Microsoft Clip Art Gallery and Free Images

This is a hidden tool for some people something they simply did not know about, but Microsoft does allow commercial (not logo use) of there clip art and photo images. If you have Office, then you have this tool – the Microsoft Clip Art Gallery.

Access the Gallery from Start> Microsoft Office > Microsoft Office Tools > Clip Art Gallery. Then go online and load up your Gallery with new neat free images and sounds at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/clipart/default.aspx. You’ll love the selection. Just add the items to your basket and then click download and run to load them onto your disk.

We use these free images for blogs, websites, and newsletter content. The EULA states that you can use them for commercial web use, but not for logos or things that are proprietary to your business. But that means you can use them for website images, brochures, and so much more.

Updated as of 7-14-18: Microsoft no longer supports the Clip Art Gallery. There may be other free images resources available online. One to consider may be PikWizard.

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How Many Blog Posts Should You Show on Your Front Page?

This is an interesting topic for blog owners and I have changed my own mind on this point over the years.

It used to be with most of our client blogs on Blogger, we set the blog to show 30 posts on the home page. Now with most of our clients using WordPress and many more home page options, we recommend having five blog posts on your home page.

I have seen some blogs where they just show one blog post on the home page or some that show three, but I personally like showing five blog posts.

If you have WordPress, you can even select to have a static page for the entry page of your blog and I have even seen some blogs where they simply show categories and snippets of posts like a magazine portal page. There are many flavors of what you should use for your home page.

Darren at ProBlogger did a review of this topic and I thought that the comments written in by other bloggers were very good. Here is the vote on the number in a nutshell.

Two Posts 1 Blogger

Three Posts 4 Bloggers

Four Posts 3 Bloggers

Five Posts 13 Bloggers

Six Posts 3 Bloggers

Seven Posts 1 Blogger

Ten Posts 6 Bloggers

More Than 10 Posts 2 Bloggers (1 had snippets the other had 35 posts)

So the consensus seems to match my thoughts five blog posts on the home page seems about right.

 

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Five Website Killers

There are many things that you can do to benefit your website, but have you thought about the things that can kill your website? Here are my five top website killers – things you clearly should stay clear of doing to get good organic search engine placement and impress viewers.

  1. Don’t build your website all in Flash. It looks cool, but search engines cannot catalog the information contained in .swf files or for that matter .flv files. Google has just announced in early August that it is working with Adobe to try to rectify this problem, but that doesn’t help you now.
  2. Don’t ever steal your content from another website. You need unique content, don’t scrape someone else’s site. Not only will Google penalize you for duplicate content but you may get sued for copyright infringement. You can’t use the content even if you give credit – that’s still infringing.
  3. Don’t test your website in Firefox. If you don’t check, you won’t know and you really should. Firefox is an important browser and the browser of choice for nearly 25% of the browsing readers. If you don’t look good in IE AND Firefox, you may alienate a large part of your readers.
  4. Don’t make your web page layout too big. Although there are actually still some people surfing the web with 800 by 600 pixel resolution, the bulk of people are at 1024 pixels wide and larger. For my own site, still nearly 30% of my viewers are at 1024 pixels wide. Make sure you have website statistics that track this and then make sure to design your site to accommodate this important segment and not alienate viewers by having scroll bars at the bottom for 1024 pixel resolution viewers.
  5. Don’t use webmaster tools. Google, Yahoo and MSN have webmaster tools, make sure you are using them so you will know how the various search engines see your website. If you have problems, these tools can be invaluable in order to diagnose problems.
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Is Your Website a “One Night Stand”?

Do visitors hit your home page and stay less than 10 seconds? Do your visitors rarely return for a second visit? Is your your home page bounce rate over 90%? If so, you may really need some help to improve stickiness and your visitor’s web experience. Your website may be one of the Web’s “one night stands” — never good enough for the “second date” or return visit.

Put your website to work for you by concentrating on providing great informational content. If your website is just about you and your services, and does not provide any interesting, conversation building content, you are missing the boat when it comes to what moves customers to contact you. You will never get the “second date” or sales call from a client or prospect when your focus is not on them, meeting their needs, and working to exceed their expectations.

It used to be that a website was like a brochure, but now we have gotten jaded by the “Web experience”. We want, crave, and demand interaction. Every website needs to engage visitors into conversation. Set the stage to become the authority for your clients and prospects and be their “go-to person” with excellent content and transparency of what you do and how you do it using your website as your platform.

Don’t fall into the rut of being a one visit website. Break out and become the voice of your industry and watch your business grow!

 

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Move Forward or Die – What to Embrace to Grow Your Business?

Even I get fatigued with staying on top of my business for the Web. It’s hard work to blog, write a newsletter, stay up-to-date in your field, tweak your website for organic placement, and manage your pay per click program on top of your regular business maintenance issues like billing, selling, and then actually doing the work you get paid for. But, if you don’t stay on top of your game, moving forward constantly, you WILL die. Well, not literally, but figuratively your business will, really. You must constantly be moving forward to stay “in the game” to win new clients for your business.

Too often businesses forget that to grow that they must be looking for new ways to reach out to prospects and clients. You simply cannot grow your business by being static or doing the same old things. Being a successful business person is all about being dynamic. That means actively growing your business, looking for new opportunities, and stretching to reach more people on the Web in new ways. Same old same old will not cut it in today’s competitive environment.

So what are the new things you can and should embrace to help grow your business and win new customers? Here are my top five web recommendations:

  1. Start blogging – there are too many benefits that you get from blogging to not be doing it now!
  2. Consider a monthly e-newsletter – keep your name in front of prospects with well written pieces and make sure to archive old newsletters on your website.
  3. Make sure you are using pay per click advertising – but only supplement your business by targeting the keywords where you cannot place organically. Your budget doesn’t need to be big, but consistently work on keeping your name in the marketplace in front of prospects and customers.
  4. Watch industry forums and post comments on the top forums and blogs making sure to link back to your own website. Choose websites that have “extreme authority”. In my industry for example, I routinely post on the Google Search blog, Microsoft’s adCenter and other top search blogs, and other industry expert’s blogs. Always post insightful commentary never spam. Google usually picks up these comments as links back to your website and they can really work for you to build authority and traffic.
  5. Start now with a syndicated article program. Hire a ghost writer to research and write articles for you. Post at least one a month for six to twelve months to build authority for your business and to get new one way in bound links to your website. This strategy does work, and can really help to improve your organic placement. Archive the articles back on your own website. Make sure you write to cater to a broad audience, don’t just write for others in your trade, try to write for the broadest appeal and largest syndication possible.

If you are not moving forward aggressively to build your brand through my five easy steps you should take a careful look to see if you need to resurrect your business plan for growth. Remember if you are not moving forward your business will die!

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