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Win 1,700 Visitors by Reviewing

Posted By Skellie 12th of February 2008 Case Studies 0 Comments

This week’s community consultation of offers you another chance to boost your blog. Leave a helpful review with some non-intuitive points in your comment and you could win a stampede of 1,700 StumbleUpon users to your favorite post. If your content is good, those 1,700 visitors could grow into a much bigger traffic snowball as votes for your content pile up.

What we’re looking for: a thorough review of the blog answering all the questions below and containing some non-intuitive advice. That’s all you’ve got to do to be in the running. There will be only one winner.

The blog’s owner, Tim, describes the blog like this: aims to help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their business in today’s online marketplace. It’s co-authored by Tim Paulino and Brandi Cummings, both of which have degrees of expertise in different aspects of Internet marketing. Tim’s expertise is with website design and programming and writes on subjects such as Website Architecture, Search Engine Marketing, Pay-Per-Click and various Internet Marketing Trends. Brandi’s expertise is with content development and writes about Article Marketing, Social Networking, Press Releases and Business Blogging.

As authors, our goal is to connect with our target audience and establish ourselves as “experts” in what we write about. We don’t claim to be know-it-alls, but we do aim to be honest in our advice and write in a way that is helpful to our audience.

The topics your review should touch upon are:

  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. Good luck!

  • Barring the mug shots, there are no graphics on the front page. Then there’s that footer! Ugh, ugh, ugh – is that from a sponsored theme with just one too many (make that 101 too many!) sponsors.

    I feel the first part of the tag line, “Internet marketing for small business.”, is missing something – small business what? Or does it say that by internet marketing you’ll end up with a small-sized business?

    On the Contact page “possibily” is spelt wrongly. I spotted a number of other minor typo spelling mistakes on other pages.

    On the Archives page, or somewhere else, there needs to be some sort of “Top Stories” or “Best Stories”, I feel.

    I felt the whole content was a bit flat, quite frankly. It feels more of a chatty blog than a marketing blog.

  • For me the main clanger with the site was its colour scheme – Navy blue throughout is nearly as dull as beige and counter-intuitive for a blog focused on business marketing.

    I also second the comment on typos and there’s also some obvious grammar issues in some posts.

  • Dhaval Jani


    Site is pretty good… nice clean template. This is what I would change if I could…

    – Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.

    1) I personally prefer bold fonts in navigation in this case the links for categories (Marketme Topics)
    2) On the contact page there is only the contact form. I think users would expect more information atleast email address and name of person if you cant put the mailing address
    3) Even about me page doesnt show an email address to reach either of the two founders
    4) Links to their other websites(our websites) is in the same area with other links… best place to cross link to your sister sites is in the bottom of the page… usually if people are interested to know about the company, they scroll to see the designer info etc..
    5) Featured Post / Latest post with a picture / thumbnail on the homepage or atleast a different background shade to make it noticeable and gets user to click and open it..
    6) Site looks too plain… adding some logos may be to their own websites as links?

    – Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?

    1) Well for the content part – as the blogger is providing internet marketing tips for small business, they can use the advantage of tax season and provide some tips or links for forms and other info related to Government Tax Info website ( if in usa)
    2) write post based on current market and somehow relate with what the blogger wants to say… best example Darren would write about spending time at mall and relate with the tips about blogging… in this case they could pickup anything say yahoo Microsoft deal…(is it right for a giant to eat up smaller businesses?)

    – Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?

    1) offer freebies – write a small 5 page(pdf) must have list or a checklist for marketing business and offer free download
    2) Make post more interesting or leave an open space for users to comment and discuss… create interest by putting question in the end or writing something that users might not agree… If I comment on something, I go back and check that blog later to see what other people think about the same topic and did anyone notice my comment?
    3) User forums and yahoo answers to answer the questions and in the reference link, put your blogs address… you will draw users and have link to your blog from a site with higher pagerank. Also good for SEO(below)

    SEO — can you see areas for improvement?

    1) More tags and effective post titles? Also keep on commenting on busy sites like Problogger and if its relevant, you can leave your link or atleast your name would be clickable by your link…?
    2) Get a domain like or something with keywords and forward it to your site…

    – Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

    1) First the above mention things needs to be taken care of before thinking about monetization… hehe sorry
    2) Another ad placement just below the post? I see the blogger already uses widget… but may be a recommended product list (
    ) below the end of post would be a good opportunity…

    Well hope you like my review… I might have missed some stuff but this is what I can find now…

    Dhaval Jani

    PS – When I started writing the comment, there were no comments before me I m sure by the time i hit submit there would be many of them before me haha

  • – Tagline’s way too long. I ended up not reading it.
    – Leave the about stuff for the About page
    – Not sure if this blog is about how to blog better or sell products online. Big difference.
    – No direct contact? It’s not like they’re getting tons of hits a day like ProBlogger! *wink*

  • So here’s my “thorough review of the blog answering all the questions below and containing some non-intuitive advice” – for!

    • Design
    I believe the design could be improved. Not necessarily that it’s bad, just that there’s enough and more room for imporovement. I believe a less-simple, a bit worked out, theme would do, with a significantly attractive header image and also, highlighting your widgets a bit. By highlighting, I mean, making it look different than the other content. If not – I believe – it just gets lost in the detail.
    I also believe the use of a bottom pane (like problogger) would be helpful to display your Most popular posts, and some details about your company (just to show people how successful you are) – that would be awesome.
    You might want to improve the ‘our sites’ widget with a thumbnail of each, if possible. That will increase their spot-ability.

    • Content
    Tim, honestly I think you’re that doing a good job with the content. Constructive, readable and enjoyable articles with god headlines. And the usage of the image in every post, to give what you are talking about in a nutshell – that’s a good approach to make your blog more human. But I believe you could use some more formatting in your posts, to avoid the clutter. And that’s the main reason why I subscribed to your blog right now!

    • Promotion
    Why don’t you use the “Subscribe to my FEED and get a FREE E-book” approach? I believe you’ve got enough and more experience to write a useful concise e-book about Online Marketing and who wouldn’t like an e-book about online marketing? This will bring so many loyal readers in. And also, I’ve seen you are using BlogRush. Why not use BlogBurst also? Your blog is obviously their material!

    • SEO
    Some linkbaiting can never hurt. ProBlogger has got great articles on this. I see your PageRank is 5. If you can get it to a +1 or +2, you will enjoy more search engine traffic as this is a topic many people look up for. And I like your approach of promoting your blog as ‘Internet Marketing for Small Businesses’. Being specific always, gets you there.

    • Monetization
    Well, as your blog lacks a bit of content at this moment, a lot of monetization methods will be not available, rather than being missed. But you might want to consider simple adsense spots, featured Internet Marketing Tools from affiliate networks and with the growth of your FEED, Feed monetization.
    Of course, through the contacts you built as a CEO, try selling private ad spots also. If exploited efficiently – this will generate more revenue than anything else.

    Good luck with everything Tim – will be watching you!

  • The theme is a little plain. Having images would improve it a lot. There is just a wall of text and its unwelcoming. The colors are plain. You should go to a color website and pick out a pallet. The header should be more attractive by adding empty space.

    Your footer needs a lot of work. I’m not sure what you have down there. Random links? When visitors reach the end of the page, they should be directed to other great posts and resources in a clean manner.

    Your content is plain. It’s all the same font, size, and style. You should highlight major points and focus on points. Take a look at Zen Habits on how they focus on key points.

    Your sidebar also blends in with the content. It would be better if they we separated some how.

    Comments really don’t like the “human checker.” You should use spam blocking script instead of an extra form to block comments.

    I’d promote the blog by word of mouth with clients. Guest Posting on other blogs is another good option.

    At the top of each post you have the title of the post twice.

  • I think the design of (nice domain) is very pleasing to the eye. the light blue colour and lots of white space make it a non-cluttered website to navigate, and content is easy to find. One thing I would change is the length of the preview text on the blog posts. I would consider making them slightly longer, giving the user a little more of a taster, helping her decide whether to plunge into the full post or not. I would also consider making the rss & email signup options slightly larger, or more easy to find. they blend in a little too much, and it would be quite easy for a user to miss them.

    In the content department, whilst there is still relatively little content in comparison to some of the larger blogs around, I note that the content is of a very high standard. You can see that there is somebody with a lot of experience writing the posts, and I can see that the site will do well, as will the content in the social media regardless of viral posts or not.

    There are many known ways to promote a blog, too many to mention, but one I think might work very well with this type of website, is generally being active in the webmaster community. Webmasters love this type of content, content that will help them make their websites more successful, I think if you were to be active amongst forums, social media, blogs, comments and other similar methods, this site would generate a steady and consistent flow of visitors. Another good marketing method I have found personally is the traffic you can purchase from stumble by their advertiser program at $0.05 per visitor. that works well for me and I’m a blog with similar content.

    SEO – This area so far looks pretty good on the site however id consider not using the post names as the urls. I would make use of the slug function of wordpress (if that’s their blogging platform) and choose some strategic keywords as the url for each post. Whilst full post names are ok in terms of SEO, I think a customised and keyword-rich url makes all the difference in search engine rankings.

    Monetization again looks like they have it well covered on this site, I think they could make use of the various pluggin’s available around on the internet to insert some text links into their rss feeds, I think another way they could bring in some more cash is by offering a post sponsoring service. for example, somebody could purchase or sponsor a specific post permanently for a one-off cost, this needn’t interrupt the design or layout of the post, but could just include one text link at the top of bottom of the post. I don’t see this service in use at many blogs, but I think it’s one where you could make some substantial money, especially as their website already has a good readership, high page rank, and highly targeted content/users.

    All in all, the website is well laid out, pleasing to the eye, the content is of high value, SEO looks pretty much taken care of, and lastly, monetization which also looks good, so in conclusion; a great website!!

  • I think the layout is a bit barren. The blue and white is *nice*, but there is nothing eye catching on the site. I’m finding that I click on and my eyes just slide around and go nowhere. Maybe adding a contrasting colour for the headlines would help with that?

    I would love to see the header really stand out. As it is, it just looks like more text and like I said before, my eyes slide right past it.

    The snippets of text they offer on the front page isn’t quite enough to wet my appetite. I think doubling the amount of text would do wonders for their click-through rate, as would not stopping in the middle of a sentence. I don’t know whether I want to click through or not, because they haven’t finished what they were saying. It almost becomes too hard.

    It loads so fast (even on my dial up) and that is great.

    There looks to be very little monitization and only in a 300×300 block. My eyes aren’t drawn to them and actually for the first few page loads, I didn’t see them at all.

  • There’s a couple things I noticed about the site. For starters, I’d have at least one of your the entries in it’s entirety posted ahead of the excerpts. That way, it gives the site’s readers something to read right off the hop instead of having to click anything to get to some of the writing.

    Another thing I’d look at is maybe working on the site layout and making it a little bit more appealing and eye-catching. Right now, it seems a little plain. The site could definitely use a couple more graphics.

    Aside from that, the site seems fairly well put together.

  • I like the idea behind the blog and the purpose for the blog.

    Can the header change? I’m no expert on internet graphics and how to catch someone’s attention and all that, but there are way too many words in the top right part of the header, and, written in that plain text, it looks *bluh.* I think they’re trying to say too much in the header. They need something a little more catchy, like “Market your small business online today… and reap the benefits tomorrow….. we’ll show you how” – I don’t know. Something.

    I ditto the remarks about grammar and spelling. It’s a business blog. In the professional sphere, people expect professionals to have a good grasp on language.

    Many of the posts I read seemed forced, especially the ones with the “I’m-asking-a-question-at-the-end-of-the-post-to-try-to-get-you-to-comment” questions at the end. But I learned a lot reading some of the posts.

    Ditto the remark on the footer!

    And ditto the remarks on the color scheme. Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us? Something a little more snazzy and a little less uniform-ish might be nice.

    I like the wide side column, but perhaps the “our daily reading” and “websites” shared space could be split up. Chances are, our daily reading will get longer faster than the websites. It looks lopsided.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the site develops. I think it’s a clever name.

  • Here are my tw cents:

    DESIGN –
    Did anyone say spam site? The blue headings with a short exerpt underneath look a lot like those sites that give you trackbacks all the time because they are stealing your content. I think more graphics should be included on the front page to show each post is unique or spice it up by perhaps having a feature full length post on the front page.

    Secondly, get rid of the numbers next to the categories. When I see a site that has less than about 50 posts I just don’t listen to them as I don’t feel they have authority. If you get rid of them you “appear” bigger.

    Lastly, the blue, white and black scheme is boring. Everything is the same and therefore NOTHING STANDS OUT.

    I would love to see you apply your own teachings to a post you write and show how it grew your business. Sort of like a personal case study.

    SEO –
    CRITICAL problem. Your individual posts do not have indivudal meta information. There is a wordpress plugin that takes the first 20 words of each post instead of jsut the meta for your whole site. I could be wrong but I don’t think you are doing this now.

    CRITICAL ERROR TWO; you are not using any h2, h3 tags in your post! This is vital for good SE rankings.

    Hope this helps guys!

    Rt the fitess guy.

  • Design:
    Where are the visual hooks? Yes the blog is nice and light and airy, but all that white space is about to make me go blind. Tell me what’s important. Give me something that makes me go “ooo” and virtually possesses my mouse hand.

    How? Color! You can also bold some words so they stand out, or add pull quotes from the article in the teaser.

    All in all this really needs some nice contrast. Pick out your complimentary color and have fun with it. Make it pretty. Make me go oooo!

    There’s no problems with getting around the site, but honestly you need more above the fold appeal. Don’t just tell me what categories you have – show me some headlines. Honestly, “Website Architecture” doesn’t mean much to the average person. Giving them a few headlines might… make them go ooo. =) Consider making these headlines your popular headlines, and not just your most recent posts.

    You could also note the categories and tags in your teaser bites – that way I can get a feel for how you think things fit.
    Also, make the teaser get to the point quicker. Don’t be afraid to put all your cards on the table right from the beginning. I’d rather the surprise be spoiled than miss something important or waste my time. And it wouldn’t hurt to put the images in the teaser.

    That tagline has got to go – maybe something more along the lines of “Big Thinking for Small Business”

    Here’s some ideas –
    “Hot Trends Now in Social Media”
    “Top 10 Viral Campaigns”
    “Worst Marketing Ideas of All Time” – could be funny
    “Definitive Guide to Linkbaiting”
    “10 Best Business Blogs and How to Be Among Them”

    Your best bet is to infiltrate the online biz marketplace. Find some way to get into eBay, CraigsList, and other major “sell it” sites. Yahoo Answers and similar sites also has a pretty high professional population – answer questions there. Additionally, and most importantly, find the entrepreneurship forums and contribute to their community. You know the drill – don’t advertise yourself, give first, ask later.

    Your headlines are your biggest SEO bacon-bringer. You need your keywords there, big time. One way that gets it done well is having a regular addendum to titles of certain types. Such as “Are You Playing Hide and Seek With Your Customers?: SEO Tips” or something of the sort (I actually don’t know what the article is about because I don’t feel compelled to click it).

    Adsense? You could also link to relevant books on Amazon after each article, or even inside each article.

  • Jumping back into my day job role as web marketing strategist here is my feedback…

    Design — the blue and white coloring alone is rather generic, plain and is a common medical company theme. I hardly think it fits the subject material. Usability wise I think the layout is again generic, but functional. For a company providing thought leadership I’d expect more from the design and layout to reflect their industry leading expertise. The site has decent readability unfortunately there isn’t a lot of graphical elements to break up the article blurbs on the home page. Navigation wise I’d hope for more. The “home”, “about”, “contact” and “archives” buttons stand out while the Categories, what really is important to me as a reader, is buried in a sea of text. The lack of graphical elements to highlight information of central interest such as Categories diminishes the usability of the site.

    Content — I think the titles of the articles interesting enough, but not enough of the article shines through beyond the three lines of text to really pull me in. I think the teaser text layout/format could be improved.

    Promotion — I would recommend good old fashion detective work via Technorati to find blogs/bloggers discussing topics/questions related to the site content of marketme. This would allow the authors to seed an introduction to their site via blog comments. I’d also develop a Social Media Marketing (SMM) strategy to find well networked and vocal readers. Groups on Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc would be great areas to introduce viewers/readers to the authors and their thoughts on topics of relevance.

    SEO — The large text tag light to the right of the site logo is long and verbose. I’d find a way to refine the message so its more useful to readers and search engine spiders. I’d also reconsider the text in the title tag of the page. Identifying a central concise term to be repeated across these elements is critical. Individual post content is lacking cross linking to other posts and/or categories. The links to their other sites in the footer is sketchy. I’d either include them in post content as relevant or ditch them all together. I do like the lower page element of Perhaps it would make sense to do something similar for these links. Categorize them and/or add contextual words around them to add greater value to the links.

    Monetization — I would go so far as to ask… Is monetization the priority goal of this site? Based on that answer I would recommend the appropriate degree of monetization. If thought leadership is the goal and the effort is to get leads to click through to other sites they’re running then I would lay off the monetization efforts. If the goal is to generate traffic and pursue ad income then I’d go all out on the monetization. Since I do not know the online marketing goal of the site I don’t think I can give meaningful advice on this subject.

    There you have it… for greater detail I’d have to charge :)

  • I dont find the design too offensive, but maybe that is just me, my blog is equally ‘bland’ looking.
    I do however not like the footer links, that looks crappy, as well as the amazon and blogsphere widgets. Also, if you are going to have a ‘validate’ link on your site for visitors to validate your code, then you should have NO errors, they have +-20 errors.
    For me, I really like the simplicity of the site look, and overall design. It appeals to me, is not cluttered, and I am not distracted by millions of adverts.
    My only other suggestion is that the headings of the articles, or the first paragraphs that are shown, are more captivating or exciting. The target market I assume is ‘small business’, which is very broad. My feeling is that most of their clients are probably not internet fundi’s, and wont really ‘get’ some of the headings and articles.
    They need to maybe focus on posts that will excite and be of interest to clients who are a little less ‘internet savvy’. Some of the posts would only appeal to individuals who know marketing or Seth Godin etc.
    Just my 2c worth, take it, leave it, whatever!

  • The pale blue and white theme could be spruced up for a marketing blog.

    The main white table could be turned into a 3D table with rounded corners and a shadow

    The body background color could be transformed into a pale background image that relates to the marketing theme.

    Perhaps there could be a social network attached to the blog – where users have the option of registering and getting their own profile page and icon attached to their posts.

    Perhaps the pictures of the contributors could be transformed into a flash slideshow that highlights each contributor along with their bio – as opposed to the current single pics that rotate with each pageview

    On the plus side – the blog loads very fast

  • Design
    In terms of usability is great the minimalistic spread out style makes it easy to navigate. I like the posts being shown with just the title and the intro, but it is a little annoying when I click through to find there is hardly any more post to read – which is the case with some posts. If it’s going to be laid out like that make those posts a good length!

    The colours are somewhat bland, but rather than altering the design this could be solved by finding a colourful picture to display at the top of each post, which also has the benefit of drawing visitors eyes towards the content (slightly more of each post would have to be shown for this to work).

    All those links in the Footer look really bad. I see from your About page that is a registered trademark? If that’s the case I’m assuming you are going for the professional approach, those links don’t look professional!

    I’m glad to see your content isn’t waffle; each article does have a useful point to it. Personally I prefer the content to be more broken down into subheadings and bulleted lists with the important couple of words highlighted in bold at the beginning of each bullet point, so I can just scan down the post really fast. This really depends on what type of readers you are aiming for… if they are Internet marketers they will probably want the same as me.

    As for ideas for a post, if you are running are running out of ideas already that is not a good sign!

    Nevertheless… Tim could write “12 Lessons In WebSite Architecture From 12 Years Experience”. That sort of idea can be replicated several times to cover different topics and using different numbers (you could just switch to months/weeks etc). Those sorts of post could do well on Digg/Sphinn/Mixx/Slashdot etc

    Internet marketing/seo positions are very competitive. I would spend time becoming a well known and respected user of, which will send traffic and build your reputation. Also I would advise networking with the right people and building up lots of fans on Stumbleupon.

    I hope you find this useful and I wish you good luck with


  • The reviewers above have touched on many important points. But to summarize and expand

    -Get a new Revenue Model!!!!! Just because you have a PR5 scraped from your friends websites, doesn’t mean that you have to rape your content and your readers with irrelevant links. Both in the blogroll and – OMG in the footer. All of these irrelevant links will immediately turn away any serious readers in the blogspehre. If you need some ideas on how to monetize your blog without selling/giving irrelevant links, then you are invited to read my blog.

    -Longer snipps on the front page. Instead of letting wordpress auto-cuttoff – use the tag to cut it your self after giving enough information to get the gist of the post

    -Design is sparse – too template like. Get some more action going on. Ad’s are ok if they are relevant to your audience as then they become another source of valued content.

    -Get an email subscribe box.

    -You may want to reconsider your picture. Pictures are good, but this is taking up the #1 Prime Real estate on your blog which can be used for Ad’s or self-promotion.

    -I am in love with the ‘Category-Posts’ wordpress plugin. It displays individual posts from selected categories in the sidebar.

    -Lastly, I think you need to get a better idea of who your reader is. Who is reading your blog and what do they want to know and what is your goals with having them read?

    Do you want them to click on an ad? if so, then work on the ads.

    Do you want to drive traffic to your other sites?

    Or is this blog a squid to pass pagerank? If so, then you are doing an excellent job.

    whatever you do, identify your reader and what you want them to do and focus on this.
    That will be $5000 consulting fees please.

  • * Design –

    I like the clean interface, but it could be a bit more modern; it is very conservative, and their target audience is supposed to be entrepreneurs. Go with something more fun and vibrant, without going too crazy on the colour explosion.

    In terms of usability, I would recommend they move the pictures and blurbs to the ‘About’ page, or to a secondary page establishing their expertise. If they really want to market themselves, they can borrow a page from Problogger and have the photo & Blurb at the bottom-right of their home page, rather than have what is pretty static content on the prime real-estate of the home page (top of the page)

    * Content – Feedback on structure & style

    First let me make a few comments about the content itself:

    a) When making references from other links, bring more of the content to YOUR page

    Some of the posts where a bit ’empty’. For example, when reading the post on ‘Tips and Trends in Viral Video Marketing’ (, it was too much reference to another post, without giving us enough of the material that we are encouraged to read THESE WRITER’s POST, and instead sends us directly to other sources. It reminds me of the same mistake I made recently (to see the not-so-effective-way of referencing material, check out my original post ‘Renewable energy: Want to fly a kite?’ (link:, and the re-write by a far more experience blogger at ‘Renewable Energy? Go Fly a Kite!’ (link:

    b) Use photos more effectively

    A handful of the posts have images, and they are often uninspiring. Again, I would recommend taking a look at the NuncFluens link in the suggestion above, and take a look at this writers’ use of images. If a picture tells a thousand words, we better use some pictures, and choose them carefully to ensure they tell the 1,000 words we want them to tell!

    * Content – post ideas

    As an aspiring but yet-to-do-the-jump entrepreneur, one topic that continues to elude me is advise on how can I find the fine balance between taking action NOW!, and being a sensible (responsible) professional. Writing a couple of articles on the thought process others go through when considering doing the jump would be extremely useful and inspiring to others

    Another article that would be very useful is a comparison of what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur in the 3 or 4 typical industries: E-business; Local franchise; Freelancer; or Fully-owned business.

    * Promotion —

    Well, I guess getting Problogger to run it as the consulting comunnity project is one way to increase its’ visibility to potentially interested readers! :-) Another way to promote themselves would be to provide real fliers (you know, the paper-based stuff) to the local chamber of commerce; local ‘Better Business Bureaus’, and other organisations that field questions from new businesses.

    * Monetization —

    The obvious one is to make use of Adsense; They could also write reviews of books that they recommend, and include an ‘Amazon Associate’ link on the review (I recommend clearly stating they will receive commissions from the link if the reader purchases it at Amazon; it increases trust because of the transparency of the arrangement; and it encourages readers to use the link if they find the review exciting & useful)

  • 1. Repeat after me: Never publish a post without an image in it. I know it gets tedious and sometimes I just can’t be bothered at the end of a hard day, but if you do this 95% of the time, you have done yourself a huge favor. They need to show up on the front page, not just the article page.

    2. Ditch BlogRush. C’mon, it’s been months since they launched and nobody’s getting anywhere with them.

    3. The alignment in your sidebar is out – your columns should line up as much as possible, or it throws the viewer’s eye off. Online, this could mean the end of their visit with you.

    4. Almost all the front page bylines have Brandi’s name but the default mugshot is Tim’s – this may create a discontinuity in the viewer’s mind and a successful experience needs to minimize discontinuity so that the experience of reading your blog is mentally effortless.

    5. Whoever said that your footer needs work is correct, but visuals aside, bear in mind that advertising poker companies will not look professional to many. It sends the message that you are a) linked with these groups of ill-repute, in a subconscious way and/or b) willing to take on cheap ads, which poker ads usually are. Sometimes that’s okay, but not on an internet marketing blog – it destroys your credibility.

    6. I only looked at the first 3-4 posts on your homepage, but focus on longer, more value-packed posts. From a long-term perspective, the shorter ones won’t do so well on an authority blog like yours.

    Hope this helps, and good luck.

  • – Tag line is far too long. Create something that gets to the point quickly and makes a visitor want to stick around.
    – post teasers on your main page. Don’t force readers to click to see your content. Feels like a cheap way to up your page views. If you have solid content visitors will stick around.
    -theme is dull…needs graphics/colors
    -Since your site is so new you really can’t have a best of section ye. but your archive page should include it eventually
    – The footer links take away from your site .. you have everything from music to video games..stay focused on your core statement

  • SD

    Design — . A very clean site, but it lacks color. All that white with just the touches of blue makes it very bland to me, and a bit hard to read. I almost feel blinded by the stark whiteness. I also think the subscribe area needs to be bigger, or it should get it’s own area. Perhaps switch where the subscribe icons and the search bar is. I would also like to see sidebar areas for best posts

    Content — I don’t have any ideas, but I would like to see more longer and in depth articles on the site.

    Promotion — I would like to see more links to other blogs in their posts. Not a lot, of course, but I really think mentioning other blogs in the same niche could work well for them to draw them over. They just don’t seem like the typical blog that would do well on Digg, so perhaps finding more specific sites such as niche forums to chat on would get them noticed more.

    SEO — Longer snippets of articles on the front page is one thing that might help get it noticed more by search engines. As well as working on their individual posts being more keyword friendly.

    Monetization — The amazon widget annoys me. I would rather see 3 or 4 books specifically picked out and placed on the side. If they can’t decide they could always rotate them out weekly or biweekly, perhaps set up an amazon shop and link to that as “For more recommended reading…”

    I also think they could do well with some carefull selected sponsor links at the bottom of their posts.

  • So this is my crack at this. I didn’t read anyone elses post either, this way I can give a fresh opinion.

    What I like:
    Theme – there is a good amount of white space
    The logo is visable
    easy blog name to remember
    the subscribe buttons are easy to find
    Links are easy to find
    Your bios right on the front page
    Your page links are to the left – making them the most visable because they are right above your posts

    There is always a debate between full text or partial postings on the front page, I can sorta go either way on it
    Recent posts- Since you use partial posts the most recent posts are still on the front page, why would you need a link to them?
    Links – your links are heavily related to sites on how to blog, you might want to cut those down and add some non-blogging links
    Bloggrush widget – I feel like the widget can look somewhat unprofessional

    More pictures on the posts
    Most popular posts link
    E-book – think about taking your posts combining them and having a book for people to download
    Archive that lists the title, atleast, of all your posts. This will allow draw people to more then just the last 100 posts

    Monitization is very tricky, to much and it is hard to read, to little and you don’t make any money. You need to walk a fine line. I think that you may have crossed over into to much advertisiing. What do people click on? You have Amazon and the links on the bottom but no adsense?.

    I can’t tell if the links on the bottom is another form of monitization for you or from the theme. If it is from the theme, it might be time to get a new theme or pay the designer to take them out. If it is your advertising, loose it ASAP. The ads are not focused and seem to general.

    Did you ever think of offering consulting services? This blog might be a great way to advertise your consulting services. This might be the best way to monitize your site. People higher consultants all the time for this issue, if your prices are right you will get business.

    Your business is telephony services, your blog has nothing to do with that. Did you ever think of having two blogs? A blog that deals with telephony isses might draw more customers your way

  • * Design
    The site is well laid out and easy to read and navigate. It is a bit dull and clinical though.
    The about information is too prominent.
    Try a more exciting banner, and some more colour in the sidebar
    I dont even know what that footer is. Make it link to popular posts or something more useful, or just nothing at all.

    * Content
    The content is great. Very well written and informative. Try putting the images in the excerpt in order to brighten up the site.
    Maybe consolidate some of the articles into an ebook?

    * Promotion
    You obviously know your stuff. Why not show this by guest posting on some larger blogs? Tell everyone you know about your blog.

    * SEO
    Get more links from popular blogs with good rankings.

    * Monetization
    Eventually you will be able to sell consultancy. For now, take advantage of affiliate links when appropriate, and perhaps some private ad sales?

  • Design — The layout is clean and the navigation is intuitive. I would like to see a “Best Of…” option in the navigation pane, or perhaps a link to a series of pillar posts such as “21 Ways to Optimize Your Small Business SIte” or “Intro to Search Engine Optimization.” This would serve to draw the readers into your archives.

    I am not a big fan of partial posts, unless they are part of a “Best of..” widget or similar. In your main content area I say show the article in its entirety. It may generate less page views, but users are more likely to be attracted to your writing if they get a full picture up front.

    The site lacks graphical intrigue, and posting your full posts on the front page could solve this problem as your graphics associated with the individual posts are pleasing.

    The footer section is a good place to list contact information, copywrite info, etc. The quasi-tag cloud/marketing tags that are there now do not present a professional appearance, and remind me of those silly, unrelated text tags people used to hide on their sites to get search engine traffic. Also in the footer region, remove the “Login” link – you don’t really need to display the path, just bookmark your WP admin page.
    Content — If catering to small businesses you could develop some content around helping small businesses receive the search engine recognition that larger competitors receive, either through SEO initiatives or using affiliate marketing techinques via other small business sites.

    Promotion — Customer testimonials on customer’s sites would be a great place to start. Perhaps the site authors could offer to do some “free” consulting for a small business in exchange for a testimonial for, plus a banner or promo posted on the small business’ website with a link to MarketMe. Small business conventions listed with the local SBA offices could also offer a good opportunity to network with business owners in their local market.

    SEO — I would include the site name, “MarketMe” in your page title area. On the breadcrumb links displayed after a visitor clicks an individual article I would eliminate the “Blog article:” text and display the category and then the article title. Users could click the category to view other articles in that same category, or simply return home using the breadcrumb links.

    Monetization — The space under the navigation bar could be used to monetize with some Adsense links, or a full-size horizontal banner. The space under the author’s bios to the right would be a good spot for a square block of four 125×125 banner ads – still above the fold, but not too obvious.

  • Can you please tell me how

  • As far as the design it is clean and extremely easy to find a post you may be interested in since you can see 10 titles on the front page, each with less than a paragraph of text.

    There are some issues with the author’s bio box being messed up in IE 6. Brandi’s picture is outside and below the box in my IE 6 browser. I may be a dinosaur, but a big percentage of surfers still use IE 6.

    I also agree that the tagling is way too long. Either the font should be made smaller or it should be shortened. It’s not a phrase many people will remember or recite to someone else.

    As far a monetization goes, there isn’t any. Putting an Amazon widget at the bottom of the sidebar will take you a million years to earn $100. Get 4 125 x 125 banners at the top and sell private advertising. Anything is better than Amazon.

  • *My first paragraph isn’t meant to be all in bold – sorry about that!

  • I just have a few comments that stick out to me upon first glance… which is probably the most important thing to draw new readers in anyways.

    On the positive side, I like how minimal the header is in size. I think it allows for the most amount of content above the fold.

    However this is where the trouble starts. I don’t think that they have utilized this ample space they have carved. The ads and their websites could easily be included at the top of the sidebar without losing the content that is currently there. If they are trying to gain revenues or promote their other websites, they are not helping themselves with the current layout.

    Also, the small profiles of “Brandi and Tim” are not coded correctly. Brandi’s info moves down on the page when I view it. And they trade places when you move to the “about” page. I also think this info could be incorporated into a drop-down tab in the navigation header.

    To help with their slogan, I would simply eliminate “internet marketing for small business.” Its implied in the next line anyways.

    The content seems to be somewhat short or brief for the subject matter. I think a few longer, more focused posts would help. If they are worried about the reader getting bored with long-winded posts, they can use the techniques that Darren teaches (lists or using bold colorful texts and pictures to break the content up). I would also look to guest posts or interviews with marketing guru’s to make their content more lively and diverse. Possibly use some cross promotion with other marketing bloggers.

    Lastly, “Practice what you preach!” I saw that used in one of their posts about Seth Godin’s book. If they are in the business to market their product, they really need to focus on grabbing the readers right away. Their site currently is just too vanilla (colors, content, layout).

    Upon looking at their other sites, I see the same layout and templates used for those. It makes me wonder about the legitimacy of their company if 3 out of 4 of their websites are copycats of each other…?

  • I felt the design was appealing, especially the blue color. I understand blue sells the best. Because readers eyes go to visuals, I thought the picture of Brandi was well placed. Content is excellent. Tim’s article, “Is a website….”, caught my eye. It’s well written, Tim’s ideas were well thought out, and his piece is just the right length.So the content can be easily remembered. Tim’s piece held my interest throughout. When it comes to promotion, SEO, and monetization– I’m unable to comment because I’m a new blogger. However, when it comes to ads, best results might be obtained if the advertising was moved above the fold.

  • Highly ironic that today’s post was “Don’t hide from your customers” – yet that’s exactly what they do at both of their sites!

    I really cannot make out from the “About” page if MarketMe offers marketing services or not..

    Linking mechanics: I find a post in the Archives, read it, but then can’t directly go to the next or previous post by date – I hate that!

    XHTML: Tim Paulino is an expert in Website Architecture but the site doesn’t validate.. hmmm.. worse, it’s all simple errors: &’s instead of & and upper case SCRIPT tags.
    If Betty Boop or Joe Blow does this, well, who cares. When “experts” do it, I think you are sloppy.

    I LIKE the look of the home page. Most bloggers won’t because it’s not what they are used to, but I think most ordinary readers will find it clean and attractive. Bloggers tend be be very conservative and suspicious of anything different :-)

    Monetization? I dunno: if MarketMe IS selling services, then you don’t need any. If not, then yeah, there’s plenty of room here for ads. An ebook would be great – the content is good, so an ebook would be seen as a great buy. But don’t to the “free” path: I think you’ve good enough advice to sell it.

  • Damn…I wish I could join these type of competitions that you have here. The only thing is even if I can comment and make positive contributions, my blog is nowhere near good enough to deserve thousands of people. They’ll probably come, have a browse then leave, disappointed and never come back. Might even get a bad name from that…

  • @Mark: Well, if you made your site more legible, less lopsided on the columns, and a bit more focused, I would see a point to driving people there.

    …that’s my opinion anyways =)

  • Design –

    Sorry to say by first reaction is boring. Use graphics in your posts or on the pages to make it more pleasing to the eye. Maybe add a light backgorund color to the tight column. Cut back on the wasted white space between posts.

    Content – Looks good but again boring. Find a way to have fun more from time to time or to be bold a opinionated. I liked the Dessert With Godin headline for example.

    Try some list posts – Top 10 Rules That Every Small Business Marketer Should Never Forget – example. They not only score well with the search engines and get picked up by other bloggers they make good archive content for you. Speaking of that you need a best posts or top tips section with older posts.

    Promotion – Leave smart comments on other business and marketing blogs, trade posts, trade ads with similar blogs.

    SEO is not my area but it does not look like you are even using tags. Start.

    Monetization – Don’t hesitate to well ad and use some biz related affinity programs. Everyone does it. But also considering writing your own e-book on the subject. Give away a couple of chapters as a “report” and sell the rest for $5-$10.

  • Design: I enjoy how “clean” the overall design feels — there aren’t a lot of flashy graphics competing for my attention, and your navigation bar is a model of efficiency. That having been said, however, I think the design might be a bit too spartan. Two colors (blue and gray) dominate the page, and the vast quantities of white space, while increasing readability, also create the impression that there just isn’t a lot of content on the front page (which is not true). I’d consider increasing the density of the front page: reducing the number of posts, or shrinking the size of the excerpts to a few sentences (specifically chosen sentences, not just the first X words), and drawing the page in a bit tighter. You can still keep your white space on the interior pages — where the real reading gets done.

    Content: With a domain name like, I honestly expected to see more marketing-centric titles on the front page. Consider writing “roundup” style posts that leverage your expertise in this crucial area to seperate the wheat from chaff and encourage people to click — things along the lines of “6 Ways to Make Your Website a Viral Hit,” or “14 Revenue-Generating Tips for Writing AdWords Copy.”

    Promotion: I think you’re missing an opportunity for your readers to promote you themselves by not including “Bookmark this” links on the article pages, versus having the readers click a link, to go to a website, to bookmark your page. Personally, I find having to go to a secondary site to chose how to bookmark material I’m interested in to be a bit of a turnoff. Lower the barrier to entry, and more people will take advantage.

    SEO: Your article titles on the front page seem a little hit-or-miss. The “Are you playing hide and seek with your customers?” title is great for readers (it got my attention!), but only so-so for SEO. “Make small appear big” is probably a miss for both readers and bots alike — I’m not really sure what the article is about, and the excerpt wasn’t quite tailored enough to tell me what I needed to know. But “Is your website self-service or self-serving?” both got my attention and would probably get attention from the Googlebot as well. I’d recommend trying to shoot for a greater percentage of SEO-friendly titles, particularly if you’re considering this a readership-building phase.

    Monetization: At first glance, I didn’t even know this site was monetized! Even on my 1280×1024 monitor, all of your sidebar ads appear below the fold. I would seriously consider reorganizing your sidebar to give your ads greater prominence. Perhaps move the “About the Authors” widget to below the fold. If your readers are interested enough to scroll your front page, they’re probably interested enough to learn more about the authors.

  • * Design
    For a site trying to shill marketing advice it needs to do a much better job of marketing itself. Looking at the site I see a boring, bland site. Maybe that’s their style of marketing. I’d never hire them. My site may be boring and bland but that’s because I’m lazy and I’m not trying to sell my services to people. They’re not convincing me they know anything about building a compelling website just based on the design.

    I’d change the colors, the layout (overdone) but most of all I’d get rid of that box on the bottom with the text links, the option to validate code and log in. 99.9% of the people visiting the site aren’t going to want to validate your code, sorry. It looks like something they left in the template by accident. Yank it.

    * Content
    There’s a definite “sell your expertise by giving away as much knowledge as you can, not teasing” feel here. I appreciate it. Sites that only exist to funnel traffic to their legit arms are annoying and no one wants to read them. I know that by subscribing to the feed of this site I’d learn about internet marketing.

    Now, that said I’m not so sure they are on the cutting edge of internet marketing (where you really want to be). Their biggest selling point is newsletters. Great, but kinda passe. They have a grand total of two articles on social networking. Neither goes into any depth or shows a knowledge of sites like Facebook or even a good knowledge of LinkedIN. Not instilling lots of confidence that these guys know how to take advantage of internet marketing.

    * Promotion
    They seem to be using Blogrush, which is a waste of time and space. My blog used it for a very short time. My articles showed up on other blogs tens of thousands of times and no one clicked. Horray. And people click my titles in Digg and other online places, so I know my titles don’t suck royally. They need to ditch this blog deadweight.

    I don’t know who they’re marketing themselves to, but there are a billion websites out there who might be interested in using their services if they knew about them. These sites uses systems like Entrecard to find each other. Replacing Blogrush with Entrecard would probably work well for this specific site.

    They need to focus on getting some smaller sites in their blogroll who might reciprocate with a link. On a usual day they’d get no linkback from this site, copyblogger or the like.

    * SEO
    Really not my field, on my own site I focus more on design. But from what little I know…I like their use of folders to organize their posts. That’ll help. Their titles need some work, they’re way too vague. Specifics seem to work well with titles.

    * Monetization
    My favorite part of the site. I reviewed a site recently that was trying to sell real estate and still had plenty of Adsense ads. These guys know their business is going to come from their other sites and their consulting business. They give away as much as they can and trust people will come to them. Bravo.

  • I think the design was a bit bland. None of the titles were that compelling and so I didn’t read too many of the articles. The ironic thing was there was one title that made reference to the fact that it is hard to come up with titles.

  • The design, which has clean and crisp navigation, is a bit too clean and crisp – it’s terribly unexciting. Marketing needs to be exciting – internet marketing, even more so.

    The logo needs a lot of work. While I believe in less is more, I also believe there needs to be a balance. Marketme definitely has mileage. What it needs is some refreshment. Black blue and white is professional, it signifies trustworthiness and the bold, authority. But, I have to say the logo at the moment, looks as though it’s a local financial advisor, or a jobseeker’s portal.

    A little bit more graphics won’t harm the layout, or credibility. For example, the links on the title bar. Perhaps using a custom font might be a good investment as it definitely stands out and I know when I see a website with a distinctive (AND FUNCTIONAL! not purely aesthetic) then I will definitely remember the site. Author’s pictures sometimes help.

  • MsansTX

    Wow. Congratulations on putting yourself out there for such a public review.

    I fall into your target audience as a partner in both a startup blog business and a brick and mortar small business. I looked at your site from the perspective of ‘what would it take for me to become a reader?’. In general, I recommend you follow your own advice in the article “The Secret to Marketing Your Small Business Online” – Focus. You’re trying to do too much at once at too high a level.

    Here are my thoughts on the specific requested categories.

    Design – The design is clean and tight but at the expense of being generic. To take it to the next level, the layout needs design elements that consistently show personality and authority. Choose an art direction (minimally an expanded color pallet and illustration or photographic style) and update the template. Be careful about standard business clip art that can come across as cliché (such as the two suits shaking hands in the networking article). It doesn’t have to be expensive or completely custom, but it needs to be unique and targeted (I don’t know many small business owners who wear suits very often.) Your mug shots are front and center. Make sure your business personality is too.

    From a layout perspective, the articles themselves get a bit lost in all the blog craziness. There’s more widgets, forms and social media than article on many pages. While some of that is standard these days, I would try to focus attention on the articles more in your next design update. All those widgets and such are ok for tech-savvy users, but if your focusing on non-savvy users (perhaps the dry-cleaners down the street trying to figure out how to grow online), you could scare them away. The percentage of daily internet users who are knowledgeable of social bookmarking, RSS, etc. is VERY tiny.

    Content – As a potential reader, I would like to see more targeted content. Is your target market seasoned business owners, or folks just getting started? Online companies or traditional? The content I read was extremely high level…often common sense or cheerleading material (Now is the age of the Entrepreneur). There’s certainly a case for some of that content, but I’ve started my businesses and don’t need encouragement. I want to see case studies with techniques backed by numbers on small business you have marketed. Instead of the Amazon widget for recommended reading, I want to see an article about each book you recommend and the high/lowlights (More “Dessert with Seth Godin”) Expand on articles like “Protect your business by Removing Pages from Google”. What if a crazy ex-employee gave me a bad online review? How do I handle those Google results? Solve problems. Show me your expertise, don’t tell me about it.

    Consider making your articles more scanable. Users spend a few moments circling around and scanning an article before jumping in. I did this (ironically) with “Are you Playing Hide and Seek with Your Customers”. My eyes hit the bullet list but it took me too long to find the title of the list and each bullet is twice as wordy as necessary – it took me too long too decide if that article was relevant to me. As you know, your reader has to be hooked in that first few seconds.

    Promotion – Think about running competitions giving away marketing advice packages to entrepreneurs who subscribe or comment on your articles. This serves two purposes – driving traffic and adding in-depth content. Use these winners as case studies on your blog – write about your recommendations and the results. Hmmm….sounds familiar…..

    Let your reader’s ‘guest blog’ short snippets about successes they’ve had marketing their small businesses. Give prizes to the ones you publish – the prize could be an ad on your site.

    SEO – I think you’ve got a pretty good start. There’s a few minor issues that have been mentioned – such as validation issues. I’d like to see a cleaner separation between CSS and the HTML…but really your energies are better spent on getting inbound links. You can tweak your code all day, but that last 10% of XHTML perfection isn’t going to matter as much as quality inbound links. Depending on your target market, you should really focus here. Growing links via social media is great for those in the know….but a good Google ranking will give you better traffic from the non-tech savvy.

    Monetization – Money follows traffic and so traffic and credibility should be your first focus.

    However, since you’re dabbling there already, I recommend you get away from sidebar ads/links and move more towards personal recommendations. Bundle your expertise (your articles) with outside products and tools. In addition to the books, consider recommending third party services (as an affiliate)…what online newsletter services (for instance) should I be using? Can you get me a discount if I sign up through your link? One of your articles should also walk me through my first newsletter. If you researched the top newsletter services, and walk me through the thought processes of my first newsletter…or hosting my first site…I’ll buy from you.

    Congratulations again on being brave enough for a public review. I hope this feedback is helpful and that you get some great advice here with this contest.

  • On the homepage, I would of loved to see the full posts instead of the “Read More>>”. For someone visiting the site for the first time, I felt kind of jarred having to click further. Also, I would like to recommend having a “Popular Posts” section so that visitors could get a summary at a glance about the posts that are written.

  • The overall look of the site isn’t very engaging. I agree with previous commenters that the posts on the homepage are a little too short or boring to really grab a readers attention. Changing the headlines of each article may be helpful to build more anticipation and interest.

    I like the pictures of the co-founders but didn’t like the links to Wikipedia in their descriptions. Also, if they are “experts” in their field I would shy away from telling readers that they don’t know it all – contradictory. And, the links to Tele… and their other websites give the impression that they want readers to leave the blog.

    All that said, I better go review my own site and look for the same issues.
    Good luck,

  • Helene>
    With no disrespect, I think admitting that you don’t know it all is actually quite a nice touch. First of all, it shows humility, but not self-derogatory – it just says we’re all human and plus it is just impossible for us to “know it all”, regardless of how experienced we are in a field. Also, a blog, rather than a website, is supposed to be more of a reflection of the author(s) and as such, will benefit from this “human” value. Having said that, the wikipedia part is a definite turn off. The reason for this is that anyone can write on wikipedia and that takes away some credibility.

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  • I found this site to offer alot of useful information, its content is fine.. .Altho it needs to improve its design and needs a bit more color. Also for promotion you could have contest on “Whos the best commenter and at the same time you will be getting feedback on your articles. As prizes you could can choose whatever you think the readers will enjoy winning. No ebooks. SMILE

  • Thank you for the great article.

    I am starting to consider to promote my business through Google Adwords.
    So I started to research a bit about it.
    And found a review about a E-book called GoogleCash.
    Has anyone read this e-book?
    Is it any good?

    The review is on this page

  • Great blog! You have some real quality information here. I’m usually not one to spend too much time reading blogs but I spent the last two hours here, LoL. Keep up the good work