Sunday, June 20, 2010

SEO for Bloggers

The best bloggers are passionately interested in a topic and want to share their expertise with others. While some of these bloggers are happy to give voice to their opinions with no thought of compensation or building a large audience, other bloggers have an interest in monetizing their blog and reaching as many people as possible with their message. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process by which a blog or website is made more likely appear in search results when someone enters a query into a search engine. Search engines use a variety of factors to determine the relevancy of a website or blog. By understanding these factors and making a few changes to your website or blog, you can improve your ranking in the search engines and increase the likelihood that you’ll be recommended by the search engines to their users. Blogs and websites that are not optimized for search engines are more likely to get lost among the millions of competing websites on the web. One of the first areas a blogger should look at when addressing
SEO for their blog is blog structure. While this will vary according to your blog’s platform and hosting site, the following SEO recommendations are universal. Content should be your first concern. You should always highlight your best content. Feature your most popular posts in a highly visible area of your blog. Chances are if the majority of your existing audience found those posts helpful or interesting, the majority of new visitors to your blog will, too.Secondly, make sure that you block any duplicate content on your blog. Search engines love fresh content but not if it’s duplicated! You might be penalized in the rankings because the search engine thinks that you’re trying to engage in “keyword stuffing” or other type of spam behavior. Thirdly, choose categories for your posts that use popular keywords related to your topic. These are the terms your audience is searching for in queries. There are a number of free keyword research tools that can help you identify these terms. I like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Make sure your posts and pages are tagged properly with these terms for optimum ranking. Fourth, be sure to point to previous and next posts on each page. This helps the search crawlers that look for information and report back to Google find the information on your site more easily. It also helps your visitors find the information they’re looking for. Lastly, make sure that your page titles list the relevant information before the site name. Many blogging platforms, such as Wordpress take care of this automatically for you now. Think “relevance” and you’ll be thinking like a search engine!Video, images and other media can also assist a blogger in their optimization efforts. While search engines cannot determine the content in a video, videos are appearing in the front page of search results. Videos and images should be tagged properly with keywords and descriptions for optimal results. One of the newest ways to increase the SEO of your blog is through the use of social media. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr are based upon engagement. Google is now streaming real-time feedback from these sites in their search results. The more you can engage with your blog’s visitors on these sites, the more relevant your blog will appear to the search engines. In addition, this engagement will drive traffic to your blog.Whether monetization of your blog is your ultimate goal or not, optimizing your blog for search engines enables you to reach more of your intended audience with your message.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Social Media Campaigns Part 1

Do you know the saying, "Doctors make the worst patients"?
Well, this Internet Marketer has been so busy marketing as of late, that I fear I haven't set a very good example for my readers and have neglected to update my blog in some time.

Many of you know that I am the Marketing Director for the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire.
The Faire will be held in Tavares, Florida November 5-8 of this year so the last month or so found me engaged in dedicated, focused, target marketing. The Faire doesn't appeal just to one demographic. We actually have several, very distinct groups that we market to. These groups are varied in their interests and activities and they aren't all reached via the same communication tools, so it has been both challenging and rewarding to research where to find these individuals and how to best communicate with them.

I am happy to report that if advance online ticket sales for the Faire are any indication, we will have record-breaking attendance this year. I believe strongly that this increase is due to our efforts to establish and maintain a strong presence on social media sites and to frequently monitor them to respond to comments, answer questions and correct misinformation when necessary.

Curious as to what we did? Wondering if you can achieve the same results? While YMMV based on a number of different factors, following these guidelines can help your social media campaign get off to a great start:

1) Set goals

A lot of companies feel pressured to get on the social media bandwagon and don't stop to develop a strategy before diving in. What are you hoping to achieve from having a social media presence? Do you understand the differences and purposes between Twitter and Facebook? What about LinkedIn and MySpace? Do you need to be on ALL of them? How much time do you realistically have to monitor the conversation on these sites?

2) Spam much?

The old model of advertising is based on interruption. TV commercials interrupt your favorite show. Print ads interrupt your reading. Radio ads interrupt your music.
"Buy me!", They would shout. "I'm great. I'm the best. I'm better than the competitor because I ______."

In a word association study performed recently, do you know what the number one word was that people associated with the word "advertising"? It was the word "false".

The social media generation doesn't take kindly to the use of these methods anymore. They don't have to put up with interruption. They can DVR their favorite shows and fast forward through the commercials. They can listen to music all day long via Internet radio or iTunes and never have to hear a single radio ad.
If your intention is to log onto social media sites and talk AT your customers instead of WITH them, please save yourself the trouble and don't bother.
They will revolt. They will accuse you of spamming them (sending them unwanted messages) and they will block you and shut you out of their lives forever.

The primary value of social media is relational, NOT transactional!

Can you profit from having an online presence? Absolutely. Can you enjoy a large ROI on your social media investment? No question.
But you can't do it using the old methods.

3) Find the Influencers

Did you know that there is a social media site designed just for moms? How about one designed exclusively for senior citizens? African Americans? Ren Faire Geeks like me?
I read so often abou the supposed importance of Ashton Kutcher having over a million Twitter followers and what an "influence" he has as a result of those numbers. Ashton has a wide audience. If you could catch his ear and ask him to tweet about your company, that would certainly help build awareness- but it wouldn't necessarily result in a huge increase in sales. If however, you found an individual with say, only 300 followers, but every last one of those followers were positively RABID about the type of product you sold, you could easily sell more via that person's influence than Ashton's.
Find your target audience's influencers. Partner with them. Repeat.

More ideas and tips in Part II!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Evolution of Storytelling

Maria Popova created a fabulous motion typography piece on the evolution of storytelling. Click here to view it and be inspired.

What impossibilities are you challenging today?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why I plan to attend IZEAfest

On Thursday of this week, I will be attending the IZEAfest social media conference at SeaWorld Orlando. In researching the event and the speakers who will be attending this year, I came across a blog posting by a man named Charles who explains why he's decided NOT to attend IZEAfest.

In his post he states that his primary reason for not attending is because the event is "not marketed as an event to be taken seriously."

Admittedly, Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA and the rest of the organizers and promoters of this event are making no secret of the fact that this is going to be a fun event. Nor are they making any apologies for it. Is this a marketing fail? Should they be making more of an effort to promote IZEAfest as the typical dry, boring, educational conference we're all used to?

By highlighting the frivolity and foolishness of the after-hour activities, are they perpetuating the myth that bloggers are lazy sell-outs who can't hold down a "real" job and just want to lounge around in their pajamas all day goofing off on the Internet and calling it work?

I think the best way to answer this is to tell you why I AM going to IZEAfest.

#1- The speakers.
Charles admits that he's missing out by not hearing the speakers and he's right. Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA is giving the keynote speech on the importance of personal branding. Aaron Brazell, owner of, is also delivering a keynote on the marks of an influencer. Social Media expert Chris Brogan will also be there along with a host of bloggers, social media gurus and marketing mavens who will be teaching this lowly blogger how to increase traffic to my site, work with affiliates and marketing agencies and generate better content. The information being presented is current, relevant and most importantly to me, coming directly from those in the blogging trenches who have proven the efficacy of the techniques they're presenting.

#2- The Networking
Blogging from the comfort of your personal home office is convenient, relaxing... and incredibly lonely. The Internet gives us the ability to make contact with fascinating individuals from all over the world but it can never, and should never, replace face to face contact. By attending IZEAfest, I have the ability to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas, commiserating and having meaningful discourse with my colleagues as we navigate the ever-changing and always challenging conditions of the blogosphere together.

#3- The Energy
Creative individuals are fun, energetic, chaotic and unpredictable. Get a big group of them together and anything can happen! The electricity created by the gathering together of the attendees of this event is a definite intangible bonus for me. Just being in that atmosphere will motivate me to learn more, do more, risk more...and there's simply no way to duplicate that in my home office.

Charles doesn't think the event was marketed to be taken seriously. I ask, "By Whom?"
The folks at IZEA aren't amateurs at marketing. They weren't promoting this event to accountants and tax attorneys. They were promoting it to bloggers and bloggers took it seriously. Ted Murphy and his gang sought out the biggest names in social media and invited them to share their expertise and insight with the attendees during two full days of intensive training sessions. They also scheduled a series of fun, after-hours activities which include a high level of frivolity and foolishness. (Shaving cream is a key ingredient in one event.) Unprofessional you say? Maybe. But to make a living blogging, as many of these attendees do, requires a high level of self-motivation and hard work. It doesn't happen overnight. No one stands over them and makes them blog. They find the self-discipline to make it happen. If these folks want to blow off some steam during some fun activities designed by their creative and fun-loving event organizers, who's to fault them? Ted Murphy's personal brand is "fun-loving".
For him to create a stodgy, stiff event would be both inauthentic and ineffective.

For that matter, most of the conferences I've attended, regardless of the type of industry putting on the training, have had a large contingent of participants go out after hours to the local watering hole. IZEA is simply sanctioning this behavior and providing transportation. (Which seems like a rather responsible decision when you think about it.)

IZEA created, marketed and successfully sold this event to bloggers because they understood (the wide majority) of their target market and bravely communicated to them in a way they knew they would respond to, even if the rest of the world didn't.

Be true to yourself and be true to your audience and watch how seriously they take you.

Friday, September 18, 2009



More evidence that the media landscape is undergoing a tremendous shift:

Did You Know? 4.0

Note the use of creative communication techniques to convey the information found in relatively dry facts and figures in a way that would be interesting and engaging to the viewer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Communication Revolution

Internet Marketing is a relatively new field. New enough, in fact, that when I tell people what I'm majoring in, they frequently need me to define what it is exactly that I'm studying.
In the past, I have attempted to explain that I am becoming educated in traditional marketing methodology but am also learning how to use these methods more effectively via new technologies like the Internet.
The way the world communicates is changing. Social media and the Internet are not a fad; they are, in fact, the key players in a communication revolution.
This video, which has gone "viral" since its release (meaning that it has been shared widely by millions of viewers), clearly demonstrates the effect that the Internet and social media has had on the ways we exchange information, make purchases, search for answers to our questions and form relationships. Are you learning the language of social media and the Internet?
As author David Meerman Scott says, "We are what we publish." In this increasingly digital age, if you're not maintaining a presence on these new media channels, you don't exist to many of your potential customers.