This blog has served me well for the last two years, but it’s time to move on. My lovely and talented designer, Janet Baxter, has created a shiny new beautiful WordPress template, and I’m integrating my website with my blog.
I’ll be offline for the next week, but all going well, I’m going to relaunch the new blog/website on October 25.
This week’s last post on Google and SEO is a second guest-post by Alex Papa. His follow-up to Monday’s post outlines how to find your best keywords for Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be frustrating, particularly for bloggers who are only interested in providing great content to readers. The internet is filled with systems, tools and the supposed ‘secrets’, all promising to help move your site to the top of search results. Distinguishing between proper and nonsense advice is complicated for the beginner and intermediate webmaster equally.
At this point, the Google Keyword Tooltakes the stage. It does not optimize your site for you; however, it will allow you to find the keywords that are most suitable for what you want to achieve with your blog post. This free tool is provided by Google. It is designed to show you the number of Global Monthly searches and the Competition for an individual keyword. Your aim should be to find the keywords that are higher in the volume of searches and low in competition.
Google Keywords is not meant for people who blog for fun. Instead, it is meant for blog owners who are focused on marketing their business or their products and services through their blog. This may sound like a little distinction and leads to the first tip of taking advantage of Google Keywords for SEO.
Tip 1: Always Work With Exact, Not Broad and Not Phrase, Keywords
Within the context of Google Keyword Tool;
• Broad is defined as searches that come close to an individual keyword. For example New York Photos can be New York City Pictures or even Photographs of New York Buildings.
• “Phrase” denotes searches that include the words in any order within a phrase.
• [Exact] refers to user searches that are the exact word or phrase.
Taking New York Photos as an example, you want to know the search volume for New York Photos and you type it into Google Keyword Tool. If you select broad as your filter (default setting), what Google Keyword will return is a search volume number for New York Photos that consists of the traffic for that term plus various related terms. The number you get is not the real number of people who are looking for New York Photos. If you select Exact as your filter you will get a different number which is usually more realistic.
Be certain that your searches are filtered by Exact match, as seen in the example and the number of the Global Monthly searches you get will be precise.
Tip 2: Check the Competition Bar – But Do Not Rely On It
That bar that shows an estimation of competition for a keyword is another Google Keyword oddity. The problem is that the bar displays competition amongst advertisers to buy the relevant keyword for Google Adword campaigns and it does not indicate the number of websites that rank organically for a keyword.
Obviously, the exact keyword [New York photos] attracts more competitors than the phrase or broad keyword, but this should not mean anything to you, because these figures usually are related to competition in pay per click (PPC) advertising and not to competition in organic ranking.
Fortunately, finding your SEO competition for a keyword is not a daunting task. To start with, search Google for the relevant keyword.
To do this just click the little search icon next to the term and Google will initiate the search for you. Scroll through the first page or two of the displayed results. Assess the quality of the pages displayed, especially how focused they are on the relevant keyword. If the pages are messed up; and if the apparent focus is low, then the more conquerable the keyword.
Tip 3: Choose Keywords that Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Site
Imagine you were promoting your New York Photos on a page you have in your blog, and while conducting research on Google Keyword Tool you notice numerous keywords that were neglected in this genre. They seem to have high volume of searches and low competition. Without delay you write them down and set off a plan of content optimisation in your blog post.
No more than a month later after numerous hours of work you become aware that there have been many visitors in your New York Photos page but no buyers. An explanation for this is simply that the keywords you chose did not drive qualified traffic. In your case, the keywords possibly attracted enquirers instead of the buyers. Unfortunately, keywords like “New York Photos” or similar might bring people whose intentions are to view or copy your photos. If you want to sell photos then you need to find and analyze ‘buying’ keywords, such as [buy New York Photos] or [low cost New York Photos]. ‘Buying’ keywords attract buyers instead of enquirers to your product page.
Once you identify these keywords your next task is to use them in your website content (on-page optimisation) and your backlinks (off-page optimisation).
In choosing keywords, the question you should be asking yourself is: What kind of traffic will this keyword draw? What kind of conversions percentage is possible for that traffic to generate? And what would the value of those conversions possibly be.
Google Grants is a unique in-kind donation program awarding free AdWords advertising to select charitable organizations. We support organizations sharing our philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy, and the arts.
Selected companies will recieve up to $329 per day or $10,000 per month in Google AdWords advertising.
If you are a not-for-profit arts agency in the US, this is an amazing opportunity. Hopefully it becomes available in Canada, soon.
This week is all about SEO and Keywords. First up, a guest post from Alex Papa on how to get eyeballs to your blog or website.
Enter the ‘Blogosphere’: a world where corporate minds and marketers of all kinds congregate with a common goal. A goal to have their distinctive voices heard, to build a level of trust, and to present their services. Businesses have scanned the blogging scene, and recognized that the blogging platform presents a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Marketing strategies and blogging are now intertwined as a form of brand building and promotion. Irrespective of prior knowledge, geographical positioning, or intellect, the blogging realm offers significant potential for reward.
Blogs and Business: Where is the Benefit?
Unlike a commercial website, a blog presents a lax setting. Viewers are not barraged with “Buy Now” buttons and other conspicuous sales pitches. This lowers the guard of the reader, and opens the door for a relationship to be built. A relationship initiates a level of trust, which correlates to a potential client and friend. The key determinants to solidify a level of trust is to offer your reader unique value-adding content. The content you provide illuminates your voice, exposes your character, and establishes your credibility. Contributing value-adding content on a consistent basis will ensure your readers return to your blog.
An expansive reader-base equates to a sizable market for your service. But with millions of blogs in existence, obtaining significant traffic can become an arduous assignment.
Social Media Traffic
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can yield significant traffic for your blog. Facebook is the second most traffic intensive platform on the web, with Google firmly on top. Creating targeted “groups and pages” on Facebook can drive a substantial amount of traffic directly to your blog. Joining and participating in communities such as forums have proven to be another free source of direct traffic.
Another supply of sizeable traffic will be derived from the search engines like Google or Yahoo. This form of traffic which is commonly known as “organic” traffic will be the prominent source of traffic your blog receives. Traffic generated from search engines will always be laser targeted because users key in search terms that are specific to their needs.
Quality blog authors commit a fatal error by producing blog posts that are eloquent and of superior class, but lack search engine friendliness. Search engines are not professors evaluating the quality of your writing. They are programmed to decipher the relevance of your content according to the search term utilized by the user. If for instance a user keys in the term “Increase Blog Traffic” and this term is not incorporated in your content, then the search engine will deem your content irrelevant. Search engines don’t care if you are a best selling author.
There should be a dual focus when writing a blog post. Firstly, one should write for one’s user, and secondly, one should write content that is optimized for the search engines.
Keys to Writing Search Engine Optimized Content
When a search engine evaluates the content on your blog, it links the content of a post to “keywords” that are commonly used by everyday search engine users. If your blog post does not contain any of these keywords, your post is of no value to the search engine. The elements required for you to optimize your content for the search engines are:
• Engage in keyword research. Know what people are searching for in relation to your service offering.
• Structure advertorial posts by integrating a primary product keyword into your content.
• Ensure your keyword appears in the title, introduction, body, and conclusion of each post.
Traffic is the lifeblood of your blog, and your readers will sustain your blog and business, if you offer them long-term value through your content. Subtlety is essential when promoting your service to your readers. Assaulting you readers with consistent sales pitches will destroy your relationship and reduce business profits. Approach each post that promotes your service with tact, and use persuasive language rather than heavy-handed sales pitches.
the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.
The term has become popular with businesses, authors, and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals.
Basically, artists, in these days of dwindling funding, are turning to crowdsourcing as an option to fund their projects. Crowdsourcing engines like Kickstarter are based on the concept that many small donations can add up to a lot of money. People pledge what they can, and ONLY if the project meets its entire goal within a specified time frame, does the company get all the money. If they don’t make their goal, no one donates.
I’ve been interested in exploring this idea as a funding concept, but crowdsourcing engines like Kickstarter in the States or Fundbreak in Australia have not been available in Canada until recently. A new crowdsourcing engine called IdeaVibes has just come online.
I recently interviewed Kathryn Jones, a #2amt colleague from NYC. They have recently hit their goal with Kickstarter, and are moving on to produce their project.
RC: Can you tell me a bit about your project?
KJ: Better Left Unsaid is the first of its kind, interactive live streamed play. A cross between a play, an online video and a live streamed event, Better Left Unsaid will be shot with multiple cameras, mixed in real time, and streamed live to the internet so that anyone, anywhere in the world with a computer can watch the show and interact with it.
The play itself is a complex roadmap of a play that begins in Central Park on a strangely warm, foggy day in November. We follow eight characters as their paths twist and turn in unexpected ways. Better Left Unsaid is a story about how our lives are affected by the pieces of information that we choose to withhold from the people we love. Sometimes the same secret that protects one person damages another.
Better Left Unsaid. 8 LIves. 8 Secrets. How well do you know the people that you love?
RC: Why did you decide to go the Kickstarter route to get it produced?
KJ: I have been working in online video and social media for more than four years so I have been aware of Kickstarter since the time that it launched although initially projects seemed to be raising a few thousand dollars. I thought the idea was wonderful, but the projects I was developing required more money than it seemed feasible to raise on Kickstarter. This past spring, however, I noticed that people were beginning to raise significant amounts of money on Kickstarter. When Joey and I began discussing live streaming her play Better Left Unsaid- using Kickstarter seemed like a great way to initiate our fundraising campaign.
RC: How does using a crowdsourcing engine like Kickstarter affect the amount of work you have to do to fundraise? Does it make it easier, or harder?
KJ: Fundraising is a ton of work and crowd sourcing didn’t lighten the load, but it did provide a platform from which to launch our campaign and stay in touch with our backers. In addition, Kickstarter’s all or nothing policy added a level of urgency to our campaign and ignited our audience with a certain level of suspense as to whether or not we would make it or not. There were a lot of people checking our Kickstarter page the last few days to see how we were doing, and a few even upped their donations as the campaign neared it’s deadline. While I don’t think we could have possibly have raised so much money in such a short period of time without Kickstarter, as the deadline to our campaign approached fundraising is basically all we did, day and night!
RC: What kind of “marketing” materials did you create for your Kickstarter campaign?
KJ: The first thing we did was build a web site so that people who visited us on Kickstarter could get more information if they wanted it. Then we built our facebook fan page to which we add content on a pretty regular basis. Then we created a video for our kickstarter campaign. We also created a press release and a one sheet- and used all of these materials in various ways as our campaign progressed.
Our video is also on youtube, and can be found here…
RC: To what do you attribute your successful campaign?
KJ: I can’t point to any one thing that made our campaign successful, except for our determination! We used every tool (except for snail mail) at our disposal, from twitter, to personal facebook profiles, to our facebook fan page, to facebook notes, to facebook events, to phone calls, to personal emails, to mass emails, to a fund raising event at my partners house (we consolidated the donations and had one person contribute the money to our kickstarter campaign) to networking and one on one drinks. No one method was a silver bullet.
Even when it started to feel impossible, we would go back to our kickstarter page and see that 40, then 70 then 100 then 120 people had backed us and we were determined not to let all those people down, until finally we closed with 161 backers.
RC: Thanks, Kathryn! Very exciting project–keep us in the loop of when the project airs, and we’ll be watching!
I have an interview request into IdeaVibes, but at the time of publiciation, they hadn’t yet responded to my questions. Perhaps for a future blog post.
I went to see The Social Network last night. Why not, right? It’s a movie about how Facebook got its start, and Facebook is a huge part of my life these days.
But this post is not a movie review. Nor is it a discussion about how much of the film was fact and how much was fiction.
For me, the story begins on Friday night, when Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer and director, appeared on The Colbert Report. Sorkin confessed that he doesn’t use Facebook, and then said I think socializing on the Internet is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.
Click on the screenshot for the link to take you to the video
I get it. Facebook has certainly changed the way we interact with each other. The question is, is it for the worst?
Certainly, there have been tons of stuff in the news that might support this. Here in BC, there was a recent incident where photos of a young girl who was being sexually assaulted were posted on Facebook. The question that needs to be asked is, how did the person who posted those possibly come to the conclusion that that was cool?
Are we exchanging quality relationships for quantity? Is it better to have 2,000 friends on Facebook, or 200 with whom you are able to adequately interact with?
I have been really vocal on my position on this. As a single parent, and someone who works alone, Social Networking is a life-saver. I love to interact with people, I need it, in fact. But because of the nature of my work and life, the folks I get to see the most are my son and my cats. I get to “check in” with my friends in a virtual way.
This week I had a very powerful expereince. I got to meet Kate Foy in person. I’ve know Kate for two years, and we met via Twitter. We have worked together (virtually) on the World Theatre Day Blog, and had many, many conversations via email, Twitter, and Facebook about theatre and the life of an artist. On Saturday afternoon, Kate and I, along with Lois Dawson, had that conversation around my dining room table with coffee and cupcakes.
That is a meeting that, without Twitter, and without me being on Twitter, would have never been able to happen, and it was an amazing experience.
So, what do you think? Do you think that social networking is making our relationships more superficial? Or is it exactly the opposite? I look forward to continuing the discussion with you in comments below.
I guess one of the things that really struck me about her was how business-like she was for someone so young. You certainly don’t get to be the Vancouver’s #1 blogger by accident, but she has also taken that fame, and spun it out into a successful business: she live-blogs events, and is a WordPress expert.
Now, she’s written a book. Blogging is one of the more challenging social mediums. First of all, it’s likely the one that you’re going to spend the most time on, if you are really dedicated to it. Secondly, getting your blog set up correctly (I’m going through this process right now!) can be quite technically challenging, and third, finding your voice as a blogger can take some time.
Creating a blog for your business adds another layer: now you have to think about what message it is that you want your readers to get about your blog, and therefore, your company.
For me, the most compelling argument for getting a blog for your company is to allow them to see behind the corporation, and get to know the real people that run the organization. It is also and amazing tool for educating your clientele.
There are 9 chapters in this book:
Why are Blogs so Important?
Leveraging your Blog with Marketing tools
Creating a Blogging Strategy
Finding Topics to Write About
Who Will Write the Blog?
Getting Eyeballs To Your Blog
Getting Interactive with Multimedia Blogging
Taking Advantage of Web 3.0 Blogs
If you are just starting out on your blogging journey, I highly recommend this book. It’s accessibly written, contains lots of case studies, examples and screenshots, and the resource URLs are very helpful.
I’ve been blogging for two years, and I found some stuff in here that was really helpful, and which I can’t wait to implement into the redesign of my blog.
Blogging to Drive Business: Create and Maintain Valuable Customer Connections by Eric Butow and Rebecca Bolwitt is available at London Drugs and through Amazon.ca for $25.99.
I got this email from Maryann Devine the other day, and I thought I’d share it with you, because it was very intriguing!
Hi Rebecca – hope you’re having an excellent fall thus far.
I want to let you know about some things my friend Jacquelyn Kittredge, of e-bakery social media, and I are doing this fall.
If you would pass on this info to people you know who might benefit — especially info about the free class — I would really appreciate it.
We just taught a short, free teleclass called “Engage Your People with Facebook,” and the response was so big that we’re doing it again, on October 14.
On October 19, we’re teaching a 90-minute webinar called “Make the Most of Your Facebook Page,” for the Technology in the Arts Program.
And we have a new, do-at-your-own-pace online course called “Facebook Contests for Arts Organizations.”
The details are below, if you’d like to take a look yourself.
Thanks so much,
Engage Your People with Facebook
Thursday, Oct. 14, 1 PM Eastern Time
1 hour including Q&A
Maryann Devine (smArts & Culture) and Jacquelyn Kittredge (e-bakery)
Find out more here: http://bit.ly/bintqo
Make the Most of Your Facebook Page
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2 PM Eastern Time
90 minutes including Q&A
Maryann Devine (smArts & Culture) and Jacquelyn Kittredge (e-bakery)
Sponsored by the Technology in the Arts Program
$25 (participants get a coupon code for $25 off “Facebook Contests for Arts Organizations”)
Find out more here: http://bit.ly/aXkg5E
Facebook Contests for Arts Organizations
PDF and video lessons that you do at your own pace
Jacquelyn Kittredge (e-bakery)
$97 (introductory price until October 28)
Find out more here: http://bit.ly/dtfjPl