Categories
Site Reviews

Ben Hunt’s Web Design Course Review

This year I took Ben Hunt's Pro Web Design Course. I learned a lot from it – and was able to raise my websites' ranking for several keywords, and got some extra traffic too.

The main reason I took the course was after reading Ben's books Save the Pixel, Convert! and seeing his videos on websiteworks.tv.

There are a lot of good ideas on those books and videos, and good SEO analysis of both a page factors and potential competition for keywords is very important.

The course consists mostly of videos, although there are some downloadable page examples and resources. The videos are downloadable, which is nice for a couple of reasons – first, you can keep them after you are done with the course, and second, you can download and watch them with a player such as GOMPlayer, which allows you to view them at a fast speed. I used 1.2x most of the time, and on subjects I already mostly knew, I'd use 1.5x. That can save quite a bit of your time.

The explanations on the videos are quite clear. The main objective of the course is teaching Web Design as a profession. But if you make your own website (as I do), you can still use almost everything.

The classes range from basic HTML, designing on PhotoShop – pages, buttons and other elements, basic Javascript and PHP, a lot on WordPress – specially designing themes, and a very important and under represented theme, good SEO on page design, keyword research and landing pages. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest areas in the course.

One interesting thing is that the course is constantly receiving small updates. In SEO, which changes all the time, this is really important.

The only thing I really thing is missing in the course are transcripts from the videos.

If you actually want to become a professional Web Designer you also get many useful lessons on the specifics of the business, such as specialization, handling your clients and business strategies. And I believe the SEO training is invaluable – too many web designers make pages that rank miserably because they don't grasp more than the basics (and sometimes not even them).

Overall, I can really recommend this course for both Web Designers and people with sites that they want to improve.

Check out Ben Hunt's Pro Web Design Course

Update (25/June/2013): All videos from Websiteworks.tv were added to the course! These are the reason I got on the course in the first place. They consist of SEO, copy and design analysis of sites, and are full of great information and ideas . Some Marketing MasterClass webinars and other were added too. But please note that if you get the monthly version of the course, these are only available after 6 months!

Categories
Software

Market Samurai Review – Keyword Research Tool

I've been reading Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion. One of the tools they mention is Market Samurai, so I thought I'd try it.

I currently use Rank Tracker, which is part of the SEO PowerSuite.

Market Samurai has a bunch of tools for SEO and related fields. Please note that I've used the trial for this review (edit: I later bought the full version).

The tools available are Rank Tracker, Keyword Research, SEO Competition, Domains, Monetization, Find & Publish Content, and Promotion.

Market Samurai Screenshot
Market Samurai Screenshot

The Keyword Research works fine, albeit being limited to Adwords Suggestion Tool (AFAIK). It has several different fields.

Their Rank Tracker is fairly slow. Searching a couple of keywords on Google only takes more time than 50 keywords being searched on Google, Bing and Yahoo on SEO Powersuite's Rank Tracker. It does have interesting, different data on the domain.

SEO Competition shows a view of the competition for a certain keyword, with many important factors available per URL, such as PR, Page Backlinks, etc.

Domains make variations on domain names based on your keywords, and offers options to buy these domain (didn't work when I tried their option to buy on Namecheap). They also use DomainFace to offer aged domains, which could offer existing SEO value such as PR, backlinks, and also Google is supposed to “prefer” older domains.

Monetization finds products to promote from various affiliate programs, and allows generation of Dynamic Ads.

Find Content and Publish Content looks for articles, blog posts, videos and news for your keywords, and allow you to re-publish them.

Promotion searches for opportunities for backlinks. It is similar to the base functionality of Link Assistant. It does have more interesting search options (such as blogs, Yahoo Answers, PhpBB and VBulletin, etc), but seems to lack the tools for automated link requests and reciprocal list generation.

One thing I was quite impressed about Market Samurai is the number of videos (with good transcripts, which I really prefer for most material) they have about the program. There were a number of features I overlooked at first sight, but turned out to be very useful after they were demonstrated.

About the price, Market Samurai (US$149) is cheaper than SEO PowerSuite(US$249), and has free lifetime updates. I think they are both pretty good, and each have different strengths.

In conclusion, I'm using both SEO PowerSuite and Market Samurai. While they have many intersections, they also many different features that makes it worth the price.

If you can only afford one – go with Market Samurai. It is much cheaper and you don't have to pay for continuing updates.

It has a free trial (an unusual 12 days), so you can try it yourself.

Market Samurai
4 out of 5 stars
Update: Right now (12/May/2012) Market Samurai is very much broken, and a lot of the features related to Google won't work anymore.  SEO PowerSuite still mostly works fine, but I can't get decent keyword recommendations anymore.
I'm downgrading my number of stars to 1 for the time being.
Update (18/Dec/2012): Rank checking is completely fixed, although limited for the free version.
Categories
Book Review

The Link Publicity Book – Review

I've just finished reading another WordTracker book – The Link Publicity Book.

The purpose of the book is teaching you ways that can help you get featured by media – newspapers, magazines, big sites, etc. Getting featured on such places gets you direct traffic – plus traffic from blogger comments of those stories, PR from Google and increased trust from customers.

The core of the book is a number of stories of press coverage of a site. Each story is followed by ideas that you might be able to apply to your own site. It has interesting suggestions, such as setting Google Alerts with your main keywords, so that you can react to those stories by commenting on them with your insight, a blog post or plugging your product. It also adds up to many ideas on how you can get an interesting press release from your business.

Chapter 4 focus on techniques on preparing your press release. Chapter 5 follows up by showing how to build a list of journalists who will want to hear your news, which also includes several simple ways to publicize your press releases.

Overall, an interesting book. If you are interested in getting publicity, you'd do well checking it out.

Categories
Book Review

Link Building Review

I've just finished another Wordtracker book, this time it was Link Building:How to build links for your site for SEO, Traffic and Response by Ken McGaffin and Mark Nunney.

On a funny note, I was quite pleased with the purchase of the book, as I had tried to purchase it for full price before. Wordtracker's system was broken for hours, so I couldn't order and let it go. Then a few days later, they sent me a US$20 discount, at which point I bought it, with a smile on my face 🙂 .

The book cover many ways to get links. Having read several other somewhat related books, many parts seem similar.

For example, I've seen most of Chapter 1 – Content, on Blogging for Business and Web Content Recipe Book (I recommend both).

There are a couple of details I don't remember seeing covered. Clicking when you link to someone, so that you make sure it gets on the referrer log. There were also a few references to www.majesticseo.com, which I've had a quick look at and seems very cool.

Chapter 2 – Getting to know your online community. A very interesting view on how to classify link prospects, also a reminder that the easiest way to get links (and PR) is finding your 404 errors and converting to 301 redirects.

Chapter 3 – Make your site a linking magnet. All about the best content to get links – pretty much what was covered in Blogging for Business. One interesting reminder is that core articles can often be used for more than a target group.

Chapter 5 – Online Public Relations has some interesting insights about how to write a PR release.

Chapter 6- The definitive link building campaign – covers a lot of various ways to get your link campaign running.

Chapter 7 is a checklist of the various actions mentioned in the rest of the book.

Overall, I found the book interesting, but not great. The coverage on Blogging for Business and the Web Content Recipe book were overall much better.

On a interesting note, Wordtracker now has a Link Builder tool for US$59 a month. From what little I've seen, it doesn't look like a good investment.

You can get Link Assistant for US$99.75. I've used it myself, and it's pretty good. Do keep in mind that they do charge for updates (and it's hard to see when you buy!), but the most expensive plan will only cost US$6.95 a month, while the cheapest is US$3.05. They also have discounts for updates if you use more than one of their tools.

Categories
Book Review

The Web Content Recipe Book – review

I've recently read The Web Content Recipe book, by Rachelle Money, Ken McGaffin and Mark Nunney. I expected a good book, from the excerpts available on PDF, but found it was even better than that.

The book proposes to improve your ability to create good web content. Web content is important for several reasons, depending on your site, but in any case, fresh web content with well-tuned SEO content is a great way to bring in new readers and potential clients from search engines.

The first section deals with several principles, such as how to apply marketing to your content, how to write and structure an article, how to optimize them for SEO, and others.

The second session has ideas for what kind of content you could add – FAQs, tips and tricks, case studies, reviews and much more. In most cases, they have long, useful discussions on how to best write that kind of article.

The SEO concepts are throughout all the book, which isn't surprising since it's from Wordtracker.

The book was enjoyable as well as instructive, and certainly covers the topics well. I found many useful suggestions on how to improve my writing – including book reviews – and it was after reading it that I decided to add a blog to my site, something I've been postponing for a while. I usually take notes while reading, and in this case they added up to several pages, because there was so much to take from the text.

I can really recommend this one to anyone who have a site, and wants extra clients and search engine referrals (i.e.: everyone with a site).