How to Pick Your Domain Name, Easy Homework Before the URL

Google Keywords, Keyword Tool External, SEO, SEO TipsArticle first published as How to Pick Your Domain Name on Technorati.

Before you run off and create any website or blog, take some quality time to research the domain name. You may want it to sound catchy, but it’s wise to simply convey aspects of you or your business. It helps dramatically with search engines if the words within the URL are related to search terms for someone looking for what you have to offer (e.g., solarbirdbath.com). That would help a bunch if someone wanted a solar-powered birdbath with a fountain and heated water, and so they went searching online by typing the phrase “solar birdbath.” It’s actually a term which gets typed into Google 22,200 times per month as of September of 2010. As for the plural of the phrase, “solar birdbaths,” that only gets searched 1,900 times a month in comparison, or about 9% as much. Based on this data, it would be smarter to name your site solarbirdbath.com than solarbirdbaths.com.

How do I know? By using Google Keyword Tool External. Keywords are essential for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to link your sites with certain words, terms and phrases. It’s best to add keywords to every site, blog, article and location that has boxes for them–keywords that describe the content of what your site is about. And, as shown above, you can even figure out ways to include keywords in your domain name.

The first step is to visit Google Keyword Tool External. There you can input phrases individually or altogether and get valuable feedback from Google on which search terms are used the most and how much competition exists from other advertisers. By comparing each of your terms plus the synonyms, or similar terms Google will automatically provide, it becomes clear which keywords should work the best over time.

Here’s a detailed example. I just wrote a book on how to make free websites and needed to choose the title and URL. By comparing extremely similar phrases like “create free website,” to “build free website” and “make free website,” Google told me that “make free website” was a more common search term than the others. I also learned that “website” is much more commonly searched than “site” and “blog.” Another revelation was that “your” was more commonly searched than “my” when mixed with these other phrases. I also wanted to include the word “own” because it implies ownership and only slightly reduced the number of searches per month. Turns out “your free website” gets searched 165,000 times per month while “your own free website” gets 110,000 searches. That’s a difference I can live with for a word that helps the title have more power for the consumer. Making sense?

In less than an hour I had narrowed my book title and website URL down to these possibilities:

Make your own free website
How to make your own free website
Your own free website

I checked the competition from other advertisers which is also included in the Keyword Tool results. It turns out when comparing “make your own free website” to “your own free website,” the second phrase had 50,000 more searches per month and less competition from other advertisers.

Then I checked name availability at both Godaddy and the websites where I wanted to create free examples for the book. Although this domain name was not available at Godaddy as a pure dot com, it was available at the venues to create my examples. And so I went ahead and registered it as yourownfreewebsite.webs.com and yourownfreewebsite.yolasite.com. (Know this; it doesn’t matter if you have a long domain name. People click links to visit sites so your domain can be long.)

Additionally I battled with whether to use dashes, underscores or nothing to separate the words in the URL. Should the site be called your-own-free-website, or your_own_free_website or simply yourownfreewebsite? All of the research indicated that Google would find my site just fine in any case since they have such a complex algorithm with over 200 variables for detecting keywords, so this really boils down to personal preference. In the end I liked it this way, your-own-free-website.com because I believe it’s the easiest way to read. Remember, you don’t have to use dashes or underscores for Google to find the keywords in a URL. For that site I spent a few bucks to have the custom domain name without the extra suffix, though for demonstration purposes I also created your-own-free-website.webs.com to show others not to worry about the extra suffix.

Finally, I wanted to name the book, How to Make Your Own Free Website. I went to Amazon and typed that exact phrase into a book search. I was delighted to see that no one had a book with that title. Surprisingly, there were very few titles even close to that, so I knew this would be a great name for people to find not only my website but my Amazon book as well. I included the subtitle for those who wanted more info on blogs, and the title became, How to Make Your Own Free Website: And Your Free Blog Too. This way my keywords are part of my URL address and my book title, and over time people will certainly find me with search engine terms.

If you have questions on domain names and your own URL options, just contact me through this website.

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The New Age: Free Lunch

Article first published as The New Age: Free Lunch on Technorati.

free lunch, homeless person, opportunity, life liberty pursuit of happiness, american dreamRemember the old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” or “You have to spend money to make money?” The lunch saying began when saloon owners gave away “free” food to anyone purchasing drinks, an effective marketing ploy that was noticeably not without cost to customers. Spending, or investing, to make money was demonstrated beautifully for decades by George Steinbrenner though the recently deceased Yankees owner was merely quoting a traditional adage.

To me, these phrases go hand in hand. The concepts are that nothing is without cost, and those who want more money must use some money wisely to make it happen. While it appears these dogmas are ingrained in the American psyche, the fact is these beliefs contradict the American Dream; opportunity exists for anyone with ability and effort regardless of their means. Thankfully, these outdated concepts are also changing before our eyes.

The internet is the true champion of all things free. I’m continually amazed at the plethora of free online resources and how much they’ve impacted my life. To name just a smidgen, how valuable are Google, Facebook and Twitter? Hard to put a price tag on what those services would be worth if I had to pay for them.

Here’s a fun headline that you’ll read someday soon (or maybe already have); Homeless Person Creates Empire with Free Tools at Library. Imagine a homeless guy; let’s call him Hal, visiting the public library daily to use the computers. Hal makes a website at a free web design venue with hosting included. He writes articles and uses public domain images to bring attention to the homeless in his city. He asks for donations. Personal checks and PayPal clicks start coming Hal’s way. He adds video and interviews to better demonstrate the plight of his friends. The website booms. Months later he’s the CEO of an upstart company that assists the poverty stricken in his city. Years later Hal’s company has gone worldwide. He raises billions and aids countless people from a venture that began with absolutely nothing invested and services available for free.

I just imagined this scenario, but there’s probably an example of Hal already in action. The naysayers clinging to tradition might argue, “Our tax dollars paid for the library, the computer, the internet connection and the electricity.” Well, sure, that’s right. Naysayers are good at that.

Do they recognize what’s happening to the price of music or video rental? Do they see the possibility of a virtual MBA from Harvard professors at the lower class home of a student in the near future?

The naysayers can stick with whatever money mantra that makes them feel secure. I firmly believe we’ve entered a new age that’s being ushered in by the internet. The Free Lunch is the latest chapter of the American Dream. Will it be prosperous for everyone like it is for Hal? Probably not, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

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Magic Formula for Selling Ebooks

Article first published as The Magic Formula For Selling E-Books on Technorati. (Updated here for October 2011.)

amazon kindle $79I read a lot of blogs posted by seemingly knowledgeable people telling others how to sell ebooks, and it amazes me how lacking many of these recommendations are. Typically half of these experts advise simply signing up with Clickbank or using E-junkie for a shopping cart on your site. That’s it, that’s the magic formula? Sounds more like a pitch for those paid services than truly helpful advice.

Assuming you have an ebook that contains useful information or entertainment and is not a waste of money, you want to sell it everywhere possible online: e.g. your own website, major retailers like Amazon, etc. I prefer these later options since they don’t cost any money. But to keep it even simpler, the vast majority of your sales can be accomplished by selling ebooks from these locations: your website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. What about Apple and other retailers, you might ask? I’ll explain.

In my experience the 2nd best place for total number of sales and the 1st best for royalties, are sales that happen at my own websites. Plus it runs on autopilot, which is nice when I’m asleep in bed and still making sales. After PayPal’s modest cut, I keep 100% of the profits and grow my email list. Setting up your website with a PayPal button that automatically sends buyers to a URL for download after the purchase is a piece of cake. Now you can sell and fill orders no matter where you are. Keep simple stats of download visitors with a free company like StatCounter, and you’ll know if any pirating is happening, which can be fixed with a simple URL change to your download page.

You must sell with Amazon Kindle because they sell more ebooks than any other retailer. Sign up at KDP Amazon where you’ll be asked to create an Amazon account if you don’t already have one and start making 70% on sales if your ebooks are priced in the $2.99 to $9.99 range.

Pubit with Barnes & Noble is also a great venue. Sign up there is very similar to Amazon; just go to pubit.barnesandnoble.com.

Finally upload and sell with Smashwords because they convert your document into multiple formats and then upload it to Apple, Sony, Kobo, Scrollmotion and Diesel (Amazon and B & N too, but you’re already there). And yes, you make good royalties when selling from those companies via Smashwords. (Mac users can also upload directly with Apple, but the rest of us can’t.)

That’s it, that’s the magic formula. Upload and sell ebooks from theseĀ  locations and your bases are covered at no cost to you. Should you also sell from places like Google Ebooks, My Ebook, Bookmato, Scribd, YouPublish and so many more? You can if you want to, but I haven’t found any of those places worth the effort. Things could change in the future though.

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$39 Pro Plan by CreateSpace

self publish, self publishing, createspace, print on demand, amazonSeveral readers have asked questions about CreateSpace like “Is it really free?” and “How do I access the $39 Pro Plan” and other related things.

The answer is yes, it’s entirely free if you’re willing to do it yourself. If creating a document and formatting it to fill pages of a book is something you’re comfortable with, then you can do it. You can also either create a book cover from scratch or use one of their templates. I chose to do it all by scratch and had several issues with Microsoft Word for the interior files and Inkscape for the cover design, but I did get through them. After having done 3 books this way (and now 5), I feel very comfortable with the process.

For those wanting to check it out, here’s what I told an author friend about it;

CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) company. They offer a range of services for writers to make books in print. It can be a do-it-yourself and 100% free experience, or it can also be catered to your needs with bells and whistles (and far from free).

I chose the free version and have done 5 books this way. When it came time to actually order a proof copy (something required before your book goes live and usually costs me between $6 and $9 with shipping), I also chose the $39 Pro Plan which allows a significant reduction on cost per books that I buy plus a better royalty payment when others buy the paperback through Amazon or CreateSpace. But you won’t get prompted (or have any need) for the $39 Pro Plan until you’re at that stage of ordering your proof copy. This will only be necessary after you’ve filled in all the pertinent information about your book and after you’ve uploaded the interior files and the cover file and submitted it for publishing (which is a review by them). Once it’s accepted, a proof needs to be ordered for newbies. Then it makes sense to get the Pro Plan which they will give you prompts for.

First go to https://www.createspace.com/
Click on the link for Authors – Make your books available.
Under Book, click Create One (or Learn More if you want to read it from them).
It will then ask you to either sign in with an existing Amazon account or to create one.
Afterward there will be a series of prompts and items to fill in, which should be self-explanatory.

They also have an excellent community support forum that can do an even better job with instructions, and in some cases you’ll find detailed answers for the exact same questions that have been asked by others in the past. Here’s the link for the community support forum https://www.createspace.com/en/community/index.jspa

For much more information and advice on free methods to sell ebooks, please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

You can also contact me by email without any of the following spaces, jason @ the little universe (dot) com

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Make Free Websites, Sell Ebooks Everywhere

It’s surprisingly easy to make free websites and sell ebooks. You can sell ebooks with PayPal buttons from your own free sites and blogs. You can sell ebooks from major retailers like Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Smashwords and more. You can sell ebooks from eBay and many other online vendors.

Guess what it costs you? Nothing, not one penny. You can even publish your physical book with CreateSpace at no cost. And you can sell ebooks and make lots of money.

It’s never been a better time to be an independent, self-published author. If you want to sell ebooks and do it all for free, just contact me or read my ebook on selling ebooks, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

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