Saturday, January 3, 2009

Create Your Own Customized 404 Error Page for Increased Traffic

By Ed Duvall in Webmasters

By design, the server that hosts’ your web site delivers a 404 Error / Page Not Found when a surfer clicks on a link that the server cannot find or something else unexpected happens. The most common error page is the HTTP 404 “Not found: The requested URL/whatever.html was not found on this server.”

This generally happens when a person clicks on a link for page that has been removed, renamed or otherwise changed.

If you were to enter the link below into your browser and hit the enter button you would see my own custom 404 Error page: (This link is not active and will present you with my custom 404 Error page.) What happens to your web visitor who gets that error message on your site without a custom 404 Error page?

Generally speaking they’re off faster than a “speeding bullet” looking for the information they were seeking - probably to a different website. That’s something you really don’t want to have happen and it can be prevented with a custom 404 error page that gives them options on the error page that will tell them how to find what they were looking for.

So the answer is? Create your own custom 404 Error page that suggests other resources on your site and then helps redirects that person to them.

In essence you’re capturing traffic that you had, but lost and didn’t know it, and keeping that visitor by helping them find what they need and possible turn them into a buyer for your product or service later on.

But “I don’t have the time or know how to make a custom 404 page”, you say.

Well good news - it’s not as hard as you think. If you have about 30 minutes and your server is a Apache or Unix web server then it’s virtually a snap to do

** Your Custom 404 Page Design **

In my opinion your custom 404 error page should provide at least these components:

  • A simple statement that the requested URL was not found on your site.
  • A brief description of some of the most common mistakes that couldhave lead the visitor to the missing page.
  • A “plug” for one of your Free products or services

You can of course add other components like simple java script code for date & time and IP address display, etc. if you really want to impress someone with your technical wizardry.

Your page also should carry the look and feel of your web site, so you should include your header or footer or both so it is clearly branded as yours. You may wish to include some other links for your site that lead visitors to other pages you may want them to visit.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. The simplest method is to create your new custom page, then upload it to your site in the same folder where your home page is located. Servers vary in their requirements. For mine the page must have a specific name for it to function properly as my custom 404 error page.
  2. If you don’t have an .htaccess file you need to create one in the same folder where your home page is stored, (in some cases, the file may already exist; on servers with Front Page extensions this file is automatically created). You’ll need to do a simple edit inthis file. Use your text editor or server editing features to add the following command: ErrorDocument 404 /filename.html (where “filename.html” is replaced by the name of the actual file you want to appear as your Custom 404 Error page.)

You could, if you prefer, to insert your home page when a 404 error occurs. In that case, the correct command to add to your .htaccess would be: ErrorDocument 404 /index.html

The above example assumes your home page is named index.html. If not, replace it with whatever name you are using for your home page instead.

If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer and the option to Show friendly HTTP error messages is enabled, the file size of your custom error page must be no less than 512 bytes to function properly. Otherwise, the program will show a generic message.

There you have it. Design your page, follow the two simple steps above and you’ll soon have your own custom 404 error page that will capture lost visitors and keep them on your site.

One final note - before you start on setting up your own custom error page check the FAQ or knowledge base for your website’s server for the specific requirements for making sure your new page works.

Ed Duvall - For more information on promoting your website and Free online business Resources visit

Small Business Resistance to Search Ad Hype

By Mel Strocen in Mel Strocen's Blog

The Search Engine Watch blog had a post today citing figures from a Microsoft adCenter survey which revealed that 59% of small businesses don’t do paid search marketing and that 90% of that number hadn’t even tried. The survey was actually news on several blogs and news sites. Some simply related the survey results; others were surprised or tried to put their own spin on the facts.
See: and Search Engine Watch for more on this story.

One of the more amusing results from the survey was that “70% of small business owners said they would rather do their own taxes than start a search marketing campaign”.

Anyone running a small business would not be surprised by the survey’s results. Google may be the dominant player in the paid search arena but is really tapping into only those businesses that can afford exorbitant per click costs. The PPC concept works well if you have the money but it hardly provides a level playing field. To tap into that vast pool of small business money, some one has to launch an innovative, new and affordable search advertising model. That might be Microsoft or a new player. Time will tell.

Getting The Most Out of Your Followers on Twitter

By Matthew Brede in Web 2.0

Twitter doesn’t sound like much. It suggests that you tell the world what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. So what? How are people using this social marketing tool to make more money online?

What You Need To Know: Follow and Be Followed!

The key to twitter is to follow and be followed. If you’re on the site talking about what you’re doing to nobody and not finding what anyone else is doing, it’s sort of useless and rather boring. Once you get a few followers and start following a person, that’s when the buzz starts. You can update your status on the web, via instant messaging client or via a third party tool like Twhirl that lets you use twitter from your own desktop. You can follow and be followed on your cell phone as well and be plugged in to the Twitterverse on the go.

You have a profile page that lets you manage the tool and lets people look you up to see what you’re all about in a few lines and with a URL. It’s the “What are you doing” section that counts.

Your Twitter friends or peeps (a.k.a your Tweeps) all carry on conversations with or without you and when you pop in and chime into various conversations, it gets rather lively. People ask questions, answer questions and share URLS of what they’re doing, what they find interesting and what they want opinions on.

There’s also the public timeline that tells you what other people are doing and you can search on that for more followers or conversations to eavesdrop on. It’s like a virtual water cooler that you can stop into during the day and check in with your tweeps.

Use Twitter when you:

  • Post an update to your blog
  • Want answers to a technical question
  • Want to vent
  • Want to tell people what you’re having for lunch (seriously, that can sparks some very interesting questions)… and more.

You can also send direct private messages as well as respond to people both directly but also publicly. The more interesting of a Tweet you post, the more likely people will follow you and re-tweet. A re-tweet is when you post a URL and someone likes it so they share it by tweeting or re-tweeting it to their followers. Do you see how it can become a benefit to you in an area like affiliate marketing, product launches and technical challenges you need help with?

You can also post Twitter feeds on your website so that people can follow you, read your conversations, see who you’re following and visit their posts or URLS so it becomes a very viral way to share and communicate and even to collaborate.

The downside to Twitter

Not only is the tool currently growing at such a fast rate that it goes down regularly but there is another downside and that’s productivity. Sadly there’s almost always a downside to social networking and bookmarking tools and as with many others, Twitter can be a time waster if you’re not careful so it’s important to use it and have fun but also to set limits for yourself.

About the Author: By Matthew Bredel - To learn more about how social marketing tools can help you and your online money making efforts, visit TheWebReviewer; a resource for making money online, affiliate marketing and more.

The Ultimate Guide to Free Keyword Research Tools

By Mel Strocen in Mel Strocen's Blog

Ann Smarty posted a useful article over at the Search Engine Journal with a similar title to this blog post. The article is broken down into 8 sections with links to free resouces and tools in each section. So, if you were wondering where to start with your keyword research, you may want to begin by reading Ann’s article at:

8 Reasons to start an online business in 2009

The economy is down, we’re in probably the worst financial crisis since the great depression, and unemployment is shooting through the roof. Sounds like the worst time to start an online business right? Wrong! 2009 could be the perfect time to start a business if you are smart about it. Here’s the reasons why:

It’s Easy to do

Starting an online business is simple to do. It’s not like starting a normal business. It doesn’t take as much money or time to create an online business. There are many different ways to make money online including retail stores, affiliate advertising, creating a successful blog, article writing, or website/graphic design etc. All those ideas are legitimate online businesses that have made a ton of money for a ton of people who are doing what they love. You can even create a successful online business in your spare time. You don’t have to quit your day job to be a success.

It’s Cheap

Creating a website is extremely cheap compared to starting up a store or office. Even if you don’t design your website yourself you can pay someone else to do it and you can get it done cheap by free lancers through sites like After you get your site designed you will need to pick a domain name. You’re going to want to pick a domain name that relates to what you are selling. After that you will need to pick a web host. Web hosting is a service that takes all the files that make up your website and stores them on a server that is connected up to the internet 24/7/365. From their users will be able to access your website all the time. You can find reliable web hosting for $10-$20 a month, (Learn How to Pick the Right Web Host). After initial start up costs, the cost of maintaining a website are very small which allows you to be very profitable. All the choices you have to make here are extremely important ones for your site, but they can all be very cheap.

Creating a Website is Easy Now!

You don’t have to know HTML to create a good looking website now. Using programs like Adobe Dreamweaver allows you to create the design of your website and it creates the HTML that goes along with the design. There are simple tutorials all over the internet that tell you how to create a website. You can use sites like Yahoo’s Site Builder to drag and drop pictures to design your website. If you wanted to create a blog you can use free blog hosting sites like Google’s Blogger and create a blog in minutes.

E-commerce is Succeeding even in a Down Economy

While regular brick & mortar stores are struggling to even stay in business, e-commerce business is growing. According to the Department of Commerce U.S. Retail E-commerce sales numbers are up all around. The 2nd Quarter of 2008 saw $34.6 billion in sales which was a 2.9% increase from the 1st quarter and a 9.5% increase from the second quarter of 2007. Just recently on “Cyber Monday” (the online world’s “black Friday”) the online world saw another positive sign, consumers spent $846 billion on cyber Monday which was an increase of 15% over 2007’s cyber Monday.

Marketing is better/faster/more measurable online

Marketing online is all around better online. There’s an estimated 1.5 billion people who use the internet worldwide. That’s 21.9% of the world’s population. It has grown 305% from 2000-2008 and that number will only continue to grow as the populations in emerging markets like China, the Middle East, and Africa continue to get modernized. The Internet is a force that you cannot ignore. There’s a lot of people that use the internet and the great news is they are easy to reach and easy to target. A survey by Hearst Electronics Group and Goldstein Group of business to business marketers showed that the “migration of communications budgets from traditional media to online has accelerated to the point where nearly half of all spending, 47 percent, is spent on online marketing techniques today.” The businesses are doing that for a reason, they can track their marketing methods online a lot easier so they can understand what their ROI is and decide where to put the money. Also it is easier to target people online than it is in the real world so it takes less money to make more sales. Some of the ways to advertise online include search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click ads, article marketing, blogging. All but the pay per click ads can be free. SEO is the technical term for optimizing your site and link building with the goal of getting to the top spot in search engines for a certain keyword. This is important for the success of your online business because the majority of online users use search engines like Google to find what they are looking for. Being at the top spot in Google gets you the most traffic for the cheapest amount….free! There are tons of easy and cheap ways to market your website online.

Tracking…Online Analytics

I touched on this in the previous paragraph but this deserves more attention. Tracking how your business is doing in all aspects is important, no matter what type of business you have. When I say tracking your business I mean figuring out if you are putting your dollars in the right place. If users are leaving your site right away (a term called “bouncing”) maybe it’s because your site is not user friendly so you must re-design your website, if users are reading the content of your site but then leaving during the check out process maybe it’s time for a new shopping cart, it’s also important to know where your users are coming from and where they are going. You can tell all of this by using analytics software that you can get online. Google Analytics is perhaps the best program that you can use to track your website and the best part is it’s completely free. All it involves is placing code that Google provides you on every page that you want the program to track. On a daily basis you can check to see how many people visited your site, what they looked at, how they came to your site, how long they stayed, where they exited from, and most importantly if they were a conversion and how they got there. That type of measurability is critical to any business and that and so much more is possible online.

Starting in a Bad Economy is a Good Thing!

Starting up a business in a bad economy can be a good thing if you are passionate about what you are doing. As Paul Graham pointed out in his essay the economy does not necessarily affect a startup it is the founders that make or break the company. Just ask Bill Gates of Microsoft or Steve Jobs of Apple both of which were started in the terrible economy of the 1970’s. A down economy is an opportunity if looked at in the right light, by opportunistic entrepreneurs. A down economy means less competition, more companies/people looking to make deals, people looking for ways to save. It has become a well known fact that online is the place to get deals on just about anything you need. Retailers offering aggressive online discounts this year were able to increase sales from last year because they were able to adjust to a down economy because of the flexibility of online business. Online businesses are cheap to start up and cheap to maintain, those saving get passed onto the customer in the form of great discounts. At the same time do not ignore the economy creating a website that shows people creative ways to save money would be a great site in a down economy, or a debt consolidation website, or shop and compare sites, or a community forum that lets people share the best deals. There are countless opportunities waiting to be filled in the online world.

It’s About Time You Start Doing What You Want to Do!

Who doesn’t want to own their own business? You get to be your own boss, make your own hours, and feel the joy of successfully having your own company. If you’re tired of your job or even just want to turn your hobby into a profitable venture an online business is the way to go. The best part is it does not have to take over your entire life. With an online business you can do a lot of the work in a short amount of time which means you do not necessarily have to quit your day job. Do you like writing? Become a blogger, blogging is the hot thing in the online world right now and it takes all of 5 minutes to create a blog on blogger and not too much more time to create your own site with a Wordpress themed blog. You can write what you feel like writing about and make money doing it. Do you like a certain topic and you know a bunch of other people do? Why not start an online forum about it, that’s a great way to do what you want and profit off of it. There are plenty of businesses out there and an online business is the easiest way to get started.

As you can see there are great reasons to start an online business in 2009. It’s the easiest, cheapest, fastest way to start your own business and it’s a growing market that basically anyone can be successful in, if your passionate about what you are doing. Make 2009 your year to start an online business, Get out there and Get Started.

Steve Quatrani is the founder and operations manager of A site which aims to help all those starting an online business choose the right web hosting company by being educated. Also provides hosting rebates to make all hosting Inexpensive web hosting

Google’s Adwords Top Tactics For Tough Times

By Titus-Hoskins in Titus Hoskin's Blog

Like anyone who’s using Google Adwords in their
online marketing, I received Google’s small booklet
in the mail entitled “Google’s Adwords Top
Tactics For Tough Times.”

In it Google lays out 6 Adwords Tactics for tough times…
helpful tips to help their Adwords users get
through these hard times and keep using Adwords
in the process.

These tactics include: (quoting directly from the

1. Focus your ads on low prices and savings.

2. Use Value-related keywords.

3. Ensure your ad groups are targeted and relevant.

4. Don’t waste money on irrelevant clicks.

5. Make it easy for customers to buy.

6. Focus your money on your high-performers.

These are all good tactics for the tough times ahead…
I especially like the emphasis on low-prices and savings.
Everyone will be looking for bargains in these rough times,
by focusing your marketing on fulfilling that need will
make your campaigns more profitable.

You can learn more here:

Now I am first to admit I am not a PPC expert, the majority
of my marketing is done thru SEO with first page listings
in organic search (mainly Google) for my keywords. So take
everything that follows with a large grain of salt.

My main beef with Google Adwords, they won’t send you
enough traffic. If you’re in a competitive niche market,
the big players will obviously outbid you… no matter
how good or bad your landing pages are. I know that
your quality score is supposed to lower your costs and
if your ads have high CTR click-thru-rates, your Adwords
costs should come down even more and you get more traffic.

Still, it’s difficult to make a profit especially for
an affiliate marketer who only gets a percentage of the
sale and not the full sale price. I counter this by picking
affiliate products that give you residual income, make one
sale and get paid for years or the life of that client.
Even with using this tactic, Google Adwords is very risky
for the online affiliate marketer - you better know what
you’re doing or you can waste a lot of money.

Slap Yourself Silly!

Actually, that statement is not really true because it
has been my experience that Google Adwords simply won’t
deliver the traffic you want. Unless you want to make
outrageous high bids on keywords and slap yourself silly;
Google won’t give you the traffic. Unlike Yahoo Marketing
which will supply you with traffic to meet at least 60% to 80%
of your daily PPC budget - no such luck with Google Adwords.

They simply won’t give me the impressions, let alone
the traffic! Again, I am speaking from my own experience
here, and it is wrong to make a general consensus just
based on one person’s findings. I believe the main
reason is because the competition is so stiff and
Google traffic is so highly prized. Get a high
conversion rate and throw in this quality traffic
from Google and you can print your own money.

In several proven profitable campaigns, I would like
to spend 3 or 4 hunderd dollars a day but Google simply
won’t deliver the traffic at my bid levels… you have
to raise your bids so high, you can’t make a profit.
These are not minimum bids and my ads are placed
in the second or third spot on the right hand side
in Google Search. Even if you have first page placement
in Google’s organic SERPs for the same site and keywords
you’re bidding on - it’s still difficult to get the traffic.

I know you have to pick niche markets and campaigns
that are not so competitive that you can make a profit.
But I am not so sure… I believe Google Adwords are
way too strict regarding who they do business with.
Maybe Google is used to handling clients with budgets of
3 or 4 thousand a day and can’t be bothered with the small

You Must Establish A Good Credit History

Google Adwords also uses something called a proven track
record or history… unless you can establish this good credit
history, forget about getting large amounts of traffic from
Google. It’s much like SERPs where you have to prove yourself
before they will consistently list your site. The old
SandBox issue.

To be fair, you really have to view this situation from Google’s
standing… they give out all this traffic on a “pay-later”
basis, they have to make sure any traffic delivered will
be paid for by the receiver. It could all boil down to
a simple business procedure. Again, I am no expert at

However, I am hoping in these harsh economic times, Google
will have to become more open and give more impressions
and traffic to the smaller fry. Obviously, by sending out
the booklet, Google must be concerned with a drop in business
in these uncertain times. Maybe their numbers have already
dropped, maybe not. Only Google knows.

Better yet, if times get very dire, competition just might go
down and this will open up new opportunities for the small
marketers out there, including in Google Adwords. Now that’s
one tactic I hope Google will adopt. There are probably thousands,
if not millions of other small marketers ready to take up the
slack, Google would just have to work harder dealing with many
more advertisers rather than centering all their efforts on
the large corporate clients with huge pockets who I am now
assuming get the majority of Adwords traffic.

In any case, it sure would be nice to have more PPC traffic
from Google. Give me the traffic first, and I’ll worry about
the other Adwords Tactics later, after I get the traffic

That’s my response to this Google Adwords Mail-out.