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Unwritten Internet Rules

Solid rules and best practices are great for managing well-established systems and keep social order.
Online, following unwritten rules can be a recipe for rotten conversion.
Here are a few unwritten Internet rules.

Unwritten Rule 1: When in doubt, create a link that reads "click here."

In the Internet's early days, when people were trying to create momentum on a Web Page, it was necessary to instruct people what to do and where to do it.
So, the "click here" hyperlink was born.
It's overstayed its welcome.

People know what to do when they see a hyperlink.
Telling them to "click here" is equivalent to placing road signs every couple of yards that read "Stay on the road."

Example following the rule:

The X-Arcade 2 Player is guaranteed for life.
To read our lifetime warranty, click here.

Now, let's break the rule:

See how your X-Arcade 2 Player is guaranteed for life.

Unwritten Rule 2: Use lots of "more info" links.

People want more info, right?
But info about what?
It seems adding a few extra words to the "more info" hyperlink is cost-prohibitive.
No one seems willing to tell me what info I'll get when I click the link.
Do those extra few letters cost money?

Example of following that rule:

Microsoft Word is the industry-standard word processor.
It has a seemingly endless number of features, each designed to help you be more productive while creating and revising documents.
More Info
Let's break the rule:

Microsoft Word is the industry-standard word processor.
See Microsoft Word's seemingly endless number of features, each designed to help you be more productive while creating and revising documents.

Which is more persuasive?

Unwritten Rule 3: Use as many vague hyperlinks as possible, such as "read more," "continue reading," and "next."
Same as rule 2.
What will I be reading more about?
Why can't you tell me what will happen when I click?
Instead of "Read more," why not "Read more about how this Magic Widget can help you work smarter and faster"?
Instead of "Continue reading," why not "Continue reading this article"?
Tell people specifically what happens next: "Next: enter your billing information."

Unwritten Rule 4: Write for search engines.
Last time I checked, Google's spider had never purchased anything on my site.
So why should I write for it?
Don't get me wrong.
Pages should be easy for spiders to index.
But if you write for spiders first, you lose... big.
Our search engine strategy is simple: write pages for people; the search engines will follow.

Unwritten Rule 5: Short copy is better online.
Or: Long copy is better online.
Relevant copy persuades visitors to do what you want them to on your site.
Copy length should be like a skirt: long enough to cover the essentials, short enough to be interesting.
If you're debating short versus long copy, I'd bet length isn't the problem.
It's the copy.

Say the right things, things people need and want to hear.
Have keyword-rich content seasoned with right keywords within the hyperlinks.
Quit worrying about how long the copy is or try to follow the search engine manipulation gospel.

The Internet Is Too New for Rigid Rules
Other selling and marketing media have been around for quite some time.
They have clear best practices and set rules for success.
Online, even the most successful sites are still learning.
They haven't reached the pinnacle of how well their sites can perform.
Let's not get too attached to rules and best practices.

Developing links 1

Why is it important to develop links?
1. You can reach some of your target audience that doesn't come in through the search engines
2. Search engines tend to rank web sites higher if they have decent links coming in to the site.

However, we�re not talking about any old links here but good quality links to relevant Web sites. As a first step, it would make sense to try and list down all the organisations or companies that you are associated with, or could be associated with.

What are we looking at here?
Try thinking about:
Web sites in your industry
Local web sites
Business web sites
Chambers of Commerce/Quality Organisations
E-business clubs
Client companies

It would be a good idea to put these categories and links into a spreadsheet that you can add to and modify over time. You could categorise them according to Web site name | URL | Date Submitted

A good indicator of the popularity of these sites can be found from Google�s �Page rank� button on the Google Toolbar - if you can get listed on a web site with a page rank of 5/10, 6/10 or 7/10, so much the better.

Once you've identified the 'known' web sites from the above, you may want to start looking at the unknown web sites.

Developing Links 2

Identifying your known/unknown competitors.
1.Make a list of the competitors you know of.
To help jog your memory, you could look at Yellow pages, local business directories and other similar sites.

2.You could follow a similar route to step 1 but you could also enlist the help of search engines. Simply make a list of your key search words and see which websites the big search engines throw up � search on Google, Teoma, Altavista, AlltheWeb and MSN.
3. List down the URL�s of these known and unknown competitors, possibly using your Excel spreadsheet ,company name, URL and date identified should suffice.

Identifying which sites link to your competitors.
The logic goes that if you can identify the sites that link to your competitors, you can ask these same sites for reciprocal links. Here�s how to check links to sites, using the top search engines:
Google type in
Link Popularity Check: type in
AltaVista: type in
Teoma: type in

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