+=+=+=+= INSIDER REPORT =+=+=+=+

November 4, 2003

E-Zine #128

SIM's INSIDER REPORT is a free bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to helping readers succeed online while saving both time and money with cutting-edge tools, tips and strategies for internet marketing, online advertising and website promotion.

==> Tip of the Week
==> Tips, Tools & Resources
==> Online Weekly Reports
==> Feedback & Contributions
==> Food for Thought
==> Classifieds
==> Administrivia

SIM's Insider Report free marketing newsletter

First, a warm WELCOME! to all new subscribers!

I've got a new PDF booklet that begs your attention. Anyone doing business online needs this information. It's free and you can use it as a gift from your web site or for your subscribers...

"Rules? What Rules" was written by iCop Master Member, John Glube, on how to use the rules on "Truth in Advertising" to your advantage - enhancing your credibility and boosting your sales.

Although John has a law degree, he owns an online business, and is not a lawyer. Nevertheless, he can decipher "The Rules" of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Even marketers outside the USA are required to adhere to these regulations if they're doing business in this country.

John has taken the FTC rules and explained them in plain English. He even uses many examples relevant to online marketing. John covers all the areas where we MUST adhere to FTC requirements: privacy statements, using specific claims (including testimonials), selling ezine advertising, writing web copy, and use of the F word - "Free".

You can download the .pdf file by right-clicking here. Be sure to remember to give it away - and tell those you give it to, they can do the same! http://startupinternetmarketing.com/dl/FTCRules.pdf

. . .

Pamela Heywood explains how we should be setting up our server re-directs in this weeks "Tip of the Week." If you're maintaining your own website, you do not want to miss this in-depth report titled "Rank and File." I've tested it and it works flawlessly.
. . .

In our "Feedback & Contributions" this week, we have a special report from Merle on the subject of TOOLBARS. She presents a variety of free search toolbar options, explaining the benefits of each. I can't imagine life without my Google toolbar.

And while on the subjecy of toolbars, (and at the risk of you not already having heard about it,) Marlon Sander's has launched his new "Marketing Dashboard."

The concept is you point, click and follow the steps. So it's literally "point and click marketing". The best thing is to see a screen capture of the marketing dashboard.

You can check it out here... http://startupinternetmarketing.com/md
If you'd prefer to listen to an audio postcard, go here... http://startupinternetmarketing.com/mda

Dan Porteous

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Rank and File

Server redirects are not exactly an enthralling subject, until you realise just how POWERFUL and useful these things are. Reasons including; easier site management, professional looking links to use in email, nearly fool-proof affiliate link cloaking and preserving your search engine ranking should convince you that it's worth five minutes to grasp this very simple technique. There's nothing to buy: your site's web server already has this facility.

jl scott, the Director of iCop, came up with a question about redirects. She had noticed that, with her page redirects to cloak affiliate URLs, her redirect pages come up for a couple of seconds. Whereas, my redirects go straight to the page they're calling. And, naturally, jl wanted to know what I was doing differently ...

First of all, I should explain that jl was using what's termed as a meta-refresh. You may be familiar with them, where you make an HTML page for the redirect you need and put a tag something like this in the head of the document:
<META HTTP-EQUIV="refresh" CONTENT="0; url= http://www.i-cop.org/ref.cgi?id=tucats">
This method is fine and it works. When someone visits the page you made, they do see it for a moment or two, before the refresh kicks in and takes them off.

Where it falls down is, because these aren't totally fool-proof for cloaking purposes (people CAN switch off redirects, or stop the page to discover the link in the code) and they're NOT liked by the search engines.

So, let me tell you about the method I am using, which, you'll be pleased to hear, works fine for both of those.

My links are formatted simply:
To the "naked eye" that looks like I have a directory on my server, called "i-cop". You'd probably assume there is an index.html in it, using a redirect similar to the one above.

That I use a mass of similar links, might lead you to believe I have a huge mess of sub-directories on my site and that I will never be able to find anything!

Not so! Because my redirects are done by a mixture of magic and slight of hand, known as "Server Redirects". There's no mess and confusion, as none of the pages actually "exist!"

This is a tip I picked up from Michael Campbell, who is advising people to put affiliate links inside of server redirects -- that is doing them via the .htaccess file.

You'll understand why in a moment ...

First off, I want to make sure you understand what an .htaccess file is. So I'll wait here while you scan the:
Comprehensive guide to .htaccess
You also need to know that this works on Unix servers (that's most of them), but not on NT.

Once you know what an .htaccess file is, how to upload it, etc., we can make one and configure your redirects in the file. If you're using Windows, you MUST use a plain text editor like Notepad. Word or any of those other fancy things will NOT do. Mac users will need to ensure they "save as" a Unix text file with BBEdit, to get carriage returns.

The redirects are written in the following format:

  Redirect /i-cop http://www.i-cop.org/ref.cgi?id=tucats

That is, each one (on it's own line) comes in three parts.
1. Redirect (and then a space)

2. /i-cop  (i.e. forward-slash, the name you call it and then a space)
Followed by ...
3. http://www.i-cop.org/ref.cgi?id=tucats

.. i.e. the URL that you want people to visit
   (be redirected to).
Thus ... if someone requests (clicks on):
The .htaccess file is read and the server says hey, there isn't a real page called that, but I do have instructions to send you instead to ...
... and off you go. In just a trice. Invisibly.

(Yes, you can click on the link to try it out.)

When you are done, you save it as .htaccess (yes that's a PERIOD and htaccess as in no name and that extension. If your computer won't let you do that, you can save it and upload it as a .txt file and re-name it via ftp. BEWARE though, it will likely "disappear" from view once you upload or re-name it. Do not be alarmed. This is quite normal. Just try a link to assure yourself that it is really there. :)

Now here are the added advantages to using this method:

1. Easy Site Management

It's just a simple text file. I have mine hovering around open most of the time so it's easy to add something and re- upload it. The links then work anywhere. It also acts as handy a reference list to keep track of all my affiliations.

If links need to be changed, it's a simple matter to alter them wholesale from one location. By using these links on web pages, as well as in email, there's no messing about trying to find the "offending" link through 101 HTML pages!

Yes, you can also use them internally, for pages you moved, renamed or removed or that are just too long to use in email. Just follow the same convention and give the full URL to the new page on your site. One example of that I use is:
You'll notice that you do go to a page on my site, but it is a bit long winded for email and breaks in half:
http://www.pamela-heywood.com/cgi-bin/journal.cgi?folder= issues&next=outline
2. Preserving Your Search Engine Rank

You lose "points" with some Search Engines by giving away page scores to affiliate (or other outside) links going off your site. Using this method to link to what the engines will basically see as "internal pages" (despite them being non-existent), helps preserve your rank.

3. Keeping Hold of Your Commissions

This also acts as fool-proof link and commission theft cloaking. Specially useful where these are Clickbank links that can be altered, not just from email, but also the ones online. Anyone can hover over a link, read the destination, copy and adapt it. Not with this method, they can't!

Forget JavaScript cloaking methods. Those require that users have JavaScript turned on and, in any case, don't hide links in other browsers, such as Opera. This works on the server, so it doesn't matter what setup your visitor has.

Oh sure, the real URL will still show up in the browser afterwards, but they'd had to click to get there and so are already tagged with your affiliate tracking cookie.

(You could add another layer to this, by configuring the affiliate links in a link tracking program, then listing the tracking URLS in the .htaccess file.)

Disadvantages? None that I know of.

My .htaccess file also includes a LOT of other information and uses, as well as a LONG list of links, so that the file now weighs in at around 19 K. It's still very fast.

There is however one WARNING:

You may already have an .htaccess file that is doing something that your site needs it to do; if you have custom error pages already set up, if you have a login area for members, a forum with passwords, etc.

You may not know this, because it frequently does not show up in the list of files you'll see in your ftp program.

Uploading a new .htaccess file for the first time should therefore be viewed with extreme CAUTION.

If you do already have one, then no problem, you can just keep adding stuff to the one you've got.

If you've used a web designer, or had a programmer add something to your site, those would be the people to ask before proceeding. If you've done it all yourself or are starting a brand new site you SHOULDN'T run into trouble.

(SmartFTP - FTP Client featuring easy site management. Want to see your .htaccess and other "hidden" files in the server? You'll be able to with SmartFTP, meaning more control and less room for error. It's free at http://www.smartftp.com)

. . .

Copyright © 2003 Pamela Heywood
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SIM's "Tip of the Week" back issues available at... http://www.startupinternetmarketing.com/ezines

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The Birth of a Professional Website
This free download is brand new and available from the SIM site ONLY. It's a compilation of 10 articles by Shelley Lowery that completely covers the job of launching a professional website, as only Shelley can. HIGHLY recommended... http://startupinternetmarketing.com/birth.htm

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* For more great tips and tools, visit our website:

*Mastering Search Engine Placement
*Becoming a high-earning affiliate champion
*Creating, producing and selling your very own infoproduct
*Finding the Perfect Price that will maximize your profit
*How to write sales-clinching copy on the Net

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How To use Split-Run Testing to Raise Your Conversion Rates - Have you ever heard the phrase "split-run testing?" No? If you have a website and you're trying to sell something online, you need to know about this valuable testing process that can increase your bottom line.

Moving Web Hosts? We’ll Guide You Through Step-By-Step
Every webmaster cringes at the thought of moving hosts. Like moving your home, it can be messy and sometimes problems arise. But if you follow these simple steps, your move will be less painful. http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipsales.html

Be Generous With Praise
Most people work very hard, do many kind things, refrain from hurting others, and yet they rarely get a pat on the back for it. You can gain a place in their heart forever by praising them for something good they do. This may require you to do a little research. http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipbiz.html

Replacing the Standard "Submit" Button With an Image
Instead of using the standard form submit button, you can use an image. Place the following code within your FORM code... http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipdesign.html

Information Available On Demand
It's important that folks who visit your site can find the information they are looking for and know whether or not you have the software to do the job they want done...

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Enhance Your Web Surfing With The Right Toolbar

Have you ever wanted to do research on a topic and didn't feel like going to a specific search engine to do it? Well, you don't have to. If you download a "search toolbar," you can actually perform research from wherever you are online and do some other pretty cool things depending on which one you may be using.

Most of the major search engines offer "free search toolbars" for download, to enhance your surfing experience and make tracking down information a snap. You need to keep in mind that most toolbars will only work in Internet Explorer 5.0 and above.

Let's review some of the most popular bars available for download:

1) Google - http://toolbar.google.com

The king of search engines, Google offers up a superb toolbar and my personal favorite. The latest version contains a pop up blocker, a mechanism to fill out online forms with one click, a way to check the page rank of any site you may be visiting and more. Since Google also bought Blogger.com, members of that free service can also post to their personal Blogs with a click on the toolbar.

2) Yahoo - http://companion.yahoo.com

With this you can bookmark your favorite websites, search the web, peruse yellow pages and get notified of new Yahoo email you may have. If you'd like to refine your searches to just images or news, you can do that or check on your favorite stock quotes. Click the included yellow marker and instantly highlight the search words on any web page you're presently visiting.

3) Hotbot - http://toolbar.google.com

Hotbot allows you to search over 200 search sites including Hotbot itself. This toolbar installs itself into your windows task bar (unlike the others, which attach themselves to your browser).

4) Alexa - http://www.alexatoolbar.com

Rated by CNET Editors as a top pick download, it contains a popup stopper and combines Google search results with Alexa information. Search Amazon for products, check news and stocks, find out a site's traffic ranking, find similar sites and use their handy "tell a friend" to inform your pals of great websites -- all with just a click. This is a great one for online marketers to research your competition. Use the "wayback machine" to view archived versions of any website you're visiting.

5) Altavista - http://www.altavista.com/toolbar

This toolbar allows you to search within Altavista or within a particular site you're visiting. In addition to its built-in popup blocker news & image search and weather & zip code finder, this one will translate text or web pages into 10 different languages.

6) Teoma - http://sp.ask.com/docs/teoma/toolbar

Search Teoma from any web page. Includes a built-in highlighter that highlights your search terms as they appear on the page. Dictionary and page email functions are built right in. This toolbar is dynamically upgradeable as new versions become available.

7) Ask Jeeves - http://sp.ask.com/docs/toolbar

Search Ask Jeeves from anywhere on the web. Use the built-in "kid friendly" search function to find sites suitable for children. Get financial info, weather, news, search for local events or get a map of any location in the U.S. Also includes email this web page to a friend function.

As you can see, your options for a toolbar are pretty impressive. But which one should you use? That depends on which search engine is your favorite. Most of them offer similar features and with the inclusion of popup blocking, that's one less piece of software you need to have on your machine.

There are also toolbars served up by "Meta Search Engines." Meta engines do not maintain their own database, they actually query other major search engines for their displayed results. So if you use one of these toolbars you'll actually be doing a search across several different search engines at one time.

Let's look at a few:

1) Trellian - http://www.trellian.com/tooblar/index.html

Search across all major search engines such as: Alta Vista, Fast, Google, Inktomi, Overture, Teoma and more. Includes a popup killer, spellchecker, and is a handy tool for anyone doing search engine optimization.

2) Dogpile - http://www.dogpile.com/info.dogpl/tbar

Queries 13 major search engines including Google, AllTheWeb, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves, Overture and more. Includes image search, stock quotes, weather, news and much more.

3) Groowe - http://www.groowe.com

Search across Yahoo, Google, Teoma, AllTheWeb, MSN and others. Perform specialized searches, such as news or images.

4) Ultrabar - http://www.ultrabar.com

Search across multiple search engines. Ability to highlight search terms within the page you are visiting. If you'd like a customizable version of this toolbar that you can give away from your own site. Add your own menu items, icon and additional search engines. This could be used as a great promo item for your site and pricing starts at only $89.00.

As you can see, you have many choices when it comes to browser toolbars. By choosing wisely, you'll have a desktop tool that will help you be more efficient and perform smarter web searches -- and with a price tag of free, that's a terrific bargain!

. . .

About the Author:

Merle http://www.EzineAdAuction.com "Where some of the BEST Deals in Ezine Advertising are Made" Buy & Sell Ezine Ads in a live auction setting! Publishers sell off your excess inventory and Buyers pick up some Fantastic bargains. Go now. FREE e-book on how to "Write Winning Ezine Ads"


If you have a promotion tip to share (or an affiliate program that would be of interest to the rest of us) or if you have a web design tip, or a specific question, please feel free to post all tips, questions, or answers to posted questions here and I will add your email or URL with it. It's FREE promotion!

Send your tips, questions or answers to:

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Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent
if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
startup marketing and website promotion-- William Blake

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