Archives for August 2010

Top 7 Ways to Title Your Blogs for Clicks and SEO

writeOne of the most important parts of a blog post, if you’re trying to attract clicks and search engines, is the title.

So think well when crafting your title, because you’re trying to make it:

  • interesting
  • clickable
  • retweetable
  • search engine friendly
  • relevant

Same phrase, different titles

If we know what people are searching for then we know what they find interesting, don’t we? Not really, unfortunately.

Different audiences will find different titles interesting – but whatever your audience likes, there’s a way to fit in your keyphrases.

Let’s pretend your keyphrase for today is ‘digital photography lessons’, OK?

Ten Top Tips Title

Some people are drawn to ’10 Top Tips for XXXX’ type articles, and they do well on Twitter and Facebook, as well as sites such as Digg and Stumbleupon (more of this later too!)

so

Ten Top Techniques You Can Learn from Digital Photography Lessons

It does what it says on the tin title

Some people just like a factual straightforward title that will help them to find out what they wanted to know. This type of title works well in search engines.

So

We give digital photography lessons all over the UK

The ‘answer a question’ title

These do well pretty much everywhere!

So

Where can I take digital photography lessons?

The ‘boastful claim’ title

These work well at dragging in the readers, but need a lot of substance to back them up.

So

Digital photography lessons will make you more attractive to women!

The innuendo laden title

(Nikki hopes her Mum isn’t reading!)

Again, good for bringing in readers, but need good content to back them up

so

Want to handle a large aperture? Come to digital photography lessons

(sorry Mum)

The controversial title

Controversy can drive traffic, but can have a negative effect on your reputation, so be careful!

So

Do you take rubbish photos like this? You need digital photography lessons

The ‘learn more about us’ title

Readers like to connect with the people behind the blogs they read, so the human touch never hurts.

So

A day in the life of the teacher of our digital photography lessons

Mix and match the type of titles you use, don’t JUST write funny ones (unless it’s a humour blog) or JUST top ten ones (unless it’s a top ten blog!) – you know what I mean.

Want to know more about titles, blogging and SEO? It’s all there in 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven – available now.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: the trial

How much time do you spend on Social Media per week?

If you could spare a few seconds, I have a 2 question survey over at Survey Monkey regarding how much time people spend on Social Media per week. The results are for a report I’m writing which will be shared with my blog and newsletter readers afterwards.

Thanks in advance for your help 🙂

You can fill in the survey below, or visit the survey page on Surveymonkey.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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Facebook changes the rules on business pages AGAIN…

FAIL stampFirst they renamed Fan Pages to Business Pages, now they’re messing with the way things look.

I have to say I’m not too happy with Facebook over these changes, as they’ll affaect thousands of people who have invested time, effort and money in their Facebook pages.

So what’s happening?

1) The Boxes facility and tab is being removed. So if you have spent time making a really nice layout on your Boxes tab (which some people have) – you’re going to lose it as from next week. It’s not being changed, moved elsewhere or streamlined – it’s being removed. That also means that if you used the boxes facility to have a sign up form, or Google Analytics, or nice graphics, in the left hand side of your Facebook page, you’ll lose it.

2) The size of custom tabs is being changed. So if you spent money on a custom welcome tab, it won’t fit. The new size is 520 pixels, so if you’ve designed to the old 750 pixels size, your tab is going to look mighty odd.

Now I’m unhappy about this on my page, but I’m also unhappy about the 100+ pages we’ve set up for clients – all of their custom tabs will now be the wrong size, and if they want us to fix them, we’re going to have to charge. Yeah yeah, I should be happy I can make more money, but I’m not. To put it bluntly, it’s going to be a lot of work if everyone comes back wanting them changed, and I hate to have to be the one to tell them.

How are the changes going to affect your page?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: hans.gerwitz

You mean you don’t have an eCommerce site yet?

me

A guest post by Matt Chatterley of MattchedIT Ltd – thanks Matt 🙂

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Over the last few years (or perhaps more accurately, months), we’ve watched the way we interact with each other online change drastically through facebook, twitter and various other less-known services and tools. But how many of us have really sat down and studied the impact these changes could have on our businesses?

Once upon a time it was hard to set up an online shop. They were few and far between and they were major undertakings. That certainly isn’t the case now – we have the technology, you might say.

It’s probably harder to choose the solution you want to use – or to find a reputable developer amongst the masses – than it is to actually go through the motions of planning, implementing and opening your store.

Sadly, many would-be virtual shop-keepers learn a hard lesson shortly after they open – although laying the foundations and opening a shop is pretty simple, making sales is something else entirely.

Marketing is a serious business

You’re reading my scribblings on Nikki Pilkington’s blog – so you must already know that she is well known in Internet Marketing circles, for all the right reasons. I’m sure she and I will agree on this point – the toughest job which lays before you with your shiny new online shop is going to be bringing in customers and making sales.

I don’t mean to gloss over the importance of making sure your website is going to make sales – that’s clearly critical too, but you need an audience before you can even find out if it’s laid out in a manner which will tempt them to buy.

Instead of telling you about the importance of a marketing plan or about all the things you should be doing, I’m going to suggest some ideas for your site itself – some of the things which we are busy incorporating into the in-house eCommerce framework which we use to build sites.

Three ways to engage customers, get referrals and to save those sales!

Engage Customers – There is so much you can do to increase the level of customer engagement your site permits.

Sure, it might make recommendations for similar products – thats nothing new. But how about sending an existing customer a quick tweet when you add a new product the system thinks they’d like, based on their past purchases?

Hi @you! A new book has been published by @your_favourite_author..”

Get Referrals – If you can get your customers to recommend you to their friends, particular over social media, you’ll be tapping into one of the most powerful and effective marketing resources in the world. Perhaps you could offer a discount code if they perform enough “social shares” – or you could issue them with an affiliate code and hand out a share of the cash if one of their friends makes a purchase.

A recommendation from a friend is always going to be stronger than any advertisement you can issue yourself!

Save those Sales – don’t you hate it when the product you want is out of stock? Particularly if it’s a high demand item – by the time an email notification of new stock arrives, the odds are it’ll be sold out again. So why not return to twitter, facebook and other “instant gratification” messaging services?

Get it right and not only will you be able to make your customer feel important with their notification – you might draw in a few of their followers, too!

Social Networking is for life, not just for this year

Perhaps I should say “Social Marketing” rather than “Social Networking”. It’s not going anywhere – and it’s only going to get more important. Sure, like anything online, it’s going to change quickly and we’re all going to have to run to keep up at times, but fortune favours the brave!

That’s why as we push ahead with our development schedule, finding new ways to integrate with and get the most out of social networks is going to remain high on our list of priorities. Is it on yours yet? And if not, why not?

Matt Chatterley is an experienced software developer and one of the directors of Mattched IT Ltd, a web development company based in Hampshire which specialises in providing tailor-made web and software solutions to the business market.

Optimising your LinkedIn page – a guest post by Ian McAllister

In the old days, before it went all sophisticated and semantic, LinkedIn searches were predictable in outcome. Your chances of being found were defined by your relationship with the person who was undertaking the search. The search priorities and rankings were based simply on the level of connection you shared, the number of connections you had in common, and then the number of groups you shared. Hence, the bigger your network, the more likely you were to be found close to the top of a search result
Now LinkedIn has changed it default search criteria, and although a large network still gives you better span and ability to connect, being found for what you know requires application of some simple Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – techniques.
Basic LinkedIn Searching:
The basic search function in the top right of the LinkedIn user screen, much like Google, allows you just to search a basic string: eg, Dave Smith or Architect. You can use the drop down menu to search: People, Jobs, Companies, Answers, InBox, Groups
Most often, you are looking for a person or a company, and you can add strings together, eg: Dave Smith Akzo. This is useful finding named people – or titled people – at a particular company. Which ever search system you use, LinkedIn will return the searches balanced on a priority of:
Search Criteria – eg: Dave then David Smith?
Relationship to you in your LinkedIn network – ie: first, second or third level contact, number of connections in common, number of groups in common
The reason for the second criteria is that LinkedIn Search now uses semantic criteria to create both primary and additional results. Hence, you will now tind you have a longer list of results, often running into multiple pages. The reason for a semantic search, is that it allows for people to spell their name in different ways, which is particularly common in North America where more people use middle initials and use nick-names as professional names, eg:
Dave or David?
Rob or Robert
Chuck?
The out coming number of people, and the complexity of reducing them to something more manageable by using techniques like parenthetic search, mean the need to occasionally use the more advanced in-built search tools.
LinkedIn Search Result Priorities
The default search results are now prioritised and sorted by LinkedIn according to their relevance. This recent change means that even though PersonA may fit the criteria you searched for and be a first level connection, if PersonB who is in your total network has more relevance to that semantic search term, then PersonB will appear above PersonA in the displayed search results. We will come back to this shortly, but understand that the standard default setting for searches on LinkedIn is based on relevance over connection.
LinkedIn provides both on the Advanced Search page, and after basic search results are displayed, alternate methods of ranking results, selected from a menu located in a grey bar just above the first result. The options are:
Relevance (default)
Relationship
Relationship + Recommendations
Connections
Keywords
You can set your default search setting differently to any of these criteria you choose.
Advanced People Search:
In Advance People Search, each field now becomes a separate table or drop-down menu. There are three parts to the Advanced People Search page:
Person – which you can define through the fields of: keywords; First name; Last Name: Location; School; Title; Company. The last two criteria can both be set for current or past
LinkedIn Relationship – in which you have the fields of: Industry; Language; and then two related to LinkedIn: Relationship; Groups
Sort Results – Relevance, and View for how the results are displayed
LinkedIn also allows you to undertake an Advanced Reference Search (employees at a company during a stated time period), and allows you to Save Searches you may use regularly, with an allowance of 10 saved searches for a free account.
LinkedIn SEO:
With LinkedIn’s default search criteria set to relevance, most LinkedIn users will leave this as the default setting. Only advanced users will understand the difference of priorities in the displayed pages, and how to change them. So, how do you improve your chances of being found? Is there a form of LinkedIn Search Engine Optimisation? Simply, yes.
Firstly, start out with the key phrases – know as keywords in internet SEO – that you want to be ranked for. Unlike in main stream internet SEO, only select three to five that are wholly relevant to human beings: no miss-spellings here!
Now take these keyword phrases, and insert them in your profile in the following sections:
Headline/title
Current work experience
Past work experience
Summary
Specialities
If you want to mention them more than once, then in each job you have held where you have deployed that skill, where relevant mention them there as well.
The result is that LinkedIn’s semantic relevance results will now place you higher in the searches of any person who searches for that criteria, than someone who has not optimised their profile. The secondary advantage is that external searches via Google where the user used a Boolean search string will also mimic these same search results.

A guest post by Ian McAllister.

linkedinIn the old days, before it went all sophisticated and semantic, LinkedIn searches were predictable in outcome. Your chances of being found were defined by your relationship with the person who was undertaking the search. The search priorities and rankings were based simply on the level of connection you shared, the number of connections you had in common, and then the number of groups you shared. Hence, the bigger your network, the more likely you were to be found close to the top of a search result

Now LinkedIn has changed it default search criteria, and although a large network still gives you better span and ability to connect, being found for what you know requires application of some simple Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – techniques.

Basic LinkedIn Searching:

The basic search function in the top right of the LinkedIn user screen, much like Google, allows you just to search a basic string: eg, Dave Smith or Architect. You can use the drop down menu to search: People, Jobs, Companies, Answers, InBox, Groups

Most often, you are looking for a person or a company, and you can add strings together, eg: Dave Smith Akzo. This is useful finding named people – or titled people – at a particular company. Which ever search system you use, LinkedIn will return the searches balanced on a priority of:

  • Search Criteria – eg: Dave then David Smith?
  • Relationship to you in your LinkedIn network – ie: first, second or third level contact, number of connections in common, number of groups in common

The reason for the second criteria is that LinkedIn Search now uses semantic criteria to create both primary and additional results. Hence, you will now tind you have a longer list of results, often running into multiple pages. The reason for a semantic search, is that it allows for people to spell their name in different ways, which is particularly common in North America where more people use middle initials and use nick-names as professional names, eg:

  • Dave or David?
  • Rob or Robert
  • Chuck?

The out coming number of people, and the complexity of reducing them to something more manageable by using techniques like parenthetic search, mean the need to occasionally use the more advanced in-built search tools.

LinkedIn Search Result Priorities

The default search results are now prioritised and sorted by LinkedIn according to their relevance. This recent change means that even though PersonA may fit the criteria you searched for and be a first level connection, if PersonB who is in your total network has more relevance to that semantic search term, then PersonB will appear above PersonA in the displayed search results. We will come back to this shortly, but understand that the standard default setting for searches on LinkedIn is based on relevance over connection.

LinkedIn provides both on the Advanced Search page, and after basic search results are displayed, alternate methods of ranking results, selected from a menu located in a grey bar just above the first result. The options are:

  • Relevance (default)
  • Relationship
  • Relationship + Recommendations
  • Connections
  • Keywords

You can set your default search setting differently to any of these criteria you choose.

Advanced People Search:

In Advance People Search, each field now becomes a separate table or drop-down menu. There are three parts to the Advanced People Search page:

  • Person – which you can define through the fields of: keywords; First name; Last Name: Location; School; Title; Company. The last two criteria can both be set for current or past
  • LinkedIn Relationship – in which you have the fields of: Industry; Language; and then two related to LinkedIn: Relationship; Groups
  • Sort Results – Relevance, and View for how the results are displayed

LinkedIn also allows you to undertake an Advanced Reference Search (employees at a company during a stated time period), and allows you to Save Searches you may use regularly, with an allowance of 10 saved searches for a free account.

LinkedIn SEO:

With LinkedIn’s default search criteria set to relevance, most LinkedIn users will leave this as the default setting. Only advanced users will understand the difference of priorities in the displayed pages, and how to change them. So, how do you improve your chances of being found? Is there a form of LinkedIn Search Engine Optimisation? Simply, yes.

Firstly, start out with the key phrases – know as keywords in internet SEO – that you want to be ranked for. Unlike in main stream internet SEO, only select three to five that are wholly relevant to human beings: no miss-spellings here!

Now take these keyword phrases, and insert them in your profile in the following sections:

  • Headline/title
  • Current work experience
  • Past work experience
  • Summary
  • Specialities

If you want to mention them more than once, then in each job you have held where you have deployed that skill, where relevant mention them there as well.

The result is that LinkedIn’s semantic relevance results will now place you higher in the searches of any person who searches for that criteria, than someone who has not optimised their profile. The secondary advantage is that external searches via Google where the user used a Boolean search string will also mimic these same search results.

===

You can find Ian on LinkedIn, and also on Twitter. Ian specialises in finding outstanding people in teleco, IT and project management for great European companies through CV4.biz.

It's here! 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven

02apr10

If blogging does your head in and you wonder what the point of it all is, 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven will set you on the path to success.

  • How many times a month do you need to blog?

  • How do you get people to read them – and comment?

  • What should you be writing about?

And what happens if you can’t write for toffee? Does that mean you should abandon all attempts to blog?

Whether you’re an accomplished blogger or a complete beginner, you’ll find lots of really useful tips in this great ebook.

Why am I giving away all my secrets? That’s easy – I love to share my expertise and I’m only one woman, I can’t possibly share everything I know with all the people who want to improve their online marketing on a one-to-one basis. That’s why I originally wrote 299 Steps to Website Heaven – which has now been downloaded by 11,000 people, and, although it’s out-of-date, requests are still coming in for it daily.

“Nikki has a very easy style of writing, but one which is both informative and clear to follow – and often fun!

Nikki speaks from experience and expertise and that comes through as she holds your hand and guides you through the minefield of topics to achieve Website Heaven.

An opportunity to have Nikki and her team working for you is not to be missed!”

Jackie Groundsell from 1230 The Women’s Company

As a keen blogger – I’ve learned the hard way and spent lots of time working my way around the various blogging tools that are available. I blog for clients and have got really good results. I’m always being asked how I get them – so I decided to put 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven together to answer all the questions.

So, if you part with your hard-earned cash (not much though) what will you get?

Lots of step by step guides, hints and tips to make your blog stand out from the crowd. You’ll find out:

  • Plugins and additions to make life easier

  • Time saving hints and tips

  • The best way to write blogs

  • How to word titles to get more clicks

  • Ways of encouraging comments so your blog doesn’t look like the Marie Celeste

  • and more!

PLUS from the moment you download your copy you’ll also have email access to me to ask questions – your own personal blog consultant!

If you’re still dithering – don’t, it’s only a tenner and, if you put even a few of the tips into action, you’ll get enough followers to leverage your lead generation activities.

Don’t worry if you haven’t blogged before – 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven guides you through starting, running and promoting a blog. It’s really straight forward – and puts you in control of promoting yourself and your business.

As they say – just do it – you won’t regret it!


Looking to monitor your brand online? You need social media alerts

social mentio -online brand monitoring

Just a quickie – we’ve recently been using a fab free service called Social Mention that not only offers real time search for the places your name or brand is appearing, but also analyses those mentions for tone and meaning. Find out if the talk about you online is negative, positive or neutral!

They also offer daily Social Media Alerts, which are like Google alerts but for a variety of social media applications – again it’s free and well worth checking out if you want to see where you’re being talked about.

If you’re looking for free brand monitoring online then this in conjunction with Google Alerts is a great start.

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