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   Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site

       Editor: Peter Kent
         Top Floor Publishing

        Almost 60,000 Subscribers in More Than 100 Countries!

   ~~~ IN THIS ISSUE ~~~

   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   Beginner's Column:
       New Domain Names Soon

   Dot-Com Will Always Be King

   BizBlast Reminder

   A Real-Life Online Advertising Test

   Where is Netscape 5?

   Forget Cool, Think Useful -- What Do Web Shoppers Really

   The Search Engine Game is Changing

   Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books

   Book Reviewers Wanted

   Reading Back Issues

   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   {{ Beginner's Column:
        New Domain Names Soon }}

   Well, it's been a long time, years in fact, but finally new
   top-level domain names are on the way. We should soon be seeing
   .name, .biz, .info, .pro, .aero, .coop, and .museum top-levels.
   How soon? Um ... I don't know. For all the hype about these
   domain names being available "imminently," it's still not quite
   clear when they will be released. The first four will probably
   be released before the last three, but ICANN, the The Internet
   Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is still in the
   planning stage. The official word is that the first four will
   be released "as soon as feasible."

   There are a number of companies offering pre-registration for
   these new domain names. For instance,
   PreRegisterYourDomains.com says that the new domains will be on
   sale "early in 2001." This clearly isn't true; after all, it's
   almost May. And the fact is that ICANN has no set schedule for
   the release of these names. At the last ICANN meeting, in
   Melbourne, Australia, ICANN resolved that it will "complete
   negotiation of the remaining unsponsored top-level domain
   appendices as soon as feasible." The .name, .biz, .info, and
   .pro domain names are, in ICANN lingo, "unsponsored," and the
   appendices refer to the agreements required to get all this

   Now, there are a number of places where you can pre-register a
   domain name, such as PreRegisterYourDomains.com and
   EarlyBirdDomain.com. Note, however, that none of these
   pre-registration sites have any connection to ICANN or any of
   the registrars that will be registering the domain names.
   That's not to say that all of these services are fraudulent,
   but you should realize that all even the most ethical of these
   companies can promise is to submit your registration through
   the normal channels as soon as registration of these new
   domains begins. Here's what ICANN says about the issue:

     No one has been authorized to "pre-register" domain
     names in the new TLDs. Persons who attempt to
     "pre-register" such domain names do so at their own risk
     and with no assurance that they will receive the
     pre-registered names once the TLDs become operational.
     The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued
     a consumer alert warning about "scam artists" offering
     services along these lines. Among other recommendations,
     the FTC advised consumers to protect themselves by
     "[a]voiding any domain name pre-registration service
     that asks for up-front fees, guarantees particular top
     level domain names or preferential treatment in the
     assignment of new top level domain names." Please refer
     to the FTC's alert for additional information.

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   {{ Dot-Com Will Always Be King }}

   One thing you should remember ... despite the new domain names,
   the .com domain will remain the dominant domain name.

   Here are a few reasons why:

   Build a cool community site online ... but don't re-invent the
   wheel, learn from the experts rather than repeating their
   mistakes. Read "Poor Richard's Building Online Communities:
   Create a Web Community for Your Business, Club, Association, or
   Family"  http://topfloor.com/pr/communities/

   {{ BizBlast Reminder }}

   IMPORTANT-->: PLEASE NOTE: Despite the fact that two of my
   IMPORTANT-->: books, published early last year, mention
   IMPORTANT-->: BizBlast, I am no longer associated with the
   IMPORTANT-->: services marketed under the BizBlast name,
   IMPORTANT-->: and no longer promote those services.

   Promoting your Web site online? It doesn't mean search engines
   and banner ads. You need to know about these low-cost yet
   effective promotional techniques that really do work!

   {{ A Real-Life Online Advertising Test }}

   Those of you who have been reading my newsletter since I began
   know that I'm now great fan of advertising, in particular
   banner advertising. It is, I believe, a simple fact that most
   advertising does not work. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't
   advertise, but ...

     1: Don't assume that advertising must work
     2: Regard all advertising as experimental until you come up
     with a formula that works for you

   In particular most banner advertising is a terrible waste of
   money for most businesses, regardless of what the banner-ad
   salespeople will tell you. A successful banner-advertising
   campaign is a rare thing. I won't repeat myself, so if you want
   more details look here:

     The Myth of Highly Targeted Advertising
     Banner Advertising May Not Work
     Low-Cost Banner Advertising
     Web Banners Are a Bust
     Cost Per Click or Cost Per Impression?
     Yahoo! Sells Banners ... But Does it Buy?
     Banner Ad Update
     Where Are Banner Ads Going

   I did another little advertising experiment recently, on the
   Amazon.com book site. Amazon has a new system that makes it
   very easy for authors and publishers to promote their books
   using little images of their book covers, and a 35-character
   "blurb" underneath, displayed on the side of the search page.
   You select which search words you are interested in, and then
   specify a "bid" for the words. For instance, you might state
   that you want the book cover to appear if anyone searches for
   the word "e-commerce," then specify that every time the image
   is displayed you're willing to pay 10 or 15 "points." You can
   buy 20,000 points for $20, so a point is one tenth of a cent.
   Bid 10 points and you're saying that you're willing to pay a
   cent each time someone sees your book cover.

   There are a couple of ways to bid. You can specify an actual
   bid -- 10 points, for instance -- or you can specify a maximum
   bid. If you specify a maximum of 50 points, for example, you
   are telling the system to buy the ad at the lowest possible
   rate, up to a maximum of 50 points. If someone else bids 49
   points for that keyword, you'll end up paying 50 points, but if
   the highest bid is only 10 points, you'll pay only 11.

   Here are the results of my real-world experiment, advertising
   Poor Richard's Internet Marketing and Promotions (
   http://topfloor.com/pr/promo/ ), using keywords such as
   e-commerce, marketing, and promotions.

   I bought 20,000 points, the minimum, for $20. The book cover
   was displayed 2,072 times; that is, 2,072 people searched for
   one of the words I specified and saw the book cover on the
   search-results page. That's a cpm (cost per thousand
   impressions; see the articles listed above for more information
   about such advertising terminology) of $10, a sort of mid-range
   cost for banner advertising. Not particularly expensive, but
   not exactly cheap, either.

   Now, out of those 2,072 people who saw the book cover, how many
   clicked on it? A thousand? A hundred? Fifty? No, twelve. Those
   twelve visitors to my book's page cost $20, remember ... that's
   $1.67 per visitor.

   So, 0.58% of all ad displays resulted in a click, but that's
   not terribly low. Doesn't sound much, does it? Click-through
   rates are typically below 1%. How many bought? That I don't
   know, because Amazon doesn't provide that information. But I
   know that in order to breakeven and pay for the $20 ad budget,
   four of those visitors had to buy the book, one out of every
   three who saw it; possible, but highly unlikely. And even if
   they did, the campaign still failed because I wouldn't have
   actually made a profit.

   Now, I should note that some words did better than others. For
   instance, the word "promotions" did very well. Although only 18
   ads were served up in response to the word promotions, three of
   the viewers clicked on the book cover -- one in six. The word
   was relatively cheap, too, 5 points (half a cent per view). If
   this holds true for 20,000 points, I would end up with 4,000 ad
   impressions (a cpm of $5), and 667 people clicking through -- a
   cost of 3 cents per visitor, a much more worthwhile campaign.
   I'll let you know what happens.

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   {{ Where is Netscape 5? }}

   Several of you noticed the intentional mistake in my last
   newsletter; while discussing NetMechanic's Browser Photo tool,
   I referred to Netscape Navigator 5
   ( http://poorrichard.com/newsltr/049.htm#049_3 ). Of course
   there never was a Navigator 5, as Netscape jumped directly from
   version 4.x to 6.0.

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   {{ Forget Cool, Think Useful -- What Do Web Shoppers Really
   Want? }}

   It's been several years since I first wrote "Forget Cool, Think
   Useful" in my book, Poor Richard's Web Site (
   http://PoorRichard.com/ ). What I was referring to was all the
   nonsense we were hearing back then (this was 1997) about how to
   keep people coming back to your Web site; make it "cool," make
   it "entertaining," and so on. My point was that you can't
   compete with TV, you can't compete with movies, you can't even
   compete with entertainment Web sites. Luckily there's no _need_
   to compete, though, because what really counts is making your
   site useful, not cool.

   A reader, Dave Sacher, sent me an article from the Wall Street
   Journal reiterating my point. A research company, Information
   Resources, Inc., surveyed 7,900 consumers at e-commerce sites,
   and discovered, what a surprise ... that consumers preferred
   "plainer sites." Only 12% of those surveyed said they wanted
   "games" at the Web sites they visit, yet, according to the
   research company, 38% of "packaged goods" sites provide them.
   (Sounds a bit high to me, but I haven't seen the list.)

   So what do they want? About half said they wanted free samples,
   coupons, and special offers. Obvious really (forget cool, think
   useful). Apparently only 22% of the sites have samples, and 19%
   have coupons. Also, most of those surveyed (74%), said they
   want to provide and read online feedback.

   For more information, see the Wall Street Journal's site
   (you'll need to register):

   The Internet provides a great new way to recruit great new
   employees! Read "Poor Richard's Internet Recruiting: Easy,
   Low-Cost Ways To Find Great Employees Online"

   {{ The Search Engine Game is Changing }}

   The search-engine business is changing, it's a whole new game.
   To get listed, there's a good chance you're going to have to

   Two of the most important search sites, Yahoo! and AltaVista,
   have begun charging in some circumstances. In fact Yahoo!, the
   single most important search site, began planning this way back
   in late 1998, and began its first fee-for-listing plan soon

   At one point Yahoo! seemed a little shy about its "expedited"
   service; it was possible to register a site at Yahoo! and not
   even notice the fee service. However, these days it's quite
   clear that you have a couple of options when "suggesting" a
   site for Yahoo!'s listings. The Standard Submission, which is
   free, or the Business Express program; hat program is $199,
   which guarantees that your site will be reviewed within 7 days.
   Furthermore, you will get an e-mail informing you whether or
   not the site has been accepted and, if not, the reason why.

   What Yahoo! doesn't say, but probably wants you to know, is
   that it may take literally months for them to review your site
   through the Standard Submission program, and you may have to
   submit several times (see
   http://www.poorrichard.com/newsltr/002.htm#yahoo ). You won't
   be informed if your site is accepted or decline, and if
   declined you won't be told why.

   AltaVista recently began it's only pay-for-listing program. But
   AltaVista has taken it a step further. While the Yahoo! program
   is merely a convenience -- it makes it easier and faster to get
   listed -- once listed there's no difference between a Standard
   Submission site and a Business Express site. But if you don't
   pay AltaVista's $199 fee, there are a couple of things you
   won't get. AltaVista has three different search systems:

   1: A listing in the AltaVista Search Index -- this index is
   searched when someone enters keywords and searches at

   2: The AltaVista Directory, a directory of over 2 million sites
   that have been reviewed for quality. These are the sites you'll
   find when you drill down through the category headings you see
   on the main AltaVista page.

   3: The LookSmart Network, a collection of directories including
   AltaVista, Excite, MSN, iWon, CNN, Time Warner and more than
   370 ISPs.

   Now, when you pay the $199 fee, AltaVista promises to review
   your site within two business days, and inform you whether your
   site qualifies to be entered into all the indexes and
   directories listed above. (As with Yahoo!, the fee doesn't
   guarantee that your site is accepted.) However, if you don't
   pay the $199 fee, your site is submitted to the AltaVista
   Search Index only, not the AltaVista Directory nor the
   LookSmart Network.

   For more information on AltaVista's new plan, see here:


   {{ Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books }}

   Top Floor Publishing now has ten books in print:

   Poor Richard's Home and Small Office Networking

   Poor Richard's Internet Recruiting

   Poor Richard's Building Online Communities: Create a Web
   Community for Your Business, Club, Association, or Family

   The Official Miva Web-Scripting Book: Shopping Carts,
   Feedback Forms, Guestbooks, and More

   Poor Richard's Web Site, 2nd Edition: Geek-Free, Commonsense
   Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site

   Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing

   Poor Richard's Internet Marketing and Promotions, 2nd Edition

   The CDnow Story: Rags to Riches on the Internet

   MP3 For Musicians: Promote Your Music Career Online

   MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution: Turn Your PC into a
   CD-Quality Jukebox

   ... we also carry the following books by Peter Kent

   Making Money in Technical Writing: Turn Your Writing Skills
   into $100,000 A Year

   The Official Netscape JavaScript Book

   Order direct from the publisher, and you'll get a 100%,
   1-Year Guarantee. If you feel the book wasn't worth the
   money, send it back for a refund!

   And remember, these books are discounted at the Web site, and
   you pay just one shipping cost regardless of how many books
   you buy!


   {{ Book Reviewers Wanted }}

   Do you review books for newspapers, magazines, newsletters
   (electronic or paper), Web sites, or other media spots?

   If so, perhaps you'd like to review one of Top Floor
   Publishing's recent books:

   * Poor Richard's Home & Small Office Networking Room-to-Room
     or Around the World
   * Poor Richard's Internet Recruiting: Easy, Low-Cost Ways To
     Find Great Employees Online
   * Poor Richard's Building Online Communities: Create a Web
     Community for Your Business, Club, Association, or Family

   Or perhaps you'd like to review "Poor Richard's Web Site:
   Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web
   Site, 2nd Edition"? Or maybe one of the other books mentioned

   Contact Top Floor's Marketing Director, Missy Ramey, at
   [EMAIL PROTECTED] Include your full mailing address, the
   name of newspaper/magazine/whatever in which the review will
   appear and the probable date of publication, and the editor's
   contact information.

   Get into the e-mail publishing business yourself! Read "Poor
   Richard's E-mail Publishing: Creating Newsletters, Bulletins,
   Discussion Groups and Other Powerful Communication Tools"

   {{ Reading Back Issues }}

   If you need to refer to back issues of this newsletter -- and
   search the archives -- you can find them at the following


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