.

Email Marketing Tips.
By Bob Hubbard

E-mail is the most popular activity on the Internet, with upwards of 90% of internet users having used it. With 63% of the US adult population on line, that opens a market comprising more than 100 million prospective clients. Successfully marketing your business by email can be done. The challenge lies in doing it right. Every day I get literally hundreds of junk email or “SPAM” selling everything from adult items, to software to of all things, anti-spam software! With over 40% of the 31 Billion emails sent each day considered “SPAM” and the rules tightening, you need to be up to date in order to successfully market your services by email. While an in-depth e-mail marketing attack is beyond the scope of this article, I will list a select number of tips to help enhance and optimize your chances of success.

Don’t randomly gather email addresses.
We’ve all gotten those junk mails that we didn’t ask for that tell us to “Click here to unsubscribe”. Rarely do those work as listed. Usually, they result in even more junk mail. So, who subscribed us in the first place? Someone either bought a list, randomly generated addresses, or used special software to find your address from message board postings, and web pages. I recommend only using addresses that have specifically been sent to you for information.

“Opt in” versus “Opt Out” lists.
An “Opt In” list is one where you specifically ask for information before they send it to you. An “Opt Out” puts the burden of stopping it on you. Increasingly, “Opt Out” lists are generating scorn and hatred from internet users. When someone “Opts In” they are specifically asking you for information. This is one of the more ‘web friendly’ means of doing professional emailing.

Learn how to use the “BCC” or “Blind Carbon Copy” feature.
The BCC feature is your friend. It allows you to hide the list of email addresses, thereby respecting and preserving the privacy of those on your list. Not using this feature can and will generate angry replies from those on your list.
Include a way for people to be removed from your mailing list and honor all “Unsubscribe” emails immediately.

Do not send your mailings to anyone who hasn’t requested it.
That is considered spam, and violates most ISP’s service terms. If you anger the wrong people, you can lose your Internet connection! Internet Service Providers are increasingly taking harder stances against those who spam.

Collect your addresses in a web-friendly manner.
Doing this insures that those you send email to will welcome your message. You can do this in a few easy ways.

  1. Add a signup form on your web site. This is called “Opting In”.
  2. When you receive an address, send a confirmation back. Include a standard “This address was signed up for XXX. If this is in error, please reply to this email with the word CANCEL at the top.” Type message. This is very important! By doing this, you will let the person know that their email address was submitted successfully to your list, or that someone else submitted it. It also ensures that your list is clean and full of good addresses, since your verification will usually bounce back if the address is really invalid.
  3. Include a short privacy policy at the end of your mailing and on your site. A standard “We never share your name and address” is usually good. If you do share addresses, include a way for the subscriber to –not- be shared.

Now that you have your list, understand how to send to it in a web-friendly manner, you now need to compose your message for optimum effect.

Include a “Call to Action”
This is text that will motivate the reader to “Act Now”. Terms like “Limited Time Only”, “Act Now”, “Offer Expires” are all examples of action calls.

Include –all- of the “Need to Know” information.
How many times have you gotten a flyer that assumed you knew which location an event was held at, or that you knew how to get there?

  • What: Be certain to list the “What” outlining the purpose of the email.
  • When: Include the full date (yes, year too), month, date –and- day of the week, times of events.
  • Where: Include a complete location (if applicable). This is very important if you have multiple locations.
  • How Much: This is mostly for events. If it’s free, say so. If there’s a charge, let people know up front. For events that don’t require advance registration (which is what we’re talking about here), the fee is typically nominal, so it won’t scare anyone away. This differs from an e-mail for a large conference requiring pre-registration, where you might want to sell people on the value before disclosing the price.
  • Who: Who is this event/item for? This will help people decide if the offer is for them.

Additional information to include would be extra details. If this is an event, include directions. Presenter bios are always good if this is for a seminar. If selling a product, include more detailed specs here. More information is always good.

Another point I cannot emphasize enough here is, write clearly, and proof read. Misspellings, typos, and grammatical errors will kill an otherwise well done mailing.

Avoid sending large graphics, sound, music or video files.
Keep your mailing to a small size, as nothing angers people like having their email box jammed full of videos they didn’t ask for. Having to contact their ISP for ‘unplug’ things will cause a lot of bad PR. Keep the mailing small and simple for best results.

Track it!
Tracking the success of mailings is good business, and tracking an emailing is no different. Include a coupon with a special code, or an “Offer Code” to use when registering or purchasing. Be certain to also ask people how they heard about the item/offer.

1 last key piece of advice:
Answer prospect emails within 24 hours!
If you don’t reply promptly, you risk losing a client for life. People also tend to tell others when they feel ignored! To avoid this and to ensure you’re not missing any opportunities, make it a top priority to reply to all incoming mail within 24 hours.

While there is some work that goes into a good email campaign, you can reap some excellent rewards.


Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists.

Getting Online.

Getting Online.
by Bob Hubbard

In todays’ competitive business climate, getting exposure is harder than ever before. It is vital that your business have a website that will give you that exposure on the Internet. You need a partner who both understands what it takes and can provide you with that solution.

In order to get your organization online, you need four things:

1-A Good Domain Name –
What is a Domain Name? Your Domain Name is your address on the Web. Just like people use your phone number to call you on the phone, your Domain Name allows people to access your site on the Web. Clever, simple, or easy to remember Domain Names are most desirable as they can play a large part in attracting visitors to your site. Most Domain Names end with “.com” - but other extensions such as “.net” (such as and “.org” are also available.

You need a name people that people can remember. Your customers will find easier to remember and type than Why should your site be hard to find? For about the price of lunch at your favorite fast food place, you can reserve your own unique and easy-to-remember web address for an entire year. And for just the cost of one month’s lessons in most schools, you can lock in your name for an entire decade! Don’t be overcharged! My company has carefully researched the registrars that we use. With well over 100 to pick from, and several closings each year, you want to know that your name is reserved with a company that will be there for you.

2-Reliable Hosting –
A good analogy for website hosting is that our server is an apartment building. We rent space out for websites, giving different services to different “tenants” with different needs. If your site’s not up, it does you no good. Our data center offers redundant connections to several Tier 1 providers, multiple fiber paths, multiple redundant power back-up, 24 x 7 onsite staff and 24 x 7 monitoring, and high security. All of this is running on modern, state of the art, high-speed servers designed to serve millions and millions of pages without fail. What this means for you is that your site will be up when your customers and clients are looking for it! In the rare event of a problem, we will usually have it fixed before you are even aware of it. We pride ourselves on the reliability of our hosting, and are regularly audited to guarantee that we have the most up to date software and security possible.

Not all hosts are equal. Many of the low cost hosts are running off a DSL or Cable setup out of their homes, or pack thousands of sites onto a server that is little more than a suped-up home PC. Do some real research into the company you choose to host your site. After all, you wouldn’t want to locate your place of business in someplace that wasn’t ‘customer friendly’. Why put your website there? More expensive also is not really better than dirt cheep. Compare features as well as prices, but also check out their support. What do they cover and what don’t they? Do they offer phone support or just web-based? What if you call them with a support question even though they say “web only”? Do your homework and you’ll be pleased with the results.

3-Quality Site Design –
What is web design? Web design is putting together a Web site. A Web site is your message to the world telling them who you are, what you are, and what you are about. It is critical to have a well-designed and well thought out Web site. It allows your site to grow and expand as your needs change. Whether your site is a single page or multiple pages or even spread out over many physical locations on many different machines, a well-designed site will make your connections appear seamless and streamlined.

People who are visiting Web-sites do not want to spend a lot of time figuring out who you are, where you are, and how to find out the information they want. And time is the critical element here. So, web design is simply presenting yourself at your best so that people can get to know you and to use your services as soon as possible.

Too often, people cut corners on their websites. They use pre-designed templates that give their site a ‘cookie cutter’ look. They also have poor navigation that makes it hard for someone who visits to find information easily. Remember, the average visitor only spends a few minutes skimming your site. If they can’t find it, they move on to the next site. Even though many people have high-speed connections, many more do not. AOL is still the dominant internet provider for over 30 million people. That’s a lot of slow dial ups. Too many sites today have huge ‘Flash’ animated intros that don’t allow you to skip them.

4-Site Promotion –
What is site promotion? In a nutshell - bringing people to your web site. Simply put, it is a submission of your web address (domain name) to the search engines (like Yahoo, Excite and InfoSeek) that allow people to find your site among the millions of sites on the Internet. Each search engine and database handles submissions differently. While not a difficult task, promotion is time consuming when done properly. Not done properly, promotion submission can be a disaster. There is an entire science behind it. A website does you no good if no one knows it’s there.

Site promotion is different for each search engine. Right now, the dominant search engine is Google. Google is tricky. If you submit yourself too often, you end up on a ‘blacklist’ and will never be listed. Some search engines read your site, while others use hidden comments in your sites HTML code called ‘Meta Tags’ to rank you.

Never use words that are the same color as the background, and never stick multiple copies of the same word back to back. Both of these are sure fire ways to make the black lists.

To give yourself the best chance of being listed use this 4 part check list:
1- Have your own domain name. – Many search engines are no longer taking the /~somethings sites. They only want to list something.coms.

2- Have reliable hosting. – Once you get listed they check back regularly. If they can’t see you, they remove your listing. A poor host will majorly hurt you here. Its worth the few extra bucks to have the reliable hosting.

3- A good site design. – Both in layout and ‘under the hood’ will help optimize your chances at successfully being listed.

4- A well thought out promotion campaign. – Getting listed doesn’t happen over night. Some search engines can take months to even look at you. A year long series of checks and submissions combined with your other promotions will greatly enhance your exposure.

In this article, I touched briefly on what a successful website requires. Each section could easily fill an entire book. It is your job to educate yourself enough so that you understand this a little. Your designer should have a more in depth knowledge. When talking with hosts and web designers, keep these points in mind. After all, it is your money we are talking about.

Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists.

Why do I need a Web Site?

Why do I need a Web Site?
By Bob Hubbard

When I’m talking with potential clients, I’m often asked “Why should I have a website”. This is a very good question. Today, having a website is a cost of doing business, just like business cards, a phone line and credit card acceptance. A well planned and designed website can be a boost to almost every business. In this article, I will give you some information on the “Why”.

Why do you need a web site?
A website can be a key ingredient of a businesses marketing attack. It is a lead generator, it helps retain clients, and save on costs. In today’s business environment, if you don’t have one, your competition most likely does. Customers are increasingly net-savvy and are doing more and more research online before calling a company. With 63% of American adults and 75% of American children connected to the Internet, not having a website puts a major hole in your marketing ability. In the past, people would open the yellow pages. Today, more and more people are using the internet to search for information, and finding not just a phone number or address, but full catalogs and price lists, directions, color photos of products and more, all without leaving the house.

The Lead Generator
Many people today look at the existence of a website as a ‘validation of legitimacy’, much as we often look for the acceptance of credit cards. People who are reluctant to call can at their leisure visit your site and see what you offer. This means if its 3am on a Sunday, they can get some information. A well designed website will have an easy means of them contacting you, perhaps a sign up form they can fill out to schedule a visit or request additional information. A website can also be used by existing clients to generate referrals. A website is a tireless 24 hour a day salesperson that works to turn suspects into prospects, and prospects into clients. Being able to learn more about your business will often turn a browser into someone who makes that phone call, or stops in to visit. Having a website puts you ahead of the competition. There’s no delay in customers getting information on your products or services. Imagine if your competitor has information online, and the best you can do is send a brochure overnight. A day is a long time for that potential customer to form an opinion.

Client Retention
Client retention is often tied directly to customer service. A well designed website will have the important information on your business easily viewable. Hours of operation, contact information, upcoming events, and directions at the very least should be obvious. Many other parts are industry specific. A supermarket could have their weekly ad on line, a hardware store could have home repair tips, and the martial arts school could have training materials and class schedules. Special offers can also be run, as well as an organizational newsletter to keep clients and prospects up to date on your business.

Cost Savings
How many of us have printed flyers for an event, only to end up throwing out hundreds of dollars in over printing or errors? Using your website as an information distribution point can significantly reduce your printing and postage costs. By putting items like student handbooks, employee guides, and flyers online, you can save an enormous amount of money. Combine this with a web-friendly email-marketing program and you can save thousands of dollars each year. You can also improve on the quality of your handouts and flyers by using full color and photographs, rather than the black and white clip art we often see.

Now, it is important to do your email marketing in a friendly manner. E-Mail marketing is covered in my “E-Mail Marketing Tips” article.

Now, two additional areas you can use your website are “UpSells” and Retail.

UpSells and Upgrades
Also known as Upgrades, Upsells are a great product to promote on your website. Internal programs like Buyers Clubs, Access to expert advice, special web-only content, discussion forums, newsletters and more. We will use the example of a karate school. They want to increase student retention so they add a signup form on their website for new students. An option on this form could be for the “Black Belt Club” which gives the student special services and access to a special area of the website, for an added cost of course. A music store could have a “Music Appreciation Club” which offers members only discounts and other premiums.

Retail Sales
Retail sales are an additional way to generate both profit and potential. Without having to maintain a large physical inventory, pay utilities or worry about shrinkage, you can often run an online store at a higher profit margin than a traditional store. Without the physical limitations, you can carry more merchandise. This allows a 1-person operation to look just as impressive as the super centers. Care must be taken in the setup of an online store to avoid fraud. Successful online retailing is covered in my “Online Selling with Success” article.

Having a website is an excellent way to generate new business, keep and grow existing clientele, save money and improve your bottom line. It is available rain or shine, night or day, helping you to grow your business. It also levels the playing field, allowing you to compete equally with much larger businesses. With more and more people each year using the Internet, a website has become a requirement of business, much as a phone and credit card acceptance did in the past. Remember, the Internet is one of the first places someone familiar with computers is likely to look for information.


Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists.
Copyright © 2009 Bob Hubbard. All rights reserved.