Larry BraunerIn establishing social media and business networking connections, quality matters more than quantity, but only to a limited extent.

Admittedly, 100 quality business connections are superior to 400 random ones. I cannot dispute that. However, it’s rarely the either-or proposition that quantity vs. quality suggests.

For example, you connect with 500 people whom you carefully select, and you hope that all will be great connections. You later discover that 100 are fine connections and that the remaining 400 are questionable ones. Of your 100 fine connections, 20 really shine, but only four of them become clients or employees.

Quantity a Prerequisite for Quality

The 80/20 RuleThat’s how networking and prospecting work. Consider it a process of elimination or an outcome of the 80/20 Rule.

Beware of those who discount quantity in their quest for quality business contacts. In practice, they end up with neither one, since quantity is a prerequisite for quality.

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Larry Brauner

This is an article about how to get more web site traffic. Unlike most articles discussing how to get more website traffic, this article focuses on optimizing sources of website traffic rather than optimizing links or keywords.

I’ve had some success getting web site traffic. Admittedly, I may never catch up to Seth Godin whose blog currently ranks 6,028 in Alexa for traffic. However, my blog did recently pass 50,000 in Alexa after a couple of years blogging.

Get More Web Site TrafficFriends wonder what I’m doing that they’re not, and whether they’re looking for website traffic in the wrong places.

Hard work and consistency are certainly key success factors, and I am hard working and consistent. I’m also very hard thinking, and I’ve concluded that there aren’t right and wrong places to look for traffic, and that diversifying traffic sources is a critical strategy for achieving long-term success. Most web site owners don’t diversify enough.

Rationale for Diversification of Traffic Sources

It’s true that some website traffic sources deliver greater, higher quality and better targeted website traffic than others. It’s also true that some traffic sources are less time consuming and easier to use than others. Nevertheless, 80/20 rule notwithstanding, to rely only upon your best website traffic sources is a questionable strategy for at least seven reasons:

  1. Quantity - Obviously, using more website traffic sources tends to generate more web site traffic. While some website traffic sources aren’t as efficient to use as others, their website traffic is no less valuable.
  2. Stability - Using more website traffic sources reduces risk and increases stability. Putting all your social media eggs in one basket is risky, since social media is in a constant state of change. We often see social networking sites rise and fall in popularity and even disappear completely. Search engines are also unpredictable. They can revise algorithms or remove web sites at their discretion. My strategy has allowed me to adapt gradually to changes over time.
  3. Opportunity - Testing to uncover the best approaches is a widely accepted marketing concept. Using more website traffic sources, you find opportunities you would otherwise miss. You also increase your chance of getting lucky.
  4. Diversity - Using multiple traffic sources, you can reach audiences that are more diverse and richer from a marketing perspective.
  5. Frequency - Using many website traffic sources, you tend to reach people more often which helps you build your relationships with them more effectively and reinforces your messages.
  6. Synergy -Some website traffic sources complement each other and create synergy.
  7. Latency - Some website traffic sources require persistent usage before they yield results (e.g. search engines) or the source itself may not have matured (e.g. Twitter).

Places I Look to Get More Website Traffic

Without going into detail, a partial list of sources that have recently helped me get more we site traffic are: search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) Entrecard, Twitter, Ning sites, Facebook profile, Facebook page, Facebook NetworkedBlogs, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, BlogCatalog, Google Friend Connect, and other blogs.

While you can use my partial list of website traffic sources for starters, you’ll need to develop your own long list of sources that’s geared to your audience and your marketing strategy.

I’ve intentionally excluded video websites such as YouTube from my list for now, but in all likelihood it will be on yours. Furthermore, I don’t generally buy website traffic, but it might make sense for you to do so.

Okay. We’ve reached the point in the post where you usually comment. Please share your favorite traffic sources and ways you like to get more web site traffic. :-)

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Larry Brauner
Like you, I typically visit many blogs and websites each day.

Some websites clearly have it together. They have lots of website traffic and appeal to visitors.

Other websites aren’t bad. They have good potential. With a few tweaks here and there, they could enjoy much more website traffic and appeal much more to their audience.

I promised myself that I’d write up some suggestions for improving blogs and websites. I realize that while much is possible, we can’t hope to do everything. We need to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on strategies and techniques that are easy to implement yet promise substantial benefits:

  1. Make Your Text Easier to Read - Some months ago, I noticed that my blog’s text wasn’t visually sharp enough. It was difficult to read. Upon examination, I noticed that the font wasn’t quite black, and the background wasn’t totally white. The links were grayish. After a few minor theme changes, the color scheme was improved. Low contrast combinations or light text on a dark background always require extra effort to read.
  2. Optimize for Human Eyeballs - A site’s title tells search engines and their users what the site is about. The title is the bold headline in search engine results. Using keywords in your site’s title can help you rank higher for those keywords. Recently, I changed the title of my blog hoping to rank higher on more keywords, and my traffic fell. The new title was unfortunately less relevant and less appealing to my potential readers. I changed my title back, and traffic rebounded. The takeaway: Optimize for humans, not just for search engines.
  3. Use Headings to Break Up Long Articles - Headings break up an article into sections and help make the article easy to scan and read. Limiting paragraph size helps too. Headings, however, like titles, can tell search engines what an article is about and are an excellent place to insert your keywords.
  4. Link Out - I provided a rationale for linking out to other sites in The Blogger’s Guide to Links and Comments: “Use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.” The advice in that article applies equally to blogs and conventional websites. Unless you’re linking to ads, use only dofollow links.
  5. Link Internally - This can be huge. Linking internally increases a site’s circulation, and it increases the perceived relevance of both the linking page and the page linked to. Link to another page or article on your site when you have the opportunity. In a blog, you can even link to a tag, as I often do. A blog site map such as the once generated by the Wordpress plugin Really Simple Sitemap makes it easy for visitors to find a blog’s archived content. I use internal links on my blog nearly everywhere, even in places which aren’t obvious.
  6. Be Social - Adding a social dimension to your web presence makes you real and credible. Join all the major social networking sites, and let visitors know how they can connect with you. Google Friend Connect and Facebook NetworkedBlogs widgets add sociability to your site and enable readers to publicly endorse you. Bloggers can join blog networking sites as well such as Technorati, Entrecard, BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog.
  7. Make Subscription Simple - Make it as easy as possible for readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Blogs should offer subscription by both email (using a service like Aweber) and RSS (using a service like Feedburner). I’m always amazed when I have to hunt for a way to subscribe to a site.
  8. Use Social Bookmarking - Make your content easier to find and, as is the case with some social bookmarking sites, create quality links into your blog or website. Some of the social bookmarking sites I use are Digg, Delicious, Propeller, Reddit, diigo, Jumptags, Google Bookmarks and iZeby.
  9. Encourage Comments - Not only do I generally ask readers to comment, but I comment back as well whenever it’s appropriate.
  10. Extend Your Domain - If your domain will expire with the next twelve months, you might be signaling to search engines and savvy visitors that your site is only temporary.

I’ve omitted other ways that you can improve your website, because they’re harder to implement, and because they’ll give me something to discuss in a subsequent article. ;-)

In any case, we have our work cut out for us. :-)

What do you think?

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Larry BraunerI advised in The 80/20 Rule and Social Media not to spread yourself too thin trying to juggle too many social media sites at one time.

In this article I want to caution against another pitfall, falling in love with one social media site and putting all your eggs in one basket.

I’m not exactly sure why but I sense that many MySpace, Facebook and Twitter enthusiasts are married to their social networking favorite and reluctant to branch out.

Why NOT to Marry Your Social Media Site

Here are six ways you can benefit from a strategy that incorporates multiple social media sites:

  1. There’s a risk that your favorite site will decline in popularity, or that for a variety of reasons, some of your favorite people at that site may lose interest in logging in. If you connect at several sites or obtain personal contact information to network offline, your important relationships will be more secure.
  2. All social media sites allow you to share information and files, but each has its own unique structure and set of features. If you use several sites, these sites can complement each other’s functionality.
  3. No two social sites attract the identical people. Using several sites allows you to reach out to a greater number of people.
  4. Different sites attract different types of people. Using several sites allows you to reach out to a more diverse group of people and helps you to better target your social media.
  5. Using more forms of social media or more sites can favorably impact your web presence and your SEO efforts.
  6. The social networking masses tend over time to migrate from one site to another. If you’re lucky enough to have a head start on a site where they land, you might conceivably succeed at leveraging that head start to your advantage.

At the time I decided that a Twitter presence was valuable, I was happy not to be starting from scratch. So too with Facebook, when I started my new Facebook Page, I already had more than 500 Facebook friends.

To make it easy for you and I to connect, I set up a Connect page that includes all the social networking sites where I’m either very active or very established. Connecting on my favorite social sites will help us to communicate and will also help you to build your social media presence.

Important Heads Up Regarding Facebook

Facebook was in the forefront of online social networking news last week. Major changes were announced that make Facebook business pages more similar to Facebook personal profiles, and they make Facebook feeds more similar to Twitter timelines.

These changes are bound to further accelerate Facebook’s tremendous growth. Join me on the Facebook journey:

  • Read Facing up to the competition for a brief overview that references a variety of social media news blogs covering the Facebook story.
  • You can also download the Facebook Pages Product Guide directly from Facebook.
  • Visit my Facebook Page and add yourself as a fan. I will be able to publish information to your Facebook news feed, and you will be able to help me spread the word.
  • Join me on Let’s Follow Each Other, a social networking and training community to help build your presence and your relationships on Twitter and Facebook.

Linking More Easily to Facebook

A shortcoming of Facebook is its awkward linking structure. A Facebook link might perhaps appeal to a U.S. Library of Congress file clerk or to a CIA operative, but that’s about it.

You can create a simpler and more memorable link using the Facebook web address application. If you’re a Twitter user, SocialToo might be a suitable alternative. Either choice will help enormously.

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Short Version of My Story

Today I tell some of my own story and share some of my own social media strategy.

This article is about an idea that was planted in my head and how I nurtured that idea. The article is slightly longer than usual, so please hang in there with me.

Creative problem solving has been a forte of mine since my teen years as a math whiz and chess champion. Once I began employment, I applied my problem solving capabilities to helping companies improve their business processes and getting a better handle on many different types of business and scientific data.

Thirty years into my career I learned about the social media and Web 2.0 revolution from Time Magazine’s BIG December 2006 cover story, Time’s Person of the Year: You. I saw that, while I could no longer be one of the earliest adopters of social media, it wasn’t at all too late to position myself near the forefront of this enormous trend.

I had previously experienced and benefited to a small degree from online social networking and social networking sites such as Ryze and Direct Matches, but the Time article opened my eyes to possibilities greater than I’d previously imagined. I decided in January 2007, after reading the Time article, to master social media and to watch and see where that mastery would lead me.

Online Social Networking

Rather than try to master all social media at one time, I instead focused only on online networking and developed a first version of my online social networking strategy. These early conclusions, I based on my observations at MySpace, Direct Matches and Yuwie, social websites I have since rejected.

By September 2007, I was contemplating my next step.

Blogging and SEO

At MySpace and Yuwie I experimented with blogging. The next step was to start an independent blog, and I chose Wordpress.org as my platform in connection with web hosting at Go Daddy.

Before launching my Online Social Networking blog I spent months reading about blogging and search engine optimization, as well as conducting keyword research. The time invested paid off. I got started right, and keyword research become an important skill for me, as well.

I began blogging in November 2007 and devoted a year to learning how to write, promote and optimize my online publication. By October 2008 I no longer viewed myself as a novice blogger.

At present Online Social Networking has more than 350 Feedburner subscribers, receives 2,000+ search visits per month, and is ranked by Alexa in the top 100,000 websites.

Ning Social Networks and Twitter

First Ning networks and then Twitter captured my attention. These two social media platforms are powerful and growing rapidly in popularity.

Just as I’d done with my online social networking strategy, search engine optimization and blogging, I set out to master Ning and Twitter, writing articles on each that have since been read many times and featured by top news sites.

@larrybrauner on Twitter has 20,000+ followers, and thousands of users have already visited my blog.

“One Bite at a Time” Works

The key to my progress is internal motivation coupled with focus.

Rather than go off in too many directions and spread myself thin, I’ve applied the 80/20 Rule, taking one bite at a time out of the social media giant. This strategy has worked well for me and will work well for others too.

It’s March 2009. What will my next bite be?

FacebookStay tuned, but Facebook is at the top of my social marketing list, and along the way, I’m building my social media brand, helping clients, and looking for new ones.

We’ve now reached the point in the article where you subscribe to my blog and join my Facebook business page. ;-)

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Larry BraunerI revisit the 80/20 Rule (about which I wrote last September) because of something that I alluded to in my interview with Stacey Chadwell.

Web 2.0 is a virtual candy store, and our eyes, so to speak, are bigger than our stomachs.

Every day new social media sites crop up. We’d love to try them all, yet we can only hope to master and stay on top of a very small fraction of the myriad sites that are already available to us.

The 80/20 Rule to Our Rescue

The 80/20 Rule applied to social media sites would state that 80% of all results can be achieved with 20% of all sites.

However, the 80 to 20 ratio is no more than a concept or a rule of thumb. The actual ratio is quite often greater than 80 to 20. With respect to social media sites  the ratio could be as high as 99 to 1.

The 80/20 Rule applied to social media sites might be called a 99/1 Rule. We can accomplish almost everything we might want to accomplish with only 1% of all the social sites in operation — and almost everything is really enough!

I regularly use only a modest number of social media sites:

  1. Online Social Networking (my blog)
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Ning family of social networking sites (especially Small Business Network)
  6. Entrecard
  7. Business Exchange
  8. StumbleUpon
  9. Digg
  10. Delicious

You’d hardly call me an expert on social media sites, but the few sites I do use, complement each other in my social media marketing model, and I use them effectively.

Could I use more sites?

Of course I could. However, the point is that I don’t need to use more sites, at least not right now.

Other Aspects of the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule also applies to you as a person, to the people who follow you and to how you approach learning.

Rather than re-hash what I’ve written in the past, I refer you to my previous article, The 80/20 Rule, which elaborates on these issues in some detail.

In Conclusion

My advice to you is to:

  • determine what you’d like to accomplish
  • devise a plan that uses a modest number of resources
  • learn to use those resources reasonably well
  • and apply yourself with great determination and enthusiasm

People will look to you as a leader and a source of inspiration.

I’m @larrybrauner on Twitter. I look forward to your tweets.

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Larry Brauner

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began to blog. I had lots of great reasons for blogging, so I just got started and hoped for the best.

As Mike Litman says, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.”

I did do some keyword research before choosing a main topic and a domain name. I chose as my main keywords online social networking and made them the name of my blog.

In hindsight I see that I could have easily taken on keywords that were more competitive. Fortunately I realized before too long that I could venture off topic and rank well in the search engines on keywords other than my primary ones.

Content Attracts Traffic

Online marketing begins with content and traffic. A site needs to communicate with and pre-sell visitors and then ultimately monetize, i.e. sell them, and content is the catalyst.

One article I wrote about the Spider Web Marketing System has attracted more than 4,000 visits and one on Ad Surf Daily more than 5,000. The content in these two blog posts plus the content in the many comments they received drove them to the top of the search engines.

Overall my blog has received about 12,000 visits from approximately 5,000 keyword combinations making me a big believer in the power of content to draw substantial search engine traffic.

Blogs Are Problematic

Blogs are great for ongoing conversation with readers. However, their reverse chronological orientation makes it easy for visitors to access only the newest content. Older content becomes obscured. Bloggers attempt to compensate with extensive cataloging and liberal use of cross-linking — look at my blog’s sidebars — but this problem is never totally mitigated.

Traditional websites on the other hand are great for organizing and presenting large amounts of information. Their hierarchical orientation aided by site maps and cross-linking make it easy for visitors to access the most important and relevant content.

The Best of Both Worlds

The best way to market is to build a conventional website with a blog embedded in the site to communicate with visitors and customers.

This marketing idea works equally well for small businesses and large ones. I will be taking this direction for myself as I continue to develop my own web presence.

Conceptual and Technical Challenges

Starting a blog is easy in many ways. Blogger, for example, allows a novice to get up and going in a jiffy. Simply create an account, choose a theme and start writing. That’s it.

Building a marketing website is much more involved, both conceptually and technically, creating a major obstacle for the typical entrepreneur.

Faced with this obstacle most small business owners either

  • do nothing
  • opt for a simplistic small business website that resembles a big business card
  • rent of buy an expensive template to build a second-rate small business website that doesn’t get any traffic
  • hire an expensive web developer to build their second-rates mall business website for them

If they’re lucky they find somebody good, but the average web developer doesn’t understand marketing. I’m sure that what I’m saying will ring true for some readers.

My Recent Discovery

What we’re discussing isn’t new to me. I’ve been thinking about regular websites vis-à-vis blogs and conceptual and technical issues surrounding them for a number of months.

This past week I happened to listen to a conference call introducing a service that I knew existed but that had never managed to grab my attention. I listened for nearly 90 minutes as Ken Evoy explained how he arrived at his Internet business solution, Site Build It!, how it worked and why. He dealt with the blog vs. build issue as well. I was impressed by what I heard.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Site Build It! costs $299 per year — everything included. No high price template. No expensive consultant.
  2. SBI! makes online business do-able by hiding all the technical issues and structuring the conceptual ones. The process is simplified to such a degree that success (i.e. profits, not the mere presence of a website) can be achieved — with serious effort — even by a motivated beginner. The 80/20 Rule still applies — of course — but why shouldn’t the lives of the 20% be made easier?
  3. Online profits require more than just having an online business card or a collection of Web pages. The SBI! service appears to include the tools and the proven process required to build a long-term, profitable e-business.
  4. SBI! is more than just a “site builder.” There’s no need to worry about separate hosting, a separate keyword research tool, integrating autoresponders, etc.
  5. There’s also no need to know anything upfront about building a website. The tedious, “under-the-hood” stuff is handled automatically.
  6. The SBI! service helps clients to design a profitable business, before they jump into building their sites. For beginners, the learning curve will be shorter and they bypass show-stopping errors.
  7. The Action Guide presents a step-by-step process in both written and video formats. The most successful site owners are the ones who follow the guide and don’t get sidetracked. They don’t have to guess at what to do next, since the guided approach helps them reach their goals. Continuous mentoring via the Action Guide and online help is always available.
  8. A keyword brainstorming and research tool helps verify that a site concept has acceptable profit potential, saving site owners from making a common fatal error. The SBI! service helps to find topics related to the site owner’s niche that will pull in traffic and generate income.
  9. SBI! provides fully customizable, easy-to-use templates (this page shows a range of styles).
  10. The SBI! service includes domain name analysis, optimization, and registration, as well as fast and reliable website hosting.
  11. Unlimited customer support and forums that are supposedly friendly and helpful are major selling points for me personally.
  12. There’s a no-risk, 30-day money back guarantee.

In Conclusion

I can see the Site Build It! service helping both existing small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs reach their online marketing objectives. My only caveat is that sufficient internal motivation is a necessary prerequisite for success.

If you find that building your website is not “your cup of tea”, please get help or exercise the 30-day refund option. Don’t waste your money.

Now it’s your turn. Feel free to share your small business website experiences.

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Larry BraunerAccording to Wikipedia, the 80/20 Rule or Pareto principle “states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”.

The 80 and the 20 are not exact. The 80/20 Rule is what’s commonly known as a rule of thumb.

The 80 20 Rule is an abstract concept, but it’s important to understand it, so let me provide you with some concrete examples that I believe will help.

The 80/20 Rule and You

Approximately 80% of all income is paid to 20% of all people.

The highest paid people earn substantially more than the lowest paid ones. This is a phenomenon of which nearly all of us are acutely aware, and it often seems unfair.

However, 80% of all productivity comes from the efforts of 20% of all people. These 20% of people are the ones who:

  • have a good measure of internal motivation
  • have a high level of personal productivity
  • consistently invest in personal development
  • commit to their goals and focus their efforts
  • leverage their money and their time

Needless to say 80% of all people follow the 20% of all people who lead them.

While 80% of people spend their disposable income on what Robert Kiyosaki points to as worthless items which they think are assets, the 20% live frugally and spend as much as possible on income producing investments that pay them over and over again.

While 80% of people trade their time for money, the 20% use their time to develop businesses that leverage the time of the 80% employees — and also outsource and sub-contract to other businesses in order to gain even more leverage.

The 80% of people tend to take it easy or look for get rich schemes and shortcuts to success. They follow the path of least resistance, and they settle for much less than they really want.

Are you in the 80% or the 20%?

If you’re in the 80%, ask yourself what shift in thinking could transform you into one of the 20%.

The 80/20 Rule and Other People

If you’re in the 20%, then you need to apply the 80-20 Rule to the people around you:

  • 80% of your work is done by 20% or your workers. Spend 80% of your time developing your most productive workers.
  • So too in a direct or networking sales business: 80% of your results will come from 20% of your team. Spend 80% of your time developing your most productive team members.
  • 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients or customers. Your time should be spent conducting business with your best clients. There are some business experts who would go as far as firing the 80% of unprofitable clients. That may not always be feasible. In many industries such as health care or telecom firing costly customers could result in a public relations nightmare.

The 80/20 Rule and Social Marketing

Here are some Internet and social media applications of the 80-20 principle:

  • 80% of all blogging is done by 20% of all bloggers
  • 80% of all blog comments are made by 20% of all blog readers
  • 80% of all online social networking is done by 20% of all online networkers
  • 80% of all networkers flock to 20% of all social networking sites
  • 80% of all traffic goes to 20% of all websites
  • 80% of all spam is generated by 20% of all spammers

You can add to the list when you comment on this post — assuming of course that you’re one of the 20% of all readers. :)

You Can’t Know Everything

Expertise is a valuable asset when it comes to personal branding. As an expert you can teach and mentor others and differentiate yourself from your competition.

To become a top expert in any field requires years of dedication. You still won’t know everything there is to know.

You can generally acquire more knowledge than 80% of all people with 20% of the effort it takes to become a top expert. This feat often takes much less than a year. To overtake and pass the remaining 20% of all people might take many years or even a lifetime.

I like to call this particular aspect of the Pareto principle The Law of Diminishing Returns. Beyond a certain point each successive increment of result will require more effort than the previous increment. It becomes harder and harder to justify additional time investments.

In this era of specialization you can read a few books on a subject and know more about a subject than nearly everybody else. That’s the kind of expertise I’m recommending — coupled of course with some practical hands-on experience.

Invest your time to acquire knowledge that your prospective clients or customers will appreciate.

When I was a teen I worked and struggled obsessively to become a top chess player, and I succeeded.

Nowadays I prefer to grasp multiple subjects and to seek synergies among them: many types of data analysis, search engine optimization, marketing, social networking, blogging, etc.

My broad base of knowledge — fused with solid logic, trusted intuition and other abilities and skills — fuels my overall critical thinking outside the box strategy.

You Can’t Do Everything

Like it or not we can’t follow up on every idea or opportunity that presents itself. The Law of Diminishing Returns guarantees that. Therefore we must make value judgments and set priorities every day.

Fortunately the 80/20 Rule is on our side.

80% of all benefit accrues to us by accomplishing 20% of everything on our plate. Each day we ought to focus on a half dozen high priority agenda items that will move our businesses and our lives forward.

If only we did that consistently each and every day our lives would be filled with accomplishments and satisfaction.

Nobody however is perfect. We all have bad days. Yet, the 20% group prioritizes and moves forward with much greater focus and consistency than the 80% group.

Please don’t underestimate the power of the 80/20 Rule and the enormous potential of a modest 20 percent.

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