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  • Where to Use Keywords To Gain More Traffic

    Posted on September 20th, 2012 jean 5 comments

    I’ve shared some simple, basic, super-easy tips on how to increase the ranking of your blog in search engines (SEO tips for writers who could care less about the magic that happens behind the scenes) over on From The Write Angle today. Since I had a ton to share and the tip cup runneth over, this post is sort of the bonus features on the SEO DVD. I’m going to make you a SEO expert lickety split.

    I promised to touch upon how photos and video can help increase your blog’s SEO as well as a bit more on keyword usage. If you haven’t read the From the Write Angle Post yet, you might want to start there. Then again, you might want to dive right into this stuff. Your call. I’ll be here.

     

    Screenshot of Google Keyword Tool in action

    A visual preview of what’s going on in my From the Write Angle post. I’ll share tools and tips! You don’t want to miss it.

     

    Where to Use Keywords for SEO

    • Use several keywords on your site when appropriate. People have different ways of phrasing the same thing–try to work the variety in if you can.
    • Headings. Search engines like headings. Place keywords there when you can.
    • Use your keywords in the FIRST SENTENCE of your post if you can swing it–the first paragraph if not–and again in closing when you can.
    • Use keywords in your image descriptions. Tag them. Use alt text. Keywords are your friend. You’ll be amazed what image searches can do for your stats. (I had one day on my It’s All Kid’s Play blog not too long ago where one image received 500 hits. It was a fluke, but one I am happy with–now to repeat that!) Just make sure your images are copyright safe, okay?
    • Links should have keywords. I know I haven’t been great at this in this post–but if you can, have the linked text be describing. For example: To learn more about SEO for blogs, pop over to From the Write Angle today. That right there, was using a keyword phrase in the link. Better than linking the word “click here.”
    • Use keywords in your post title. There is a reason this post is not called “Get Your Geek On.” The trick though is balancing that title with something interesting and intriguing and SEO friendly.
    •  Videos. Google apparently looooves videos. So if you have a video on your blog, make sure you use good keywords to describe it, keywords in its title, etc. Embed those videos in your blog and get folks to subscribe to your channel if you post them on YouTube. (Ask them to subscribe right at the end of your video! And don’t forget a link to your blog.) Google likes subscribers. (Did you know videos are 50% more likely to hit the first page in Google? Weird huh?) Oh, and videos make people stay longer on your site… and if you read the From the Write Angle article… you’ll know that means a boost in your site’s ranking in the eyes of search engines.

    Rule of Thumb: Use GOOD keywords that apply to your content. Don’t overuse them. Write good tags, good summaries, and good headlines that make use of keywords. But, make it interesting. And since you guys are writers, I know you’ll do well!

    So? What do you think? What has helped you gain traffic to your site? Or is it all still a fuzzy mystery?

    Further reading on this blog: 4 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog’s SEO (More on keywords, slugs/permalinks, nofollow attributes, and pictures.) Quick and Dirty Social Media for Writers: SEO (Lots of quick tips to get your motor primed and ready.)

  • 4 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog’s SEO

    Posted on May 22nd, 2012 jean 10 comments

    Holy geek out, Batman! Did I just freak you out with that title? Don’t worry. This is a quick and easy way to optimize your blog posts to help search engines find you and your awesome content (which will increase your blog’s traffic!).

    No geek badge of merit required.

    You can still write what you love, don’t worry. This won’t make your blog posts boring or unappealing, it will simply help you find small ways to increase the chances of some lovely readers finding you and your blog.

    What is SEO, Batman?

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it means little things you can do that will help search engines find your content. Because after all, it would be nice if people found your content, right? Right.

    How Do I Increase My Blog’s SEO?

    Most blog software and templates build SEO tricks into its code. However, some templates are better than others and some software allows for a lot more optimization customization than others. For example, there are tons of plugins on WordPress that allow people like me to try and optimize my SEO through the use of plugins (add ons that do some work behind the scenes).

    Recently, Blogger has added a few little things that bloggers can do to tweak their blog’s SEO which I will touch on below.

    4 Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog’s SEO:

    1. Keywords Are Vital to SEO

    Keywords are a huge one and whether you know it or not, when you search for something using a search engine, you use keywords. For example, say you were going to search for the very topic of this post. You might use keywords and phrases such as, “SEO,” “Search engine optimization,” “how to increase your blog traffic,” “SEO tips,” and the like. Using one keyword or keyword phrase and focusing on it is a smart idea. If you swamp your post with tons of different keyword phrases it not only reads funny, but can have an effect on how search engines interpret your content (they know a scammer when they think they see one).

    If you don’t have those keywords in your post, then suddenly it is much harder for a search engine to find you, isn’t it?

    Where to place keywords: In your post title, in the opening and closing paragraphs (but don’t make it too heavy on the keywords or it will read funny–plus search engines will know you are up to something and, bam, there goes your optimization), your tags, your categories (try to ensure your category names are keywords or keyword phrases (and yes, mine could be better), your meta description (if your blog software has this feature (I use the plugin mentioned below), and if you can, in headings (headings also make it easier for the reader). These are all places that search engines look for keywords.

    WordPress SEO's Dropdown Keyword Menu

    WordPress SEO’s Dropdown Keyword Menu

    But wait, how do I know what keyword people will use? If you are on WordPress, I strongly recommend the plugin called “WordPress SEO” by Yoast. It does more SEO work than most plugins and even has a drop down menu of focus keywords (see screenshot above) for you to choose from and then tells you whether you are using the focus keyword in several vital spots in your post (article heading, page title, page URL, content, and meta description).

    Another great keyword stop is Google Adwords Keyword Tool. You do not need an account to use this tool, and when you do a keyword search you can find out how heavy the competition is for various keywords–handy to have! (And yes, I have no illusions that this post will appear anywhere near the top ten pages on “increase your blog’s SEO!” The comp is heavy.)

    And a lazy way that ain’t bad when it comes to finding keyword phrases? Start typing your post topic into a search engine and see what it starts suggesting for you (see below).

    Google's Dropdown menu for keyword phrase searches

    The lazy (and imperfect) way to get a keyword phrase: Google’s suggested keyword phrase

    2. Post Slugs Can Increase Your Blog SEO

    You might notice that the slug (the part of this post’s URL (5-ways-increase-blog-seo) that comes after my domain and bloggy bit (http://jeanoram.com/blog/2012/05/22/) ) is not exactly the same as my post title. This is intentional. I have a plugin that helps me take out the “extra” words that are not keywords and get in the way of my keywords being found with ease. So even my URL becomes optimized for search engines. (As far as I know, Blogger does not allow this. Sorry!*)

    This is particularly handy if I were to title my post something intriguing for my human readers like: “Writing Contests For Aspiring Writers That Will Rock Your World.” The “Rock” part is for readers. The “Writing Contest” & “Aspiring Writers” is for SEO. The slug in that case might look like: writing-contest-writers. Nice, neat, short, and sweet. If you are using software that does not allow for changing your slug, keep readers, SEO, and your focus keyword(s) in mind when creating your post title.

    3. Nofollow Attributes Increase Blog SEO

    “Nofollow” is a way for your blog to tell search engines not to follow that link. In other words, say you have a post that has a ton of great links to your blog buddies, etc. However, you don’t want search engines to crawl your post, hit a link off your blog and leave. You want it to stay put and keep crawling your site and putting all your tidbits into it’s cache. (Trust me–you do.) You don’t want to stop sharing links with your readers (it boosts their SEO to have others linking to them), but you don’t want to keep sending the search engines away. What to do? The “Nofollow” attribute as needed.

    Again, I use a plugin to handle all that for me. But if you are on Blogger you may have noticed that now when you add a link in your post it asks you some new things. For example you can check off “nofollow” on your link. Do that. It will keep search engines on your site for longer, helping your SEO ranking.

    4. Adding a Title and Alt Text to Your Pictures Increases SEO

    In WordPress, when I add a photo to my post, I am not just hitting up the text search in search engines, but the photo search as well. Yes, two birds, one stone.

    First of all, “title” gives your photo/graphic/what-have-you just that. Something text-based that people can search for. (This is different from a “caption” which is what your readers see below the photo.) “Alt Text” is (alternative) text that will appear if your image fails. This is particularly handy for mobile users and the blind. As well, it is a sweet spot to place a keyword or two–right there in your description!

    Where do you add this? In WordPress, when you upload your picture, it is a function right there before you insert your image into the post. In Blogger, when you click on your post photo (after inserted into your post) you see a long box with blue links pop up. Click on “Properties.” Under “Image Properties” you can add both title and alt text.

    These are four really simple ways to increase your blog’s SEO. So, how about you? Do you have any tips or tricks that help increase your blog’s search engine optimization? Will you try (or are you already trying) some of these tips?

    *Later note: Blogger now allows this. 🙂

  • Are You Making It Easy to Comment on Your Blog?

    Posted on March 25th, 2012 jean 8 comments

    Is it easy for your readers to comment on your blog?

    This is a question that has been very much at the forefront of my mind lately. Why? Because I have been trying to branch out and comment on other people’s blogs. Maybe even yours! But in some cases I have gone away frustrated and not commented and not returned to that blog.

    Why?

    Let me share my thoughts:

    1. You can only comment using Facebook. I ran into this for the first time the other day. While it was intriguing and is a great way for the blogger to get their blog posts noticed via Facebook–when people comment, the comment goes on Facebook and into that person’s update stream. But what about people who do not use Facebook or do not want Facebook integrated into their whole entire life? Or how about people who don’t want their Facebook friends to know they are commenting on this blog or have serious issues with the privacy implications of linking their blog comments with Facebook? Who has this blogger just excluded from the opportunity to engage with this blog visitor due to their desire to have their blog shared on Facebook via others? Was the visibility worth the trade off?

    2. Captcha. Yes, captcha is great for captchaing the spammers. But does anyone ever get the new Blogger captcha ‘prove you are not a robot’ right on the first go? And if they don’t, do they keep trying or do they leave–informal survey says (via the Shoutbox on agentqueryconnect.com) they leave. I gotta tell you, this weekend I’m going to have a chat with my parents this weekend and find out if I’m a halfblood robot. My advice: leave off the captcha. See if you get more comments. It might be worth the uptick in spam.

    3. OpenID. What the heck IS OpenId anyway? Seriously. Whenever I try to use my WordPress account (which I then have to go and sign into) to use OpenID nothing ever happens. It never, never works. I’ve tried all sorts of different ways. No luck. I don’t use it. I hate it. It wastes my time and I avoid blogs that leave that as my only option. Question: Who else are you excluding by using only OpenID?

    4. Gmail. I don’t like using Gmail to comment on blogs. It is not the email I use for business. And commenting on blogs is business. Plus, my Gmail account is not linked to my blog. Last time I tried to use Gmail (after having to go over and sign in), I wanted to see if I could link my Gmail to my blog so I could have that link appear in someone’s comment section if I used Gmail to sign in. I ended up signing up for Google +. Seriously. I was PISSED. I did not comment on that blog.

    5. Name/URL/email. This one I like. I can pop in my name, my blog’s URL, and email address. Done. I don’t have to leave the blog to go sing in somewhere and then click back. I enter it, I comment. I’m done. BTW, if you want your avatar to pop up on comments, the free site, Gravatar, is easy to use. You can link a gravatar with an email address (or more) so when you use that email to comment on a blog, voila. Your avatar appears making it easy visually for people to recognize that it’s you. That’s easy branding.

    6. Name/URL. This one is easy, but does not make my avatar pop up because my avatar is linked to my email. So far I haven’t figured out how to link my avatar to my URL. (If you know how–let me know in the comment section. I’d appreciate the advice.) If you are worried about spam with this option or the one above, make it so people have to have their first comment on your blog approved. After that, they can comment without approval. I do wonder though… could others comment pretending to be me? (Don’t get any ideas!!!) Is this the new frontier of identity theft? Eep!

    7. Call to action. And lastly, are you giving your readers something to think about? Something they can respond to? I know I haven’t been so great at this in the past, but I’ve learned a little lesson from Jemi Fraser, Chris Brogan, and Derek Halpern in this regard. If you don’t ask you readers a question and don’t ask them if there is something they’d like to add it may make it difficult to comment in a meaningful way in your comment section. I know there has been the odd time where I’ve wanted to comment, but didn’t have anything I could really act upon.

    8. Comment link location. You comment link should really be at the bottom of your post to make it easier for your readers to comment. I know mine isn’t, and my readers have to scroll to the top of the post in order to comment. I haven’t figured out how to change the code so it appears at the bottom, but it is something I’d like to change. If you can change it on your blog, do! Make it easy for your readers.

    Is it easy to comment on my blog? What commenting options do you like (or don’t like) when you comment on a blog? Am I forgetting some?

  • 45 Twitter Tips: Part 2

    Posted on March 22nd, 2012 jean 9 comments

    Yesterday I posted part 1 of this post: 18 tips all Twitter users can use which also included some print resources. Today’s tips (the last 28 of 46 Twitter Tips–Darke Conteur reminded me of one in yesterday’s comments) are ones even those most experienced Twitter user may find helpful.

    There is a large learning curve on Twitter, so don’t fret if you’ve made a few errors or disagree with some of my tips–talk to me!

    27 28 of 45 46 Twitter Tips for Twitter Users:

    RTs (RETWEETS):

    1. Always credit a RT (retweet). If there are a long list of retweeters and you have to cull some out, try to leave the original tweeter and the most recent tweeter in the tweet. (One of the reasons it is important to have a short handle as per tip #1.)
    2. Save room in your best tweets for RT info. Make it easy for others to RT you.
    3. Thank an RTer. If someone retweets you, try and say thanks.
    4. Thank a follower. Some folks like to do this. I’m on the fence. It takes a lot of time, and I’m not sure it is worth it. Some are able to make great connections this way. However… do you send them a direct message to say thanks and risk it looking like an autoDM or do you clutter up your tweet stream with @messages to people thanking them for following?
    5. Don’t RT compliments. Let others do your best and most meaningful self-promotion. Retweeting compliments about yourself can look a bit self-congratulatory and braggy. Would you go up to an acquaintance and say, “Betsy thinks I’ve written a great book.” Probably not. But would you let that acquaintance overhear on conversation with Betsy where she is complimenting you? You betcha!

      For example: @Betsy tweets: @You. I just gave your book XYZ 5 stars!

      Reply: @Betsy Thanks for the 5 stars. I’m glad you enjoyed XYZ! You made my day. (Everyone likes to make someone’s day!)

      Or add: Are you on my email list? I’ll pop you a note when book 2 comes out if you’re interested. Link. (That link is for them to follow to your list.) As Chris Brogan says, “Don’t always be selling, but always have something to sell.”

      Note: If people are intrigued they will check out the whole conversation. It says more to them if someone else says something good about you than if you do.

      PROMOTION:

    6. Promote your blog. Seriously. New post? Tweet it. Once. Maybe twice. And make sure it is spread out by other tweets. Check your blog stats to see how many clicks come from Twitter. Tweak it if you need to. And make the blog tweet sound interesting.
    7. Promotional tweets should be rare. Remember–networking. Some say 25% or less of your tweets should be about you. That includes everything from coupons to blog posts to book selling. Twitter is notall about you.Oops! Did I Just Tweet That?BRANDING:
    8. TMI. Too much information. I have unfollowed literary agents because they tweeted incessantly about what they are eating, what their children are doing, what they are wearing, what they are doing that instant. Remember why you are on Twitter.
    9. Always remember your brand. If something does not match your brand–don’t tweet it.
    10. Do be human. Some personal info makes you real and interesting. Find the balance.
    11. When tweeting as a group, save room to put your name at the end of the tweet–people like knowing there is a real person behind the tweets. Also, if they are having a conversation with one person they might get confused if suddenly someone else is tweeting or the tone changes.
    12. The internet is forever. Even tweets. They get favourited and RTed. Be careful what you say. Think Twice, Tweet Once.
    13. You can delete tweets. But note that once it has been RTed, it is in someone else’s stream and will live on.FOLLOWERS:
    14. Mine followers. Find a leader (for example @agentquery) in your field and see who they are following. See who is following them. Follow those folks. This is your audience too. Your market.
    15. Share your followers/Tweepeople with others. The hashtags #WW (Writer Wednesday) and #FF (Follower Friday) are two popular ones. The idea is that you use this hashtag and list folks using their handle (@jeanoram for example) to share people you think others may be interested in following. Unfortunately it is often a big list that gets ignored–except by those listed. If you want to use these hashtags effectively, consider mentioning why people should follow. For example: #WW These great folks just released books I think are 5 stars: @bigwriter @bestseller @wonderbook. (Thanks, @Darke_Conteur–I forgot about #WW and #FF!)
    16. Join chats. This is a great way to learn more about your industry, network, gain followers, and find folks to follow. Even if all you do is thank the moderator at the end of the chat. (Make sure you use the chat’s hashtag–they all have their own.)
    17. Don’t auto follow. It’s lame and you end up with a stream of spammers and folks you might not really care about clogging up your twitter stream.
    18. Report Spam. Make Twitter better for all of us. It’s easier now than it was a year ago. Just a click.
    19. Don’t worry about the unfollowers. It happens. Do not contact them.
    20. 5-7 tweets per day equals more followers.KEEPING TRACK:
    21. Use a program to help you keep track of things (like @mentions, DMs, RTs, lists, etc.) if the Twitter website is allowing things to speed by you too quickly. HootSuite and TweetDeck are two popular ones.
    22. Use lists to keep track of those you are most interested in or don’t want to miss. For example, in HootSuite I have a stream/list of my AgentQueryConnect buddies so they have their own stream so I don’t lose them in the couple hundred others I am following. You can also make lists on the Twitter website–I just like things all laid out.
    23. Listen. Create a search stream (again in HootSuite or TweetDeck) using a hashtag or keyword you often use or applies to your area. For example #amwriting is one I’ve made for @jeanoram. “Parenting” is one I’ve made for @KidsPlay. Watch that stream. See what others are tweeting. Reply. Answer questions–be helpful! Connect. Follow. Retweet. It’s a great way to stay on top of things. Note: You can also create and save searches on the Twitter website.LAST TIPS:
    24. Help others. Answer questions. People like that.
    25. Tweet multimedia. Pictures. People like pictures. Videos too.
    26. Check out Klout.com. While this analyzing site isn’t perfect, it does keep stats such as the number of retweets you’ve had in the past 90 days, how big your network is, etc. It’s handy for checking to see how you are doing and what your trends have been–what works, what doesn’t!
    27. If you want more, check out the plethora of Twitter related sites like hashtags.org, Bubble Tweet, TwitterCounter, TweepSearch, Friend or Follow.
    28. Be professional. Be human. Be real. Have fun.

    So what do you think? Have I missed any good tips? Do you disagree with some of the tips I’ve listed?

    I tweet writing related stuff at @jeanoram–follow me! I won’t auto-DM you! 😉 I also tweet parenting related stuff at @KidsPlay–follow me!

     

  • 45 Twitter Tips: Part 1

    Posted on March 21st, 2012 jean 4 comments

    Do you use Twitter effectively? Or are you ticking people off or not optimizing what you are doing on Twitter without even knowing it? Here are some Twitter tips that will help you get the best out of your time spent on Twitter.

    Here’s how this post came about: Writer Kela McClelland asked me to share 15 things about myself on my blog when she presented me with the Versatile Blogger Award the other day. For some reason, I thought I had to share 15–it was only 7. And since I’ve been studying Twitter a lot lately, I decided to share what I’ve been learning and applying about Twitter in hopes that these things can help out other writers hone their social media approach. So really, it isn’t about me so much as it’s about what going around in my brain right now. Use my brain to your advantage!

    Well, I ended up with 45. Since this was a lot, I’ve broken it in half. Today I will cover some basics (even experienced Twitter users have been known to make these errors) and tomorrow I will cover more in-depth tips for the more experienced Tweeter.

    Enjoy!

    15 18 Twitter Tips and Tricks All Twitter Users Should Know:

    PROFILES:

    1. Pick a short handle if you can. @MegaWriterDenver is too long. Try to use your real name/pen name so when people search for you they can find you. Note that your handle and your real name don’t have to be the same. For example: @KidsPlay is one of my tweet handles, but it also says “Jean Oram” so people know who I am.
    2. Use a picture of yourself as your avatar if you are comfortable doing so. People like seeing who they are dealing with. They don’t want your blog logo or your dog. They want a human. Remember: it is easier to connect with a person if you can see them, and in turn, it is also easier to trust them.
    3. If your avatar image isn’t something you have personally created, make sure it doesn’t fall under copyright. This is especially important as you grow from aspiring writer to published writer. And if you are using a professionally taken photo of yourself–make sure you have the rights to use it as you wish!!
    4. Use the same avatar as you do elsewhere online. It helps people find you and recognize you. That’s branding at its easiest, folks!
    5. Individualize your profile blurb. Yes, it is only 160 characters, but make it you. How many of these have you seen?: I’m a fantasy writer and my book XYZ is coming out Summer 2012.Seriously. You are a writer. That’s all you’ve got?

      NETWORK IT BABY:

    6. Add a link in your profile to other forms of media whether it be your website, blog, Facebook, or Pinterest page. Make it easy for them to find you elsewhere. Twitter is about Networking.
    7. Add the social media Twitter icon on your blog so people can find you (and follow you) on Twitter.
    8. Add a tweet it button so people who like something (like this post) can easily tweet it to their followers.
    9. Don’t add a Twitter stream gadget to your website. If you haven’t tweeted in awhile it looks bad to have the same content there. If you are tweeting a conversation with a friend it is now on your website and may make you look like you are cliquey. Basically, it can give the wrong impression. Generally, it actually deters people from finding you and following you. The mystery just isn’t there any longer.
    10. Change your background. If you have the time, jump on a free background creation site like FreeTwitterDesigner.com and build a background that includes your branding images (like a logo) as well as more URLs. (Example.) While I’m not completely dazzled with FreeTwitterDesigners quality, it worked out better than me trying to build my own. If you know of a good background designer site, please share it in the comments.

      AUDIENCE:

    11. Network. They say Twitter is best for networking, not selling books. If you want to sell books–get your book on people’s shelves on Goodreads. (More on Goodreads later in the week.) Use Twitter as a place to network, connect with readers, and yes, share your book title. But don’t delude yourself into thinking a bulk of your sales will come from tweeting. Use Twitter to drive traffic to places where you can sit and sell–like your website. Use Twitter to connect with your audience.
    12. Find out when your audience is on Twitter. Are they weekend users? Schedule some tweets for that time of day if you can’t be online. (Free Twitter programs like TweetDeck, HootSuite, and SocialOomph are great for this.)

      TIMING:

    13. Busiest Twitter days are early in the week and generally crest around midday and early afternoon (Eastern timezone). This is when you will find the most folks on Twitter, but also when you are most likely to get lost in the noise.
    14. Use your smart phone. You can tweet on the go–especially important if your audience is most active when you are least likely to be near your computer. There are great apps for iPhones and Android. Since I have two Twitter accounts, I use two different apps on my Android and leave them both signed in. This way I get notices for both accounts while I am out and about. I believe you can also use TweetDeck on your phone if you are a TD aficionado.
    15. If you know you aren’t going to be on Twitter for a few hours, don’t post a conversation starter before you log off. There’s nothing worse that someone asking a great conversation starter and then ignoring you when you reply.

      COURTESY:

    16. Always reply. If you put a conversational question out there and someone replies, acknowledge it. Even if it is a simple: Lol. It will go far with that person. Especially if you are ‘big.’
      As an experiment, I’ve been tweeting big companies to see if they reply. So far, they haven’t. I even replied to a social media expert who says it is essential to always reply. He did not reply back.
    17. Learn from others. What do you like–do it. What don’t you like–don’t do it.
    18. Don’t use auto-DMs. Auto direct messages are soooo see through. And there is nothing more annoying than having a twitter conversation with someone just before you follow them only to have an impersonal DM sent to you moments later that make it obvious that this is an auto message. It’s insulting and leaves a bad impression.

    If you are looking for some printed resources, check out these two books: Likeable Media by Dave Kerpen and Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day by Hollis Thomases. You can see my reviews by clicking on the links.

    How about you? Why do you tweet? What are your pet peeves? Things you love? Tweeple who have rocked your world?

    P.S. Be sure to come back tomorrow where I’ll share many, many more tips!

    I tweet writing related stuff at @jeanoram–follow me! I won’t auto-DM you! 😉 I also tweet parenting related stuff at @KidsPlay–follow me!