Search Engine Friendly Way to Move Website Pages

As your website continues to develop and grow, there will be times that you may want to reorganize the pages of your website design.  When you expand or change your online business, it makes good sense to implement these reorganizations so that you can better manage your data and so that site visitors can easily and logically follow the content on your web pages.

However, as you have built your website, the search engine spiders have been crawling and indexing your website and they expect to find pages where they were last posted.  Also, other web pages may have been linked to those pages, and if you move them, their links will no longer point to valid page locations and eventually, you will begin to lose search engine ranking.

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Using CSS Drop Down Menus for your Website

Using Drop Down Menu Bars for websites is a common and effective way to logically present your site links to your visitors. If you are considering a drop down menu for your website, make sure that you thoroughly research your options before you spend your time and/or money.

There are are hundreds of options for menu bar design, but be cautious of considerable difference in the rendering of the menu bar across the different web browsers that will have a negative impact on your website’s effectiveness. Typically the issue is that the menu bars are CSS based, which makes it virtually impossible to get identical rendering across the variety of browsers available. There are several menu bars that met a fair, qualifying criteria:

1. No (or very low) cost
2. Cross-browser compatibility
3. Minimal code
4. Easy to install
5. Easy to follow html code (well commented and logical flow)

After several hours of research and testing, I settled on Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu.  While it isn’t perfect, it did well in meeting my overall criteria. The cost is free (a couple of lines of reference/backlink are required in the header source code for use) which, of course, scores a 5-star rating.

This drop down menu bar performed consistently with IE, Firefox, and Safari (only the latest versions were tested). My only issue was an overrun of the hover color that covered the right-side border on the drop-down menus. Most people probably wouldn’t notice or care, but I thought I should point it out.

The code to install on the HTML pages is minimal and easy to understand. A server-side JavaScript file handles the back-end functions of the menu bar and needed no editing. The CSS page was well commented and easy to edit. I simply had to change the menu bar color gifs to match the websites and I was ready to go.

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Email Marketing – Guide to Hiring an Email Marketing Company

A common practice in today’s e-commerce environment is to use email marketing campaigns to launch advertising initiatives for products and services offered online. Since 2003, CAN-SPAM laws were enacted to protect consumers from abusive spammers and email marketing exploits have been harnessed. Once again, email campaigns are a viable marketing tool in the e-commerce world.

As with most things internet related, you need to be careful and use common sense when purchasing goods and services via the internet. Unlike traditional business transactions, you rarely meet face-to-face or even have a phone conversation with internet sellers. This makes it harder for buyers to gauge the validity of performance claims made at a seller’s website. So, if you are considering using email marketing to promote your product or service, practice the following four techniques for choosing a provider.

1. Make sure that the provider is CAN-SPAM compliant.

Even though you are using a third-party to distribute your email campaign, you are still legally liable if your provider violates the CAN-SPAM laws. Reputable providers will conspicuously advertise on their website if they are CAN-SPAM compliant. If they do not promote or state their compliance, you should steer clear of their services.

2. Ask for referrals.

Only deal with email marketers who are willing to give you referrals. I recommend at least 5 referrals with company names and contact information. Ideally, you will be able ask for and get a referral to a user who targeted the same or similar type of prospect you are targeting. Either way, require a diversity of companies and ask that the referrals are from organizations outside the email marketing industry.

Be sure to follow up and call the referrals. You can expect these referral sources to be some of their best customers who should able to provide you with accurate response results from their email marketing campaigns. You can also expect these results to be at the high end of your realistic results, so set your expectations accordingly. Also make sure to ask how helpful, flexible, and responsive the email marketing company is to special needs and complaints. This will help you to decide if they are a good fit for your company’s needs.

3. Find companies that offer email lists for your targeted market.

In some cases, emailing advertising to tens of millions of general prospects would make sense; however, many products and services are targeted at particular markets, making it important that you use a provider that can supply accurately targeted email lists. Targeted lists cost a little more money but, as with most things, you get what you pay for. In my experience, I have gotten better return rates paying $500 for 100,000 highly targeted emails versus paying $199 for 3,000,000 emails sent to a broader audience.

There is no exact formula for calculating what to spend per email. Companies will spend 25 cents or more per email for highly targeted lists. Ultimately, you need to consider your total cost versus your expected sales conversion rate to determine if a particular targeted email campaign makes sense for your product or service. Start with a small, targeted list to test your email campaign for effectiveness. While the initial, smaller list will cost more per email address, it could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars if you find out your campaign message isn’t achieving the success rate you need to make your campaign profitable.

The most reputable email marketers spend a considerable amount of time and effort (and money) to ensure that their email lists contain high-quality prospects. Make sure to ask for expected “open” and “response” or “click-through” rates so you can calculate your projected return on investment. If they claim a response rate over 5% or give you a broad range like “100 to 1000 hits per 100,000”, be very skeptical. The only possible exception is for very specifically targeted campaigns.

4. Check the provider’s complaint history.

You can check to find if others have had any problems with a company by checking with the Better Business Bureau. Providers who are members of the BBB will advertise it on their website and are most often your best option. Even with BBB members, you still need to check their complaint history.

Above all, use good business sense. Avoid providers who make claims or offer prices that seem to good be true. Read their satisfaction guarantees in detail. A company may claim satisfaction guaranteed, however, it is your responsibility to ensure that this guarantee exists in writing and that it offers you a proper comfort level with their service. Following these practices will help you choose the best provider for your email marketing campaign.

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