Posts Tagged ‘tools’

Do Your Business Blog Posts Have Long Enough Tails?

guest post by my friend, author Patricia Snodgrass

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What Do Long Tail Keywords Mean?

What is a long tail keyword?  Do you pick one up at the rescue shelter? Does it require a cat box, food, water, regular grooming? Does your new long tail keyword require spaying or neutering?

 

The answer is of course, none of the above.  Simply stated, a long tail keyword is a string of specific key words designed to bring better quality hits to your webpage.  Long tail keywords are designed to help searchers find your site quicker and easier.

 

The average keyword could get lots of hits to your website, but that isn’t going to do you any good if those hits are unproductive. When someone uses a long tail keyword, they are able to find your site because you have what the searcher is looking for. You may not get as many hits with long term keywords, as you would with the average garden variety keyword, but what you will get is people who will be more interested in what you have to say, or in what you are trying to sell.

 

Lets say you’re looking for a book on how to use keywords more efficiently, but you are as clueless as I am when it comes to talking about adwords, rankings and SERPS. So, you go to amazon.com to find a book that’s easy to understand, but once you type in keyword  in their books menu, you get far too many hits. You have neither time nor energy to pick through all the books to find the one you want. How do you find the book you’re looking for?

 

If you were to type in, easy to understand book keywords ad words, you will find the book you’re searching for quickly.  For example, I typed in easy to understand keywords and the Book For Dummies was the top hit. Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes

 

In order for your article to receive a high ranking on SERPS, you need to create long tail keywords to sprinkle into your article, so the search engine can “see” you. For example, you are writing an article about bearded irises, but you wish to write about specific irises, like purple bearded irises.  You would sprinkle the long tail keywords ‘purple bearded irises’ into your article along with any other long tail keywords you would like to use.  However, you don’t want to overdo it, otherwise your article will sound weird.  The author must never dilute the quality of their work by adding too many keywords, be they long or small.

 

Drawing a blank? Try the free keyword tool, Ubersuggest

 


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Stale Tweets — And How to Avoid Them

I remember when the Internet was simple!

(c) Mel. White 2011

So you’ve been reading all about the magical things that Twitter can do for your business and you keep running across articles on “how to increase your twitter followers.” Of course, increasing followers and KEEPING followers are actually two different things — and most sites that are trying to sell you a “how to” don’t mention the second part of this. So, you just added 20 new followers — the question now is “can you keep them”? If you think they’ll still stay after the 8th tween you’ve sent advertising your product, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. The only ones hanging around your feed after that are the ones who are going to be blasting ads at you.

 

That’s not a relationship. That’s two people ignoring each other.

 

Twitter is all about interacting with others. One of the things that people respond to are posts containing interesting things to read. As a marketer, you can take advantage of many of the article sites around the Internet as a source for tweets on those days when you have absolutly nothing to say. They should be used sparingly on your own websites because Google will “ding” your ratings if all you’re doing is posting reprints on your blog or website. But there’s still a lot of useful advice in some of these old articles — advice that YOUR friends may not have seen and which can be helpful.

 

Two things that can be used but should be used sparingly are Stumble and quotes. Using Stumble Upon to locate interesting content is sort of a “no brainer”, but that’s something that everyone else is doing as well. Tweeting the Quote Of The Day can also be old hat because folks will after awhile ignore something that’s on autopilot. Instead, look for content that’s unusual or provokes discussion (a comment on a current political situation will always get responses, but you might not like what you get back!) New Scientist is often a source for “wow, that’s weird!” articles as is (of all things) the National Geographic site. TED talks are another good source (if you have followers that love videos or you love videos).

 

…and there’s always the old standby, “News of the Weird.”   That’s one of MY favorites.

 

When marketing online (whether it’s fiction books or jewelry or coins or games or anything else), interesting content makes your tweet feed something to pay attention to rather than something to ignore. So, once you’re done tweeting about showing up at Starbucks, find something strange and interesting to comment on. Your “tweeps” will be glad you did!

 

By the way, here’s a nice little advice article on Twitter in general from the folks at About.com: http://onlinebusiness.about.com/od/gettingtrafficmarketing/a/how-to-twitter.htm

 

And this is a very highly recommended book for anyone doing social marketing via Twitter!

RECOMMEND THIS PAGE


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Google Analytics — Is It Worth It?

I’ve seen a lot of posts both pro and con about Google Analytics — the tool from google that is aimed at marketers and shows detailed statistics of a site.  Some people swear by it, some swear at it, and most don’t seem to know it exists.  After reading a number of posts and blogs on this service, I decided to cruise over and take a look at it for myself.

The first thing to note is that you can’t use it to snoop on what other people are doing.  You have to have your own website and you have to be able to insert code into the site (which means that you may not be able to use it on some of the free hosting sites or free blog sites.  Like Livejournal.)

If you have come over to the Dark Side and already have a Google account, setup involves loggin in with your google account and telling it what site you want tracked.  Google walks you through the process and then offers you the code to insert in your web page header.  There are also tools for WordPress blogs  that automate the features.

Like every other analysis tool, it’s entirely possible to spend too much time playing with the pretty charts and numbers and creating reports — meaning you could be spending too much time chasing things that aren’t worthwhile.   But quick overviews can tell you a lot about who’s coming to your site and why.  You can use it to answer “what questions are people searching for when they come to my site?”   You can also use it to answer “who’s sending me traffic” and “what were they searching on?”   Unlike many other tools, this one is free, which is just the right price for beginners.   The pie charts are interesting and the “quick and dirty” view of the top 5 keywords and the top 5 referral sites make it very simple for even the amateur to figure out where traffic is coming from and why it’s there.  It allows you to create campaigns and track them.

So how does it stack up with other website statistics packages?  On a very basic level, it offers the same things I can get from my current webhost’s (Allwebco) data packages. Allwebco’s packages give me up to the minute results, but Analytics has a time delay of several hours to almost a day.  There’s also reports of small discrepancies in the numbers reported by Google and the numbers reported by webhosts.  Comments on Search Engine boards suggest that it’s not really an issue for small sites.

I found some areas of the menu less than intuitive — it was annoying to click on “profile” and be delivered to my public Google+ profile when what I really wanted was the account information and code snippet to place on boards.

I haven’t had a real use for the advanced features and reports, since I’m running information sites and not sales sites.  But it IS a lot faster than signing onto Cpanel right now and pulling up the reports, so I’ll continue to use it.

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Wider Content — more blog traffic?

I remember when the Internet was simple!

(c) Mel. White 2011

There’s been some recent discussions on Internet entrepreneur boards about whether or not writing articles for other blogs (or article directories) that link to your blog is really that effective in the wake of Panda, Google’s latest algorithm. Does it make better sense to write a wide variety of articles (such as “general entrepreneurship topics”) rather than focused articles (like “marketing via email”.)

 

In fact, does it make a lot of sense to write a gazillion articles or article directories in the first place? Shouldn’t you just focus on your blog?

 

That really depends on how you view your blog. If you’re selling just one thing, (a marketing course, for instance) then what you really want to do is turn your blog into one giant ad and write articles for article directories that proclaim you’re the Greatest Guru Ever ™ and include links that point to your website.

 

But suppose we’ve just sat down at a Starbucks with a wildlife photographer who specializes in bird photos (we’ll call her Mimi Polyglo.) It’s a small business and was doing okay from art shows but with the downturn in the economy she wants to get more people to buy her bird pictures — and for that, she needs traffic to her site. Since you’re her bestest buddy ever, she’s come to you for advice… because…

 

…she’s just stumbled across articles from G.G.Ever ™ telling her she needs to start writing a lot of articles for article directories — that the only way to get crazy traffic is to start writing lots about birds and putting the free articles (for others to use on their websites or blogs) in article directories.

 

Is it really worth her time?

 

Well… probably not. People who cruise article directories are USUALLY not looking for a lot of articles about “how to photograph woodpeckers” to use on their sites. She could spend a lot of time writing (instead of photographing) — and that’ll do nothing for her sales. In the mean time, her highly focused blog may attract a cozy circle of friends who need to know all about woodpeckers, but this tightly themed blog is not going to do a lot to promote her work. If she hands out business cards, her site will be visited by once or twice by people who want to see photos — but there’s nothing that’s going to compel them to come back.

 

But if she expands her topics to include (for example) reviews of “best birding spots” and occasional reviews of cameras and other gear, she has picked something more compelling that will encourage others to check her site and maybe revisit it, hoping they can take a pretty bird picture of their own. They’ll come to find tips about birding hotspots if they’re taking a trip somewhere, though. If she monetizes it with some Amazon books on birding or on cameras, the chances of getting some money (as well as visitors) increases.

 

What about writing articles for birding blogs and birding sites? Well yes — IF she has something interesting to read (the wider topic) on her website-blog and IF she has the time to spend on creating articles for someone else’s blog as a guest author. But writing articles (in other words, “article marketing”) to place on article directories in hopes they’ll drive traffic to her website– no, that’s a waste of time and effort.  You see,  Google Adsense doesn’t actually pay you until you get $100 in earnings. You get about a penny for every 100 people who show up (but don’t click on anything.) She’d need about 100,000,000 visitors Desperately Seeking Woodpeckers to see a check from Adsense.  She can kill herself writing traffic articles — or she can promote her art in other ways and use the blog to “make friends” with her customers.

 

So for her, expanding her blog topic to make her website more interesting and keep people coming back even if there’s no new photos, she needs to consider expanding her pictures and bird monologues with other topics that relate to Wonderful Winged Things.

 

And the same holds true of YOUR blog, too.  But word of warning — don’t make it too diverse.  If you have something to say in a field very different from your current blog, START ANOTHER BLOG.  That’s why I have http://www.scienceweblog.com, among other sites.

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(in-joke alert for the photographer’s name … the state bird of Texas is the Northern Mockingbird — Mimis polyglottis)

Pretty Websites are More Trustworthy?

Syskitty simple internet

(c) Mel. White

Here’s the latest brain-bending alert:  Content may not exactly be king on the Internet

 

Yep. All those hard written words probably aren’t as effective as you thought because the new Evil Usurper sneaking in to topple Content off its throne is “Pretty Pictures.”

Images are strongly attractive to people. As a species we are very visually wired (so much so that the “oh! look! video” channels in our brain can totally override a “if you listen to the actual words, the whole thing doesn’t make sense” circuits.) Although an interesting read is a bonus, layout and colors and pictures can apparently distract us from less-than-interesting content — or content that actually makes very little sense.

 

Anyone who’s lurked on social networking sites for awhile may have already begun to suspect this.  Often you’ll see messages like “OMG!  This just says everything” with a link to some sort of music video.  This is particularly true when someone posts that they’re feeling sad.  Not all of us are wired to appreciate this (my usual mental response is a growly “OMG!  I have six thousand things to do and YOU want me to drop everything and watch this 4 minute video of your favorite song.  How about I don’t but say I do and use that 4 minutes to do something I really need to do.”   But I’m cranky and I’m not a Watcher.  I’m a Doer.)

 

Beauty may not be everything, but it carries a lot of cachet.  Dr. Brent Coker claims that attractive people are seen as more trustworthy (which could explain why women, as they age, tend to feel that society dismisses them more.)  He created a tool called ‘Webreep’ (which isn’t free, by the way) to help take a look at websites and what people think of them.  He found that they will stay on a site longer if it’s visually interesting — but — if folks can’t figure out how to find the information they want quickly or if it takes too long to load, then they’ll leave quickly.

 

You can check the details out at the link below.  I’m gonna go tweak the site a bit…

Prettier websites gain trust Science Alert.


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Building Time Blocks

The trouble with us is that we’re being trained to be easily fascinated.  You know, the “oooh!  shiny!” reaction where you’re walking along thinking about one thing and suddenly something bright and interesting (or new) catches your attention.  Suddenly, all your well-intentioned plans go out the window as you go over to look at (and play with) your new toy.

 

This is a REAL problem in doing business on the web.  I admit I get frequent cases of “oooh!  shinies!” all the time — and the place I get it worst is hanging out on business forums.  Someone will have a great idea for an ad or a great suggestion and I get energized and excited and want to run off and maybe explore that niche market, too.  I know it’s a really bad idea but the shinies are so compelling I can’t help myself!

 

For instance, I’ve been toying with the idea of (simultaneously) serializing a steampunk novel I”m writing.  But I need to keep this blog updated and keep on working on the Friends In Business site (which needs sprucing up and new articles and all like that… it’s just starting to see results now) AND I need to get some art done… and… and…

 

It’s all about focus and setting up a schedule.  Here’s the strategy, though — if you’re having a really focused day when you’re totally on track and fired up for the task, spend at least 20 minutes on each task — scheduled in chunks of no more than 5 minutes.   If you’re having one of those “the kids are yelling every 15 minutes and I have to watch for the refrigerator repair guy and the cat sounds like it’s doing something suspicious on the carpet” then make each five minute block a single task.

 

If things are really nasty or distracting, move it to 2 minute blocks.

 

If you start out with a huge list and at the end of the day it’s even bigger, you’ll go to bed unhappy.  It’s better to take a short sprint and then attend to other things than sitting there for twenty minutes and spinning your wheels.

 

So chop each task up into 2-5 minute chunks.  If, for instance, I’m going to write and it’s a horribly distractful day, I’ll put down “write FIB blog 2 minutes” and schedule “put away breakfast dishes 2 minutes”… and so on and so forth.  You may not accomplish mountainous miracles but you can sure get stuff done.

 

This is where I use my favorite time management software.   In addition to my laptop, I own an HP Ipaq (in this case, I’m synching my laptop, my HP pocket calculator and my Android tablet) and use them to kind of help keep me honest.   I use Google Calendar for the main scheduling, but for the tiny stuff I use Essential PIM — I liked the free version so well that I bought the full version.  Having had Palmpilots for many years (they do so many things that a phone doesn’t — more detailed calendar, lots of notes, and you can actually compose a long text there as well as keep a secure address book) I was very glad to find a software that worked on the laptop, coordinated with the HP, and could connect with Google Calendar (which synchs with my Android.)  Nowadays it just doesn’t get much better.

 

I find I have to rework it frequently, because an inflexible schedule means I actually don’t get anything done.  And yes (sigh) I do leave time for sleep, housework (well… SOME housework) and other stuff as well as writing and art.


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This Week’s Fabulous Five Websites

I’ve been prowling around the Internet this week wasting time looking for the best advice on how to update the Friends In Business website. There’s a lotta distractions out there, let me tell you — and a lot of information. Sadly, much of it is pure garbage and some of the sites for people interested in finding ways to work from home are really out of date. But I did come across some fabulous stuff, so I thought I’d take some time and blog about it.

 

This week the focus was all about WordPress blogs. Lemme tell you, that’s a subject that could take YEARS to go through. I’m getting a handle on it now, after setting up and designing one in the past month. There were times when I thought my brain might explode. WordPress is beginning to make more sense now, but it seemed like it took forever to get past the first steps of “Okay… I got the blog installed and just typed hello world. Okay. Now what?”

 

Luckily there are people around who are writing all sorts of helpful things. So this week’s “Fabulous Five” are pages that I was SO glad to find this week.

 

First of all, a nod to Lee Dobbins, who owns the site http://www.websitepromotionblueprint.com/ She offers a series of articles called the Website Promotion Blueprint — and it’s free. What’s being discussed is NOT something that requires special skills or even something that gets you out of your comfort zone (like dressing up in a monkey suit and handing out balloons with your web address on them. Or cold calling. Come to think of it, I’d rather dress up in a monkey suit than do cold calling.) And while you’re there, sign up for her newsletter. It’s got nice tips in it, it’s not “in your face” every day, and when she makes a recommendation for something she also includes low cost and free alternatives to it. That’s a real boost for anyone who’s building a home business or thinking about trying to work from home.

 

Have you joined Google+? I’ve been invited in by friends and am kicking the tires and exploring the options. Right now, there’s a huge fuss over aliases and names (William Shatner got kicked from Google+ for awhile… for using his own name!) One thing they’re also banning is businesses as entities… so I can’t sign up as “Friends in business” — not that I’m interested in doing that… but I couldn’t anyway. I don’t know if it’ll replace Facebook for me but the conversations I’m seeing there are different (and there’s no Farmville update spam!) Someone pointed out http://gplus.to/ — a site where you can get your very own short form Google+ contact name. So I’m http://gplus.to/MelWhite.

 

Google+ can deliver interesting content, like this article: http://www.therealmikegriffin.com/2938/small-business-ideas-work-home-tips-bring-success/ One of the big gripes I hear from folks with home businesses is that it’s “distraction driven.” In some offices, bosses are the main distraction but they can’t compete with the “OMG! Laundry!” distraction that creeps up on you when you least expect it. Mike Griffin has some useful comments.

 

The problem with cruising around is that you can get far too involved chasing interesting ideas. Focus Booster (http://www.focusboosterapp.com/) is a pretty darn neat application that works on what’s called the “Pomodoro technique.” It basically is a timer for focusing on activities — set a timer for (for instance) ten minutes and that’s the ONLY time during which you can… ah… oh… chase down URLs about “Luke Skywalker” or “Freakonomics” or “Incredible Brownies” or whatever other thing just happens to grab your fancy. It will alert you when recess comes around.

 

Yahoo has a competitor … well, sort of… to Google Trends searches called “Yahoo Clues.” http://clues.yahoo.com/  In many ways, I like it better than Trends because it gives a nice picture of the data over time and it also gives you some idea who’s searching this — men, women, over 40, under 40, and so forth. I had entirely too much fun playing with the thing, finding out the demographics of who was searching for what and which terms were better than other terms! I you’re starting a home business or thinking about doing any sort of work at home business, this tool is one you need to bookmark and use!

 

And that’s the Fabulous Five for this week — stay tuned for something equally fabulous (or created in a chocolate brownie overload haze) next week!


In The Reviews: a few useful websites


Do you have advertising burn out?

 

I do!

 

In 2006, CBS news estimate that we’re bombarded with 5,000 ads per day and these days it seems like that number must have doubled!  If you’re looking for advice on how to fix up your website or perhaps increase some traffic to your blog, it may feel like you’re getting 5,000 ads per hour — most of them long sales letters by people you never heard of, giving a lot of promises.

And asking for money.  In one case (which turned out to be an old site and the product may no longer be available), I read that if I didn’t take advantage of the offer and purchase something RIGHT NOW, that the price would go up to $1,000.  I looked at the price tag, the long list of promises, and didn’t see anything that compelled me to whip out the credit card and plunk down my cash.

 

I’m a “can I try the thing before I decide to buy it” kind of person.  I like samples of books (if I’m in a bookstore, I’ll flip through the first few pages of a book to see if the writing appeals to me), I like to use shareware (try for free, pay for it if you use it.)

 

So with that in mind, I thought I’d start reviewing tools and sites that I’ve found useful.  Yes, these folks are trying to sell you something but at the same time they’re giving you things you can use to let you decide if you want to pursue a closer relationship.

 

I signed up for one of Yaro Starak’s email newsletters quite some time ago and occasionally click on the emails to see what he’s saying.  I dump a lot of these newsletters, but Starak’s website (http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/) actually has very worthwhile content and he makes sure that the people in his blogsphere are producing useful articles.

 

He recently promoted his “blog profits blueprint” with a “how to” video site (How To Blog – Why You Should Use WordPress | Become A Blogger) that’s really very good (and worth having a look at even if you hate video stuff (that would be me, by the way — hate having to sit through video)) and offers some interesting things that even experienced bloggers could make use of (never thought of using RSS feeds for the fiction that I write.)

 

While struggling with the site design, I came across this nifty tutorial for putting adsense into your WordPress blog without totally going ballistic all over your computer.  http://catwchang.com/?p=127  I tried it and it works beautifully — Ms Chang is NOT responsible for my inept tweaking of her suggested code, though.

 

One new find that I’m still checking out is http://www.thenetgazette.net/  While I don’t agree that all their finds are gems, I’ve found some good stuff in the links they recommend.  I’ll comment on some of those in the next installment.


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And the winner is…? Really???


Well, how about them apples?

My husband convinced me to switch to Firefox after YEARS of being a diehard Internet Explorer user.  It wasn’t laziness– I like the layout better and liked some of the functions.  But Firefox was loading faster than IE and I switched.

So it surprised me when an independent test lab (yep… I checked out to see if they really WERE impartial) said IE does a better job at blocking malware than the other browsers:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/235887/ie_wins_malwareblocking_tests.html#tk.hp_pop


To anyone in the tech sector, this is interesting but not always surprising.  Hackers and malware writers always go for the “top dog” — hence they spend time writing code for Windows (because fewer people use Macintoshes, fewer still are running Linux, and if you want to do damage, you go after the popular stuff.)   So right now, Firefox is probably the #1 target of malware.  The European Union is reporting a lot of problems with malware, and this is the reason for the lab inquiry: http://www.nsslabs.com/assets/noreg-reports/2011/nss%20labs_q2_2011_browsersem_FINAL.pdf

Elsewhere in the report, they say that people running non-updated browsers of any sort are at risk.

Soooo…. I may switch to IE, and I’ll certainly update my browser addons!


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For more on business, inventory, and mindset, see our article by MCA Hogarth on how to get down to doing business:
http://www.friendsinbusiness.com/features/micah-1.html