Tools


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You have information to share. Wonderful and insightful knowledge about your business and changing industry. You are an expert. You are smart, alert, and creative when dealing with change. With RSS you can share that knowledge with the world 24/7. According to the a recent article by RISMedia, RSS allows you to become the information source and the authority of your profession, virtually distributing it to the desktop of the very people you want to reach.

In the past year “RSS Feed” has become a very popular buzz word in Internet marketing. Questions like “What is RSS?” and “Why do I need RSS?” are commonly heard at industry conferences and coffee shops around the world.

What is RSS?

Really – Simple – Syndication.

RSS may be defined as being simple, yet the concept and application of RSS is anything but simple. An RSS feed at the most basic concept level collects content on the Web and categorizes it into a simple structure so that another person can easily download the content and be notified of when it is updated.

The technology can be used for many purposes:

– Product information
– Opinion and observation articles
– Business and professional tips
– Travel logs
– Press releases
– Personal and professional journals

As a business owner, RSS gives you many advantages in distributing your information online and promoting it to the right demographic.

Easier Distribution: RSS doesn’t have the many pitfalls of mail or e-mail marketing. There are no permission lists or databases to maintain. Everyone subscribes by choice and has complete control over the distribution of your information to them.

Control of Information: RSS supports the ability of teaser paragraphs and introductory information. You don’t need to send out everything through RSS- which allows you to include links to other information, lead generation forms, and industry partner information that is hard to squeeze into one communication.

“Pull” or demand marketing, rather than PUSH: Subscribers are in complete control. They don’t endlessly worry at six o’clock that they are going to get a telemarketing call interrupting personal time. If they choose- they can get more information or simply cancel the subscription. Giving control of this process increases the quality of distribution channel and strengthens the relationship.

Link-building, traffic, and promotion: everyone wants more traffic and eyes viewing their site information. By including links within articles going out on RSS feeds, a percentage of readers will be pulled back to the main site and source of the information. This means that one newsletter distributed via RSS could result in a reader flipping through ten pages of your site: which means more education, better branding, and a possibility of having a new client.

Up-to-date content: One of the main reasons that RSS (which is supported by blogs, community sites, and other social media) has gained popularity is that users have learned that 95% of the content is recent information. Rather than read about last weeks news, RSS subscribers are reading today’s news. If you compared it- it is just like have the nightly news on your desktop, laptop, or mobile phone 24 / 7 on demand.

Search Engine Marketing with RSS

Before you run out and get a RSS feed setup on your site, understand a critical item in having one. The words you choose for your RSS feed name, description, and source files are very important.

If you are a real estate broker, you probably know that having a domain for your site such as “newyorkrealestate.com” will drive traffic to a New York real estate office. The same is true of RSS feeds.

When naming the file structure of your RSS feed-don’t choose something like “tomsdailynewsartcles,” but choose a detailed three to four keyword phrase for your feed. It will help you rank for those key phrases. If you have several areas of content, more strategic uses of search marketing are possible by using multiple RSS feeds for your search marketing goals.

Getting People to Subscribe to a Feed

Feeds should be prominently displayed on your site with a call to action to subscribe. Users can use many different methods to read your feed, including built-in services in an Internet browser, e-mail application, or mobile phone. As your audience subscribes to the various RSS feeds on your site, those subscribers help add to the overall recognition and strength of how your site produces natural, organic traffic through multiple sources. An important call to action on any site, newsletter, or feed is to encourage current readers to share the information and articles with like-minded friends and associates. Full Story

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So you want to buy a place of your own but can’t figure out how to pull together the necessary cash and financing? If you’re willing to think creatively, MSNMoney offers us seven offbeat options for buying your first home:

  1.  The Fixer Upgrade – When you can’t afford what you want, look for what you can afford and use it as a stepping stone.
  2. The Shared Load – If buying your own property is prohibitive, consider buying into a dwelling with shared ownership. There are several options here, with varying levels of complexity and commitment. One of the most common uses a legal form of ownership called “tenants in common.”
  3. The Friendly Option – If you don’t want the legal hassle of setting up a TIC, it’s possible to buy a property with a friend you trust, sharing the mortgage and the title. This form of ownership is called joint tenancy, and it’s the way most married couples hold property.
  4. The Instant Neighborhood – Cohousing has its origins in Europe and is practically like buying a neighborhood along with your house. Residents own one of a group of small homes clustered together and share ownership of the land.
  5. The Parental Plan – Saving enough for a down payment usually requires some kind of a sacrifice, so don’t rule out living with family.
  6. The No-Money-Down Hail Mary – It can be tough to save enough cash for a down payment, but in certain circumstances you can finance your way around it.
  7. The Susu Super-Saver – This simple saving strategy goes by different names in different communities, but the method is the same. Members of a “susu” contribute a fixed amount each week or month for a certain period (e.g. $200 a month for 10 months). At regular intervals, one member gets a specified payout in cash.  

Read the full story for examples, pros, and cons of each of these offbeat options 😉 

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In December and earlier this month we wrote about four US companies selling what we called eco-starter kits. Like gift baskets filled with cheese and fruit, the kits contain an assortment of items, all with a ‘green’ twist: reusable water bottles and grocery bags, energy-saving light bulbs and eco-friendly cleaning products. All of the kits carry an implied message, namely that a few changes in our individual buying habits can make a significant difference in our impact on the earth. Ideally, the kits’ users will continue to buy the eco-friendly products they contain, nicely multiplying the planet-saving impact.

Now, the folks at Springwise have spotted one in the United Kingdom, too, and by a brand they’ve covered before. Back in in March 2006, they wrote about greentomatocars, an earth-friendly car service that exclusively uses fuel-miserly Toyota Prius hybrids, brightly decorated with green tomato designs. The firm’s greentomato eco-kits sell for GBP 9.99, in keeping with the founders’ philosophy that green products should be competitive in price and quality with similar products on the market.

Is greentomato building a multi-product, Virgin Group-like brand around its catchy name and eco-friendly philosophy? Perhaps!

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Finding sustainable and affordable ways to power the world is clearly a substantial and increasingly urgent challenge. And according to Springwise, Dutch startup Qurrent is taking the notion a step further with technology to enable neighborhood-wide energy networks.

Because of fluctuating patterns of consumption, homes with wind and solar energy generators can find themselves with surplus energy at some times of the day but not enough at others. Surplus energy typically gets sold back to the main grid, but as much as 30 percent of it gets lost along the way, according to EcoGeek. When a group of homes work together to manage their collective energy generation and use, on the other hand, higher levels of demand in one home can be matched with surpluses in others, thus evening out the group’s overall consumption and minimizing the amount that must be drawn from the main grid. Participating homes essentially form a “mini-grid” that shares energy internally before exchanging any with the main grid, thereby minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency.

To make it all happen, Qurrent provides a device for each participating house known as a Qbox. Each linked to a central Qserver, the Qboxes in the network monitor energy flows in each home and optimize them for maximum network-wide efficiency. They share capacities as needed among neighbours, and can also autonomously turn on devices such as washing machines and dryers so that they are run at the optimal time. A consumer could tell their Qbox that they want their laundry done by 6 p.m. and that it will take roughly 1.5 hours, for example. They can then go to work and the Qbox will decide when is the best time to run it, taking into account their production profiles and energy rates as well as those of their neighbors.

Qurrent won the 2007 Picnic Green Challenge for the best marketable green idea that could be developed and sold to consumers within two years. Along with the award came a EUR 500,000 prize, which reportedly will be used to pilot-test the concept in a Netherlands neighborhood.

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(This excerpt is just the beginning. Click on “Full Story” below to read on.) 

Do you need a basic introduction about search engine optimization (SEO)? RISMedia’s recent article is an introduction to being able to understand conversations about SEO, Spyders, Black Hat, and a variety of buzz words used by online marketers.

Why is everyone so eager to be on search engines?

In 2007, advertisers spent billions of dollars on search engine marketing. Projections for search engine marketing efforts are slated at over $12 billion dollars by 2010, with some statistics going as high as $25 billion. The online market place is constantly shifting and evolving, producing large amounts of targeted traffic for various types of businesses that know how to convert visitors into clients.

In 2006- Forrester Research released these basic statistics about search traffic:

– 93% of all Internet traffic is generated from Internet search engines
– 89% of them are first-time visitors
– 99% of Internet searchers do not search beyond the top 30 results
– 97% of them never look beyond the top three results
– Top 10 positions receive 78% more traffic than those in positions 11-30
– 65% of online revenue is generated from Web sites in the top three positions on search engine results pages (SERPs)
– 93% of global consumers use search engines to find Web sites
– 76.7% of Google users use the natural search links (organic unpaid listings)

What is search engine optimization (SEO) and why is it important?

SEO is the process of analyzing elements on a site so that the code maximizes the combinations of keywords contained on the site when a search engine looks at it. While text elements are visible to a human eye, dozens of pieces of code within a site are also important to showing up for specific keywords: this includes structure, HTML code, directories, images and content on the site. The selection of the keywords a site shows up for is radically important to a business, as the competitiveness and importance of those keywords could potentially send thousands of viewers a day to a site.

What is search engine marketing (SEM) and why is it important?

SEM is the understanding of how a target site relates to other sites on the Web. Some SEO techniques allow a site to show up for relatively low competition keywords, but as the number of sites on a given keyword becomes more competitive, SEM allows a business to coordinate dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of sites to increase the relevancy of how a search engine views it. SEM can also include pay per click (PPC) or unpaid organic results.

What is the primary difference between SEO and SEM?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is primarily done with code work on a target site. It includes images, text, and information on the site.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is primarily done with work not on the site. It includes link-building, business partnerships, and other online marketing efforts. Full Story

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According to the folks over at Springwise, one day, many new full-sized homes may resemble the Power House. The $149.95 miniature model from science-kit distributor Thames & Kosmos comes with a working green house, solar panels, a wind mill and a desalinization system. The kit’s aim: teach children what it’s like to live off the grid, and get them (and their parents) to “consider a life without fossil fuel.” To make the experience more realistic, the user manual incorporates a storyline about high-tech pioneers inhabiting a small island who must make use of limited resources to survive. The 70 experiments and 20 building projects that form part of the kit mimic the tasks the kit’s fictional pioneers must perform.

As environmental awareness becomes a dominant theme, it’s no surprise that green-tech learning toys such as the Power House are emerging. One popular example: in 2006, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, a Singapore-based maker of hydrogen fuel cells for consumer products, debuted the $115 H-racer, a fuel-cell powered toy car that comes with a solar-powered hydrogen generating station and needs only water to run. The H-racer won kudos from Time and BusinessWeek, and spawned a number of competitors. Full Story

Here’s a list of our favorite real estate-related websites and services (in no particular order) that we came across in 2007:

And here’s looking forward to a great 2008!!! 🙂

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