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What To Put On Content Sites

I am constantly asked the following question:

"What should I put on my content sites?"

Of course they are asking about my traffic generation strategy where I recommend creating content sites and pushing the traffic to a product site.

Here are some possibilities to put on your content site:

1. A Resource Directory

Resource directories used to be a great form of content. Yahoo actually got it's start as a resource directory. They are now the #2 most visited site on the entire Internet. The search engine ranking data (http://www.RankingFactors.com) shows that outbound links are still a positive ranking correlation factor (even though so-called SEO "experts" moan about PR leak and other such nonsense). One problem with resource directories is the level that they have been abused lately with all of the Adsense scraper sites. There are literally hundreds of thousands of useless resource directories out there now that have been created with automation.

2. Articles

Articles are my very favorite form of content for content sites. They are perhaps the purest form of content. If you think about it, a weblog post can almost always also be considered an article. In fact, you may see this very weblog post appear as a syndicated article soon via Artemis Pro. If you want only your own articles on your content site, a weblog is a great content management system. If you want to allow others to submit articles (and this is VERY POWERFUL!), then stay tuned. I will be releasing a product very soon that makes this very easy.

3. Product Reviews

A product review is really just a kind of article; isn't it? Normally I recommend using content sites for driving traffic to your own sites. Product reviews can be a double-whammy though. You can use them as legitimate examples of pure content on your content site (to get visitors and push them to your product sites) AND you can also include affiliate links in the product review and make some direct income.

4. Surveys

It is difficult to get a survey to match up with the Ranking Factors data, but these are a very nice way to have your users add some content to your site.

5. Forums

Forums are also very difficult to get aligned with the Ranking Factors data. They are also notorious for advertising blind spots. The visitors really focus on the forum and will largely ignore your attempts to distract them to your product site. Still, they are a great way to get a large number of visitors generating content for you. That concept of getting your visitors to generate your content is important.

6. Blogs

I haven't tried this, but I have seen it done. The idea is much like forums, but you are providing hosting for other people's blogs in return for your ad being on their weblog .

RSS art

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7. Downloads

If your market has anything to do with software, a download area can draw a lot of visitors. There are other markets that are also well-suited to downloads. The most common types other than software are covered in the next three types of content.

8. Pictures

Do you have a travel site you are trying to promote? How about a dating site? Or a photography site? These are obvious types of sites where a picture content site can help drive traffic. What about your topic? Are pictures something that will draw your type of visitors?

9. Videos

Videos are quickly becoming mainstream on the Internet. Although you will need to pay for quite a bit more bandwidth when offering videos, this type of content can match up with almost any topic of site.

10. Audios

Some sites can really benefit from audios. They will take less bandwidth than videos, but only makes sense for some topics of sites.

There are probably hundreds of types of content that I haven't covered, but that should get you started. Remember that the point of the content sites is to provide traffic that you can distract to your product sites. That means:

1. The content needs to be quality content that actually provides value to the universe. You don't want people arriving at your product site feeling that they have been tricked by some junk page generator.

2. You don't need some huge variety of content. A site with 5 interesting articles about the topic of your product is just fine. A site with 500 interesting articles is even better. Don't somehow convince yourself that 5 articles isn't "enough"... that somehow you "need" a forum, a weblog , and a picture download area. You don't. Any single form of content in any quantity is just fine.

3. A form of content that allows your visitors to generate more content is most powerful. That way you don't have to do the work to get the traffic... your visitors do. It also adds interactivity and a feeling of being a part of that site for your visitors which will help retain repeat visitors and increase word-of-mouth traffic. I highly recommend that you focus on some type of content that is provided primarily by your users (although you may have to "seed" it yourself).

OK; I hope that answers the question about what to put on content sites. Go get to work generating some serious traffic to your product pages from your new content sites now.

About the Writer of this Article

James D. Brausch posts daily Internet marketing how-to information to his weblog at: http://www.JamesBrausch.com

Google Co-Op Topics - Annotating Web Content

In May of 2006, among other announcements, Google announced Google Co-op. This article is a follow-on article to a previous article, "Google Co-Op Overview", which provided a high-level overview of Google Co-op. This article will go into one of the components of Google Co-Op, Topics, in more detail than was covered in the previous article.

Google Co-Op is important to users for several reasons. Google Co-Op allows users to contribute information that will help Google to improve search results for everyone. In addition, Google Co-Op allows an end-user to customize their own search experience so that information that is more relevant and trusted will appear at the top of the user's search results. Users accomplish this by subscribing to "trusted" sources of information. Information from those trusted sources will appear at the top of a user's search results for relevant searches.

Google Co-Op is a beta-test service now being offered by Google. Anyone with a Google account may participate. While still in its infancy, Google Co-Op represents Google's efforts to embrace social web and social search concepts in a major way to help improve Google search results. Google Co-op consists of two things:

1. Topics, which are simply a means of labeling web content 2. Subscribed links, which are a means for users to subscribe to a particular web site's content

Topics can further be sub-divided into two things:

1. The ability to create an entire categorization or labeling scheme 2. The ability to simply provide labels for web content, which Google calls annotations

The remainder of this article will focus on the annotations aspect of Google Topics.

Annotations to URLs

Annotating URLs is perhaps the easiest part of Google Co-Op to understand. It also requires the least amount of technical expertise to implement. A "topic" is simply Google's way of saying "area of interest". Topics are a labeling or categorization scheme. Topics allow users a way of providing labels (which may also be referred to as tags, or categories) for information on the web (represented by URLs). Labels may be provided for an entire web site, portions of a web site, or even a specific web page. These "labels" provide some indication of the topic or topics for a given web site or page. In essence, they provide additional information on what the web site is all about.

Anyone with a Google account can label web sites. Google refers to the process of providing labels for web sites as "Annotating URLs". An annotation is simply the association of a label, or multiple labels, with a URL. For example, a travel site might get the label "destination_guide".

Users may use labels for topics that Google already has under development, which include: health, destination guides, autos, computer & video games, photo & video equipment, and stereo & home theater. Users may also develop their own labels for topics. For example, if a user has an interest in "wine" they may develop labels for the topic wine, which may include "wine_regions", "wine_types", etc. They can then use these labels to annotate sites that deal with wine.

An end user may submit their annotations to Google in one of two formats: 1) in a tab-delimited format (which can be created using Microsoft Excel or any spreadsheet); or 2) in an XML file. Perhaps the easiest format for most users to deal with is simply to create a spreadsheet where the first column contains a URL or URL pattern, and the subsequent columns contain labels, one label to a column. Further information that may be associated with a URL in subsequent columns includes:

  • Score - a ranking of relevance from 0 to 1 (0 to 100%)
  • Comment
  • Attributes - user defined attributes which may only be included in the tab-delimited file format

Annotation Examples

A few examples will go a long way to illustrate annotating URLs. If I were using a tab-delimited file to annotate a travel related web site it might look something like this:

URL                                                     Label            Label         Label        Score Comment
http://www.travelsite.com/*                   sightseeing    museums    shopping   1         Detailed destination information

If I were using an XML file to annotate the same travel related web site it might look something like this:

<Annotations>
<file>travelsite-annotations.xml</file>

<Annotation>
<about>http://www.travelsite.com/*</about>

<Label>
<name>sightseeing</name>
<score>1</score>
<Comment>Detailed destination information</Comment>
</Label>

<Label>
<name>museums</name>
<score>1</score>
<Comment>Detailed destination information</Comment>
</Label>

<Label>
<name>shopping</name>
<score>1</score>
<Comment>Detailed destination information</Comment>
</Label>

</Annotation>

</Annotations>

Conventions for Labels

There are some simple conventions that should be followed when labeling content. First it is important to understand that labels may be applied to URLs or wildcard URLs. Using wild cards makes it much easier to label a lot of content with a few statements. For example:

  • Labels applied to www.myweb site.com/ would only apply to that specific page of the web site
  • Labels applied to www.myweb site.com/* would apply to all URLs that starts with the URL "www.myweb site.com"
  • Labels applied www.myweb site.com/*tips would apply to all URLs that start with the URL "www.myweb site.com" and contain the word "tips"

A single URL may have multiple labels. If using a tab-delimited file, each label must appear in its own column.

Labels should be all lower case with all punctuation and conjunctions (and, or) removed. For example, "hardware and software" would become "hardware_software".

Labels should be as short as possible and as unambiguous as possible. Watch out for words that can mean multiple things.

Additional Information

There are many good places to find additional information. The first is the Google Co-Op Site (http://www.google.com/coop) where they have posted a Topics Developers Guide. The Google Co-Op FAQ is also helpful. There is also a good article entitled "How to Use Google Co-op" at Google Blogoscoped (http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2006-05-11-n40.html).

Why is Labeling Content Important?

The process of labeling content will benefit everyone in several ways. Labels will provide Google with a vast amount of information about web sites, potentially down to a very granular, or individual page level. If an individual's annotations are found to improve the quality of the search results, they will be shown to everyone. In essence, over time, Google will use annotations and other aspects of Google Co-Op to improve search results.

Conclusion

Annotating URLs is a relatively low effort task for individuals that can reap benefits for everyone - better and more relevant search results. While still in its infancy, and going through the growing pains that are normal for services that are in beta test, Google Co-op clearly has a lot of promise to enable Google to provide much more powerful and relevant search results to users.

Rob Pirozzi is a contract writer for CityTownInfo.com. CityTownInfo is a quick reference web site that provides statistics and indexes on thousands of cities and towns across the US, as well as articles, comments from local residents, and more.

Aspen Learning Content Management Server: Taking e-Learning to the Next Level

Companies around the world today compete to bring products and technologies to market faster than ever before. The global economy means that delaying by even a few weeks can mean the difference between market leader and market follower. To train a global workforce about new products and skills needed to compete in the global marketplace more and more organizations are turning to using online education delivery systems such as the Aspen Learning Content Management Server system. This fully integrated, online learning or educational system allows content to be delivered, measured and managed worldwide at the click of a button.

With a workforce that can be spread across multiple continents, and ever-decreasing budgets for travel and training, companies are turning to online content delivery systems to bring training to the employees without worrying about travel or instructor expenses. Utilizing such systems an organization can tailor learning needs to the individual employee, department or organizational goal. A training module can be customized based on the role the employee plays in the organization and what level of training they will need to fulfill their responsibility in the entire life-cycle of the product.

Online instruction is also a benefit to employees, in addition to the cost-savings benefit to the company. Studies show that employees who receive regular training or more satisfied with their job and by offering online courses the employee can schedule training for when it is convenient for them - be it during the day, in the evening or the weekends.

Nicholas Haffner is a writer and internet publisher who likes to give his readers Information about Online Distance Learning as well as educational information in general. Check out his e-learning news and in depth information web site 1-elearning.com.

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