Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Content scraping: Someone built a site from content scraped off my blog

17th May UPDATE:

The person identified in this post has now been in touch with me and explained that the issue was not caused by them directly, but a web-designer, who was apparently using my content on this person’s site, without the person being aware.  In view of this and the damage it would cause to this person’s reputation (and because I am a very nice guy) I have removed the mentions of this person’s name from the post and the 2 images, which showed how a replica of this blog was made using my content.

I recently had someone build a whole site, from content they scraped from this blog!  So, I thought I would talk a little about content scraping and show you what it looks like, (literally, there are pictures so make sure you have images turned on if you read this post via email!)

Content scraping

Content scraping is what happens when someone takes content from your site, without permission, and uses it to populate their sites; often claiming they wrote it.  Content scrapers are being encouraged to continue, because search engines have still not figured out how to block those sites from their search results.  So, they populate a site filled with other peoples content and then use that content to attract traffic, which they use to sell ads and in some cases, infect visitors with malware.

I have a LOT of sites who use my content every day, without attribution.  The example below, called (name removed), is something different though.  They not only scraped my blog posts, without naming me as the author, they also scraped my pages, including the page that sells my services, my audio program and my “Top Marketing Tips” page, see image below:

Images removed:

Here’s my original. See below:

Before I continue, I would like to point out that I tried to speak with “name removedt” last week but only managed to get through to one of their colleagues.  They are now aware of the site.  I left my contact details, however, name removed has not contacted me back. (see update at head of post!)

It seems that this example is not a regular scraping exercise to sell ads, but rather an attempt to build an entire site with my content, which I assume will then be sold to someone as a business opportunity.  They may decide to keep it and add advertisements later, of course.

Extremely common

In reality, there is not a great deal you can do.  In the above example, I am based in the UK and the site is hosted in The United States.  This means you are dealing with international law.  Other sites using my stuff without attribution are hosted all over the world.

You can contact the company hosting the site and ask them to remove it.  Past experience suggests this is almost always a long-winded waste of time, as the hosting company either refuses to do anything, or the site is simply moved to another host.  Equally, it’s hard to identify who is behind content scraping, as they usually steal someone’s identity, which I think has happened with the example above.  I don’t believe name removed had anything to do with this.

NB: I will update this post if name removed responds!

Content scraping tip: Insert links

The reason I see so many of these scrapers using my work, is that I have at least 1 link in every post I write, which points back to this blog.  As soon as my work is scraped and then published, I get a notification of their link.  I found this to be more immediate and a lot more accurate than setting up Google alerts.

Some scrapers have my posts live on their blogs within 5 minutes of me publishing them.  The reason it’s so fast, is that they usually do the whole thing using software.  As soon as one of my posts reaches their RSS feed, it’s published on their blog as a post.

Attribution

All the content on this site is licensed under creative commons.  In other words, you are VERY WELCOME to use my posts on your site or in your newsletters, so long as you attribute them to me under the terms of that license.  Most sites that use my content do this.  Probably 99%.  In such cases, I actually benefit from them sharing my work.  They allow me to reach new people, whilst being able to share something they found useful with their readers.  Win-win.

Google has recently claimed to be cracking down on scraped content, so that it no longer ranks as highly in their search results.  The hope is that this will make it unattractive for people to scrape content.  It remains to be seen if this will have any positive impact.  Certainly I am seeing no drop in the number of scraper sites that use my work each day.

What are your experiences or opinions?

Do you know of any effective strategies for dealing with content scraping, which you would like to share?  Do sites scrape your content?

Please share your thoughts!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

How to grow a great business and a profitable future

If one of your competitors were to take a look at your marketing plans right now, how worried would they be?

I often speak with small business owners, who have no real plan or strategy for the development of their marketing.  They only really think of marketing when something has gone wrong, (like losing a client) or they are suddenly concerned by a drop in business.  If they treated their cars like that, they would never service them and only visit a garage when there was already an expensive problem.

That’s a great way to blow a ton of money, on a car that will pretty soon end up on the scrap heap.  It’s also a pretty stupid approach to business development and marketing!

In my experience, and I have worked with thousands of business owners since starting my own business 16 years ago, many small business owners spend more time planning their annual week in the sun, than they spend planning the year ahead for their business.  They carefully shop around for a great flight deal.  They invest in weather appropriate clothing, so they look and feel great.  They scout out the best restaurants.  They research the area where they will be staying.  They do this willingly and actually enjoy it too.

Net result: They have a GREAT time during their holiday, enjoying lots of truly memorable experiences.  This is followed by 51 weeks of frustration, working hard in a business that’s making little progress, because of their lack of planning!

I love people who have a good work ethic.  But working hard without a plan is a waste of your time.  It’s pointless.

Start with the end in mind

Think about what you want to achieve with your marketing.  For example:

  • What do you want your business to look like in 12 months, 3 years or 5 years?
  • What type of clients or customers do you want to work with?
  • What kind of income do you want from the business?
  • How many hours do you want to be working each week?

Is your current marketing taking you toward what you want to achieve?  If it isn’t, stop!  Stop immediately and review everything you do in order to generate business.  Then ruthlessly question the effectiveness (actual results) of each element of your marketing.  Replace what isn’t working, with more effective alternatives. Whatever you do, don’t be like the guy who is pissed off with the performance of his business, yet continues to keep on the same ineffective loop.  Rowing really hard in the wrong direction, still won’t get you closer to where you want to be.  It takes you further away.

There are thousands of free marketing ideas for you here on the blog, PLUS some great new ideas here on my NEW site too.

If you don’t like the direction your business is heading in right now, change it.  Don’t complain and stay the same. YOU are the driver!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: DC House Grooves

What everyone ought to know about being comfortable

How comfortable are you right now, in relation to your business?  In my experience, the majority of small business owners are either VERY comfortable or comfortable.

Sure, most of them will say, that they would like more money, better sales figures, higher profits and revenues, but deep down, they have become comfortable with things as they are.  They have adapted their aspirations down, so that it fits their income ceiling.  It’s not what they wanted originally, but over time it has become comfortable enough for them to lack the motivation required to achieve the quality of life they DID want.

This comfort is usually only broken, when something big suddenly happens.  Maybe they lose a major client, suffer an illness or see a sudden slump in business.  This then gets them focused on GROWING their business again, rather than being comfortable.

Then I get a call

People tend to call me for help in 1 of the following 2 scenarios:

  1. Business is fine, but they want to achieve more.  They want to take their business to the next level.  They want the freedom to live where they want to live, drive what they want to drive.  These people are never comfortable and they use their high standards to ensure that they keep on growing.  Ironically, they are what other people call “comfortably off” because they tend to be extremely successful and wealthy.
  2. They neglected to invest the time or money required to grow their business and after years of being “comfortable” achieving very little, they suddenly realise they are 6 months away from going broke, if they carry on as they are.  The sudden realisation of how serious their situation is, motivated them to actually do something proactive to grow their business, so they called me.

There is a 3rd scenario, but these guys don’t call me.  These small business owners are watching their business under-perform and doing nothing intelligent to improve things.  They just do more of what didn’t work, copying the same mistakes and making the same errors.  The marketplace has a habit of punishing complacency.  As a result, we see the majority of small businesses fail.

The message behind this post, is to do something NOW, to make things better.  Don’t wait for some commercial disaster to motivate you to stop settling for less than you want from life!

Increase your results, don’t lower your expectations

If your lifestyle is still not what you wanted it to be when you started your business, stop lowering your expectations to fit your results.  Improve your results to match your initial goals and dreams.  If your business has reached a plateau, where no matter what you do you can’t seem to break beyond a certain income or turnover, fix it!

Don’t just keep on doing more of the same. 

If you are cutting down the wrong tree, no matter how hard you work at chopping that tree down, it’s still the wrong tree.

Find out what’s blocking you from achieving what you want and learn what you need to do to fix it.  I have spoken to people and received heartbreaking emails from people, who decided to carry on going around in circles until the inevitable happened.  It’s horrible.

I want better for you!

My wish for you

I want you to see the realisation of your dreams.  I want you to be able to have the rewards that your hard work deserves.  I want you to have the freedom of choice, that a successful business offers you.

Most of all, I want you to build a wall of financial security around you and your family, that NOTHING can break!

My promise to you, is that I will continue to do everything I can, to help those of you with the spirit to follow your dreams.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

If you don’t use these 2 forms of marketing now, you’ll hate yourself later!

Here’s a quick marketing tip for you:  Did you know that when confronted with a number of purchasing choices, if the potential purchaser is only familiar with one of the options, they are massively more likely to buy it?

Well, it’s true!

That feeling of familiarity is enough to make that purchase feel less of a risk, than buying a completely unknown alternative.  So, it makes very good business sense, to give visibility to your brand’s image.

Brand advertising and Direct Response advertising

The above example is often achieved using brand advertising. Brand advertising is what you see, every time you watch a TV commercial.  A product or service is presented in a great light, but with no obvious call to action.  They simply want to build familiarity of the brand and make you feel good about it.  It’s a model that generates billions in sales every year.

Then there’s direct response advertising. You see examples of this, every time you watch an infomercial.  Unlike a typical commercial, they not only show the product, but keep asking you to buy it.  They offer you toll free numbers and show you all the payment options they have.  The whole deal is done via the infomercial and it’s a very powerful way to make sales.

Direct response marketing is also the only kind of marketing you will hear most Internet based marketers mention.  Despite all the facts that suggest the opposite, it’s fashionable to say that brand marketing is dead and a waste of your time.

Brand marketing is not dead

This is why companies like Nike pay professional sports people to wear their products.  Does anyone actually think companies like Apple or Chanel are marketed by morons?  These guys are masters of brand marketing / advertising and they use it to generate millions of sales.

Yes, every business should use direct response marketing, but this is not a binary decision! It’s not one kind of marketing or the other.  You can use them both, so long as you use them correctly.  You can invest in some smart brand awareness AND get all that direct response marketing goodness too.  A retail outlet can use their valuable window space, to reinforce their brand and garner familiarity, as people walk past and drive by their shopfront every day, without dropping every other form of marketing.

Brand advertising in small businesses

There are 3 people who work in my local coffee shop, who each have the new Samsung Galaxy S.  They work different shifts and hardly see each other.  They are not friends and their ages range from around 17 to about 50.  None of them went for an iPhone or a different Andriod phone or a Windows phone.  They ALSO bought their identical phones from the exact same shop; even though it was considerably more expensive than buying their phone online.  The shop?  It’s the small, independent phone shop directly opposite where they work 8 hours a day.  The one that had a huge Galaxy S banner in it’s window for months.

Yes, it could be a total coincidence, that 3 people of differing generations would all go for the same, relatively expensive smart phone.  BUT it’s also very possible that it was not coincidence at all, but just another example of what marketing professionals see all the time; people picking the option that’s most familiar.  They saw that banner hundreds of times a day, consciously and unconsciously.

Through that simple, inexpensive piece of brand advertising, the small, independent phone store created a situation for the coffee shop staff, where:

  • They became familiar with the name of one particular phone model.
  • They became familiar with the look of one particular phone model.
  • They associated both of those to that particular store, which is where all 3 bought their phone.

Marketing fashions

I’ve been in marketing for almost 25 years and in that time, I’ve seen a number of fashions come and go.  The thing is, the fundamentals of marketing and the principles of influence are not part of fashion.  They are part of human behaviour.  The key motivators are the same today, as they were when I was working in London in the 1980’s, as a hungry marketing exec, learning directly from people who worked alongside the best of the best, like the great David Ogilvy.

Success leaves clues!

Whilst we associate brand advertising with BIG companies, as we saw in the phone store example, elements can be successfully ported across to small business.  By keeping YOUR brand, logo / name in front of your prospective clients, you help to make them feel familiar with you.  Of course, if you also help the marketplace to feel good or positive toward your business, you can increase the impact of your marketing enormously.  This is yet another reason for you to develop a content marketing strategy for your business.

The bottom line: Marketing your business is not a binary decision.  You should include whatever is most likely to deliver the best results for you, regardless of the fashions of the day.

BTW: How many of you got the picture reference? :)

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Image: Patrick Hoesly

Special Announcement: It’s here!

Today sees the launch of my brand new website, dedicated exclusively to Internet marketing.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to this site and will be of interest to you, if you want to learn how to use online marketing as a way to attract more clients, customers, inquiries or sales.

There will be new, unique content added to the site all the time, so take a look and remember to subscribe if you don’t want to miss anything.  This additional, free marketing resource, is designed to provide you with even more practical and powerful marketing advice.

I am REALLY excited to have this opportunity to be of further service to you and your business.  Of course, if you think the site will be of interest to your friends, please feel free to share it with them too.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Marketing copywriting: The power of reasons

Today, I thought I would share a very quick, yet very powerful copywriting idea with you.  It’s all about the power of reasons and it can dramatically improve your copywriting results!

The power of reasons

business development ideasIf you give someone a request, it has been proven time and again that they are massively more likely to comply, if you give them a reason.  By the way, Brian Clark covers this as part of this excellent persuasive writing post on copyblogger.

As you might expect, if you give people a GREAT reason to do something, there’s a good chance they will do it.  However, even if you give them a relatively weak reason, they are still more likely to take action, than if you give a request, with no reason.  In other words, from a conversion perspective, it’s best to explain WHY you want someone to do something, rather than just ask them.

Here’s an example of what I mean.  Imagine you want people to to subscribe to your newsletter.  You would almost certainly get a significantly better response by offering them a reason to subscribe, rather than just asking them to.  Look at the following 2 requests:

Subscribe to our newsletter today.

Or

Subscribe to our newsletter today, for the latest news, information and special offers.

So, whenever you ask your readers to do something, give them a reason.  The better the reason, the more likely they are to proceed.  If you want to show your friends how helpful, wise (and cool) you are, share this post with them!

…see what I did there ;)

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Is fluff killing your business?

content marketing, copy writing, marketing

Fluff is your enemy! The kind of fluff I am referring to here is the overly long copywriting, which takes your powerful marketing message and dilutes it into something weak and uninspiring.

To be or not to be?

When I started studying copywriting, back in the 1980’s, one of the first lessons I learned was the importance of brevity.

Think about it: Shakespeare spent decades, writing some of the best known works in history. Yet, his most famous quote contains just 6 words. None of the words have more than 3 letters:

“To be or not to be.”

Short. Powerful. Easy to remember. Perfect!

As a copywriter, I know that the sooner I can make a point, the more likely it is that people will read it. People have never been busier. They value brevity. They lack the time or patience to wade through acres of vague, pedestrian copy.

If I can get the value of a 1000 word blog post or article into just 300 words, I know I have achieved something. I will have taken 1000 words worth of value and concentrated them into a more powerful, compelling 300 word message.

How can fluff kill your business?

Most small business marketing has horribly poor conversion rates. It’s too wordy. It often rambles and usually tries to achieve too many different things at once.

In order for you to generate inquiries or sales, your marketing copy must motivate people to take some kind of action; buy from you, call you, click a link, email you, subscribe to your newsletter, etc.

If you want to see an immediate, measurable improvement in your marketing response rates, de-fluff your copy. Make each piece of content direct the reader to do one thing. Don’t deviate.

The power of clear, focused marketing

I know, with 98% certainty, that you are a business owner or entrepreneur. No, I can’t see you from here, but that’s who Jim’s Marketing Blog is aimed at. As a result, I have a highly targeted readership.

In short: Embrace brevity. Focus each message on just one desired outcome. Know your target audience and write exclusively for them.

See how easily you can increase the quality and quantity of your copywriting

If you find it a struggle sometimes, to produce great written content, today’s post is just for you!

Before launching this blog, I used to write a newsletter.  The newsletter was published just twice a month and I often struggled to find something to write!

Compare that to today.

As well as blogging here 5 or 6 times a week, over the past 2 weeks I have also written over a dozen posts for my new Internet Marketing site, which launches on Monday.  This is in addition to posting a few times on my thunky site and replying to hundreds of comments.

So, what changed?

I decided to start blogging here a minimum of 5 times a week.  Initially, it was challenging.  Then, as I wrote more and more posts, it became easier and easier.  Posts that used to take an hour to write were written in 30 minutes.  Ideas for new posts came regularly throughout the day.  Just as importantly, I found that the quality of my writing also improved.  I saw posts getting shared more often and more people subscribing to the site.

Priming the water pump

It was a little like priming an old style water pump.  It took some work to get the flow started, but once it started flowing, it was easy to just crank the handle whenever I needed to write something.

If you genuinely want to become a better and more prolific content producer, here’s a simple suggestion.  Set yourself a target to write 10 posts or articles, over the next 10 days.  This will focus your mind on writing and hopefully, help you learn how to write when you don’t actually “feel” that everything is perfect.  The strive for perfection kills creativity and productivity.  This 10 day period is also long enough to help you get into the habit of capturing and recording your ideas, so you never have to start with a blank screen and no direction / inspiration.

Before you know it, you will have a stockpile of great content, just waiting to be published!

Your tips

Do you have any tips, to help people create more great content?  If you do, please share them with us!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Augapfel

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