Monday, November 22, 2010

Easy SEO For Busy Moms (From MomsWithApps.com)

I really love this blog called MomsWithApps.com.  They post on a variety of topics beyond iPhone/iPad apps and always have something interesting to say.  This was a nice post on SEO for mommy bloggers or just anyone, really, trying to learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

The title is my pet peeve, so please pay attention to that one.  Clever isn't necessarily good if it's not descriptive.  Also, long is ok if it nails the topic.  Titles ARE EVERYTHING!  Write them last and with great care!

Pragmatic Mom
http://PragmaticMom.com


Our feature this week is written by Jamie Pearson, expert mom blogger at Best Kids Apps and Travel Savvy Mom. Everytime I interact with Jamie, she has something knowledgeable to say about Search Engine Optimization. Today we are sharing her SEO tips with app developers, because these days, getting your app noticed in a sea of thousands can be a similar challenge to getting your content picked up on the Web. So think smart, it’s time to focus on those keywords.
Wouldn’t it be nice if thousands of people hung on your every blog post without your having to do a thing besides write them?  If only.  Unfortunately the formula for success is simple: write good content, publish good content, repeat.

When it comes to helping people find all that great content, there are a few things you can do to stack the SEO odds in your favor.  If you’re new to blogging, or just new to SEO, here are five tricks to keep in mind.

1.  Write clear titles
Witty titles are wonderful, but the Google bots don’t have a sense of humor.  Are you writing an article about visiting Disneyland with kids?  Call it, “Visiting Disneyland with Kids”.  If you feel like you’ll die without witty titles, use the accurate title in the title tag.

2.  Do a little keyword research
Do some keyword research before you write your post.  When I sat down to write about my dude ranch vacation, I discovered (via the Google Adwords Keyword tool) that while 90,000 people a month search for “dude ranch” and 135,000 search for “dude ranches”, 550,000 search for “horseback riding vacations”.  Huh.

3.  Know what to do with those keywords once you’ve got them
Now that you’ve got some keywords, what do you do with them?  Four things:  1) Use them in your title, 2) Use them in the well-written content both as stand-alone keywords and as part of search phrases, 3) Use them in your ALT tags, and 4) Reinforce them in your H1, H2, and H3 headings.

4.  Be link smart
Be generous with outgoing links and always use (and ask for) good anchor text.  For my blog, Travel Savvy Mom, I already rank just fine for the term “Travel Savvy Mom”.  What I’m aiming to rank for is the really juicy search term: “Family Vacations”.  So when people link to me, I ask them to do it like this:  Jamie Pearson, the publisher of Travel Savvy Mom, an award winning blog about family vacations.

5.  Link to yourself too
Don’t forget internal linking either.  After you’ve been blogging for awhile, you’ll notice that you have the tendency to cover the same ground (or similar ground) over and over.  If you’re blogging about great travel toys, for example, and you have an opportunity to mention fun car games and link back to a previous post, do it.
This list is, unfortunately, far from exhaustive.  There are lots and lots of other very smart things you can do to give yourself extra visibility to search engines.  If you’re really serious about SEO, my friend Kelby Carr has written a great ebook that will get you started. It’s called Mom Blog SEO: 30 Days to Boost Traffic, Readers, Influence, and Income.  Good luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Personal ROI of Social Media

From Social Media Today by Amber Naslund
She has a beautiful way of expressing the power of social media in terms of human connections.  Yes, this IS relevant to you, and you, and you!  Everyone need not get on board but will be that much richer in connections if they do.  At CoffeeShopBloggers, we always meet at this one coffee shop, L'Aroma Cafe.  We call it a vortex of connections because it is almost impossible to go there, hang out for a bit and NOT run into a handful of people you know.  If you are with someone, you meet their friends too ... and so the connections begin and ripple outward.  Social media has that same vortex ripple effect magnified by a zillion.  You can put a toe in the water to test it and chances are you will find that the water feels just fine!  Come on in and stay for a while!
Pragmatic Mom
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My job is to care about the business case for social media. That’s what I do for a living. Put social media in the perspective of a brand or company and do my best to illustrate how it can build a business.
But if I never manage to definitively prove some fancy formula for “social media ROI” in a business context, I’ll still be here. Why? Because there are personal rewards to participation here that go above and beyond awareness, or sales, or anything of the sort.
I have met friends through whom I’ve rediscovered the meanings of trust, faith, and loyalty.
I’ve found a home for some of the personal battles I’ve fought, and solidarity through hearing the stories of others.
I have seen people raise money and awareness for causes that deserve more than we can ever collectively give them, but that might not otherwise stood a chance of getting seen.
I’ve laughed more richly and more genuinely than I have in a long, long time.
I’ve walked into rooms and hugged people as if I’ve known them for decades, thanks to the late night chats on Twitter or a string of discussion on a blog. And I’ve shared drinks or dinner with many of those people and forged bonds of forever friendship that started on these “silly” social networks. We may have found one another on the web, but that’s just the spark that lit the fire.
I’ve reconnected with friends who I’ve always regretted losing track of, and I’ve been able to apologize for that in person. I’ve seen people closest to me rediscover the love of their lives many years later and forge a future together because of a serendipitous click.
We used to be bound by geography and circumstance in order to encounter people. Now, our potential for connection – and our ability to do so regardless of where we are or where we go – is amplified many times over, and more fluid and unencumbered than it’s ever been.
There are skeptics and naysayers all over. There are the “yeah, but”s of the world masquerading as pragmatists or realists when they’ve really got a perspective or attitude problem of their own. There is always the other side of the coin. But I choose to focus my energy elsewhere, because I’ve personally experienced how these relationships have enriched my life, my work, and my perspective on the world around me.
I will and do support the idea that quantifying social media’s impact is important to justify continued investment as a business. But I can’t believe nor understand how many companies can’t also accept the fact that deeper and broader personal connections can net stronger business ties, too, whether or not you can capture the data proof points that bear that out. It’s been that way since the dawn of time. We prosper in business through better connections, stronger relationships, deeper trust. We’ve always known that. We’ve rarely demanded to see the evidence until we got all up in arms about the fact that we were talking on this internet thing instead of over the golf course or a drink.
But I’ve found all of these things in spades through Twitter, my blog, the blogs of others, Facebook. I’ve found them in you, friends and readers and those that have provided so much information and insight for me to learn from. I’ve made business deals, yes. Numbers of them. But I’ve also exponentially enriched my life through the people I’ve met, the ideas I’ve discovered, the learning I’ve done.
I’ve found personal gold here on these crazy places on the web, simply because they give me potential. They give me personal inertia. They’ve brought me the gifts of people and friendships that will last long beyond the wires that first connected us.
That’s my personal social media ROI. What’s yours?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Secret Weapon that Makes Your Content Successful (from CopyBlogger)

It's a post like this that makes me LOVE CopyBlogger.  If you are reading this post on CoffeeShopBloggers, you really need to subscribe to CopyBlogger and it's free!  It's been so helpful to me as a blogger.

Pragmatic Mom
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Every time you sit down to write, do you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?
Do you worry that what you’re about to write won’t be as awesome as the posts you read on popular, established blogs?
It’s a fear many writers know well: the fear that you just won’t be good enough to size up to your favorite writers.
It can be inspiring to want to write as well as your favorites. But it can also be a huge stumbling block waiting to trip you up.
As long as you’re trying to emulate some other writer, your writing won’t have the quality you want. It won’t draw the audience you want, either.
I mentor writers, and I find many feel insecure when they contemplate the success of writers who have already hit it big with their blogs.
How can I ever stand out, when so many other bloggers are already doing it, and they’ve been at it longer?
Think like that, and you’re going to be too paralyzed by fear to write.

Fortunately, there’s a way out of this problem

Stop comparing what you write to the work of other writers. You’re never going to be them.
But you can be successful. It doesn’t matter that others have been at it longer, or currently have a bigger audience.
Five years from now, do you think there won’t be any great new faces? Of course there will. Blogging and writing stars will continue to be born. You can start now and still create a blog that will get noticed.
How will you make your blog stand out from the millions of blogs already crowding the Internet?
By using your secret weapon.

Your secret weapon

Every writer has a secret weapon only they can use. Know what it is?
I’ll give you a hint: If you traveled the Earth from now until the end of your life, would you ever meet another you?
No. There is only one you.
That is your secret weapon. Your uniqueness.
Only you have your memories, experiences, ideas, and point of view. Create a blog where that uniqueness can shine through, work hard on your blog writing, and people will read you.

How to deploy your secret weapon

Now that you know what you’ve got that no other blogger can deliver, you’re ready to perfect the use of your secret weapon.
There are two steps to deploying it:
  1. Picking the right topic, and
  2. Writing the heck out of it.
Let’s start with the topic. Have you picked a subject for your blog where you can offer a truly fresh perspective? Is it something you’re passionate about? Does it provide an opportunity to make full use of your secret weapon?
Take a look at your blog right now and ask yourself: Is your blog truly different from any other blog out there?
If not, maybe it’s time for a new direction. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it doesn’t usually result in stellar writing.

Great blogs are one-of-a-kind

Often, the one-of-a-kind element is a fresh approach to a well-loved topic.
Like blogging for a year about cooking every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I think only Julie Powell from Queens could have come up with that idea — and gone on to write that particular blog (which, of course, became a bestselling book and a popular movie).
Another example: There are a million mommy blogs. But there’s only one Jenny Baitch Isenman, whose comical, often profane descriptions of stultifying American home life make The Suburban Jungle one of the few blogs I’ve just got to stop and read.
Most blogs are boring because they have no personality. They don’t feel authentic. They don’t add anything new.
Focus on a subject where your personality comes out, where you have something unique to offer, and where you can use your secret weapon to stand out.

Power up your weapon

Once you are focused on a topic that maximizes your secret weapon, you’re ready to look at the quality of your writing.
Pull up a bunch of your posts or article clips and take a look at them.
Proud of what you see? Good.
Could you do better? Always.
Focus on improving the quality of what you produce. Specifically, focus on making your unique point of view — your humor, your analysis, your reactions — come out in your blog.
In the changing world of freelance writing, the single factor you have the most control over is that you can always make your writing better. Polish your work. Make sure your voice shines through.
Look at it again tomorrow morning. Read it out loud. Ask yourself what observation you have to make that no one else can offer.
Worry only about perfecting your writing. Write stronger, leaner, sharper, each time.
Launch your secret weapon into the blogosphere. Keep getting better at being you. People will notice.
About the Author: Longtime business reporter Carol Tice blogs for Entrepreneur, BNET, and about the business of writing at Make a Living Writing

Thursday, November 4, 2010

SEO Is Dead, And The New King Is ‘SMO’/ Great Content is the Name of the Game

It's nice to see that the pendulum is swinging back on the side of quality content!



Ben Elowitz (@elowitz) is co-founder and CEO of Wetpaint, a web publisher, and author of the Digital Quarters blog. Prior to Wetpaint, Elowitz co-founded Blue Nile, the online retailer of luxury goods. He is also an angel investor in various media and e-commerce companies.
Over the past five years, Web publishing has been so heavily dominated by search engine optimization (SEO) that, to many publishing executives, the right keywords have become far more important than their sites’ actual content or audience. But this movement toward SEO has been dangerous, as it’s moved publishers’ eye off their most important job of creating great content, and onto the false goals of keywords, hacks, paid links, and technical engineering that their audience doesn’t know or care about.
Even venerable publishers like Forbes have traded in their leadership legacy to chase the Huffington Post pufferfish strategy of filling up Google’s database with more posts, more frequency, and more low-cost content; while stalwarts like Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) are still chasing SEO basics like getting keywords into their URLs. 
But the recent announcement of the Facebook/Bing partnership to integrate social and search results clearly marks the beginning of the end of SEO, and the smartest digital publishers will drop everything to rethink their distribution strategy entirely.
With the rise of Facebook, we’ve entered a new era of digital media: personalized discovery. The balance of power is shifting: Already sites at Wetpaint and other publishers are seeing more audience coming from Facebook than from search.
Search was critical when answers to questions were scarce. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) can find an answer to almost any keyword query from among the zillions of pages on the web. But at a time when such answers are abundant, it’s far more valuable to find the best content for me – and increasingly, find it before I’ve even asked for it. The sort algorithm that works best for that is more correlated to who’s doing the asking than how they would phrase the ask. 
For that level of personalized results, no abject algorithm can keep up without deep knowledge of its users. Advantage: Facebook. 
The encouraging implication is that the audience values content, not keywords. And Facebook sides with the audience. And so it’s time to christen a new era of social-media optimization, or “SMO.” The era of SMO liberates publishers from the exercise of tricks, hacks and keywords. Instead, the big opportunity is now once again creating and refining the most appealing content possible. 
Imagine that.
SMO recognizes that Facebook already has the best position to introduce content to users. Already, audiences are using Facebook as the news interface to their favorite sources (both media titles and their friends) in a way that Google News hasn’t cracked the code on; products like Flipboard that take this to the next level are captivating. 
As Facebook takes its immense database of “Likes” and pivots it to inform search results, there’s no question that it will have a huge advantage in delivering a better result set for almost every user. It simply knows more. 
SMO strategy means appealing to the audience, not an intermediary; knowing what drives interest; and activating people’s desire to consume and share. Sure, there is buzz among many publishers around Facebook logins and likes, and the traffic bumps that come with them. But SMO offers more far than that. It’s about creating a positive feedback loop, where users are rewarded for both consuming and distributing content. The key is to develop virality in media like that of Zynga games and Groupon offers. Beyond, of course, creating great content and experiences that are worth sharing, publishers need to then reward their audiences with the full range of possibilities, including prestige, access, exclusive content and enhanced experiences. 
For those who are still working on implementing search strategies: if you haven’t turned your focus to SMO, you will be left behind as the allure of gaming search engines fades into the past.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Channeling Tim Gunn: How to Build a Better Blog (from Copy Blogger/RedHeadWriter)

So in the interests of learning and building a better blog, here are five things that, if I were to channel Tim Gunn (and that would be a fabulous and incredibly stylish stunt), you might be doing wrong with your blog.

1. SEO is not the new black

I’m a huge fan of the Scribe plugin to optimize content, and I use it often on client blogs. It’s a powerful tool that combines SEO and blogging in a single, easy-to-digest package, and it’s a no-brainer for anyone with a blog.
But you don’t optimize every piece of content you create.
If you fill your entire closet with black, you have no versatility and you kinda screw yourself when you’re in a mood for a splash of color.
Don’t limit the incredibly powerful tool you have in blogging by binding yourself 24/7 to a keyword-based strategy.
Yes, have an SEO strategy. Yes, create terrific content that’s optimized for search. That’s just smart.
But going on to add to that with something of your own — something that’s not so easily optimizable — is even smarter.
People share great content, not great keywords. If you’ve got a great idea for a post but it doesn’t lend itself to SEO optimization, don’t hold back. This is one case when less isn’t more.

2. Conversation never goes out of style

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
If you’re going to wear those four-inch purple metallic platform shoes with the mustard yellow tights, you need to be aware that you’re going to cause some buzz.
The blogging equivalent is taking on a juicy topic — and getting some major attention (not necessarily positive) in return.
In the blogging world, buzz mainly finds you in your blog comments. When you hit a hot button, that’s where you first find out.
When you look at great blogs, it’s not uncommon to find that the comments become even better than the post itself — so let them.
If you’ve written something that’s whipping up controversy, don’t hide from your comments.
Embrace the buzz, both positive and negative. Learn from it. Dive in and chat. Your readers will thank you (and become even more loyal on account of it).

3. Engagement is the key to style

Tim Gunn once said,
Perhaps the real secret to style is filling yourself to the absolute brim with engagement.
Engaging isn’t just about asking for retweets and responding to comments.
Engagement is about getting out there and understanding the true lay of the land. Attending conferences, making connections, reading other blogs, building relationships.
Start going through your comments and clicking through to your commenters’ blogs. Read them. Get to know your fans and your opponents. If you’re not doing this now, make it a to-do item a couple times a week.
Showing genuine interest is the least you can do to reciprocate a reader for showing an interest in you.
Engage. It’s the most stylish thing you can do in the blogosphere.

4. Make it accessible

One of Tim’s most famous quotes is from a critique of a Project Runway contestant’s design:
It looks like pterodactyl from a gay Jurassic Park!
While I almost fell on the floor when I heard that one, it reminded me of a simple fact: if no one can figure out what you’re trying to do with your content, you fail.
When you invite readers to spend some time reading your content, make sure you’re actually making sense.
That doesn’t mean being trite or going face-first into cliché. It means using examples, situations, and metaphors that people can relate to.
If people have to work too hard to “get” your content, they’re going to stop trying.
(And if you can’t live without the occasional cliché, try this cool cliché finder. Because the truth is, sometimes the right cliché is the perfect way to get your idea across.)
Don’t be predictable … but try accessible on for size.

5. Carry on!

Great blogs don’t just happen — they’re built.
A fantastic blog is crafted, just like a fashion collection that shows up on the runways. Designers and artisans spend hours painstakingly creating each piece that makes up the collection, and they all work together.
It amazes me that Tim Gunn isn’t a blogger, because he truly knows how to make it work. So if you’re looking to build a blogging empire (or simply one that makes you proud of what you’ve built), remember that it’s all about community and critics.
Your community needs to be built and nurtured. Your content needs to be shaped around their interests and desires. They’re the ones who will buy your stuff and wear it proudly.
Your critics will give you things to think about and ways you can improve. While some will be full of hot air and in love with the sound of their own voice, if you listen hard enough, there will be some pearls of wisdom worth stringing together.
And pearls go with everything.
About the Author: Erika Napoletano is the Head Redhead at RedheadWriting LLC, a Denver-based online strategies consultancy. Her blog, RedheadWriting, is a bastion for “unpopular thoughts and blunt advice — delivered” and consistently strives to say what others won’t (but should) about marketing, social media, business integrity, and life in general.