Andrew Pearce, who presents the internet radio station’s weekly Business Briefing, told listeners that his company has been working quietly in the background on this project for some time now and gave them all an opportunity to get a free entry in, and ‘backlink’ from, this local business directory.
Andrew Pearce, who runs the locally-based firm Direct-to-Market (a direct-response marketing consultancy that focuses heavily on internet-marketing strategies and technologies) often advises in the show about how businesses can better leverage the internet to assist with their local marketing efforts. Listeners are also able to email questions to the radio station to be answered on-air.
In last week’s Business Briefing, Mr Pearce explained about the importance of topically and geographically relevant inbound links – known as back-links – to a business website and promised all loyal listeners the opportunity to get a valuable backlink that is both geographically and topically relevant for free.
In yesterday’s Business Briefing (to be repeated later this week) he invited all listeners to visit the GotBracknell website and create up to 5 entries for themselves, each with a backlink that would normally cost £30, for free. He went on to explain that at present the website is still in development and not being actively promoted, and that if Radio Bracknell Forest listeners were to “skip through” the payment process without paying, then Direct-to-Market’s administration staff would manually approve any entries made pre-launch.
In addition to a comprehensive Bracknell business directory the GotBracknell website also features free classified advertisements for local people, whether business owners or private, and topical news derived straight from Radio Bracknell Forest’s news team. The aim is for the Got Bracknell website portal to become “the place to go” for local people, and in this way Andrew Pearce hopes to give something back to the community in which he lives.
The website will launch formally in the near future, and while basic business directory entries will remain free those that include a URL (for a powerful backlink) will become subject to a fee, so anybody wanting a free entry to assist their business is advised to visit the Got Bracknell website sooner rather than later.
A listener to our weekly Business in Berkshire slot on Radio Bracknell Forest wrote in with a question as follows: “Can you recommend a website for free podcast hosting where we can make a weekly free audio upload for our small business in Reading? We have limited technical skills so would like one where we will get some sort of HTML code to cut and paste onto our website to help with our free podcasting.”
John Hicks, Radio Bracknell’s station director, and I always appreciate it when listeners write in because it means we know you are enjoying the show and getting benefit from it, and I enjoy helping people by answering the wide and varied questions that we get. This week’s question is no exception, so here we go: To which website can you upload audio free every week to share your free podcasts and get some HTML code to paste onto your own website in return?
The answer is… drum roll… Blog Talk Radio.
If you don’t know what it is then forget the audio element for a moment and just think of bloggers: people who write blogs on a daily, weekly, monthly or highly irregular basis. Some people host those blogs on their own website (you’re reading one right now – our free marketing tips at http://www.direct-to-market.co.uk/articles are in fact a blog) whereas others who don’t have their own website (and even some of those who do) host them on a shared site along with many other bloggers. One you’re undoubtedly familiar with is Radio Bracknell’s News blog (ably maintained by Caroline Cook and Mark Lynch) at http://radiobracknell.wordpress.com If you hunt around using the search box in the top right of that site you’ll find loads of others there too with names in the format of http://????????.wordpress.com
That’s all written content though, obviously.
Blog Talk Radio follows a similar shared blogging concept with one important difference: all the content is free audio uploads rather than written!
The site’s idea is of course that people will create and host their own radio shows, and hopefully that they’ll do it at the same time every day/week/month etc. just as Radio Bracknell does with our Business in Berkshire slot. That’s optional though, and not mandatory.
You must be a registered member of Blog Talk Radio to host a show (i.e. place content on their blog) but the basic membership is free and perfectly adequate for even as much as two hours’ content every day if you wish! To prove it can be done, I have setup a free Direct-to-Market Radio Station on the site to show you http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Direct-to-Market – it’s effectively a free podcast directory – and created and uploaded my own content (a short podcast, just like our listener wants to).
The procedure for uploading your own free podcasts is actually pretty simple too:
Go to BlogTalkRadio and create a free hosting account;
Watch the (relevant) tuition videos;
Click “My BlogTalkRadio” on the top right of the screen;
Click on the “My Account” tab;
Click “Add/Edit a file”;
Enter the file details and upload your free podcast;
Return to your “My Account” tab and click “Add/Edit an episode”;
Fill out the form, being sure to choose a time and date when you will be available;
Set your podcast (uploaded in step 6) as the “Startup audio” and press “Submit”;
5-10 minutes before the time you set, go to “My switchboard” and dial in on the phone number provided (when they ask you to press £ they mean # - they’re American!);
Stay dialled in until your show has finished, then hang up;
Choose the button style that you wish to use, copy the source code provided, and paste it onto your website (or ask a programmer to do this for you;
That’s it, you’re done, your podcast is now ready for download by anybody who cares to listen to it.
If you don’t want the hassle of phoning in and staying on the line while your show runs, or you want to upload more than one thing to your podcast hosting directory per day, then the answer is to upgrade to a paid subscription: full instructions are on the website. You can similarly get rid of the (very short) BlogTalkRadio jingle that will be pre-pended to everything you upload, but I don’t personally consider that a problem.
If you’re worried about your phone bill whilst on the phone to a US number then there are many services that will give you a far cheaper rate than BT. I recommend Utility Warehouse (disclaimer: I’m an authorised distributor) as there is no contract tie-in period, so you can “give it a go” and if you don’t like it then return to your previous supplier whenever you like. If you want to know more then my little area on their website is here: http://www.telecomplus.org.uk/bigmoney then click either “Home Phone” (top left) or “Business Customers” (bottom row) or “Contact Us” as you prefer. Regardless of the quality of Utility Warehouse’s products I personally feel that, from a marketing perspective, their website is actually one of the worst I’ve ever encountered, as I may sometime explain in another post, so in truth you’d be better off just phoning me on 0333 444 0340 and I’ll help you cut your bills!
Back to our listener’s free podcast and BlogTalkRadio: You’ll be given a choice of three player buttons, and here they are:
“The Button” (that’s what BlogTalkRadio calls it!)
If you can tear yourself away from listening to Radio Bracknell Forest for long enough, try the buttons above and test out the user experience for yourself. For free, it’s excellent!
Finally, keep an eye on either this written blog (you can subscribe using the facilities on the right) or my Direct-to-Market Radio Station (OK, free podcast directory!) because I will gradually be uploading as many “back-copies” of Business in Berkshire as John can find, all new shows as we move forwards, and of course any other hints and tips that I fancy sharing with you. In short, a tremendous resource of internet marketing hints and tips for you to use in your business! For great music though, keep listening to either Radio Bracknell Forest or UK Jazz Radio.
Why would you want to add video to your website? For a business the most obvious answer is either because it will help to generate additional traffic, or that it will help to better convert existing traffic into customers. A short ‘head & shoulders’ clip of the business owner can work exceptionally well in this respect, because it helps to create a sense of familiarity in the prospect before they ever visit your business. As a bonus, if it’s hosted somewhere like YouTube, it can also create an additional inbound link to your website …and that never hurts!
If you’re halfway handy with a camera, and not afraid of a bit of basic HTML editing on your website, it’s actually pretty easy.
To start off with take your mobile phone, digital compact camera, DV camcorder or similar and film whatever it is that you want to show on your website. Now follow the maker’s instructions to download the short movie to your PC. If you want to edit it, do so with any of the editing software that is available. There’s an example movie later that was filmed on a mobile phone, in a noisy room, at the end of a marketing workshop that I ran when a delegate wanted to leave a testimonial: even though the image quality is far from good, it does get the message across very powerfully.
Alternatively use something like Windows Movie Maker to create your own short movie from a collection of still images that you can zoom-in/out, pan, rotate etc. and narrate over afterwards. You could perhaps use this to make a short movie from a collection of still catalogue photos of some of the products that you sell.
In any event: keep it short and to the point, make it interesting to watch, and try to ensure that your company name and/or contact details are clearly shown in your movie so that if somebody finds it other than through your website they’ll know how to get hold of you.
With your movie now ready, it’s time to upload it from your PC to a server somewhere. You can host it on your own web-server (but beware that it can have a massive impact on your download bandwidth consumption for which you may have to pay), or host it somewhere free such as YouTube: http://www.YouTube.com. If you decide to go down the YouTube route you’ll need to create an account first: that doesn’t take long if you follow the instructions, and is very easy if you already have an email account on googlemail.com.
When your video is uploaded and tested, you’ll be able to obtain a URL (address) for it. This will look something like http://www.youtube.com/v/cUlhhnV9F8s&hl=en&fs=1 and while you can email that link to a friend to watch, you need to do a little more work to get it shown on your website.
First of all decide what webpage you want your movie to appear on, and where on the page. Open up the source code for that webpage in your favourite HTML editor (DreamWeaver & XSitePro are popular choices) and embed the video in the appropriate place. In simple terms that means placing a block of code that looks like this…
…wherever you want the video to appear. Obviously you’ll also want to replace the YouTube URL in this example with the one for your own movie, unless you especially want to show your visitors a delegate testimonial from an online marketing workshop that I ran earlier this year! You may also wish to change some of the other parameters, e.g. to alter the size and what happens when the video ends.
Now simply save the HTML source file, upload it to your website, and you’re done.
It really is as simple as that, but if you get stuck at any point (e.g. you’ve made your movie but aren’t comfortable editing your website) give us a call and we’ll try to help you out. If you get stuck at the movie-making stage, and/or want more commercial hosting than YouTube offers, then contact me and I’ll put you in touch with another company we use that specialises in making and hosting business videos for websites.
I hope you found this short article interesting, and if you’d like to be kept updated when similar things are posted please sign up using one of the facilities on the right. Do please also leave a comment if you wish, and of course share this article with others by using the social media links provided below.
And don’t forget that you can listen to me on Radio Bracknell at around the following times:
A Radio Bracknell listener wrote in asking for advice, saying that he has a “hidden webpage” on his website and wants to ensure that it is found by the search engines. I dug a little deeper and answered the question during yesterday’s “Business In Berkshire” radio slot.
It transpires that the listener’s webpage isn’t so much “hidden”, as simply “not obvious” but it does contain information that he wants the search engines to find, and hopefully add to their index.
The first thing for me to say here is that search engines (like the “bots”, “spiders” and “crawlers” that roam the web doing their work for them) aren’t miracle workers, they are simply algorithms running on a big server somewhere. Or to put it another way, if you want them to help you (by crawling and indexing your web page) it’s a good idea to help them by making that page reasonably easy to find! If it’s a really important page to you, include a link to it on your homepage. If it’s not that important, then put a link to it on a second or third level page or similar, but consider that if you can’t find it through the navigation structure you provide there’s a good chance that the search engines won’t either.
You can go further than that though and provide a sitemap to help the search engines too. Don’t mistake this for a sitemap designed to help human visitors because it isn’t, the one I’m talking about is really designed to help search engines. By convention it’s called sitemap.xml and sits in the root directory of your website, i.e. the same directory as your homepage. If you want to read all about sitemaps here’s a useful URL: http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php
But what if you don’t want the search engines to crawl a certain area of your website? One way is to create a file called robots.txt and put that in the root directory of your website, alongside your sitemap.xml and homepage. Using robots.txt you can manually specify certain directories and even files that you do or do not want to be crawled. You can learn more about robots.txt here: http://www.robotstxt.org/robotstxt.html This will work well for the ‘respectable’ search engines.
The only problem however is that following robots.txt is optional, not mandatory, and if there’s a spider out there that fancies ignoring it then it can and will. Indeed, some rogue spiders may even look for things that are expressly disallowed and then try to find ways to crawl them on the basis they may be more interesting to them! If you have sensitive data you need to take steps to protect it, and that is outside the scope of this article. Phone me though, and I’ll try to help.
You can also try to stop webpages being indexed on a per-page basis if you wish, when the bot gets there, by including a special instruction in the page’s meta-data, up in the HEAD where human’s don’t see it. It looks like this: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
Sounds complex? It can be, just like robots.txt, especially if you get it wrong, but 99% of webmasters get by without knowing about things like this.
Finally it’s important to realise that just because a spider has crawled your website (i.e. wandered around and taken a look at the contents) it doesn’t mean that it will appear in that search engine’s index (a decision made later) let alone be retrieved in the SERPs (search engine results pages – i.e. what people see after typing in their query). And this of course is what the vast majority of website owners want: to be found.
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