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Writing for Feeds

Posted on February 26, 2010 by Jennifer Pointer

 

In yesterday's Fun with Feeds, we talked about how readers use feeds.  Now that you've had a chance to practice a little bit with your own feed reader, you undoubtedly have a better idea of which types of posts attract you, as a reader, right?

 

Your feed reader may give you the option to list only the titles of your feeds.  That's the setting I use in Google Reader, because I  have well over 750 posts to peruse every day.  This "titles only" setting is commonly used by bloggers, who use their feeds to find inspiration for their stories, and are most likely to link to your blog or website, if you are a blogger or writer.  We WANT other bloggers to link to us, right?  And obviously, we want potential readers to find our stories and read what we've worked so hard to write.  So here we see another reason why post titles are so vital (in addition to helping with search engine optimization).


Remember, the title of your post should be very literal - it does not be a literary work of art, or "intriguing."  Dont' make it a bump-sticker slogan.  Make it something the reader is likely to search for.  If you're writing about how to change the oil in your pick-up, a good post title would be "How to change the oil in your pick-up," not "Oil, Oil, Toil, no Trouble," (Because no one is going to search for that, or know what you're talking about from their list of several post titles in their feed reader).


If you have control over the settings on your blog or website, consider adjusting your settings so that your feeds display the title and an excerpt (usually the first paragraph or so, unless you want to write up special excerpts for each post).  This will encourage serious readers to actually visit your website. Also, remember that as a writer, the next most important part of your post besides the title is the first paragraph.  You'll want to put your primary keywords here, and really give the reader an idea of what your post is about - give him or her a reason to click on your post and keep reading.

 

 

Jennifer PointerJennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.

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Fun with Feeds

Posted on February 25, 2010 by Jennifer Pointer

 

Feeds are a good way to read all of your favorite blogs and websites in one place.  There are a lot of different types of feeds (xml, atom, rss, etc.) but fortunately, with today's technology, it isn't really necessary to understand all of the "techie" part of that in order to enjoy using feeds.  Today, we'll talk about how you can use feeds to enhance your reading experience, and tomorrow we'll talk about what you need to do to enhance the reading experience of your readers who use feeds.

 

Get a Feed Reader

 

First, you're going to need a place to read your feeds.  I like Google Reader, or here's a list of the more popular feed readers.  Whichever one you choose, you'll need to sign up for an account, and follow the directions for setting up the reader.  Make sure your feed reader is web-based (and does not require a download to your computer), so you can read your feeds anywhere. 

 

Bouncing RSSGather Your Feeds

 

What feeds?  This part is easy - just go to your favorite blogs and websites, look for the little orange squares (see right), and add the feed url (web address) to your feed reader.  If you can't find the feed, oftentimes you can simply enter the url (web address) of the website and your feed reader can find the feed url for you. 

 

Read your Feeds

 

Now, instead of having to visit each of your favorite websites or blogs every day, you can now just go straight to your feed reader.  Some sites will allow entire articles to be published in feed readers, some just post titles or titles and excerpts.  You may need click on the titles of your posts in the feed reader to view the entire articles, or to view videos. 

 

 Tomorrow, we'll discuss how you can optimize feed readers as a webmaster or blogger.

 

Jennifer PointerJennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.

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What is SEO/SMO, and why should I care? (Part 3)

Posted on February 24, 2010 by Jennifer Pointer

In Part 1, we discussed how SEO and SMO help your readers find you, and in Part 2 we talked about the roll of page rank in helping your articles and posts get to the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages).

 

Back in the "old days," of SEO (circa Spring, 2009), it was generally believed that social media sites were good for indirectly improving the page rank of a website or blog.  This is because direct links from those sites did not (and still do not) "count" as backlinks in the official search engine algorithm, due to their use of a specific bit of code (rel="nofollow").  However, social networking was still considered beneficial, because through it, bloggers could grow a network and entice other websites and blogs to link to their own quality, original content.  Increasingly, however, we are seeing that links on social networking sites are actually driving traffic directly from the search engines, because the social networking sites are now searchable, and specific links to a blog post or article may actually rank higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages) than the article itself.  (See ArcStone:  Live Results + Caffeine = My Social Circle)  This can exponentially increase your chances of getting back-links.

 

So how do you get started?  Facebook is a good place to start (see our five-part tutoral on Facebook for tips on what to do and what not to do).  Twitter is another site that is real-time, and excellent for increasing web traffic, and thereby - page rank.  Always, remember that social networking is not simply a venu for free advertising.  (See Social Networking for Promotion: DIY vs. Free on FHK.)  "Networking," is a two-way street, success in social media requires two-way communication.  Be sure to promote other bloggers and websites as well as your own, and keep it "fun."

 

When starting a new website or blog, you will at first have no page rank, and very few readers.  In the beginning weeks and months of your site, you will rely very heavily on your own networking, including posting on social networking sites, e-mailing links to higher-ranking bloggers and websites who might link to you, commenting on other blogs and websites who might in turn link to you, etc..  In time, however, as you post regularly, and consistently build your page rank, you will find that the majority of your readership is coming to you from the search engines.

  

Jennifer PointerJennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.

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What is SEO/SMO, and why should I care? (Part 2)

Posted on February 23, 2010 by Jennifer Pointer

What is SEO?

 

In Part 1, we discussed that "SEO" (Search Engine Optimization) is the process whereby we get our  websites, research, stories, and names to the front page of the search engines.  In Building Page Rank from Scratch, we began to talk about ways to get your name to the front page of the search engines.  But most of the time, your potential readers/customers are not going to be looking for you by name. Instead, they are going to be entering keywords (search terms)  into the search boxes of the search engines - keywords that relate to their needs and interests.  It is your job to make sure they find you when they enter those keywords.  Following are three quick and easy ways to begin to do that.

 

Include your Keywords in your Post Titles

 

Title rank higher on your "sitemap," so when at all possible, be sure to include your keywords in your post or article titles. 

 

 Strategically Use Anchor Text

 

When you are providing hyperlinks to other posts and articles within your own site, and to other blogs, try to make sure the highlighted text is a keyword.  For example, if I wanted to link back to my post from a couple of weeks ago about Google Buzz, it would be better for me to link it this way: Find out what the Buzz is about,  rather than this way: Find out what's new.  Both link back to the same post, but the one that includes my keyword "Buzz" is more likely to be read by the search engines as a popular keyword.

 

Build Page Rank

 

You'll want to being to build page rank, by encouraging other websites and bloggers to link to you - ideally, blogs and websites which have a higher page rank than you do.  If you're curious about your page rank, or that of another blog or website, use this "page-rank checker."  Here's how Google explains Page Rank:

 

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

 

Know that your page rank score is in some ways a moving goal post.  Google is constantly updating its secret and very complex algorithm to prevent bloggers and webmasters from "gaming," its system. 

 

Tomorow, we will continue to talk about building page rank through SMO (social media optimization).

 

Jennifer PointerJennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.

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What is SEO/SMO, and why should I care? (Part 1)

Posted on February 22, 2010 by Jennifer Pointer

I reconnected with a childhood friend recently on Facebook whom I haven't seen for nearly 30 years.  That's happened a few times recently, and it always makes me feel like I'm in a time warp, because "Facebook," wasn't even a concept back then.  So, she asked what I'm doing now, and one of the things I mentioned was SEO/SMO. 

 

"Can you explain what you mean by SEO/SMO? I looked it up online, but I'm unclear on the concept," she wrote back. I think I may have gotten a little overenthusiastic in my reply to her, because I haven't heard back from her.  I now understand that a Facebook exchange probably wasn't the best venue for sharing my excitement about the importance of what I'm learning about search engine and social media optimization.  So, I'm going to break it down into smaller chunks, and blog about it this week.  Perhaps this will find its way into the feed readers of folks who are currently seeking the information, and be a future reference for WebRevelation readers.

 

 

What is SEO/SMO?  That stands for Search Engine Optimization / Social Media Optimization. In a nutshell, it's helping people get their websites, research, stories, and names to the front page of the search engines. 

 

I became interested in this when I started back to school in 2002.  I began to notice that students were relying mostly on the search engines (more than the libraries, or any of the sources we used to use) for research, and that most of the stuff that came up on the front pages of a "Google" search, or a search on any of the other search engines (Yahoo, AOL, etc.), was mostly junk - it was inaccurate in many cases, full of propaganda in others.  Increasingly, the news media, educational institutions and the general public were getting their information from these search engines.  Yet, the much of the information readily available there was worthless.

 

So I set about learning how to "fix" that.  It took a long time, but eventually I learned that there was a strategy that internet marketers were using that they referred to as "search engine optimization" that helped them get their websites to the front pages of the search engines.  Mostly, at that time, this was done on a competitive basis, and for profit.  Either the websites were selling something, or they were sharing information, but making money off the advertisements on their websites.

 

I started learning their strategies, and applying them to my own blogs.  I practiced, and learned a lot through trial and error.  I also learned a lot from a group of political activists that I became involved with before the last Presidential election...They were applying these same techniques to get their candidates' and political-activist websites to the front page of Google - some with more success than others. 

 

Most recently, I've decided to concentrate on helping Christians, churches, pro-life groups, etc., use the search engines for outreach.  Most of these places have websites, but they aren't fully taking advantage of techniques that are available to have a greater influence on the information flow - on our culture. 

 

In upcoming posts, we will discuss the difference between SEO, and SMO, and how you can apply some very easy SEO/SMO techniques to your online activities to help make the information you have to share more accessible to your target audience.

 

Jennifer PointerJennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.

 

 

 

 

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Building Page Rank from Scratch

Posted on February 19, 2010 by Jennifer Pointer

 

So, now you've Created an Online Profile and Claimed Your Name Online.  You've been proactive in Securing your Online Profile, and you're reading to start building "page rank," whatever that is, right?  Well, let's talk about what page rank is, and why you need it.

 

Have you ever Googled Yourself?  Googled a prospective business partner? A prospective date?  Did it influence your decision about proceeding with the prospective professional or personal relationship? For many people, it can make a difference, so ideally, you want to be sure that the information that shows up on the first couple of pages of a Google search (These are called "SERP's" - Search Engine Results Pages) under your name is positive or neutral information about you.  If nothing shows up about you under your name, you're starting from scratch, and you'll need to work quickly to develop an online presence. 

 

Start a Blog or Website Under your Name

 

The easiest way to do this is to purchase your own domain name, and publish a website or blog.  This can be done using a professional service like WebRevelation, or using any number of free online services if you have some computer skills.  You will want to use the techniques below to build your network, and get people to begin to read your blog, and link to you.  There is a whole profession devoted to building page rank and driving traffic to a blog, so we aren't going to pretend to cover this in one blog post.  Below are just the basics of getting started.  If you are starting from scratch, you will see results very quickly by following one or more of these suggestions.

 

Get Published in your Niche

 

Ft. Hard Knox published a study last year showing which types of sites tend to rank highest in a Google profile under a person's name. In that study, it was found that the sites that ranked highest were "niche/industry media."  These are sites that are popular in their own industries.  So, if you can possibly get yourself published or mentioned on a website or blog that already has high page rank in the industry you want to become popular in - you'll be a step ahead in this process.  

 

Use Video Sites

 

Video sites rank very high on Google, so be sure to sign up with a user ID.  You don't necessarily need to video yourself, unless you have truly video-worthy skills. You can use these sites by voting and commenting on the videos of others.  On YouTube (the biggest of these sites - owned by Google) you can also start your own channel, and add your favorite videos from elsewhere on the site.  This is an easy and fun way to build page rank, and establish an online presence.

 

Use Wiki's and Info-sharing Sites

 

Wikis like Wikipedia and information-sharing sites like Answers.com, rank very high on Google, so providing useful information on these sites can be very helpful to your page rank if the information is in your name.

 

Review Books and Movies

 

If you like to read or watch movies, another excellent way to quickly add positive information to the SERP's is to discuss and review books on high-ranking book sites like Amazon.com and MetaCafe.com

 

Participate on Social Networking Sites

 

As we discussed in the Claim Your Name post a couple of days ago, I recommend at least Facebook, TwitterLinked-INNingFriendFeed, and YouTube.  These rank very high in the search engines, and give you the ability to build a network.  If you have a blog, be sure to occassionally link back to your blog from these sites, to help drive traffic to your blog, and encourage the members of your network to link to your quality, original content.

 

Jennifer PointerJennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.

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