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Another Reason Why I Subscribe to Stephan Miller

03/29/2010
Abstract photograph by Robin Supak

Abstract photograph by Robin Supak

In order to keep up with the fast moving world of Internet Marketing, I read a lot of SEO blogs. Most of them go into details I just don’t need, so I spend a lot of time and mouse clicks on the “next item” button in my Google Reader.  But when Stephan Miller gets over his reasons not to blog and actually posts something, it’s almost always worth while.

In today’s Miller post, A Few Updates to My Lists for Building Backlinks, he reminded me of his great compilation of bookmarking sites, which I use on a slow day to make sure I’m getting the free links from the biggies of social bookmarking. Oddly, as a regular user of Digg and Delicious, I often forget to get into the other sites, which I have made mental notes to do, and then promptly forgotten.

First and most obvious is Slashdot, which is no guarantee since actual human editors make the decisions. But if you have something of value, especially to tech geeks, you’ll get in. Today I continued posting my little press release about 13 years of free desktop wallpaper, starting with Slashdot. While I was waiting for the editors to approve that entry, I popped over to Squidoo, which I’d honestly never heard of (How out of it am I?), and started making a lens, which is a web page with text, pictures, feeds and links (with do-follow tags). Took about 30 minutes to step through all the components I wanted, and I wound up with a nice lens about free desktop wallpaper.

It’s quite a list from Miller, enough to keep me busy for many days. All good back link campaigns should start with social bookmarking sites, since the potential link juice from such links is just too good to ignore.

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Strong Link Strategies

03/22/2010

Whenever I create a new blog or web site, like What’s New at Supak.com, I head off to the free directory listings to get in that usually very long line to have the site reviewed and linked to. For years now I’ve used this list of strongest links. I just head down the list, opening every free listing site in a new tab, and then spend a few hours filling out the forms for a free submission.

These free directory listing sites, especially the highest ranked ones, are more backed up than Grandpa after Thanksgiving, so it takes a while to get the listing. Many of them are specific to certain realms of subject matter, and you should always read the submission guidelines to make sure you’re not wasting your time. But after a while, you’ll get a feel for the ones that are more worth it than others, and it becomes a breeze.

Even though the page you’ll be listed on probably doesn’t have much, or any, PageRank, they’re still worth getting. From all I’ve read on the subject, a link from a lower page at a PR6 site is still worth some decent link juice, even if the actually page your link appears on has no PR.

This same rule about lower hierarchically ranked pages apply to any site you might be getting linked from. Don’t be discouraged if the page they’re offering to link to you from has low or no PR. Go to the top page of the domain and see what the PR for the whole site is, and work with that. I usually avoid domains with a PR2 or below, although I will make exceptions for sites that are about exactly the same subject as the site I’m working on. Or even if they’re close. It’s hard to have a bad link. You just don’t want to waste your time on something that’s not going to do you much good.

Another way to find good links is to set up a Google Alert about your subject, in quotes, followed by the word “comments.” I have an alert set up for “free desktop wallpaper” comments, so everyday I get an email with a list of sites that Google has found that have those keywords and a comments section, in which I can leave a comment (always careful to be on-topic and friendly) that has a link back to Supak.com in my signature. A lot of sites use open ID or some other form of ID through which I have a logo or gravatar, so I get my image in there too.

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Must See Freebees: The Art of Link Bait

03/09/2010
California Live Oak Trees Photographed and Touched up by Carl Bringas

California Live Oak Trees Photographed and Touched up by Carl Bringas

Every now and then I find something so shockingly astounding on line that I just have to link to it. As a member of the “linkerati,” I figure it’s my duty to help people who have something really cool to share. A lot of the time, that something is hidden in a web site that is not heavily traveled, does not show up very high in the search engine ranking pages, and is generally lost in the oblivion of a cold and indifferent world wide web. When I see that travesty, I really feel I need to act.

In this case, the art fell right in my lap. A while back, my Hawaii bed and breakfast client sent some pictures taken by a friend of hers, Mike Eilers, to post on her Maui blog. They were great underwater shots off Maui and Tahiti, including a couple of shots of a sea turtles and humpback whales. I posted them on her blog and on our computer backgrounds blog, and watched as they got a lot of interest and a good bit of links.

Of course, these pictures are all engineered to show up in image searches too, so it’s a double whammy there. Note the use of captions, alt tags, and title tags on these images, and the image names themselves, all of which should help these image score high on image searches.

Sea Turtle off Maui Hawaii photograph by Mike Eilers, retouched by Carl Bringas

Sea Turtle off Maui Hawaii photograph by Mike Eilers, retouched by Carl Bringas

Since Mike didn’t have a web site to link to, I was happy to get his work out there, and to garner a little traffic off of them. I really hope Mike gets a website soon, as I’m sure he has all kinds of great photographs to share with the world. Judging by the results of his collaberation with Carl, I’d say maybe they should cooperate, and post some of their work on Carl’s site.

Or, hell, I’d be more than happy to keep posting their work on my sites! If it helps us all, why not! Let this be a lesson to you webmasters and internet marketing gurus out there: do stuff for free for people and it can really pay off for you!

What started as some photo content for a client’s blog post had turned into some extra content for our photography site. It was a win-win situation, but it was about to get even better!

Just a few days ago, I got a mail from a friend of Mike’s, Carl Bringas, a photographer and post-production touch-up artist, who was wondering if I’d be interested in any of his work.

Wow.

Photograph, touch-up, and web maximization by Carl Bringas

Photo and touch up by Carl Bringas

Just look at this work. Go see the full size in our Carl Bringas gallery. It’s astounding. Carl has a photography web site, and I encourage everyone to go check out his photography blog. He was nice enough to let me post some of his work over at our photo blog in exchange for a link to his site. It’s a nice trade. I get some great art work to post (content is king, and I’m always looking for new content) and he got a link from a high ranking site that is on subject and can send some serious traffic his way. I hope he gets some work out of it.

In the mean time, he and I will definitely be getting some links out of it, as his work is the very definition of link bait. People who write about free desktop wallpaper for a living are going to find it hard to resist this when it shows up in their Google alert (note for another post: get Google alerts for your keywords).

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Culinarily Driven Travel Drives My Internet Marketing

03/06/2010
An Appetizer from Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles

Coconut Lobster Tails from Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles

We like to travel and eat. In fact, when we travel, our plans usually reflect our gastro-directionality, and lead us toward something delicious. We love going to Maine, where we have been known to include lobster in every meal for two or three days (lobster Benedict… arrglghhch…). Fantasy vacations include Baltimore during soft shell crab season, Ketchican Alaska (the Salmon Capital of the World), Italy (need I say more), and Ireland for the Oyster Festival.

So it’s no surprise that when I look over all the web sites that I manage for people, they’re chocked full of food and vacation rentals. Caterers, restaurants, Hawaii accommodations, Maui vacation activities, Hawaiian coffee… The web properties I promote look like a long history of palate-pleasing globe-trotting.

These web sites also reflect a tendency we’ve always had to go somewhere and work there, since we never had much money. If we wanted to visit a place, we would just move there and get a job. I did this when I was young, and apparently infected my family with this tendency once I got married and had kids. Even our current adventure near Cooperstown NY seems like a working vacation.

This common thread of travel destinations and food probably looks quite logical to the Google Bot. After all, people have to eat, and eating is a big part of any vacation. This kind of Google bot logic helps me help my clients get higher search engine ranks because I can link them all together and it looks cognitively harmonic to Google. I prominently link vacation rental people together. Romantic Maui vacation rentals naturally link with Maui weddings coordinators. A caterer in New York interlocks well with a caterer in Los Angeles, and they both figure in a link strategy for a Cooperstown restaurant.

These like-minded links can even be stretched to a higher level of inter-linkedness, if you consider the higher categorical imperative of hospitality. In that Platonic realm of ideas, a Kauai vacation rental beach house and a Cooperstown restaurant blog have a lot in common, as do an upstate New York internet marketing firm and a site about volunteering while on vacation in Hawaii.

Since all of these sites carry some authority, with minimum Google Page Ranks of 3, then I’ve created a slew of authoritative links from like-minded sites just because I like food and travel and have managed to attract clients in those fields. It’s the package deal of internet marketing, and it gestalts its way over al-la-carte.

Further, these clients have provided me with content for my guides to fun and free stuff, like my Hawaii stuff site, my free desktop wallpaper site, and my blogs like Backstage w/ Supak and this one. Now I’ve used the clients as content in sites that link to them while using their content, and I’ve got myself a nice portfolio of internet real estate, all inter-connected and passing authoritative, like-minded link juice back and forth.

It’s a resilient community in the virtual world that represents real people, real places, and real food all over the world.

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The Endless Summer of Promotion

02/27/2010
Snow covered Maple tree

All the branches link back to the trunk!

We have about 4 feet of snow outside right now, but it’s actually above freezing, which always reminds me that–yes it’s a stretch but wait for it–I should be promoting my sites. Some promotion days I get the fever and cruise through various cheap and free directories that radiate link juice like a hot water baseboard heater radiates heat. Other days I cruise through the offers (I get offers!) from other sites that want to exchange links. Occasionally I get a notice from a new listing service, like Blog This Here, that is so new it doesn’t have pagerank yet. But it looks good, and someone is obviously going after good links from the blogs that list there, so it could develop into something decent.

Like, once upon a time, Loaded Web was a nobody listing service with low page rank, and I jumped in, gave them a link, as did many other people, and now they have a page rank 5 and they’re sending me all kinds of link juice.

Delicious note to self: Get blog on kindle.

Delicious note to self: Get your blog on Kindle.

On these warm winter days when there’s nothing much to do–since I ski like a mangled ball of pizza tumbling down the mountain–I try to look into other promotion possibilities that I’ve noted on the In-N-Out Burger post it notes we brought from California to this winter wonderland. One such note said “Get your blog on Kindle.”

Now you can join the tens of other people who have viewed the option to read this blog on Kindle and then moved on to something more interesting. To get your own blog published on Kindle, just fill out this form. Hey, at the very least, you have the possibility of picking up readers. And, you get 30% of the revenue.

I’m looking forward to the day I can get my car washed monthly based on the Kindle readership revenue.

Be sure to add a screen grab, as I have. I tried to slip the URL into the caption, but I don’t see it coming up. In fact, current screen grabs are always a good idea for promotion, especially if you have a good looking blog like this one!

Those are just a couple of ideas for promoting your blog on these warm winter days when your snowed in and watching the sheets slide off the roof. There are plenty of others. I love to just poke around, reading what I find interesting, then offering to exchange blog roll links with writers who I enjoy.

Sometimes if you just leave comments on a cool blog for a while, assuming you say something clever, not too ass-kissery, and you say it often enough, you’ll get a link from that blog, like I did from Whiskey Fire!

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Optimizing for Long Tail Keywords

02/23/2010
Free desktop wallpaper picture of Maui Hawaii state park Polipoli

Polipoli State Park, Maui Hawaii

I’ve mentioned before that both the Google Bot and people searching are becoming smarter. To tap into that intelligent market of people, you need to impress the bot. The best way to do both is to write well. This will also help with conversions, which is really what you’re after. After all, if there’s not sufficient return on investment in internet marketing, what’s the point?

One of the great things about winning searches for long tail keywords (which I consider to be phrases of four words or more) is that you know that the person who searched for that is looking for something very specific. This person is much more likely to purchase that thing once on your site than someone who searched for something more general and probably isn’t really sure what they’re after.

In this article about long tail keyword optimization, Tom Demers gives us some very important information and sage advice about what it takes to rank for these longer searches, and how to make sure you’re getting your fair share of these searchers to your site. First, note that for long tail keywords, on-page optimization constitutes 50% of the search rank algorithm (only 5% for the shorter, more competitive keywords). This is the key, and a huge hint that you need to spend some time writing copy that has a variety of these words combined in as many ways as you can while not hurting your writing.

I’ve said before that it’s especially helpful to use the keywords in as many forms (noun, verb, adverb, adjective, gerund…) as you can. The google bot is a good reader and understands usage. Give it something to think about. After researching which words to use (using traditional keyword discovery techniques and actual searches from your analytics), Tom suggests using modifiers and variations. Same idea. Get the words out there, but don’t just repeat them the same way ad nauseam.

Here’s an example:

Maui weddings are popular because it’s hard to find a more romantic place on earth than Maui, Hawaii. And if you want to get married in Hawaii, Paradise Maui is the Hawaii wedding planning site for you. Their team of Hawaiian wedding coordinators can plan and orchestrate your Maui beach wedding, Maui waterfall wedding, or even a green Maui Hawaii wedding ceremony that you will remember for the rest of your life. From a beautiful sunset ceremony on a gorgeous Hawaiian beach, to a sumptuous catered wedding reception that can be as extravagant as a Hawaiian Luau or as simple as drinks and appetizers, to a romantic honeymoon with a wide choice of accommodations and travel, Paradise Maui Hawaii Weddings Services is the team of Maui Hawaii wedding experts you should contact today.

OK, so that might be a little over-done to make my point, but you get the idea. I’ve used weddings as a noun and and adjective. I’ve worked in Maui, Hawaii, and Hawaiian the same way. This paragraph is thick, and before I used it on any site associated with Paradise Maui I’d clean it up a bit, but the combinations of long tail key words is in there, and the google bot would (will) have a heyday with it. And that was just off the top of my head.

Here’s another one I’ve been working on for myself:

Desktop wallpaper picture of Cherry Valley, NY in winter

The historic village of Cherry Valley, NY

Desktop Wallpaper

Since man first started using computers, he’s wanted a desktop wallpaper picture of something he loves under all his open windows. It’s comforting to have a familiar site, a mind-boggling pattern, or a scenic high resolution nature photograph as the background for computer desktops. Some people paid for their computer backgrounds, but, as the internet grew, more people started offering their own photography and graphic designs as free desktop wallpaper, and more and more people started wanting to download free wallpaper and backgrounds.

As browsers became more powerful, allowing web page backgrounds, a lot of people started offering customized images for use as web site backgrounds. When social networking sites started allowing people to customize their sites, the old computer background images started popping up as Livejournal and Myspace backgrounds. What a shame that Facebook doesn’t allow more customization of personal and business sites, although that hasn’t stopped FB users from downloading free wallpaper and using it as their profile pictures.

As the demand for free background pictures for the computer has exploded, so have the types and amount of cool backgrounds and computer wallpaper. From beach desktop wallpaper to abstract photography for use in graphic arts, photographers and graphic artists have provided a seemingly unending stream of computer desktop images and free graphics for the computer and the web. If you need backgrounds for computer screens for free, you’ll find such a vast array that you may be overwhelmed.

That’s why we created our computer backgrounds photography blog, so you can easily find all the cool computer backgrounds that we’ve spent years creating, compiling, arranging, and promoting. Our photographs and graphic art have been used on countless desktops, hundreds of web sites, and even framed and placed on walls in public places. All of our desktop backgrounds are free, and all we ask is that you observe the terms of the creative commons license an give Supak.com credit and a link.

This long tail keyword optimized copy is straight-forward but tells a little story. The narrative of a brief history of desktop wallpaper creates a frame in which I can work in all the phrases while only feeling a little clunky. This particular subject batter doesn’t lend itself well to usage variations, but I did get in plenty of modifiers and variations on the theme anyway. Now, with a little more work, I’ll be able to use this copy on a new “about us” page at our desktop computer backgrounds photography blog.

I’d love to see examples of your attempts at this in the comments…

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A Simpsons Quote For Everything

02/06/2010
Aye Caramba!

Aye Caramba

When we started our free desktop wallpaper site back in 1996, we posted computer background pictures and organic gardening information.  We were broke, I had figured out how to make sites win for searches, and we were making a little money off the affiliate programs. So we looked to our lives for material that would relate to merchandise.

The Simpsons were huge at the time, and we’re big fans.  So, we started work on a Simpsons sounds and pictures site that we could weave in our Amazon and Posters affiliates accounts. When Google Ad words came along, we picked up another source of income. It’s all pocket change, but it helps pay for the costs of doing business.

We didn’t realize at the time that we were creating great link bait. Over the years, the Simpsons site has been a huge draw, and it still garners the most traffic of any section at Supak.com, with over 800 uniques per month. A lot of those people are linkerati types who create links to our site, and that has helped the main site, Supak.com, immensely.

Recently, Supak.com moved up to a PageRank of 5. A lot of that is because of incoming links, and plurality of our inbound links go to the Simpsons site. That alone is reason enough to update the thing more often. So, today, after watching the episode Homer Alone (known in our house as Rancho Relaxo), I grabbed a few of the best shots and made some small screen grabs to download from the Simpsons wallpaper pictures page.

Now I’m making my rounds through my blogs putting up links to the bait I set out (self baitarential). Hopefully these blog posts will get the word out that I have some fun free stuff to download, and we’ll pick up some more links and start that long quest for a PR6.  Aye Caramba.

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Top Ten Things to Do for a Local Website

01/25/2010
New York City Graphic Designer Sample from HarrietSpear.com

American Museum of Natural History Map and Guide

Had a nice conversation with a new friend, graphic designer Harriet Spear, the other day about what to do for a small, local business web site in order to help them win a search.

  1. Put the keywords, no more than 8, in the Title tag.
  2. Write a description meta tag that uses those 8 words, repeating the key 3 or 4 twice.
  3. Make a keywords meta tag even though most engines ignore that now. Some use it, and so it’s worth it.
  4. Use header tags in the body of the page to create an outline structure that is logical. Use the title tag keywords in the main header tags (h1’s and h2’s)
  5. Use those keywords in the body of the page 4 or 5 times.
  6. Have at least 400 words on the first page, with 400 on each other page if you can.
  7. Make sure that the title tags on subsequent pages use other keywords than the home page. Each page should have different keywords, or different combinations of the main keywords, preferably a little of both.
  8. Create a business blog, even if it’s hosted elsewhere–just link the blog and site together and try to make the styles and looks as close to the same as possible. Post to the blog regularly (once a week is good).
  9. Get listed in the major directories and Google Local Business.
  10. Get links from similar site with high PageRank.

Of course, that last one is the one I can help you with the most. Anyone can follow basic on-page SEO instructions. Getting high-quality links from like-minded sites is not easy. Especially if your site is new. You might have to give two links back for a link to a new site, or you may have to link from the home page when the other party is linking from a lower page of many other links, which diminishes the impact of your link.

If I do your site, I link to it from all my major sites, often from the front page. If you have me develop your blog, you get in my blog roll, which is on the front page of most of my major sites. The value of these links cannot be overstated in terms of how they make you rank on Google. Just ask my LA caterer client!

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People Floating on Logs Need Lines to Help Them Get to the Party Barge

01/14/2010

The internet is a lonely place until you find a niche, and then it can be a very crowded place. In the parlance of the freshwater nautical set, a lot of people floating on logs need you to toss them a line so they can get on your party barge. I thought of this when I was thinking of how my most successful clients have succeeded at pulling in new people to their business through the internet.

Both of these clients, a Los Angeles caterer and a Maui bed and breakfast owner/operator, crank out the content. This isn’t just about writing about how nice a sunset was, or how yet another customer gave a rave review. It’s about creating products (Los Angeles cupcakes or discount programs for volunteers on vacation in Hawaii) that they, and I, can talk about to people who search for those things on line. They see your party barge floating there, lined up nicely with all the others that fit their search parameters. They read the title of your site, and the short description the search engine returned, and they decide which line they’re going to pull (click) to go to the party.

Of course once they’re on board, they have to be convinced that you’re going to continuously bring the party, any time they need it, to their door, rec room, or vacation itinerary. This is where the product matters a lot more than the line I throw them. These business owners have been busting it for decades now, so I don’t have to worry about them closing the deal. I just have to make sure that we consistently get those lines out there. That’s why we developed Cherie’s Maui Blog, Hookipa Aikane, and Emma’s Los Angeles catering blog.

Every blog post, every picture, every sale, every mention in the press, every single difference that can be made in the tossing out of lines must be made, and it must be made consistently and abundantly.

I’m a small time guy. Obviously, we’re consistent, my clients and I, but not always that abundant. I don’t do this full time. But I can see how if you had something that could make a lot of money on line, and you did do it consistently and abundantly, you could put out a lot of attractive lines which people can use to reel themselves in.

Some of the people coming to your barge will be spammers. The more popular your barge gets, the more of those you’ll get. Then, which is especially true with my LA caterer client Emma, you’ll get a lot of people who want to take the job of the person who got you to the top of the search engine result page which they found you winning. I guess they have to start at the top, but it would seem more logical to go for someone who’s coming in 20th than for someone who’s winning a short-tailed key phrase already (since that person already has hired someone to get them there).

But then, the logic of this situation is that the more lines you have out there, and the closer to the front you come when the engine lines up the search results, the more attention you’re going to get from all kinds of people (spammers, job seekers, press, customers, competitors). So, as you get more attention, be prepared to spend more time weeding out the crab grass.

So, get that title and site description tight, well written, and full of the key-phrases for which you’d like to win, then get out there and start throwing out lines that have those words and phrases, written in as many different ways as you can write about them. Dream up new products or promotions and talk about them everyday on your blog. Make sure your blog posts to your social media accounts. Leave comments on other sites that are about your subject, and make sure your signatures there have links to you, and your logo if possible. Try to put up guest posts on other blogs. Offer people the chance to write a guest post on yours. Cross promote your business with charities and other like-minded organizations and businesses.

Keep tossing out those lines!

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Is There Link Juice in Facebook?

12/07/2009

Am I getting link juice from my business’s Facebook page? Well, I have to admit that I do not test things nearly as much as I should. I’m more of a creative type, and keeping track of things, testing them, and playing detective and scientist to see what impact one link has on my SEO is such a daunting task that I just don’t do it much.

But a while back I read a post about link juice passing from Facebook and, always looking for another quality link for my clients, I tried it on my Bald Mountain Press Facebook Page. If you want to learn how to put links on your page using FBML (Facebook Markup Language), go read the post linked above.

As to how this has helped me, well it’s hard to tell. My BMP page on FB is relatively new. Even the Google PageRank prediction tools won’t venture a guess. I haven’t created many links to the page, but the piggy-back PageRank from FB alone should be enough to rate the page a two or three… And that will be juice passed along, because using FBML has allowed me to create links that are followed.

While I am lazy about testing, I can verify that it is a followed link by going to my Google Webmaster tools, and looking at the sites that link to my Bald Mt. Press site, and sure enough, there’s my http://www.facebook.com URL passing along the juice. A check of links to all the other sites I’ve linked to from within the FBML box shows that they’re all getting it. And after I made that box, a few clients did move up a couple of notches, but that could have been other factors. Hard to tell.

Of course, Facebook will probably find this loophole and close it, so I wouldn’t spend too much time on it. But this does bring up the question of how valuable social media marketing is. Is a small business like mine or my clients’ going to double their business because they got a Facebook page? No. But will they entice the linkerati (bloggers, webmasters, and others who have the power to create links) to link to them? Maybe. Depends on who their friends are on these sites. Will they get a few clicks they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten? Over time, of course.

But there is one little advantage that having a Facebook page, or a presence on any other social networking or bookmarking site, can give you: internal search results. Again, because my page is new, I’m not coming up on the search terms I like in a Facebook search (like “get higher search engine ranks“). I’m also still learning what kind of SEO the Facebook search engine likes to see. It’s new and not that good, so I have to settle for just working with name recognition now. At least that has been a success. If you search for “Bald Mountain Press” in the Facebook search, the BMP page comes right up. And that can be a big advantage for small businesses.

Say, for example, you’re into Maui Hawaii weddings, like my friend and client Klaus, who is a big fan of the Facebook. He made a Maui weddings page titled “Maui weddings”, which as of today has 13 fans. When I search FB for “Maui weddings” he comes up first, and it looks like the results are being ordered based on the number of fans each page has. As Facebook usage expands, and more and more people use the FB search engine, Klaus will get more traffic, more links, and more business through his Facebook page.

Note to Klaus: use the FBML to make a side box with links to your sites!

No matter how small your business, you can benefit from this. It only takes a few minutes, and it gets you up there in the Facebook search results, if only on a search for you business name. And it’s only going to get bigger, so, sure, spend a few minutes. Make a Facebook page for your business, and throw a little FBML box on there for some future link juice. Couldn’t hurt.

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