Who’s Writing Your Copy? Why a Beautiful Website Won’t Save An Alphabet Soup

Depending on your perception of the value and skill required to write good content for your website – you may be surprised to learn that the content creation of your website will usually cost a lot more than the actual design part of your website.

Yet what’s ironic is that many of my clients don’t even consider their content needs when building a website.

Sure – they know they’ll need to write out some content – but in many cases it’s more of an after thought.

Here’s the thing – there can be many examples I can point to where a poorly designed website with excellent copy – which included a hot offer, a time limit etc. – which made the owner of the website a lot of money.

However I don’t think I can find a single example of a well designed website with crappy copy (badly targeted offer, boring content, failure to list benefits) that made the website owner any money.

So the big question for this article is – who’s writing your copy?

Note: copy just refers to the words on a page – however copy is specifically referencing the words that will sell your product/offer rather than generic words like for example your contact information or About Us page.

While I would recommend – if you have the option – to engage with a high end copywriter I realise that for many people reading this that is simply not an option. The reason is that GOOD copywriters are expensive – like really expensive.

Luckily when you work with me you’ll get to work with a web developer that has an understanding of what makes a website sell – as far as content goes. While I love coding – I also understand the traditional word.

This is very important – a lot of people engage web developers/copywriters overseas who not only don’t understand the local dialect and cultural slang of Australia – but even worse may speak broken English in general.

So I’ve decided to do something different in this blog post – I wanted to show you a technique that a copywriter taught me that I have used for pretty much every single piece of copy I write. It is so simple – and can be remembered with 3 letters (PAS) – and I will include an example of an ad for my own services which has converted like crazy.

By learning this simple technique you’ll be ahead of 98% of business owners – and you can start writing original copy instead of just copying other businesses.

The Secret Recipe of Highlyg Converting Copy – the PAS Method

PAS stands for ‘Problem’, ‘Agitation’ and ‘Solution’ and your copy must include those elements in that order.

I’m going to include an overview of each step – or letter – and then show you how I incorporated those elements in my own ad:


This is where you identify the problem the client is having – and it’s the place where you identify and show the client you understand what they are going through.

Depending on the format that you structure your ad – you can begin this with a story -or if it’s more of a billboard or an image ad you can just include a bulletpoint or headline.

A mistake a lot of companies make is leaving out the problem – so for example a company could make an ad like so:

Our beds have NASA technology foam!

And while that’s great it’s not linked to the problem the person is having, so a way to change the above line to incorporate a problem could be as follows:

Want to keep your back after 40?
Our beds have NASA technology foam!

Note: I’m no expert in beds as you can see but I’m just showing the concept.

This is a very simple example and in most cases your copy will have much more content but stating the problem is a critical part of your copy.


The agitation part is where you really step up to being a master word smith with the ability to control your client’s emotions and lead them down the path of getting excited to part with their cash for your service.

You see when a client has a problem – in many cases it’s an emotional issue which is forcing them to find solutions.

We are emotional creatures and this is the most important thing to understand when writing copy.

So since I’ll be using an example from my own ad further down this blog post I’ll use an example in this section.

People want a website because they want people to find out about their product/service online right? And perhaps even order that service online and make an enquiry.

That’s a pretty logical statement – and if you have started a business or are operating one – it would be logical for you to create a website to be found right?

However did you know that if you set your website up incorrectly it could lead to your website not being found in Google – and even worse it could lead to your website being penalised and banned from Google outright?

Do you see what I did there? Suddenly – if you are a business owner – your chest tightened up – the idea of having your website banned from Google – or not being found causes anxiety. The embarassment of not having your website display – the thought of losing all that money from customers who can’t find you.

This is the agitation part of my copy – and I could go further – I could talk about how your competitors are currently getting the most high margin clients – and how 90% of people in your market will go to Google to find what they are looking for – and how if you are not on Google you don’t even exist.

This is not going to make you do business with me or order a website – but it will make the pain of making the wrong decision very real – and it will get you primed as a potential customer to hear what I have to say next – as the information is very relevant to you.

Does that make sense?

Can you take your own product and after listing the problems it solves – agitate those problems further to create a real emotional connection for your prospect – the person reading your copy?

This may seem un natural at first and you want to be conscious of who you are targeting but believe me – EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT/SERVICE offering uses agitation to some degree – there is no target market or target customer that is ‘too sophisticated’ for this technique.


This is where you offer the client a solution that will solve all their problems – the trick is to offer a solution that addressses all the pain points you have raised so far in your copy.

For example taking the copy for my own service that I have mentioned before – regarding not being found or being banned from Google – my solution could (and does) include the following:

  • ‘SEO Optimized website FREE’

Now the client can rest assured that part of his website package will include an SEO optimised website.

I could also include a testimonial that will subtly communicate that I have the knowledge and the practical experience that they can trust me with making their website Google friendly such as the following:

‘”Within 2 weeks of working with Kosta over 1,500 of our products were indexed by Google. This caused a traffic increase of 74%. also our newsletter subscriber count has jumped by 340%. We just wish we would have found Kosta sooner than wasting thousands with our previous SEO company.” – Harrison Logan, DragonImage’

So you can see how you can address the Solution in various ways – through testimonials, images and videos!

So there it is, that’s the PAS method – you don’t have to write the greatest piece of copy ever to make your offer sell – however if you can look at the copy that you write and point to the Problem, Agitation and Solution section you are ahead of 98% of business owners.

This stuff is powerful – make no mistake about it.

What I have given you above is a very useful tool to throw in your arsernal.

My advice is whoever you choose to write your copy – yourself, someone in your business – a copywriter or even me – make sure they understand the elements of successful selling through the written word.

How to P#ss Off Google With Your Mobile Incompatible Site – And 5 Ways to Fix It

As of 21st April, 2015 having your website mobile friendly officially became a ranking factor for Google. This means that a website that is mobile friendly will now show up higher in Google search results than a website that is not mobile friendly (all other things being equal).

In this blog post I will show you how to check if your website is Google mobile friendly using the Google mobile test tool and what options are available for you to make it mobile friendly – along with client examples where possible for each option.

Is my site mobile friendly? Let Google tell you

Even without using a specialised tool it should be fairly obvious to you if your website is mobile friendly or not as you can simply check what it looks like on your smartphone.

However it is also useful to check the [link]Google Mobile test tool[/link] to see if Google sees your website as mobile friendly – remember that Google doesn’t have a team of people checking every website individually to see if it’s mobile compatible – instead it uses an algorithm to find this out.

In some cases – a website may look mobile compatible to you and everyone else – however for some reason Google may not see it as mobile friendly – leading you to be penalised in the rankings.

The Google mobile test tool doesn’t give you any specific information other than a green box confirming that your website/page is mobile friendly.

Note: Google mobile test tool tests only the URL that you provide it – it is possible for example that your front page is mobile friendly while an inner page is not mobile compatible. My suggestion is just to click around the links on your website using a smartphone and see if any pages are not mobile compatible.

In most cases I find that if the front page is mobile friendly the rest of the website will be too – this is due to the way that 99% of websites are built with a common header/footer.

Help! My site is not mobile friendly… what are my options?

Below I will list a number of options for what you can do if your website is not mobile friendly – as well as the time estimate for how long this will take to implement that option – this will give you an idea of not only what options you have available but give you an idea which ones are more/less expensive.

Note that the time estimate is based on how long I estimate it would take if I was doing the work and is current as of the 3rd March, 2016.

The options include automatic mobile conversion, WP Touch Plugin (for WordPress sites), remaking the website, creating a separate mobile site and custom coding.

Automatic mobile conversion

There are online tools that will automatically convert your website to be mobile friendly at the click of a button.

Please note that this does not always come out perfect – and sometimes the automatic conversion will make your website look like a dog’s breakfast – however it is worth a shot to enter your website into these tools and see how the mobile site turns out – if the mobile site generated by these tools looks acceptable to you – then you can get a developer to redirect mobile users to the converted website.

Some of these tools are free – all though I suggest paying their small yearly fee so you do not get advertisements on your mobile sites.

http://www.mobilizetoday.com/ ($10p/m)

http://bmobilized.com/ ($11p/m)

http://www.ginwiz.com/ (starting from $30p/m)

All of these tools have a preview option so you can see what your mobile optimised website will look if it is converted using these tools. My suggestion is to pick the tool which converts your website the best.

Estimated Time: 2-4 hours

WPTouch Plugin

On the off chance that your website is powered by WordPress and is not mobile friendly then the WPTouch extension is a good option to check out. The plugin is free however the paid version gives you additional themes.

From memory – when I was installing this plugin on a client’s website – brookermarine.com.au – I found that I needed to go with the premium option since it contained a mobile template that did what I needed it to do.

For the record – while technically the WPTouch is advertised as a 1 click solution – be prepared to make some slight adjustments in the code to make sure it works correctly. The good news is that WP Touch can advise you through their support area on what code changes you would need to make.

Remember – you need to have your website all ready running on WordPress to take advantage of this extension.

Estimated Time: 3-8 hours

Remake the website

If your website is not mobile compatible and doesn’t look great on a desktop either than remaking the entire website may be an option. While this may sound like a hefty investment you would be surprised at how cost effective it can be.

For example – if your website currently has good content but bad design then you all ready have the hardest part of creating a website handled.

You can browse around and find a WordPress template in [link to WordPresss themes]ThemeForest[/link] – most templates you will find are all ready mobile friendly – and get a developer to move your content over to that new template and install it on your server.

Estimated Time: 8 hours – 25 hours

Custom coding

This is a half way option however it can be a good solution if the automatic mobile conversion option doesn’t work out and your website looks horrible in the automatic mobile conversion tool previews – your website is not built in WordPress and you are on a budget and don’t want to create a brand new mobile site or install a new theme.

The custom coding option involves adding some standardised code through various sections of the website which make them snap to the width of a mobile screen.

In certain cases I have been able to make a client’s websites usable and mobile friendly in less than 6 hours through custom coding – it may not have all the bells and whistles of a complete theme revamp however your clients will appreciate the ease of use of your new site – and you will get Google brownie points, all for a smaller investment than redoing your entire theme.

In most cases this option is a launching pad for clients to move to a new website redesign.

Estimated Time: 4 hours – 8 hours

Separate mobile site

This is an outdated practice however for the sake of having a complete list of your options I’ve included it here. To save your time feel free to skip reading this option – but read ahead if you’re curious or are just a fan of implementing bad solutions ;).

Creating a separate mobile site basically means finding a mobile template and installing it on your server – and redirecting smartphone users to that template.

This means that if you have to change some content on your website – you will need to change it on both your main website and your mobile site – which can sometimes be a bother.

My belief is that if you are wiling to invest into creating a separate mobile site you may as well either switch to a new template which will give you the same outcome and also make your main site look good.

Estimated Time: 8 hours


While it may seem like there are many options when converting your site for mobile – the options are narrowed down once you answer the question of whether you are currently running WordPress and what your budget is.

If your budget is smaller use the custom coding option. If your budget is bigger use the ‘Remake website’ option.

Finally remember that as of 21st April, 2015 having a mobile website is a must. With Google confirming that more people use their search engines on mobiles than desktops and Google rewarding mobile friendly sites (and penalizing non mobile compatible sites) – you owe not only your clients/users but yourself a favor by converting your website to mobile using one of the options above.

What is a CMS? And Why Not Having One For Your Website will Spell Your Doom

CMS stands for ‘content management system’. A CMS allows you to make changes to any part of your website without needing to learn a programming language. Pretty neat right?

There are many different CMS flavors (providers) out there – the most popular one being WordPress – the CMS used by yours truly which powers 25% of the internet.

With a CMS you can save money by being able to make changes yourself and not needing to pay your web developer every time you need to make said changes – and you also gain control over your website – since you are not dependent on an external party to update your site; which means if your developer is not responsive it won’t stop you from keeping your website up to date.

When choosing a web developer you should know not only whether they will provide CMS functionality for your website – but also how much training they will provide – since there is no point to have a CMS if it’s too complicated to use.

Also – be careful when web development companies offer to set you up with a website using a CMS they have built internally. This will create many problems for you including limited online support community, limited plugins/extensions, a very small developer community, and being locked into their business model with no means of escape. For example what happens if you want to switch to a new developer and you are still using another company’s CMS? Let me tell you a client of mine wanted me to make some changes to his website however when I went to check the CMS I realised it was a proprietary CMS system developed by a Sydney based web development company – in order to help the client I would have to learn the CMS system from the ground up – which would cost the client a lot more – and this would be the case for any web developer he hired.

Also – be careful if your developer is going to set you up with a CMS that you have never heard of before. For example there is a ‘Wordpress alternative’ called Camaleon CMS – if your developer sets you up on this you will have a bunch of problems even if the CMS itself is good – for example finding another developer who is knowledgeable in Camaleon will be very difficult – also if you need to find a specific plugin or integration with another software you will most likely have challenges since there is such a small number of plugins and integrations for that CMS (integration means cool stuff that the CMS can do).

Remember – you want a CMS that has the most support and the most active developer community. There are extensions being written by the WordPress developer community every day – and many of these extensions are available for free or a small price – if you were to engage a developer to build one of these from scratch it would cost you thousands of dollars – so you can imagine how having a CMS with a big developer community can save you a lot of money in the long run!

So let’s summarise what we learned and keep these notes in mind:
  • The web developer should provide a CMS (content management system) for the website they create for you
  • The CMS should be a popular CMS that has a thriving online community – don’t use some niche unknown CMS that no one has heard of
  • Make sure you have budgeted the time/money for training once the CMS launches
In summary – make sure that the person developing your website will provide you with a simple way to make changes to their website. If they don’t – you’ll need to pay them every time you want to make a change. Also my recommendation is to use WordPress for your CMS needs – it’s the most popular and if you ever need to change developers (or if your developer becomes unreachable) then you will not have to look long for a well priced WordPress developer to help you.

How (Not) To Pick the Wrong Website Host – And (Not) Lose Your Sanity in the Proccess

Most people new to making a website are not educated in just how important it is to pick the right website host for your business.

If you pick the wrong website host (and I will tell you the WORST website host further down this post) – you stand to lose not only hundreds of dollars due to poor customer service but also – in extreme cases – may have your website entirely deleted with no warning (and yes this has happened to a client of mine).

Read more

5 Tips You Can Do Right Now For SEO

SEO can be very confusing – and that confusion leads to business owners taking NO action when it comes to improving their website rankings. Many SEO companies like to make SEO as complicated as possible – however what if you had an a, b, c and d checklist that you could follow to be found by Google? What if everything was as straightforward as following a recipe? If you’ve been putting off taking action on your website after reading this straightforward guide you will have no excuse!

The guide contains 5 steps (and a bonus 6th step if you’re feeling super motivated) – feel free to do one item per day if you like – if you have any questions let me know at kosta [at] kostak4.sg-host.com.

Remember – in business taking action is more important then waiting to have all the facts – and it’s double as true in SEO – you don’t need to know EVERYTHING about SEO and Google Rankings to get started – but you do need to get started. This guide will put you ahead of 90% of your competition. So, not much more to say – let’s start with No. 1:

#1 Google Places

If you have a physical business (business at a physical location) – or even if you have a service type business that services an area – Google Places is absolutely essential. Google rolled out Google places in [year Google rolled it out] and as always – if you want to be at the top of Google’s search results – you have to play by their rules – and the cornerstone feature is Google Places.

Part of the reason – I think – why Google rolled out Google Places is that it allowed the user to stay in Google without navigating out. So if a user wants to find their local hairdresser they can use Google Places and stay within the Google ecosystem without navigating out of Google into your website – this means more ad revenue for Google. However let’s get away from why Google did this – at the end of the day for you – it doesn’t matter if users come to your website or not, if they pick up the phone and make that call that’s all that matters – and if you can make that happen more often then all power to you.

In order to setup a Google Places Account for your business you’ll need a Google account (I sure hope you have one all ready). Then all you’ll need to do is go here:



Once you sign up simply click on your business type (Storefront/Services Area or Brand) and then you’ll need to fill in a form similar to the one below:


In order for Google to verify that you are a real business and to avoid spam they will send you a physical letter which will contain a verification code. Once you receive this letter log back into Google and follow the prompts to enter the verification code. Then your Google Places is up and running! Done. Besides waiting for the letter the process is fairly straightforward.

#2 SEO Yoast Plugin

You can find the SEO Yoast plugin here – https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/. SEO Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress so because of that it should be installed as standard with your WordPress website.

Simply installing the SEO Yoast plugin will not improve your ratings – but it will give you a large number of tools at your disposal.


The option above is for a blog I published earlier. The SEO Yoast toolbar appears underneath your ‘Edit Posts’ section in WordPress and shows you how your blgo post will look like in Google search results and let you know if there are any issues that need to be addressed.

Going over all of SEO Yoast’s features is beyond the scope of this blog – but you can check out their website here for some useful tutorials and articles.

#3 Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools


Google Webmaster Tools is like being able to peer under the hood of the Google algorithm and see exactly how it relates to your website.

You can sign up for Google Webmaster Tools here:

After you do you’ll need to upload a small file to your webserver to prove that you are the owner of your website – and after that you are ready to go.

So what is so special about Google Webmaster Tools? Well how about these 3 bits of data – and this is just the beginning. Have you ever wanted to:

  • See which keywords your website is showing for
  • Find out keywords your website shows for but no one clicks on (why is that?)
  • See the performance of your keywords over time (going back years and years – what went wrong.. what went right?)

Oh, and once you have Google Webmaster tools you can

#4 Create and submit a sitemap


This has helped some of my customers increase their traffic by 75% – and it takes less than an hour. Basically what you are doing is saying to Google “Hey, this is all the pages on my website – make sure you have all these in your directory.”

Google can sometimes find the pages for your website on its own – however if you have 500 pages on your website and Google has only indexed 50, a simple sitemap submission can make you show up on a lot more relevant search results – along with your competitors (instead of not being there at all).

SEO Yoast will help you create a site map.

#5 Install Google Analytics

You can sign up for Google Analytics here:


After you do you’ll need to add some code to the bottom of every page on your website. If you are running WordPress you can do this without any programming knowledge by downloading a plugin (SEO Yoast has this option by default)


Once you install Google Analytics you’ll be able to see the following information right off the bat:

  • How many visitors come to your website
  • Where they come from (e.g. organic keywords, linked from other websites, email campaigns, typed straight into browser)
  • The locations of your visitors (if you are a national company you can see how many customers come from NSW/VIC etc.

Lots of these reports are useful but from an SEO perspective here is where Google Analytics shines, you can:

See which keywords are most popular for your website and which keywords generate the best results

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have 2 keywords for a pet shop website – ‘dog grooming tips’ and ‘dog grooming pricing sydney’ which are generating 100 visits and 10 visits a week respectively.

Dog grooming tips – 100 visitors
Dog grooming pricing sydney – 10 visitors

In Google Analytics you can setup how many of these visitors end up filling out your lead form. So if 1/100 visitors going from ‘dog grooming tips’ fill out your enquiry form but 1/10 visitors from dog grooming pricing sydney fill out your enquiry form – then it’s smarter to go after and work on increasing your rankings for ‘dog grooming pricing sydney’ right? This is a simple example but it’s very useful – in using Google Analytics – to see which keywords are generating the most results.

Bonus Tip #6: Get Some Backlinks


Backlinks are a big deal for Google – they tell it what websites are linking to you and help Google make a decision as to how important your website is compared to your competitors (if your website has more links pointing back to it then your competitors – you will be shown higher int he search results and will get more clicks).

Of course, you can spend months asking various websites to link to you or you can do a quick back linking campaign that won’t hurt your pocket and will get you on the right path. Since many of your competitors would have done NOTHING when it comes to buying backlinks, doing this simple process will put you miles ahead of a vast majority of your competition. Ready.

Go to fiverr.com and type in ‘backlinks’ into the Search box and search.

You’ll find a bunch of results – make sure to go for safe links that won’t hurt your reputation or are from bad sites.

Here is an example of a top rated seller you can trust:


Starting at only $5, if you can spend about $40-$50 with this guy you’ll be way ahead of your competition. But make sure you optmise the page that you want the backlinks to come through to using SEO Yoast!


Hopefully that gives you an idea of where to start with if you’re a beginner to SEO services. If you have any questions send me an email to kosta [at] kostak4.sg-host.com.

How to Stop Wasting Your Time – 5 Tips on Hiring and Keeping a Good PA

Hiring a personal assistant (PA) can save time and cut out all the boring
mundane tasks from your workload. However htere’s a porblem – you are dealing with someone who is not only halfway around the world, but who has a different culture
and doesn’t even speak English as a first language. Add the technology problems that many
people naturally face and you can find yourself working twice as hard, with twice the stress to ensure your PA is actually helping you!

Howevere, there’s a way to save hours of your time every week, without going through the stress. In fact I’ve personally used personal assistants for years, and I’ve outlined 5 tips below to help you avoid the pitfalls and frustrations I’ve encountered. So if you’re ready to have that extra 4-20 hours a week to yourself to focus on the important things that you should be focusing on – then read on!

Note: I will refer to PA as data entry person throughout this blog – they are basically the same thing – since most times your
PA will be doing boring data entry work!

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

The biggest mistake people make when hiring a PA is assigning ALL the work to that PA. For example, let’s say you have 5 major tasks that need completing every week and take 2 hours each.

Task 1 – 2 hours
Task 2 – 2 hours
Task 3 – 2 hours
Task 4 – 2 hours
Task 5 – 2 hours

Every taks will take you 30 minutes to train.

Task 1 – 30 minutes training
Task 2 – 30 minutes training
Task 5 – 30 minutes training
Total: 2.5 hours training

Now imagine your PA suddenly gets sick/gets another job/stops doing PA work or any number of things (remember, many PA’s are work from home mothers). Suddnely your 5 tasks are no longer getting done!

What’s worse is that you now have to spend ANOTHER 2.5 hours training another PA to do your tasks! Pretty soon you’re spending more time training someone how to do a task then it would take you to do the tasks yourself!

The solution would be to assign 5 tasks to 5 different PA’s. Then, if one PA is slow with doing a task, suddenly becomes unavailable or any other number of issues that could come up, it doesn’t stop the work from the other 4 tasks, and you can easily assign the task to another PA.

Remember – if you have a PA that does EVERYTHING – they can end up owning you!

Write down your instructions!

This is important if you have to find a new PA or if the PA is making mistakes. The best thing to do is to write down the instructions live as you give them over Skype.

Have them in a step by step format e.g.

1. Instructions for step 1
2. Instructions for step 2
3. Instructions for step 3
3a. Sub step 1 for step 3
3b. Sub step 2 for step 3
4. Instructions for step 4

Also, once you write down the instructions make sure they are located in a respository where the PA can easily access them in the future. DropBox is a good choice.

Don’t sweat the small stuff (esp. if you’re a small fish in a big pond)

Be prepared for the fact that your PA may show up late for a meeting. Especially if you are looking for someone to do only 2 – 4 hours of work per week – you need to be flexible. Don’t be too demanding.

Remember – if you are showing up for a job interview you want to be there on time – but if you get the job that is your income guaranteed. With a PA, you are only giving them enough work for a half a day a week, and even then they are never assured how long that work will go on for.

The most important thing is that the work is not sloppy – other than that, if the PA doesn’t show up for a planned meeting, just be preppared for it and don’t stress too  much.

Accept a learning curve – you may have to break some eggs

Recently I put an ad up for a data entry person – guess how many people applied within 48 hours?

Ninety six applicants!

The truth is – you will never find yourself in a shortage of data entry/PA personell. So why do I mention this? Because when you begin working with data entry people you may find that you don’t gel with some – and others simply give you a headache. This may be your fault or theirs – but at the end of the day don’t stress – if it’s not working out with a data entry person – just get another one!

Don’t get too attached to data entry/PA personell and accept that you may have to go through a couple when you start out – no biggie.

Get The Right Tools

I’ve mentioned some tools in the blog but let me go over these again:


You can download Skype here (or here for Mac). This should be your go to program. It allows you to not only chat to your PA’s, but also have voice conversations and most importantly – share your screen to give instructions.


You can sign up for DropBox here if you haven’t. Not only can you upload and share files using DropBox (just right click on a file in your DropBox folder after you have it installed and click on ‘Share DropBox link’) – but you can also take screenshots and have these screenshots automatically added to your DropBox. This is super useful if a data entry person is confused about something and you want to quickly send a screenshot through Skype.


This one is not too important if you are getting data entry people to do straightforward tasks – however if you need more than one person involved (besides you) in giving feedback to the data entry person on their work Basecamp can do wonders.

You can sign up for a free Basic account [link]here[/here]. Basecamp has a great feature called ‘Group Discussions’. You can write out instructions and email them to both the data entry person and any other stakeholders in the project in one simple click, then whenever anyone replies (be it the data entry person or the stakeholder) it will automtically be added to the discussion and all parties notified. No more sending emails back and forth :).


Hope that has been a help.. and look at the date – Happpy New Year!

How one letter from a competitor can make you dissapear from Google – and how to avoid it

One of the scariest things that can happen to a budding entrepreneur is losing their Google listing. Just imagine, a listing that previously may have brought you hundreds of visitors a day suddenly vanishes, and all that business that was being generated from that position vanishes overnight.

There are a number of reasons why your Google ranking could be affected – and it has caused untold stress to many business owners – however today I want to talk about one situation that is particularly insidious – because it can be brought on by your competitors! And no, I’m not talking about the old ranking battle – where you and a competitor battle it out for #1 and #2 position. No, what I am referring to is how a competitor can completely wipe you out from the competition!

How can they do that? With a DMCA complaint.

What is a DMCA Complaint?

A DMCA complaint, by standard dicitonary terms is:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act

In laymen’s terms – if a competitor finds content on your website that is infringing copyright – he can notify Google – and Google will TAKE YOUR OFFENDING PAGE OFF.

Now, just to clarify:

Google will only take down the specific page that has a copyright infringement – so let’s say you have a page called Gardening Supplies which lists some products that you sell online – and one of the images is lifted from a magazine – that particular page will no longer be visible on Google’s search results.

It is hard to avoid becoming vulnerable to DMCA complaints if you have thousands of products in your store.

If you are building a small 6 page website you are safe – just ensure that the images you use are either yours – or obtained legally – such as buying them from iStockPhoto. However IF you have an online store for example, and you have thousands of products (and thousands of images) – there’s a high chance that one of those images could be stolen.

This opens up your website to being flagged as a copyright infringer with Google – and having your listing terminated.

Your listing is not restored when you remove the offending image

A DMCA takedown notice is no joke – EVEN if you remove the infringing image your penalty stays on. The only way to relist your website is to go to [url goes here] and explain to them (very politely) how you see the errors of your ways and have removed the offending image.

This is a tactic used by some businesses to destroy their competition – and it’s not just DMCA takedowns but license numbers too

If you own a business and you notice one of your competitors is using an illegal image – you can inform Google and have their business taken offline. This is not just limited to DMCA takedown notices – if you are a security company and you do not have your Security License number displayed prominently you can be fined thousands of dollars.

You may not even know you’ve been blacklisted

If you are ranking for 20 high traffic keywords and one of them drops off – if you don’t know where your traffic comes from you won’t even know you’ve been blacklisted! Google will not inform you.

I hope this has brightened your day.

Good bye.

Check the DMCA notice at the bottom of search results

If your website is not showing in a search results page look for this:


at the bottom. This message means Google has manually blacklisted a page due to a copyright infringement.

Lodge a DMCA Counter-Notification Form

Go to this link and inform Google that you have removed the infringing image – and tell them you won’t do it again!

Note: you may want to get someone who is a professional at this, you may say the wrong thing and delay the amount of time it takes to get your website relisted.

Talk to your data entry staff – and tell them to use licensed images

It is not your fault your website was delisted – if you have thousands of products in an online store there is a high chance the data entry person used an image from eBay/Google Images etc. when inputting products, or while updating an image slider.

In summary – be smart and don’t give your competitors the opening to take you out of the game. Better safe than sorry!

5 Important Passwords You Need to Have For Your Website (That Your Developer Hopes You Don’t)

When engaging a web developer it’s important not to fall into a common trap – having someone else control your business.

You wouldn’t let your accountant hold your information without having a copy so why would you let your web developer control parts of your website without having access?

This is an issue that has happened so often that I thought I’d write out a blog post that would be relevant to everyone that currently owns a business that has a web presence (which is pretty much everyone).

While you may get along with your web developer now – how do you know that 3 months down the track you guys may have a disagreement, or he may disapear on holidays without informing you – what if he just disappears (rare but it can happen).

What happens then?

What would happen if your web developer disapeared right now – how quickly could you put another developer in charge of looking after your website?

Below are 5 important pieces of information you need right now to ensure that you have CONTROL over your business website (and your business):

cPanel Password

Your cPanel password will allow you to have access to your website database. This database will hold the content of your website (if your website is run by a database, which most websites are these days). The cPanel will also allow you to do cool things like setup new email addresses for staff, or shut off email addresses for staff that have left.

FTP Password

This one is a bit less important, since you change this password in the cPanel – however the FTP (file transfer protocol) – will allow you to change files on your website. A lot of times you will not have to bother with this – but sometimes you may need to modify a file directly – having the FTP password will help you. In most cases, if you have the cPanel and the FTP password – should your developer suddenly become unavailable – you’ll be able to switch over the website resposbilities to another developer without too much issue.

CMS Password

The CMS (Content Management System) is the front end administration interface that will allow you to easily make changes to your website without too much technical know how. If you’ve ever seen a screen like this:


You’ll know what a CMS system looks like. WordPress is the most popular CMS but no matter what CMS you use – you’ll need to have a copy of the login credentials. By the way ensure you have the superadmin (top level) login details, not just the ‘editor’ login details.

Sometimes your developer may give you the login details for a CMS which will only allow you to edit pages for example, however will not give you the ability to change top level menus or install extensions to your website. Should the developer dissapear and you don’t have the top level CMS access – it could become a slight headache.

Analytics Access

Google Analytics will allow you to see how many visitors come to your website. Most web developers will be able to easily install Google Analytics tracking on your website. However in many cases you may not all ready have a Google account so the developer will setup an Analytics account under his name to track your visitors.

This is not a big deal per se – but you must ask him to grant your email permission to view your Analytics reports. Basically should the developer disapear and you need a special report for your visitor tracking (for example, how many visitors come from a particular advertiser) – you will be hard pressed to get this information unless you setup a new Analytics account (and this means your old data will be lost).

Oh, and if you don’t have Analytics installed on your website yet, do it now! How can you improve if you don’t know where you currently stand?

Hopefully that gave you some clarity about exactly what ‘keys’ you need to have a copy of, just like running a warehouse, you wouldn’t let your employees have access to any areas you don’t, right? So why should it be any different for web development?

As a client you have a right to request and receive this information. Should the web developer present excuses for why he can’t give these to you then there’s a high chance that you’ll have a hard time getting this information if eventually you decide to switch web developers.

Oh, and backup regularly!

Salesforce vs SugarCRM – The Cloud and Hype vs Reality

Recently I’ve been developing a custom CRM solution for a client using SugarCRM and it’s got me thinking about the whole ‘cloud’ term and how companies have confused consumers as to exactly what it means.

Just as full disclosure – I’m developing a CRM solution for a client on his own server using SugarCRM. If those buzz words are giving you a headache I can understand.

You can read what “cloud” is here: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-computing.htm

And you can read about SugarCRM here: http://www.sugarcrm.com/

What I wanted to do though is to educate the consumer (that’s you) about what all this cloud business really is.

The whole ‘cloud’ phenomenon really blew up a couple of years ago where everything started to be delivered in the ‘cloud’ or in other words online. For example you could have your employees submit timesheets “in the cloud”, you could manage your customer database and marketing “in the cloud”, you could pretty much have all your business data “in the cloud”.

The whole cloud thing was pretty good, and it helped businesses save money and have a less stressful experience, and of course the companies who were able to establish themselves in their niche (DropBox for “cloud storage” for example) made a lot of money.

Everyone was happy.

The actual “cloud revolution” was started by Salesforce, and you have to remember that these guys marketed the hell out of it, it wasn’t like they made this killer app and everyone jumped on it, they applied a killer marketing strategy on top of what was, essentially a fairly straightforward service – a customer database that could be accessed online. Of course, there’s more to it then that but you get the idea.

So I just wanted to point out a couple of things when it comes to CRM’s and the whole cloud phenomenon (I’m using CRM’s because that’s what everyone automatically thinks about when you mention the cloud – since Salesfroce has such a strong marketing position in everyone’s minds – I guess because they were on the scene first and called their service ‘cloud software’).

So below I will write some simple facts that will probably not show up in Salesforce sales materials but you should know, here they are:

Fact 1: You Pay Until You Die

If you are paying $150 – $500 a month for a CRM system you pay that until you die… or your business dies. In other words if your business exists for the next 5 years, at 5 years * 12 months * 500 =

(5 * 12) * 500 = $30,000 for the life time value of the product

Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about “how awesome” it is that you’re only paying $500 a month instead of paying a developer $5,000 to make some custom software.

Fact 2: You Can’t Touch Nothin’

If you are buying into a CRM plan on Salesforce, the application lives on Salesforce’s servers. This means it’s a ‘hands off’ policy when it comes to modifying the software.

Now sure Salesforce allows customizations to an extent, but at the end of the day they only allow customizations within the paramaters of what they leave open. This might be fine for you, but if you are looking at a system that integrates with your site content you may have a problem.

Fact 3: If The Business Falls, Or the Price Changes – You’re Out of Luck

I’m not saying Salesforce will collapse in the next 10 years, highly unlikely. But what can happen is prices can change, and should anything happen all your business data and processes are tied up with the company. Not a big deal but I thought I’d point it out.

Fact 4: That $30,000 is out of the box

This is another thing people lose sight of. Remember how I made that rough calculation that if your CRM software costs you $500 a month then over 5 years you’re looking at $30,000?

That’s a big number, and with Salesforce’s packages, even having as little as 3-4 users can put you at that rate.

However what I didn’t mention is that the $30,000 that you end up paying is for an out of the box solution. Understand this – Salesforce does nothing for you.

In other words they grant you access to an out of the box application and say “Good luck”. Now if you want help customising it, creating custom code then they’d be happy to help you for an extra fee.

Think about that next time you think you’re being smart going on a monthly solution.

Fact 5: You Pay Through the A$@ for every new user

This is the other thing to consider. Let’s say you start with 4 users on a CRM system at $400 a month. That might be okay for you, but let’s say you expand to 8 people, and maybe have 4 people part time. Now you have to fork out an extra $800 a month. As your business expands so does the length at which Salesforce reaches into your pockets.

Now granted if you’re expanding you may have money to the point that it really doesn’t matter, but let’s be real – $800 a month is money that you could be spending on other parts of your business.

Now, alternatively you could get a self hosted solution with SugarCRM Community Edition (or another open source CRM system like vTiger and have a developer customize it for you).

Now let’s look at those facts:

Fact 1: You Pay Until You Die

New Fact: you only pay for the initial installation and customisation of the CRM system. Now, you get your CRM installed on your server and after it’s installed you don’t pay a monthly fee (except for your web hosting, which you’re paying anyway).

If the initial development cost is acceptable you’ll be in a good position.

Fact 2: You Can’t Touch Nothing

New Fact: Touch away baby. The CRM software lies on your server now, which means you have access to everything.

Heck if you wanted you could have a big smiling image of your face come up whenever anyone logs into the CRM to deliver some big brother type speech (exagurrated example but you get the idea).

All the code for the CRM software lies on your server.

Fact 3: If The Business Falls, Or the Price Changes – You’re Out of Luck

New Fact: since you own all the code the happenings of the outside world don’t affect you. Let’s say you install SugarCRM Community Edition on your server and the SugarCRM company closes down.

Not to worry, your code and your company is safe.

Again this is unlikely but it’s worth mentioning.

Fact 4: That $30,000 is out of the box

New Fact: If you were to spend $30,000 on initial development you would have a true monster tailored to your business and processes. Really $30,000 is over kill and you could have a custom developed application for much less ($2k-$5k range) but the point is, at least when you pay that money you’re getting a developer who will work on customizing the environment to your needs, rather than just a monthly plan to rent an as-is software.

Fact 5: You Pay Through the A$@ for every new user

New Fact: with a self hosted CRM solution, you could have 1,000 users for all you care and it wouldn’t make a difference, you can have as many users as your database can hold.

Finally I want to end with one note: it’s not how good the CRM system is that you use, it’s how well you can utilise it. I’ve worked with a number of clients through a number of CRM solutions, and unlike those salespeople at Salesforce I actually worked to not only plan the sales software, but also implement it for a client.

However besides that, just think long and hard before you jump on the cloud train. Because once they got ya, they got you. I believe in owning everything if possible, and if the price is right why not?

We're still paying our monthly fee because we thought we were smart lol

We’re still paying our monthly fee because we thought we were smart lol


Scientology, small steps and how videos converts the heathen

Recently I went with my friend to the city and we walked past the Scientology centre on George St. They had recently expanded and for some reason my friend wanted to do a “stress test”. Now keep in mind this guy is a Muslim and I don’t think he was considering joining Scientology, but I guess our boredom level had reached epic proportions so anything to break the mundane would do.


Anyway while my friend was sitting getting his stress test done, all I could do while waiting for him is to sit on the couch this Scientology centre had, which was looking out at the telvision which, no suprise, was playing Scientology videos. The “brainwashing station” if you want to call it that.

Anyway I assumed when I sat down, I would watch a bunch of videos about how awesome Scientology is and I had all ready put a mental block on myself that I wouldn’t be “swayed” (full disclosure: I’m not a very religious person).

Anyway, no matter what you want to say about Scientology these guys know how to market and promote themselves. If you consider all the religions in the world, Scientology is probably one of the few major/semi major religions that has not spread its gospel by force/violence. They have something much more valuable up their sleeve.

Actually it’s pretty amazing that not only has Scientology expanded their George St. offices, they’ve also recently finished renovating their centre in Castlereagh Street. The fact that Scientology is (or seems to be) expanding is pretty amazing considering:

The book ‘Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief’ – was a book that fully exposed the inner working of Scientology which went on to sell a ton load of copies and was named Book of the Year by the Washington Post.

The popular cartoon South Park had exposed their secret belief system which they had hidden from the world

Typing ‘Scientology’ into Google brings up a result on the 1st page for a website called xenu.net, which again is completely negative towards Scientology and exposes their many practices that many people at the top of Scientology would probably not want to know

The point that I’m trying to make is that Scientology has a pretty poor PR record, and yet despite this has not only persisted despite this but flourished.

I’m not a Scientologist expert but what I can comment on is the video I watched while I was waiting for my friend to finish his stress test. As I said before I was expecting some Scientology propaganda but what I watched had me nodding along.

Let me explain.

The video I watched was broken up into two parts (you can call it two scenes). The first scene was about ‘communication’ and the second scene was about the ‘touch assist’.

Let me break down these two scenes.

Scene #1:
The scene starts with a businessman giving a presentation to another 4 business men. The voice over says something along the lines of:

“Your skills as a communicator largely determine your success in business and in life”

Here’s the thing, even though I may not have believed in Scientology I had to nod along, who is going to disagree right?

Then the video went on, the African American business man (who was presenting) finished his presentation and all the white guys clapped. Everyone was really happy with him and as he walked out of the office they were following him along like a cheer squad.

Then you see a timid guy sitting at his desk who sees the star presenter (let’s call this timid guy Timid Mike) and he tries, rather poorly, to get the star presenter’s attention (let’s call him Star John). Anyway John ignores him (or maybe doesn’t hear him) and continues on his victory walk along with his cheer squad behind him.

The shot turns to Timid Mike who is sitting there, defeated for not having been heard.

After this they showed a small demonstration of people talking to each other. You can view it from 2:40 below:

The video called the guy who was talking the ‘Cause’ and the person receiving/listening the ‘Effect’, and then it talked about ‘Distance’ being like, if there was less distance the effect was more likely to be effected (or the person was more likely to hear you).

It was actually a simple concept, something you might find in one of those business management books, but just like that Scientology had slipped in one of their concepts into your brain. I was sitting there nodding along, everything seemed to make sense.

Now it was time for Scientology to bring out some bigger guys, in the context of the situation.

Scene #2: The Touch Assist

I hunted down this video on the internet and you can watch it below:

This video is genius, as far as taking someone who is a complete fresh newbie from the street and converting them into a believer, the maker of this video has to be commended.

Since this blog post is dragging on I’ll be quick. Basically the idea behind this video is that when we’re injured we can do things to either quicken or slow down our recovery (for example – we can eat food while recovering instead of starving ourselves).

However it goes one step further to show a technique called the touch assist that can quicken a recovery. Basically if you sprain your ankle the idea is you would have someone touch you on the shoulder, then the other shoulder, and then on the chest, asking you if you feel those points and then finally touch you on your injured ankle. The whole thing takes 5 seconds and is probably completely without medical basis, however the great thing about it is that it only takes literally 10 seconds.

So just like that, with a small investment you’re in! Once you do the “touch assist” you’ve taken a step towards becoming a Scientologist.

They don’t ask you to buy materials, or register for a course, or change your whole belief system. Just try the “touch assist”.

And that is good marketing.

Just like when someone lands on your website you don’t ask them to buy your product/service (unless it costs $1), you just ask them to give you their email address, then you might send them a couple of emails and then ask for an investment fo $10 – $99, then slowly you build up that trust and you end up hitting them with your service.

Scientology understands this concept and so does every good marketer – the small steps. The scene on communication may have simply wanted me to agree with what they were saying. That was a small step, agreeing with something Scientology says (after all it can’t all be wrong), then the next step asks you to try a touch assist which would only take 10 seconds.

And I assume just like that, along with the free stress test which is another low risk entry method, Scientology is able to take you through the hoops of being a full member.

You can say what you want about Scientology and I’m not going to get into a thing where it’s a religous debate – but they understand marketing, and just because you don’t agree with a belief system or an organization doesn’t mean you can’t take a pgae out of their book when it comes to getting what you want.

P.S. I found part of the communication video below if you want to watch it: