Wednesday

How Writers can Use a Lead Management Program Effectively


Guest Post Wednesday with novelist, writer, and marketer Aric Mitchell. 



HOW WRITERS CAN USE A LEAD MANAGEMENT PROGRAM EFFECTIVELY

Aric Mitchell

A lead management program may sound like something better suited for million-dollar businesses and multi-national corporations. But if you’re an author, writer or content writer, think about employing one anyway.

But wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute, you may be thinking. I want readers, not leads. Well, yes and no. If readers are not targeted to your style of writing, then the work could be dead in the water.

The goal isn’t to get as many people as possible to read your latest book on the mating habits of the fruit-fly. The goal is to have as many targeted people (a.k.a. Leads) as possible to read said book.

With a lead management program, you can get the job done with minimal headache. Here are some of the strategies to employ:

1. Follow the leads.

Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and about a ga-jillion other social networking platforms and lead management program technologies have enabled you to look deeper than a simple user ID. Using any or all of these programs, you can infer specific interests of each friend, follower, or contact. Rather than maximizing your friend-or-follower-count, target only those who share an interest in fruit flies enough to talk about them publicly. The great thing about social media is, we all tend to “friend” people, who are like us. So for every one legitimate lead you find, you will also find 50, 100, or more, who share these interests, rather easily.

2. Make the connections.

Social networking sites are heavily abused by spammers, who employ software to reach out to others for them. These same jerks go on to spam you with 100 messages a day wanting you to buy something. De-friend/unfollow immediately, report them as spam, and block them from ever contacting you again. With that said, software programs can be helpful in finding users in your area of expertise, and then extracting their friends/followers for future investigation. What you must remember is, social networking online must have an authentic, human touch. Use these programs to streamline; not to friend/follow random strangers. Be your genuine, wonderful self at all times. Establish relationships because you genuinely feel a worthwhile connection to a user and find her interesting.

3. Deepen the relationship.

Turning contacts into readers is not unlike turning leads into sales. Since most writing business today is conducted online, the Internet is a valuable tool for doing so. But you’ll need finesse to get it done effectively. Rather than blasting out the READ-READ-READ message to each of your followers, make sales and/or readership secondary. Instead, be interesting. Share something you find helpful, amusing, entertaining, or compelling. Chances are if you think it is, they will, too. And over time, that level of trust will deepen to the point that when you have writing to share or sell, they will be more likely to read or buy it without all the brow-beating, which too often goes on.

A lead management program works exactly as described. You follow leads, make connections, and then treat those connections in a way that deepens the relationship. And for each closer bond you form, you’ll have one more reader, who will show enough enthusiasm for your work to tell the rest of the world about you.

Remember: a successful writing career is not made by reaching out to as many people as possible. It’s made by finding readers, who are true champions of your work. Do that, and they’ll do the rest of the work for you.

Aric Mitchell is a novelist, who also writes for lead management program provider Blitz Lead Manager. His first passion is telling stories, while his second is finding the right audience for those stories. Check him out on the web.

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Monday

The Lazy Way To Be A Great Writer

Guest Post By Dr. John Yeoman

Have you ever yearned for just one simple formula that will help your stories glow with magic and resonate with depth?

If everybody knew the secret, everyone would be a best-selling author - or rather, nobody would, because the formula would be a cliché. So it’s important that only you and I know this. Will you give me your solemn word that you will tell no one what I am about to reveal?

I can see your eyes narrow. Your lips are widening in a sceptical smile. What, you don’t trust me? I feel intensely hurt. After all, I don’t have to tell you. I’m simply trying to pass on to you, in good faith, what I have learned from judging more than 3000 entries at my Writers’ Village story contest these past three years.

How come some won cash prizes and others didn’t? Why did many hundreds of stories, otherwise excellent in their craft techniques, fail by a whisker?

The secret is worth the wait.

Trust me, I speak from 42 years of pain as a commercial writer. Yet you’re still not sure about me, are you? I can see you leaning back in your chair, fidgeting. I can almost hear you thinking: ‘Will my ‘secret’ be all puff, no punch line?’

And have you read the secret before?

Of course, you have. The ‘secret’ was in the structure of my last three paragraphs. And you’ve just read those paragraphs!

Please let me explain. A competent story might include sparkling dialogue, strong conflict, well chosen words, firm structure and a satisfying close. Yet still it can fail. Why? It lacks depth. The reader is not emotionally engaged in the ‘hypotext’.

Sometimes called a subtext, the hypotext is the story beneath the story. It’s what’s going on, privately, in the characters’ thoughts and feelings.

A simple formula

A passage with hypotext classically has three steps:

1.    What is spoken or done (Dialogue or Action)
2.    How the key character in the scene thinks and feels about that (their immediate Response)
3.    What other characters think and feel about it at the time.

A competent author will have no trouble with steps one and two. For example:

‘“You’re wrong!” I said. Was I about to be charged with murder? I felt my mouth go dry.’

The narrator’s words have been dramatised by body language, reflection and emotional response. That’s fine, so far as it goes. However, few authors segue into step three: show how other characters in the scene are responding to that incident.

‘“I don’t think so.” Riley leaned forward, thrusting his grubby face within an inch of mine. His breath was a stewpot of garlic. “You left your fingerprints everywhere.”

The rookie behind him opened his mouth, startled. He looked at Riley then silently shook his head at me. My mind went cold.’

That may not be great writing but it has depth. Now we can feel the interplay of emotions in that room and know or suspect every character’s unspoken thoughts, the hypotext behind the surface narrative.

Read any good story that emotionally engages you and it will be underpinned by some variation of that formula. The better the writer, the more creatively they hide it. (Any passage of dialogue by Kathy Reichs is a master class in creative hypotext.)

Use the formula with any point of view (pov)

If your story uses an omniscient narrator, you can dart in and out of your characters’ minds at will. (That said, you might want to conceal their thoughts at times or deliberately mislead the reader.) Then the 3-step formula is a snap:

Action or Dialogue|Emotional Response of Key Character|Emotional Responses of Other Characters

But what if you’re telling the tale from a first-person pov? How can the key character - or reader - plausibly know what another character is thinking? No problem. Let them speculate.

‘Detective Riley was due to retire soon, I’d heard. It would crown his career to lock me away. His eyes gleamed like a cat playing with a sparrow. I was innocent. He knew it. And he didn’t care.’

Or the reader can draw inferences from a character’s actions or body language.

‘Riley lumbered to the window, turned his back on me and gazed at the Denver skyscape with every appearance of contentment. His body shook. He was laughing.’

Keep that 3-step process going throughout your story and the reader will be emotionally engaged whether or not they like your characters. They will feel the emotional tensions in every scene as if they were physically present. And your story will acquire depth.

That’s all there is to it. Truly. Just don’t tell anyone...

Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, judges the Writers’ Village story competition and is a tutor in creative writing at a UK university. He has been a successful commercial author for 42 years. A wealth of further ideas for writing fiction that sells can be found in his free 14-part story course at:
http://www.writers-village.org/mini-course

Abstract

The article reveals a simple 3-step process that can add instant depth to any scene. While most competent authors know the first two steps, very few understand step 3 - the secret that can turn a mediocre story into a great one.

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More Writing and Marketing Reading

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Wednesday

Text and Images -- The Perfect Content Marketing Combination

It's guest post Wednesday, and I have another great post for you. It's about the combination of text and images, adding comprehension and enhancing the message, as this post's image conveys.

Text and Images -- The Perfect Combination

By Rob Toledo

Imagine this: in your search for a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe, you click on a link that looks promising only to find a wall of text. There’s no photo to showcase those oozing chocolate chips, and there are all kinds of text-rich asides on topics you have no time for, like where chocolate comes from and how margarine and butter fundamentally differ.

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever loaded a site from the Internet’s infancy when designers took the term “database” a little too literally, you’ll know just what I mean. And yet, websites that rely too much on imagery can be just as difficult and unappealing to navigate. We’re looking at you, restaurants that bury your menu beneath five layers of graphics.

 So, what’s the answer? Balance and a little forethought.

Understand text, imagery and their primary talents.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what both text and images can do. Text can frame a conversation, whether it’s through a catchy headline, a witty caption or an opening sentence that (e.g. warning, high school English term coming) is a road map to the rest of an article. Once readers are hooked, text helps a writer dig into an issue, clearly spell out necessary action steps, and expand upon a confusing point. What’s more, text is more search engine friendly than images, easier to change and store in a database, and easier on coders.

At the same time, the right image can also frame a conversation, especially when it evokes a clear emotion. It can break up blocks of text making content more fun to consume and easier to process, while also illustrating points, so they’re more concrete and memorable.

But, more than anything, where images really beat text is in branding and in basic site navigation. No one is going to remember a mission statement as well as they’ll recall a top-notch logo; nor will they return to a site that’s organized like a bulleted list with no attention paid to basic visual logic.

Know the downsides.

Flashy images and bright colors do nothing to capture a user’s interest or to increase conversions if there’s no compelling content beneath the flare (cough MySpace cough). And no one will bother scrolling to the bottom of a text-rich site if they’ve fallen asleep on their keyboard. Even those users who force themselves through either type of site will have a great deal of difficulty in piecing information together. The result: aggravation; anger; no conversions.

Know the content. Know the user.
Finding balance for a site doesn’t necessarily mean breaking even. In fact, it’s fine to lean more heavily on one than the other, just as long as that balance is calibrated to the user, the content, the tone, and the intent of all three.

As an example, take a look at Pinterest. Here, images are employed as a tool both for visual organization and as a means of capturing instant interest. Yet, the site never fails to be neat, crisp and clean, and elucidating text is just a picture click away.

Contrast this to Wikipedia users, who generally have already had their interest piqued through concepts or subjects they’ve stumbled on elsewhere or within other Wikipedia pages. They arrive not looking to be tantalized, but to get the content they need. They want no-nonsense images that are directly relevant. If either one of these sites was to strike the image-text balance in the manner of the other, they’d get in the way of their own content and lose their users.

Go professional.

Whether it’s a blurred photo or a string of typos, there are few things less appealing than amateurish content and imagery. If you’re updating your site regularly and don’t have enough visual content of your own, both stock photography and stock footage are a must. They’re relatively inexpensive and allow for a range of creative options. It’s far better to choose a single captivating professional shot than to rely on a photo or video that looks homemade.

Above all, your choices should be about communication.

No matter how visually appealing or information-rich a site may be, if the user can’t understand what the site is trying to say, it’s not doing its job. Don’t write your users a novel, but don’t go for the images unless you’re absolutely sure text can’t get the job done. The key to balance is experimentation. Try it one way, try it another, and keep on tweaking until images and text are working hand in hand to communicate your intended message. That, after all, is what a website is meant to do.

Rob Toledo is a designer, writer and dog lover. He lives in the pacific northwest and can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo

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CREATE YOUR OWN IMAGES

While you will need a graphic designer for some of your content marketing projects, for your blog post images you shouldn't. In fact, I'll go a step further and say 'you absolutely don't.’

And, you don't need to pay $2 per image on image services sites, like Big Stock. All you need is Logo Creator Software.

I design all my own images with Logo Creator. And, if I wanted to I could sell them on one of the image services sites or I could set up shop over at Fiverr.

Just check it out for yourself: LOGO CREATOR

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MORE ON CONTENT MARKETING

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P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please share it!


Monday

Ghostwriting: Content Rewriting

Ghostwriting: Content Rewriting


As a ghostwriter you will come across a variety of clients that may request your ghostwriting services. One of the clients will be ‘the rewrite client:’

This is actually a popular project for a ghostwriter, content rewriting. Whether an individual wants to have his memoir rewritten or a businessman needs to have his business manuscript rewritten or a business wants articles rewritten for an affiliate or sister site, the client will provide you with a full manuscript or article and request that you rewrite it for them.

Sounds pretty simple right? Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

For the individual with the memoir you may receive a manuscript that’s very poorly written. You will have to try to determine what the client means in certain instances and this will take lots of feedback. Content rewriting will also mean you’ll need to spin words while still invoking the client’s voice. And, depending on the individual’s reason for writing the memoir, you may have to advise that ‘getting even’ doesn’t really make for a saleable book.

Then there is the businessman looking into ghostwriting for the business book he wants rewritten. Again, you may have poorly written content that you’ll have to sort through. And, you’ll have to strive to keep the client’s voice. You’ll also have to verify all the information.

Another client in need of your ghostwriting service may be the business or health marketer who needs articles rewritten for a sister or affiliate site. This content rewriting is probably word-for-word the most difficult, unless you become very proficient at it. Depending on the genre you will need to become acquainted with the language, the keywords, and the business or health topic you’re writing about.

For example: assuming you’re requested to rewrite health articles about allergies, you’ll need to know the particulars about allergies, such as terminology: indoor allergies, outdoor allergies, environmental allergies. You get the idea. And, the word “triggers” means those substances that will cause an allergic reaction. But if you’re rewriting you may not be able to use the word ‘trigger.’

If you’re wondering why you can’t use a particular word it’s because when rewriting any content for online use, it must meet non-duplication criteria. This means that the rewritten article must be under a particular percentage in regard to duplicate content according to search engine criteria.

Why is this so important in regard to content rewriting?

Simple, Google penalizes page rank if it determines your content is duplicated from other sites.

A great tool to check your duplicate content score is WordsFinder Duplicate Checker and Article Rewrite Comparison. According to this site, your score needs to be below 80 percent or you may be penalized for duplicate content. But, your client may request it be below 70 percent. To be safe, you should always aim for below 70 percent. If you’re rewrite duplicate percentage is too high, you have to rewrite it, while keeping it coherent and on topic, until it’s under 70 percent. This will most likely mean finding synonyms for a number of words. Take the word ‘strategy. You might spin it with ‘policy,’ ‘plan,’ ‘technique,’ or other word that has a very similar meaning.

So, while content rewriting may sound easy, it can be a much more involved ghostwriting project than anticipated. Take this into account when quoting a price.

You can find the WordsFinder tool at:
http://www.wordsfinder.com/tool_duplicate_content_checker.php

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TOOL FOR YOU

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More on Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing Work: The Possibilities
A Ghost Writer: 5 Features That Can Help Your Business Part 1
You Can Write for Money

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Karen Cioffi, the Article Writing Doctor
Prescription for Your Content Marketing Needs


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SEO and Website Ranking - Inside Website Traffic Visit Lengths

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed somewhat, but it's still a key element in driving website traffic to your site and determining website ranking within the search engines. Simply getting traffic isn’t enough though. Along with getting that traffic, there are other factors that search engines look at when ranking your site. One of those elements is ‘visit lengths.’

According to Statcounter.com, visit lengths are considered “the time between when a visitor accesses your first webpage of their visit, and when they access the last.” While this particular measure isn’t 100 percent accurate, it’s pretty close and provides important information about your visitors and what they’re doing.

This information allows you to see “just how much ‘pull’ and ‘interest’ your website is generating for your visitors.” Put simply, the longer a visitor stays, the better standing you’ll have with the search engines.

So, why is this SEO information important?

If you were to check your statistics, chances are the majority of your website traffic is for less than five seconds. Google and the other search engines take note of this. It can be considered that your website or its content isn’t valuable enough to hold that visitor. Your lower rated ‘pull’ and ‘interest,’ will cause a lower website ranking.

As a measuring stick, Statcounter measures ‘visit lengths’ in increments of:

Less than 5 seconds
From 5 seconds to 30 seconds
From 30 seconds to 5 minutes
From 5 minutes to 20 minutes
From 20 minutes to an hours
Longer than an hour

If you can hold a visitor for over 30 seconds you’re doing pretty good. Each increment beyond that demonstrates a rise is your website’s ‘pull’ and ‘interest’ capabilities.

At this point, you may be wondering how you can get website traffic to stay on your site beyond 5 minutes, which will give your website ranking a boost.

Well, how long does it take you to read one article?

If that article is informative, a visitor will want to know what else of value you have on your site. This leads the visitor further and deeper into your site, looking at older titles and reading more articles of interest. I’ve been on sites where I’ve read three or four articles, causing me to go deeper and deeper into those sites.

This is how ‘pull’ and ‘interest’ work. A visitor is pulled in by the informative and interesting content. The easier it is to find additional relevant quality content, the longer you’ll hold that visitor’s attention  . .  and viewing time. This is considered 'deep linking.'

There are three basic and easy ways to hold website traffic’s attention and increase website ranking:

1. Create embedded links (anchor text) within your content. For example: if you have the word ‘marketing’ in your article, link that word to another article on marketing within your site.

2. At the end of your article include three or four additional article titles and link them directly to the articles.

3. Include a relevant video as part of the content. Even if the video is one minute, you've beat the 30 second increment.

So, the next time you’re posting an article to your site, take the extra few minutes to include links to other articles within your site and/or include a video. This is a proven method of engaging and holding your visitors, thereby increasing your website ranking.

P.S. Like this article? Please share it!

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More Marketing Articles

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Wednesday

Monitoring Marketing Success - 5 Things to Track on Google Analytics


Guest Post By Clare Evans

You invest a great deal of time and money into online marketing. Everything from your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts can cost you both time and money. So you want to know that your hard work is paying off.

Google Analytics is perhaps the most popular way to track your online success. With a comprehensive, user-friendly interface; the software certainly has that ‘all under one roof’ feel.

Whether you’ve had your website 5 minutes or 5 years, setting up an analytics account is the best way to monitor your marketing success. Tracking your conversions, visitors, and much more has never been easier or more important. Here are five things you should be tracking on Google Analytics:

1. Customer Engagement

Engaging with your customers is an essential part of your marketing strategy. Tracking this is made easy with the comprehensive features on Google Analytics. GA will track everything from your bounce rate and time on site statistics, through to comparing your site visits to the number of unique visitors.

This is important because you need to know how well your site is performing. If your bounce rate is above 50%, and your average pages visited is low, you know there’s something not quite right with your landing pages. It’s also useful to know how many returning visitors your site has, compared to the number of unique visits.

Armed with all this information, you can tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. For instance, you can work to get people to stay on your site longer, or give them an incentive to return. This means you can rework your SEO, PPC, and other marketing campaigns efficiently.

2. Goals

If you’re using GA to monitor your marketing, you should be setting up custom goals. What do you want to achieve with your website? Are you looking for people to visit a certain page? Stay on the site for a certain length of time? Sign up to your newsletter?

Whatever your goal, set up GA to monitor and track your success. For instance, say you want to see how many people have downloaded your eBook. Set up your goal to monitor the number of people that reach the ‘thank you’ page after downloading. Only these visitors will be able to access this page, so you’ll be able to track downloads.

This is the same for enquiry forms and newsletter sign ups. Once you know how successful your current site is, you can make the appropriate changes to improve your goals. You should always aim to improve both the user-experience and success of your website.

 3. Referrals and Traffic Sources

Believe it or not, there are people who don’t use Google as their favourite search engine. Yahoo, Bing and Ask are used by people all over the world. Understanding where you referrals come from is vital in online marketing, as it helps you improve – and target – your campaigns.

You can also see what keywords people used to find you. This will help demonstrate just how effective your SEO campaigns are, and if there are any other keywords you should be targeting. If your main keywords aren’t sending traffic your way, you can rethink your strategies before investing any more time and money.

But GA can be used for more than just monitoring traffic from search engines. If you are actively promoting your site by writing press releases, getting listed in directories or guest blogging, you can monitor whether these other sites are sending you traffic.

4. Social Media

One of the more recent additions to GA is the integration of your social media. Now, you can track your social marketing and other online marketing efforts in one place. This makes it extremely easy for entrepreneurs, and small businesses to keep an eye on things.

Tracking your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn success is vital. Social media marketing may be free, but it requires a large investment of your time. Monitoring your shares, user engagement, and follower count is the best way to see how well your efforts are working.

Again, knowing what your most popular social network profile is means you can tailor your marketing. If Twitter is your biggest referral, focus your efforts here. You want to yield the biggest rewards for minimal effort, especially when it comes to social media.

5. Ecommerce Tracking

If you have an ecommerce site, you should turn the ecommerce tracking on. This is a really effective GA tool that allows you to track and monitor the purchases made through the site. You can clearly see how much money you’re making, your most popular products, and much more.

Say for example you are spending $50 a month on PPC advertising. If you can see that you’re making over $200 a month profit; your efforts are worth it and justified. Again, you can identify where best to focus your efforts.

Bonus Point: Custom Reporting

A final area you can make use of in Google Analytics is the custom reports. As the name suggests, you can create personalized reports for just about anything. Some of the best reports to create include tracking the enquires and goals completed by their geographical location, and tracking the times of the day these enquires were made.

Armed with this information, you can target your PPC efforts to appear at your most popular time, in the most popular areas. This will appeal to your biggest potential audience, and hopefully boost your enquires no end.

There really is no point in implementing a comprehensive marketing campaign if you’re not monitoring your success. There are plenty of alternatives to Google Analytics (http://www.brandingpersonality.com/alternatives-to-google-analytics-can-any-of-these-free-web-tools-compete/), all of which provide similar tracking and monitoring. Whichever you choose, make sure you start tracking these five – or six – things right away.

This guest post has been supplied by: The link to the company doesn't work, so I've removed it.

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More ON Marketing

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Monday

Demystifying Google Penguin and SEO Strategies Part 2

Part 1 of Demystifying Google Penguin and SEO Strategies went over the new Google update, along with questions it raises and their answers. Now it's on to Part 2.

Demystifying Google Penguin and SEO Strategies Part 2


How Do You Rank with Google?

This was actually answered in question number five. Writing content that is valuable and informative, that’s shareable and brings in links from similar niches (that are considered quality or trustworthy) is what will help you rank with Google.

It’s all about offering information that readers will value and share.

But, how does this all relate to your website?

A Look at Content Marketing, Keeping Google Penguin and SEO in Mind

To demonstrate the simple application of the strategies discussed in this article, I’ll use my site as an example.

First, I’ll mention the site domain name: Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing. Right off the bat, you’ll notice my keywords are in the domain name.

Since I write about writing and marketing and offer quality content on those subjects, it’s in line with my site name. So far, so good. Everything’s on the up-and-up.

I use anchor text, but primarily through links to other related posts on my site. I add this section at the end of the post and do it for just about every post I write. I’ll also hyperlink to a relevant site I’m mentioning within the content, if warranted.

Keywords are another marketing strategy I use, but I don’t focus on the keyword. First I write my article. Then based on the topic, I search for valid keywords. After I find a keyword I want, I’ll change the title accordingly and add the keywords seamlessly into the content. I use the keywords sparingly within the content – the first and last paragraphs and once or twice between, at most.

It’s important for your content to be smooth, coherent, and easy to read. If a keyword doesn’t fit smoothly, don’t use it.

I also use ‘categories’ and ‘tags.’. And, after the post is published, I share it to sites like StumbleUpon, Facebook, Llinkedin, Twitter, and GooglePlus.

These are the basic SEO strategies I use for content marketing. Again, it’s all about offering content your readers can actually use and that will motivate them to share.

Hopefully, Parts 1 and 2 of this article should give you some insight into the new online marketing strategies.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it at:

Demystifying Google Penguin and SEO Strategies Part 1
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2012/07/demystifying-google-penguin-and-seo.html

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MORE ON MARKETING

Beyond Book Sales Income: Book Marketing and Diversification
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