Issues on Viral Marketing

October 30, 2008

Viral Marketing. Whenever somebody asks me what I do for a living, and I say Viral Marketing, I am more often than not met with a questioning look or an inquisitive question that can be summed up by the following question – “What the heck is that?” There have been a lot of definitions for viral – and it’s been interchanged with Guerilla Marketing and Word of Mouth Marketing, each a division of grassroots marketing on its own right. Analyzing the word viral, coming from virus, tells us that it is marketing that spreads on its own, once “seeded”, and ideally spreads like wildfire. It is passed on from one unsuspecting victim to another, much like an infection.

Some issues on viral marketing – because of its natural, organic nature, it has been questioned as a valid form of marketing. Can you actually “do” viral marketing”? If it’s supposed to catch on naturally, and an individual or team of individuals help the spreading along, with linking, posting and conversing with the web 2.0 users, is that still natural? In my opinion, this is what we call “seeding”. You have to start from somewhere, and the somewhere is your viral seed in the form of a viral video, a well crafted, yet nonchalant blog comment, or a well-intended viral piece (like a pop-up or a  viral game). You are only as good as your seed. In viral, start good, and you’ll end well, and that trail of people that will lead you to your converting customer are the judges to how virally commendable your piece is. Based on my experience, viral marketing can be done.

Another popular question on viral marketing – “Does it really work?” The partial answer to this is an ambivalent yes and no. It largely depends on two things:

1) Quantity. At what rate are you posting? How many user-generated video sites is your viral video on? Although quantity is not always a guarantee of more clicks, and consequently, more conversion, it does increase the chances. Just like in traditional marketing, the more fliers you hand out, the more chances you have of reaching people.

2) Quality. What do you post? Are you posting mass spammy messages that do the exact opposite of your primary objective, which is drive people away from your site? What about the quality of your site? The viral marketer is only as good as the site he/she is driving traffic to. What are you writing when you post? Do you blend in enough to be perceived as “just another user” but are crafty enough to induce clicks?

Viral Marketing can be a great thing for you, and can have far reaching effects, but like with anything, the approach plays a great factor with its success.

Keywords — The Key!

September 16, 2008

It’s just about fall in Los Angeles, and yes, we Angelinos go through that schizophrenic time, wearing summer dresses with boots, stashing coats in our cars while we wear flip flops, and carrying foldable umbrellas in our purses just in case. 🙂 To online marketers such as I, seasons are merely dates. The Net is un unstoppable vial of wealth, waiting to be unlocked, just as long as the right resources are tapped.

What I’m gonna type about today, is keywords, the key to unlocking that wealth,  stringing along keywords in the process as I speak, I mean, write. Anybody knows that the key to proper SEO is the proper keywords — even if you never heard of SEO before and think it might be some hidden organization like the MAFIA that so happens that no one decided to tell you about. It is how your buyers find you. It is the first things I learned about when I started swimming in the beautiful waters of web marketing. Optimize for the best keywords, and you’ve pretty much created an umbilical cord from the bank.

Here are some great links that show you the best keywords for your vertical:

Word Tracker

Seobook Keyword Suggestion Tool

Yet, how important are keywords for viral marketing? It is still significant to determine your top keywords for your brand or site, even though your main goal is not to appear in the organic results. In determining your best keywords, you know, who to look for in Web 2.0, and where to look.

For example, if you were searching for blogs to comment on in blogsearch.google.com — you need to know what search terms to use. If you have a financial blog you want to do some blog marketing for, are you gonna use the word “financial”? Are you looking for people who want money advice or give money advice? Then you could probably use “money matters” or simply “money”. Do you have a real estate blog and are offering advice about how to avoid foreclosure? Keywords obviously would be “avoid foreclosure”, or even “losing my home.” Or maybe you are offering a business opportunitiy. Be creative. You could even use the word “broke” to look for people that are in dire need of money and are blogging about it.

You could also use a search term strategy for Q and A sites such as Answerbag and Yahoo Answers. People ask questions in many different ways, so for example, if your site is about events, and you want to invite people to view/post events on your site, don’t limit yourself to “events.” Use phrases such as “what to do”, “where to go”, and add several places after the keyphrases, for some variation. Then you would use “what to do in New Jersey”, or “what to do in Los Angeles”. You could even use the word “bored with nothing to do” to capture bloggers that are looking for new exciting events to explore.

Keywords are the map to your target demographic! Be creative, use several possible ones. Search engines are meant to be used and abused. Be sure to record the search terms you use so that you don’t end up doing the same searches again and again.

Now turn the key and open the door to conversion. 🙂

answers2

Yahoo Answers is one my favorite social media tools — with Answerbag and Askville coming in second. It posts questions and answers to anything under the sun you can imagine — from apples to zebras. Indeed it is a great way to build traffic — but has more viral then SEO benefits. Yahoo Answer links are “nofollow”, yet don’t be so quick to dismiss it as a great marketing tool. Punch in your most relevant keyword on the search field and be sure to search open questions.

Why Yahoo Answers is great:

It is marketing to people who are already looking for you. If your website was an actual store — then they have already knocked on the front door. Answering won’t be imposing your product on them, it will be presenting a solution to a problem.

You can answer as many questions as you want. Just be sure not to be “spammy” and always assume the persona of someone who’s out to help people (which are you are doing really). Leave a link and be casual about it. Don’t overdo it though, Yahoo Answers can and will suspend abusers who overpost and are too candidly promoting themselves. Yahoo Answers can be a friend, but can also be a very bad foe.

You can be anyone, anywhere. I am talking about Avatars (in Yahoo Answers I am a brunette in Hawaii). Well this one doesn’t have any viral benefits, but it’s fun.

Search engines love Yahoo Answers. When you plug-in a question on the Google or Yahoo search field, more often than not a Yahoo Answers page will come up.

You earn points every time you answer a question. What are the points for? Just like in “Who’s line is it anyway?” the points don’t matter. But it does give you the freedom to ask a question. You earn 10 points for getting “Best Answer.” Having the “best answer” is a nice little pick up in your day, not only that it could also mean higher chances for traffic and conversion.

And lastly, for the simple reason that it works! It has worked in increasing traffic to several clients I’ve worked with in the past.

So that’s my tribute to Yahoo Answers. Maybe I should post the friend or foe question on the site. What do you think? Is Yahoo Answers friend or foe? 🙂

The Tipping Point

July 2, 2008

Perhaps one of the hardest questions to answer in online marketing (and in life for that matter) is what’s the point? In dating you would ask a guy what his intention was, if you don’t want to play the does he/she like me game. In business, it seems simple enough, but you have to know what your client is looking for exactly. Is the client just looking for more traffic — undifferentiated? Is the client looking to attract the attention of a certain demographic? Email list sign up? Newsletter sign up? Of course, the obvious answer would be ROI, conversion, yadda yadda. But not everyone online is selling something, and not everyone who wants online marketing is selling something. The question to ask is “What do you want?” — to be able to deliver the service to the client exactly as they want it.

My professor in extreme marketing has reiterated through the course that “branding” is useless. At the end of the day when you don’t get an 11 to 1 ROI, you’re not generating an “a” business. That is true, yet I beg to differ slightly. Which leads me to another discussion — working in online marketing for about two years now is that persona matters. It’s like choosing the clothes you were when you go out. The way you dress is the way you will be initially perceived. Another point to ask, aside from what the point of the whole campaign is, is who do you want to be? Who do you want to be to your fans/customers? Do you want to be the messianic rapper? Do you want to be the “go to” authority in the happenings and latest news in your area?

buzz

Buzz is always great — as the cliche goes “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” But you have to know the goals of your buzz. Or else, the buzz will have as much effect as cackling chickens. Know your end result and make it your vanishing point. Stare straight forward, and drive on.


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Cross-eyed linking

May 22, 2008

cat

Los Angeles is as ambivalent as a cross-eyed cow crossing the street right now. Hot and Cold, hot and cold, wind and humidity, humidity and wind. Southern California is known for awesome whether, but it’s as unpredictable as the crazy bums in downtown and the crazy filthy-rich stars of Hollywood.

Well, on to linking. What shall we learn and explore today? Crosslinking — You don’t have to link in just one direction.

A great way to drive traffic to your website that I will talk about today is crosslinking. If you’re like me, you’ve gotten out there and shook hands with people and maybe applauded them on their blog efforts. You’ve left comments on other blogs to increase your web presence. If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind is to network with like blogs. If you have a dating blog, then you link from and socialize with dating bloggers. If you have a health blog, you socialize virtually with health bloggers. And so on and so forth. But the best kind of linking you can do is to link from sites that are indirectly related – sites with themes that have some connection to your site, but doesn’t mirror your site’s product or content. This is called crosslinking.

Just what exactly is crosslinking? It is linking from and making comments on blogs and sites that are diagonally related. If I’m promoting a blog about a toothpaste, I’d crosslink from a dating site and offer them information on how to get fresh breath on their dates. Maybe I’ll search for sites about diabetes because diabetics are more inclined to have bad breath and might need my toothpaste. If I’m promoting nightlamps I’d want to link from home and garden, home decor or home accessories sites. I might even search for sites that are related to rugs, beddings, or wall decor! The possibilities are infinite.

It’s time to get creative and think of other things that you might think of when you think of your product or service. Get out of your online “shell” and network boldly!


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Apologies to the blogosphere and my readers, it is quite a big crime not to post in two straight weeks, been inundated with several personal and career tasks, plus my brother visited from Philly. Excuses, excuses, I know. Learned much in the past couple of weeks. The only way to really learn viral is to ride on the viral tidal wave and surf and surf!

Apparently online surfing is much easier for me than actual surfing. Went surfing in Santa Monica Beach this past weekend and I barely saw a wave coming when I decided to back off enjoy the cool wind lying face down on my towel, and be a total girl and cheer on the guys as they embarked on the whole new world of riding the cool ocean waves. Water was freezing, I didn’t freeze to death, but I froze enough to want to back off.

Personal updates aside, I want to talk about viral video again — I bring up this topic so much because the explosion of viral video interests me — in how it plays such a big part in viral marketing, the kind of attention it gets (in the form of hits) and how different companies have leveraged user-generated video sites like youtube, viddler, metacafe and google videos put some spotlight on a person, service or product. I’ve found a lot of interesting viral videos — ones that have redefined what they could be used for. There really is no limit — after all, viral video is for us, by us. Many are called, few are chosen though. Posting a video on youtube doesn’t always translate to hits.

What weird purposes have driven people to use viral video? And what has generated a lot of traffic?

1. Communicate with the president. This is a video of literally a throng of Filipino prisoners telling our beloved president Gloria Arroyo to wake up from political slumber and start addressing the real problems of Filipino people.

2. Defend the case of religion. Religion has been getting a bad rap, something meant to be a boon but has been perceived lately as a society bane. Really, you’re not that original if you say that “religion is the root of all evil”. I personally think that my spirituality is an indispensable, inextricable part of me. Don’t be mislead by the sexy picture — it’s a cover to grab attention that has nothing to do with the content. I wish they didn’t have to mislead the viewer though. It is great to be socially relevant without having to use a sexual bait.

3. Apply for a dream job at Disney. Watch the video and learn. Resumes are so last century.

4. Publicly apologize. No apologies for this viral video purpose. Remember Kramer’s (of Seinfeld) big faux pas at his comedy club stint? He said sorry — how many hearts he won back I don’t know, but this video merited 1,686,941 hits so far since November 2006.

5. Lastly, and my favorite one — is to edify women. Too many videos use sex (usually in the form of the female anatomy) to sell, to catch attention. Why don’t we use viral video to inspire and lift up for a change? “I am a woman. Look at me. Get to know me. To be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.” Check out “Woman at the Well.” This is a contemporary oral interpretation of the Samarian woman at the well that Jesus spoke to in the bible.

The possibilities for viral video is boundless. Find any interesting videos lately?


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web 2.0

Web 2.0. When regular non-net-addicted people hear the words Web 2.0, usually it’s met with a frown of confusion or a cocky smile. “Yeah, Web 2.0. I’m all around it.” or “Web 2.0? Is that a kind of software?” This term developed as an umbrella term that means nothing and everything. It means the social part of the internet.

If it was a part of the house, it would be the living room or the patio. If was the part of the body, it would be the mouth. Web 2.0 is simply that part of the web that is largely user controlled more than anything else. Blogs. Message Boards. Forums. Social Networking Sites. Social Bookmarking sites. User-generated video sites.

Now more than ever, power is bestowed to the user. I am empowered to publish with one click with a blog. I am empowered to express my opinion in a message board. I am empowered to comment in whatever tonality I prefer in a news article in a news forum. I can make myself known in the identity I chose in a Social Networking Site. I am free to choose my favorite site and make it known to others in a Social Bookmarking Sites.

What is interesting with the title is the word “unseen.” Yet it resonates true in our society today. I think less than 1 in 10 people know what web 2.0 is, let alone care, but the more interesting thing is the fact that Web 2.0 actually matters.

It is the most popular social lounge next to Starbucks – and gives you more benefit than that all-important kick in the head that caffeine brings. If you are a business owner, it is a fast way to communicate with the consumer and build your brand, if you are an individual artist, it is the fastest, cheapest way to get your music out there.

Think of how many Indie artists have leveraged myspace in order to get people to listen to them, and eventually attend their shows. If you are simply an expressive individual needing some online company – there are online communities everywhere – within groups in social networking sites like facebook, myspace, yahoogroups, etcetera. If you are a blogger it is a certainty that there are a community of bloggers out there blogging about your theme – whether it be niche or mainstream.

To put it in simple, concrete terms, getting involved in Web 2.0 is creating a blog at WordPress. Commenting on other blogs. Connecting with your friends on facebook. Digging a relevant news story at digg.com to share the news piece to others. It is going on forums like Yahoo Answers, Topix.net or Answerbag.com, sharing what you know, and allowing other people to help you out with a question.

Why get involved?

In Asia alone, 3,733,783,474 people are online. This is 56.5% of the world population. This is an interesting statistic since most of the control of Web 2.0 actually originates from the United States. In North America, 334,659,631 people go on the internet – roughly 5.1% of the entire population. (source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm)

Roughly 10 percent of the world’s population – that is 627 million people, have shopped online at least once. This information is from a study done by AC Nielsen in 2005. That was three years ago. Can you imagine the numbers today?

According to Technorati, a widely popular internet community, there are currently about 50M blogs. 175,000 new blogs are being created everyday. Blogs are being used for all sorts of occupations in all sorts of disciplines. Blogs have been used to share knowledge, promote a person, product or service, or even get help.

In ourukrainianjourney.blogspot.com – a mother of an adopted Ukrainian boy seeks financial help for her new child’s needs. Even Martha Stewart is reachable via comment and click. Aside from this, the unstoppable growth of the information which cannot be recorded as it occurs on tangible books, is recorded in the blogosphere.

Web 2.0 has infiltrated the SEO/SEM and Web Development industries as well. Such web development companies as Meteorsite, a los angeles based SEO and Web Development company are developing web 2.0 applications and using web 2.0 designs in their websites. Now the industry terms SEO and Web 2.0 Marketing are almost inextricably linked, with Web 2.0 being the marketplace and playground for SEO practices.

Message boards are affecting our opinions more than ever. There’s various forums where people can seek help in every field of work or field of interest – like Ehealth forums and Elancetalk. Omigli.com is a great search engine where you can type in any keyword and find a chunk of message boards about any topic.

And finally, getting on the bandwagon of Web 2.0 is important because of the viral nature of Web 2.0. Hence you have the terms viral marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and guerilla marketing. If you post anything funny, sexy, or pyrotechnic on YouTube for example, (the three main baits of marketing) on the net, you’re bound to get at least a thousand hits.

Digging a news story on digg.com puts it out there for other surfers to quickly find. Several companies have taken the viral route in marketing and advertising. Check out a collection of funny viral ads at funnyplace. Now anybody can be a star on YouTube – and potentially be unraveled talents if ever that wandering producer hits you up and takes an interest.

Creating a buzz about yourself or your product is simpler than going to an ad agency and paying big bucks, and might even have more profitable returns.

Now that you’re convinced (I’m claiming this) that Web 2.0 is the way to go, how do you start? Start putting your favorite keyword and adding “blog”, “forum” or “messageboard”. Go to Google Blog Search and start reading up on your favorite blog topics. Leave a comment. Spark a discussion.

Start by leaving a comment here! Socialize to your heart’s (or finger’s) content. Jumping on the bandwagon has never been so beneficial, and enjoyable.


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Hello sneezers and infecters. The Viral Trolls post is quite a success – I’ve now got bragging rights to the top one spot for the keywords “Viral Trolls.” Apparently, people throw around the troll word all the time, but have not really talked about it much in a single post. Yay, I got the top one spot. It’s not the most profitable keywords in the world, but it does allow me to brag about it in this itty bitty blog.

What I’ve chosen to write about today is to give some “DoFollow” help to viral blog commentors out there. The “revolution”, or “phenomenon” how over you want to call it has been going on for a year or more. So we can move on to why turning your blog into a “dofollow” is utterly profitable and why you should link from “dofollow” sites – let’s see what Wikipedia says about “nofollow” and what it is exactly:

“nofollow is an HTML attribute value used to instruct some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index. It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring in the first place. The concept for the specification of the attribute value nofollow was designed by Google’s head of webspam team Matt Cutts and Jason Shellen from Blogger.com in 2005.”

“Nofollow” was initiated to fight spam, yet it has affected decent backlinkers and blog commentors as well. Luckily for us we have a choice, as there are more “dofollow” sites emerging, where you can actually be rewarded for your linking efforts.

If you have SEO for FIREFOX you’ll notice that some links are actually highlighted in red — these are “no follow” links — meaning the search engine spiders crawl over them like they don’t exist. Blog comments on “nofollow” blogs usually have a purely viral effect. It could still drive traffic to your site though — in a viral way — somebody clicks on your link and finds your site.

Another way to find out if the link is no follow is to press control + U while you’re at the page in question and search for the words “no follow” on your page’s source page. (does that make sense?) It’s gonna look like a little something like this:

no follow

I actually did some research as to how to make my own blog a “dofollow” blog. I’d love to get a barrage of comments. (Come on, who doesn’t like attention? Even if it is virtual.) It entails getting a plug-in.. I currently cannot use this plugin as of the moment, having a free blog on wordpress.com — but this will be coming soon once I pay for outside hosting — a promise to myself and my readers. Here are some sites that offer wordpress.org hosting. Hosting your blog on another server has a lot of benefits — one among them is being able to join the Do follow revolution. Another is being able to install plug-ins, and some widgets that actually only work on wordpress.org (one of them is Blogrush – the traffic driving widget).

Some hosts:
DreamHost
MediaTemple
Blue Host

For a complete list of hosting services check out wordpress hosting .

Well the obvious question now is, apart from making my blog a do follow blog, how do I find dofollow blogs, forums and etcetera to link from? Where is dofollow web 2.0? A little skittle around the web for dofollow resources actually proved to be very productive. I actually posted a question on digitalpoint forums and asked how to get high PR links without spending a lot? Apparently, I end up answering my own question.

Do follow search engines. Type your keyword and find only dofollow results.

The best one garnering from the feedback of many is Backlinkspot
Some others are
Commenthunt
Ezbusinessneeds

One personal favorite is W3ec . The interface is very revolutionary. (If you check it out you’ll see what I mean.)

Here are some more great links:

21 Dofollow Social Bookmarking Sites
. Bookmark your way to the Pagerank you’ve always dreamed of!
Sites that really do follow. Dofollow directory.
Do follow blog community. Like blogcatalog or technorati, only these is exclusively for bloggers who follow. Did you follow me?
Do Follow Blogs. Another do follow blog directory.
List of forums that allow “do follow” signature links
Sign your way to link juice.

Backlinking has never been so rewarding, and having too many comments never so accepted. If they say you have something to say about everything, maybe you should be saying what you say in do follow blogs.

Hope this helps you. Spread the virus.


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Viral Trolls

April 21, 2008

Before I go on to my next topic of discussion –which is a topic of great interest to me, just because I’ve heard it offhandedly dropped in forums — I will show you a picture that is meant to incite fear and disgust. I present to you, his royal lowness — the troll.

troll

It is neither pretty nor pleasant to look at. We often hear this term on the net — “You are trolling.” “Beware of the troll.” The funny thing is, the troll was popular probably only at one point in history — when the troll doll was popular. I remember seriously coveting this doll when I was about 8 or 9. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the “adorable” troll doll. (Kids must’ve been masochistic then to like a doll this ugly).

troll doll

In wikipedia, the internet troll is described as

“An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

I encountered this term recently when I was cruising around in Yahoo! Answers. A guy asked this question:
Im a catholic but I hate the Pope and I hate Catholocism. Is that bad?

Somebody said “Troll Alert!” in one of the replies. It seems that trolls are whoever disrupts the pleasant and normal flow of conversation in forums or comment forms. This question doesn’t really deserve a straight answer — it is more of rhetorical. “Is that bad?” seemed to be added just to officially make it into a question. I’ve seen this in youtube comments — commenting just to insult other commentors, without any real purpose of saying something relevant, or vilifying or critiquing the video/post/article in question.

The important point is that nobody should be a viral troll — although I imagine that some people out of extreme emotion probably morph into internet trolls without actually realizing it. Respect other people’s space while you give your 2 cents about the topic at hand. Stick to the topic and be objective. and don’t incite negative buzz just to get attention — it will eventually backfire. Don’t troll through the net, stroll through the net!

Out of curiosity (remember: curiosity killed the troll!) I google the keyword “Viral Troll.” And I ended up finding pretty interesting results:

This is the Top 1 result.

In summary — the angry troll victim shot back, “you are nothing but a viral TROLL… hows that coming from a “parolee scumbag”?

Troll here is used with so much disgust, it is almost like a modern cuss word. And this is understandable. A TROLL search at youtube yielded this video — a guy calling out to the web public in agony, having been victimized by a heartless, ugly, ruthless viral troll.

My heart goes out to this guy. Let’s help make the world wide web troll-free and truly free.

It is interesting to note that “Troll” more than being a unpopular way to be in Web 2.0, is also not a very popular keyword. SEO’ers wouldn’t have a hard time ranking high on this. Google had no data on the keywords “Viral Troll” because there wasn’t enough data to support it.

Check out this article about the increasing popularity of trolling:

Twice as Many Americans Troll Video-Sharing Sites Daily

Just to remind you how ugly trolls are:

(excerpts from the Danish Ballad of Eline of Villenskov) source: Wikipedia

There were seven and a hundred Trolls,
They were both ugly and grim,
A visit they would the farmer make,
Both eat and drink with him.

Out then spake the tinyest Troll,
No bigger than an emmet was he,
Hither is come a Christian man,
And manage him will I surelie

Comments welcome, just don’t be a troll :).


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I’ve stumbled upon several great tools for viral marketing that could make your business of spreading good disease much easier, and much more fun. These sites don’t seem to be that prominent on the net, which kind of surprises me.

First site I’d like to present is Cocomment , a community site for people who just seems to have opinions about anything and everything in the blogosphere, in short, blog commentors. I used to track my blog comments through google docs (in my opinion the best thing since sliced bread) , copying and pasting the URL. Cocomment automatically submits your blog comment to your account as a part of “My Conversations” and lets you know if there are any follow-up comments. You can easily join groups with similiar interests and join in the fun comment exchange. Saves the time of seperately looking for blogs and related discussion to your interest. You can also tag your comments so that other interested parties may find it more easily. You also get an rss feed of all your blog comments.

cocomment

What about forums and message boards? As we probably all know already, this is a great way to increase web presence, mingle, and generate traffic to your site. Omgili is simply a message board search engine. Just enter your keyword and find a gazillion related boards and forums. They also have a buzz widget that you can download to your site. Just enter any string of keywords and discover and compare just how much buzz has been generated on your keyword the past few days.
omgili

Lastly, the Seo Book Keyword Research Tool . This is a great way to find related sites to your keyword. Get a page with links to the news forums, product review sites, blogs, technorati links, answer sites and more related to your site.

seobook

Any thoughts and additional tips are welcomed. Isn’t web 2.0 a great thing?


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