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March Newsletter
Issued March 7th, 2006

Up until now, I have tended to write each of my web clients individually, but I now have enough that I think it is fitting to send out an information update to all of you (from time to time). I typically prefer to write individually (because each client is different), but I think that a general blast might be appropriate (and hopefully acceptable).

Here is my Agenda:

1. Alexa
2. Form SPAM
3. Updates
4. Specials (Get a full year for free!)

1. Alexa.

Several people have asked me what Alexa is and how important are the rankings and how do they get higher rankings, so let me address that.

Alexa is a company that is owned by Amazon.com that catalogs a lot of information on the web. Their most visible apparatus is the Alexa Toolbar, which displays the Alexa Ranking. The ranking is based on the number of times that a person using the Alexa toolbar has surfed that site.

Since the toolbar collects information about visits, it is technically classified as spyware (but is not Malware - which is the damaging form of spyware that can harm your computer). I debated installing it for a long time because I really an very careful with my computer (and I don't like or recommend most toolbars). I did a lot of research, before I finally decided that it was worth installing. There are some good features to the toolbar (popup blocker and providing links to similar sites), but the real reason I have kept it on my computer is that I noticed that when I am working on one of your sites (or my sites), the rankings actually are positively affected (meaning that just one person surfing can make a difference).

Do the rankings matter? Some people think yes, some no. There is some conjecture that the Alexa rankings actually play a part in Google search results (I know the reverse is true -- that Alexa provides Google search results in the Alexa search pages). If it is true that Google uses Alexa rankings to give credibility to a site, then getting a higher ranking is worth it.

If you want to increase your rank, one of the best ways is to install the toolbar and set your site at the home page. You can use this link to install the toolbar:

http://download.alexa.com/?amzn_id=ccfdesign-20

That particular link will download an Alexa toolbar with my CCFDesign logo in place of the Alexa logo (and a link to my site).

If you want more information on Alexa, let me know. I did just write an article on my site about increasing Alexa Rankings:

http://www.ccfdesign.com/../Increase-Your-Alexa-Rank.asp

2. Form Spam

I wrote a few people about this yesterday, so I apologize if it is duplicate content.

From time to time, the form code that I use gets spammed - meaning that you will receive unwarranted (often computer generated) form responses. I have gotten quite good at quelling the spam. Essentially, since you have a form that gets sent by email, anyone can go to your site and send you as many forms as they want. Also, someone can use a computer program to find form fields and automatically send out forms.

In either of these cases, if I see a trend, I can stop it from continually occurring. I wrote a script that looks at the entire form message and if it sees blocked words or email addresses or IP addresses, it will not send the form (and instead will direct the visitor to the main page). That is one of the reasons that the IP address is listed on the form itself. I get a copy of all of the forms that are sent (for this reason). So, if you get a deluge of spam (like I did yesterday), know that I will add the content of that message to my script.

3. Updates.

I want to remind everyone that you should consider updating your website once a month with some new content. Search engines like seeing sites that are updated regularly. From time to time, I make minor (almost unnoticeable) changes to your site to at least have some change. Actual changes are better, though. As the weather turns to spring, and everything gets green again, I hope to see new pictures and some more text from all of the sites.

4. Specials.

From time to time I run some web specials (currently, I am offering $40 off the design package through March 22).

Some of you know that I give $25 off the annual price to anyone who has recommended a customer - providing that customer follows through by signing up for the annual package. I am going to offer something else as well:

For the next 6 months or so (so now through the end of September), if any client recommends multiple clients, I will give $25 off the first one and $50 off the second one and $100 off the third one. If anyone can give me four leads (again, that turn into sales), I will give you an entire year of hosting and maintenance for free. Also, for every sale I get, I will add a month of optimization for free.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for your business. I want to remind you to keep your virus definitions updated and to back up all of the key data on your local computers (I back mine up monthly).

If you get some time, you can read some of the articles I have written on my site (they might give you some ideas to make your site even better).

http://www.ccfdesign.com/ASP/WebDesign/Articles/Default.asp

Thanks for your time,
Greg

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