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Blogging is Doing

Search engines are used by billions of people every day, helping them find products to buy, stores to buy them from, information on anything imaginable or the directions to their grandmother’s house. Because search engines are such a huge part of consumers’ lives, they have become a huge part of how companies do business. Users are often unaware of the existence of businesses because they don’t show up on the first page of search results, creating the need for business to employ search engine optimization (SEO) in order to gain a wider audience and generate profitable conversions.

Having an official blog is an effective method of gaining rank in various search engines, particularly since Google’s Panda update was rolled out, favoring pages with high quality content over weak, shallow pages. As part of both a social media marketing campaign and a service being provided to customers, a well-maintained, attractive blog featuring informative, useful content can provide tremendous support for a business.

By emphasizing valuable content and displaying the knowledge of the company’s employees in their field, a corporate blog can build relationships with customers while gaining the positive attention of Google and Bing. Integrating the blog into social networking initiatives and making it part of a cohesive brand will increase the likelihood of being ranked highly in search results and of increasing customer retention and brand awareness.

Content is King

Google’s Panda update made it clear that the search engine values quality content over anything else, particularly the overuse of keywords. While websites could formerly get away with having long pages of machine-generated, mostly incoherent text that included repetitive uses of the same keywords, the method for gaining ground in the post-Panda world revolves around well-written pieces that match the context of the site. By writing content with customers and potential customers in mind, businesses can satisfy both their intended audience and search engine bots.

Show What You Know

In addition to providing well-written, pertinent information on their blogs, companies should provide useful information for consumers. Blogs should not be used to advertise a company’s products (though a short post announcing a new product is okay) but should instead educate customers on frequently misunderstood aspects of their business or field. For example, a heating and air conditioning repair company could feature blog posts concerning tips for homeowners to keep their HVAC systems running efficiently or posts describing the various heating and cooling options available to homeowners, along with their strengths and weaknesses. By providing valuable information to consumers, businesses have an easier time maintaining brand awareness with potential customers and being seen as leaders in their field.

Get the Word Out

Every blog post should be accompanied by social buttons that will allow readers to share the post with their friends and colleagues on the most popular social networks, such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Integrating the company blog with other social platforms can increase the visibility of each post–and the blog as a whole–to both consumers and search engines. By keeping the user experience integrated and as seamless as possible among the various social platforms and the company’s website, users will be able to recognize the company and its brand more readily and search engines will notice the uniformity and rank the site more highly.

Got Style?: Blogger Makeover

I read a lot of blogs. I am sure this does not surprise you.  In reading blogs I often pay attention to the writing style of the particular post. Some people are very analytical, some are casual, some write like they are in the middle of a conversation with you. When I come across good writing style, I appreciate it. I like that witty play on words or a nice turn of phrase. I appreciate cleaver alliteration and enjoy the feeling when I understand an obscure reference.  But there is more to style than writing.

Writing style is more than the words that flow out of your fingers.  The visual impact of words are also important. Maybe it is my background is graphic design. Maybe it is my obscure interest in typography. Maybe it is that I just read a lot of blogs and want them to be easy to consume.

One of the more common style issues in a post is literally the paragraph format. Some people write blogs where nearly every sentence is its own paragraph.

Sometimes they will even have more than one line of space separating the individual sections.

 

Some people do this because they feel that it makes their post look more substantive. They think that blocks of dense text is hard to read and unwelcoming. In a way they are right. If a paragraph is nearly the length of your screen it can feel a bit daunting.

 

If the words are too dense then we are disinclined to read it. However if they are too far apart we feel the same way.

 

It is not a matter of creating white space to make your post feel longer and easier to read. It is matter of writing in a way that makes your post easy to consume.

 

This means that you need to make it easy on your reader to read. Don’t you remember in school that a traditional paragraph is 4 sentences long? Now 4 sentences is not to much to take in. In fact, you can write more than for sentences. Lets make it 4 lines.  Four lines is a nice block of text. It is not so dense that it is overwhelming. But it is not so spread apart that you are having to scroll down every two lines just to keep reading.

Being easy to read is more than just the words that you use. It is also the way in which they are presented. It is like TYPING IN ALL CAPS. WHEN YOU DO THIS PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE YELLING AT THEM. If you want to make your point, do it in the words you use not the capitalization. Too much white space is a pet peeve of mine because it makes reading the post difficult. I don’t want to have to scroll down every couple of lines to continue reading, it makes the post feel disjointed in my mind. Often times I have to reread to to make sure I absorbed all of it, and if that’s the case then I am not likely to do it.

So keep in mind that traditional writing styles have prevailed for a reason and make sure your blogs are both good to read and easy to read.

 

5 Rules You Should Break When Blogging for Business

Blog with stars shooting off the word BlogA common question entrepreneurs ask is, “Should I blog?” If you have a business, it’s worth your while to do so.  Why? Consider this: “Companies that blog generate 55 percent more visitor traffic.” So say the authors of From Prospect to Evangelist – Optimizing Relationships with Social Media, a free e-book by HubSpot (a company that creates software and gives out marketing information for businesses).  Producing great content, drawing attention through relevant keywords and attracting a community of followers through important topics are all ways to generate traffic. And this traffic can then be diverted to your website and your business.

You may be just starting out, or a veteran blogger, but if you’re overwhelmed and confused by all the “shoulds” out there, here are 5 rules you should be breaking when it comes to blogging for your business:

1. Blog only what you know. They say the same thing about writing. But there’s a big flaw in this. You’re not just limiting what you can write, but your potential for learning as well. Sure, write about what you know, but also leave space for topics you are not familiar with. Do the research and you will eventually increase your expertise in other areas of your professional life. You don’t need years of experience in a subject to write about it. You need passion, good research skills and interest in the topic.

2. Pretend everything is okay. It’s all too tempting to create a perfect persona online. But perfection can create boredom in blogging and an inauthentic representation of your work. Say, for example, you made a mistake in a blog post. You may have quoted the wrong person, added the wrong link, misspelled a word. If your readers and potential customers are commenting about it and you don’t acknowledge your mistake, that’s an elephant in the virtual room. It puts distance between you and your future customers. To be successful in business you need to create trust. Be honest and show them you’re not perfect. Present yourself as human and you will establish better relationships with your prospects and customers.

3. All your posts must be planned. It’s great to have a row of posts lined up when you go on vacation or in case you get sick. Consistency is key to getting an established set of readers to your blog. But to be successful you don’t always have to have your posts planned. Say you’ve got a great new product you want to share with your customers or a marketing strategy you’ve just learned. Spontaneous posts keep your readers on their toes. They’ll never know when something new or exciting may show up on your blog and they will keep coming back for more.

4. Your posts should not be too short, nor too long. I think breaking up your blog with short and long posts makes for an interesting read. There is no specific word count that will make your blog more popular than others. It is the content, not the length that will draw readers. Remember that the next time you want to post a 300-word post and feel the need to double it before it’s published. For more information, read Problogger’s take on post length

5. To have a successful blog, you must continuously plug your business. We all know you’re blogging to grow your business. But writing your latest press release or touting your product in every post will scare away your readers and potential customers faster than the plague. The most important thing you can do when blogging for your business is to create a community of readers. This means welcoming and answering comments, visiting other blogs, commenting on their posts, creating an email signature with your website and putting your blog on your business card. You want to do everything to garner potential readers to your site and create interesting, engaging posts to keep them there.

These are just a handful of rule-breaking tips. Do you have your own? Share them in the comments below.


Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a professional freelance writer. Not only does she write for other people, but she writes for herself as well.  She maintains two blogs. One is for writers and taking your writing to the next level. The other is a blog that is designed to inspire.  Her background in English and Psychology give Brandi a great voice, inspiring others to write, and giving insight into the world of writers.

Read her self-titled blog: Brandi Ann Uyemura: Guide from a conscious writer

Read: The Inspiring Bee

Follow her on Twitter @2inspired

iCloud OS: Good for Business?

Apple has finally released their new operating system, iOS5, complete with the highly anticipated iCloud. Drawing on principles of cloud computing, iCloud gives you access to all of your information but doesn’t rely on any one machine, whether it be a computer or dedicated server, to store or access information.

With documents, information, calendar dates, contacts and automatic backups now stored in the cloud, how we can we expect to see businesses utilize and thrive with these new resources? Or, can we expect a change at all?

 Paperless? Or Close To It?

 Whether to cut down on cost or become more eco-friendly, many businesses have been taking steps towards becoming paperless for a while. Though it’s difficult to completely leave paper behind, iCloud eliminates much of the need for paper.

With documents stored in the cloud, there’s no need to print. And, as you continue to re-draft your business model, there’s no need to print updates or make changes in every document. Any changes you make in sixth draft will be applied all across the cloud. All of your iOS devices will be kept up-to-date with changes.

Faster Pace?

 With many apps designed for iCloud and mobile use, the loading time will be significantly less. Not only will your apps and documents load faster, but the ability to work on the go and around the clock could mean people will do so. While we once had to stop working for the thirty minutes we rode the subway, or drove to a meeting or the hour we spent eating lunch, we could soon work straight through all that down time.

 

Sharing in the cloud means instant access to information, which means faster responses, which adds up to more business at the end of the day.

Will We Ever Have An Excuse Not to Work?

 iCloud allows you to access any document in the cloud from any iCloud enabled device. It boils down to you needing to find a new excuse for “I’m out of the office” or “I don’t have my computer.” With iCloud, your office, computer and information follow you wherever you go. As long as you have an iCloud-enabled device, you have access to your material. Start searching for new cop-outs.

 Never Lose Documents Again?

 iCloud automatically backs up all of the priceless information on your iGadget. Your music, TV shows, applications, books, photos, app data, organization, messages and ringtones will be backed up daily. When disaster strikes, your business plan or entertainment items won’t be casualties.

Could Staying Connected Be Any Easier?

 Your calendars, appointments and contacts will be with you all times now thanks to iCloud. If you wish you could remember Jeff’s email address, now you won’t have to. If you saved it on your computer, it’s now on your phone too. The iOS5 notification center will remind you of any date set in your calendar, any alarms set on your phone or upcoming deadlines.

More fun at Work?

 Lastly, with the ease of sharing photos, videos, sites and documents could we maybe all have a little fun too? If you stumbled across a great comic during work, why not share it? Businesses can certainly change with iCloud, so why not for the better?


 

 

 

Hello..Hello…Hello…Is anyone out there? and Other Blog Traffic Questions

Blog Traffic

Is your traffic quality or quantity?

Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. This is what everyone wants. You want to know how to get it and how to get more of it. Of course you do. You don’t want to write and feel like the sound of crickets chirping are the only thing coming back. So lets look at how you get traffic; how you understand your traffic; and why you shouldn’t care.

How do you get traffic?

The best way to get traffic to your blog is to post frequently. You should be blogging AT LEAST 3 times a week. Many people don’t like this answer. But content if content is king then frequency is the entire monarchy. The more you post the more current and relevant you appear. You will also get better SEO results, because the search engines will crawl your site more frequently. Also frequency builds familiarity. People will start seeing your content more often and will be more likely to start reading you.  The top blogs in the world all post more than 5 times a day. Not saying that you have to become Mashable, but if you want traffic you need to generate content.

Other things that help are using keywords to boost your SEO. Give yourself the “thumbs up” on Stumbleupon. Give yourself a “plus” on Google+. Tweet out your blog posts at least 3 times a day and post it on Twitter. Social sharing is a very powerful tool for getting the word out there and getting people to your site. But still…mainly get out there and write.

Understanding your traffic

I admit that I have spent many hours pouring over my analytics on Google and Statscounter. I have gotten really excited when I see a post cause a spike in my traffic.  But these numbers are not the end all be all of your traffic. Despite what many people say, blogs do not live and die by these numbers.

Analytics are a great way to understand the flow of traffic to your site. You will see a lot of information about where you organic traffic is coming from, like Google, Twitter and Facebook. However it does not account for all the ways in which your readers can consumer your blog.

Every blog has an RSS feed. RSS stand for really simple syndication. People can use RSS readers to subscribe to your feed or they can receive it by email. People who use readers or get your blog via email are called subscribers. Services like Feedburner are RSS managers, making it easier for you to track your subscriber traffic. They will let you know how many people are subscribing. However, this is not entirely accurate. There are readers, like Mac mail, that are not counted by Feedburner.

Subscribers are not counted by your analytics unless the person actually goes to your blogsite. Subscribers have the ability to read your posts in their email or through their RSS reader without ever going to your site. So they are still consuming the information, they are just not giving you the hits to your site.

Why you shouldn’t care

Quality is what matters not quantity. If you have a small but dedicated following on your blog, then you don’t need thousands of hits. Hits don’t mean that people are reading. Hits just mean that people are coming to the site. You want readers. Readers will come in the form of subscribers. They are the people who comment on your posts or retweet your links on Twitter. They are your newsletter recipients and the people who comment on your Facebook posts.

So stop dwelling on the numbers. Focus on creating quality posts and the traffic will come!

Learning to streamline

Many business professionals begin their habits early in college. From the first time they pick up a Franklin Covey planner or buy their first mousepad made of detachable pieces of notepaper, they’ve developed an organizational routine they’ll carry through to the business world.

For many of today’s students, those habits revolve around social media. A smart student has cleared their profile of any drunken photos and chosen a business-appropriate photo by the time they turn 21. However, many business students are going beyond the normal social networking standards and are actively using each of their profiles to network and reach out to leaders in their area. It’s these students that businesses can learn from and utilize in their companies.

Students are juggling profiles on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Monster, Careerbuilder and often a professional network or two. The smart student is also involved in an internship while taking classes. Maintaining a positive, contributive social profile isn’t easy—after all, that’s a job description in itself nowadays. Students maintaining that many platforms on their own are likely utilizing apps and in-browser tools.

If you’re looking to become more social media savvy, take a page out of a college textbook, and look into some social media management apps.
One of the newest of these tools to come out of Beta is Yoono. It works off of the desktop and allows users to quickly switch between profiles and stay logged in to multiple profiles at once. In addition to that, it also posts updates on the bottom right of your screen. Unlike Skype notifications, though, they’re small and rarely in the way. Yoono’s major drawback is that it doesn’t connect with Google+, but it does hit the major players.

HootSuite is designed more with a business in mind, but students still regularly use it. Its main strength is that users can update their networks from their smartphones. You can also use it to set up an RSS feed and access the analytics behind your posts. If you think your business closely follows statistics, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a second-semester college student who’s looking for a job. Tweetdeck is another student favorite. It’s designed to handle around five profiles, whether they’re all Twitter or mixed in with Facebook. Tweetdeck is great for a single person managing multiple profiles.

So what can an established business professional get out of all of this? Chances are you’re learning to juggle your networks too. You can take a page out of the nearest college students’ book and try out a couple apps to see what will work best in your life or for your business.

Another takeaway is that it might be worth looking into hiring an intern to take care of your social media. They’re already experienced with juggling them, and they’re likely to know what the younger generations are looking for out of social media. In addition to that, there’s nothing wrong with learning from someone straight out of college. Because the venue for education has changed, many students are getting an online degree, which only add to their social media prowess. Try creating a position for an intern, and then asking them to teach you a few tricks. They’ll be excited to share their knowledge, and you can teach them about more traditional business aspects.

4 Tips to Organize your Social Media

As your business grows you will likely find that the processes you meticulously created and maintained in the beginning of your of your business is likely getting cluttered, messy and generally disorganized as your business grows. This is true in regular business as it is in social media.  So as you go through your emails and stick them in folders, update your calendars and finally make that list of all your passwords, take a moment to organize your social media.

How to organize your social media

1. Create lists in Twitter– This is one of the easiest ways to streamline your social media experience as well as increase productivity and your effectiveness. By adding people to lists you are making it much easier for you to consume the information they are tweeting. Your lists can be organized by topic, friends, business or trends.

2. Start using Tweetdeck or Hootsuite– These are both third party apps that help you manage your Twitter(s). You can have columns that show you your mentions, DMs, timeline and yes even your lists. This makes browsing your Twitter activity quick and easy.

3. Set a schedule– This is one of the hardest parts of managing your social media, which is managing your time. Set thirty minutes in the morning and afternoon to check on your Twitter and Facebook. You have all night to watch all those funny Youtube videos that your friends are posting. But during the day you need to focus. So give yourself time limits and create a schedule for what you do. For instance, in the morning I get the link for my most recent blog and I put it on LinkedIn and share it on Facebook. Once I am done with sharing, I go about checking my messages and mentions/DMs, then I look for some engagement. But I have a set routine so I can make sure I get everything done, and do it efficiently.

4. Syndicate your Blog– Through tools like socialoomp you can easily set your blog to automatically tweet out your link for you a few times a day. This will save you the time of scheduling or going onto Twitter to post. If you are not using your blog as the primary source for posting, and you do engagement on Facebook, you can also syndicate your blog post on Facebook. Tools like networked blogs will post your blog link to your page or your profile.

12 more posts like this- the reason your blog is not seen on Facebook

Are you wondering why you should not syndicate your blog on Facebook? Isn’t it easier to have your blog automatically post an update to your Facebook page? Isn’t it easier to not have to go onto Facebook and post the link yourself? Of course it is. However, if it is important to you that people see your blog post, then you will say no to syndication.

I can give you lots of technical jargon that will tell you why you should not syndicate. Things having to do with News Feed Optimization and the algorithm that will prevent your content from making it onto the news feed. But there is really no better way to understand why you shouldn’t do this than to see it with your own eyes.

This post was taken directly from the newsfeed. You will notice that right underneath the post it says “12 more posts from NetworkedBlogs. You might think that this is 12 more stories from that same person. You would be wrong. These are 12 more stories from 12 different people and pages, they just all happen to be syndicated through NetworkedBlogs.

The NetworkedBlog application is a great application for managing your syndication and your RSS subscriptions through Facebook. It is also a good way to learn about other blogs. However, Facebook discriminates against syndication in any form. So if you are syndicating then you will be lumped into posts such as the one featured above. What this simply means is that many people will never see your blog post because it is being lumped in with many others, if it is even making it onto the newsfeed at all.

Long story short, if you really want to get people to read your posts and be alerted when you have posted a new one, don’t syndicate. Just go on to Facebook and post the link by hand.

The Fuzzy Kitten Approach to Marketing

Cute KittenWe all love cute fuzzy kittens. We love to pet them, squeeze them, hold them, cuddle with them. We love to watch them play. We laugh at their sillyness and make “awww” sounds at nearly everything they do. So how do we capture the allure of kittens for our marketing?

1. Are you cute?

Does your blog look good? Is it visually appealing? Is your Twitter avatar something that draws your eye and is nice to look at? Making your social profiles, website and blog visually appealing is important. Your content could be amazing but if your site looks horrible no one will stay to read. Part of what we love about kittens is that they are cute and pleasing to look at. Keep up your appearance, they are your first impression.

2. Are you fuzzy?

Do I want to pet you? Not literally of course. But do I want to dig into your content. Do I want to run my fingers through your words. Do I want to spend time languishing with your blog?Playful Kittens

3. Are you playful?

Does your blog have a personality? Is it funny? sassy? energetic? Are you tweets full of humor and sarcasm? Or are you all business? People like to discuss business but they also like to have fun. Make sure that you have balance.

4. Can you sleep anywhere?Sleeping Cat

Kittens will sleep anywhere. The will pass out in the crook of your arm or hanging off the side of a chair. They adapt to any environment and continue with their business. How do you adapt to changes in technology and in the industry?  Are you able to adapt to the updates or are you still hoping that Friendster makes its big return?

5. Are you a kitten?

If kittens are one thing, they are kittens. What do I mean? Well, they are true to their nature. When you look at your blog or your Twitter, are you working towards your main message or are you trying to fill too many roles. Many people try to be too many things for too many people. If you started a blog on knitting, you do not also need to be a video editor expert. Keep your focus and be really good at being you.

row of kittens

Abusing Privileges? How to be removed as a guest blogger

Social Media Director Lauren MacEwenI love to have guest bloggers on the SM3 blog. I enjoy reading different perspectives and I believe it adds value to a blog by inviting contributors.  But guest bloggers are not always good. I recently had to remove a guest blogger.

When you use a blogging CMS (content management system) like wordpress, you can add people as editors, authors, and contributors. Adding a regular contributor as a user on your blogsite can make managing your blog much easier. They can add their post directly into the site. They can schedule, manage their own links and add photos.  If you regularly blog you know that you try to get your writing done in a timely manner, but that sometimes you run the clock on a deadline. This is the same with contributors. Allowing them access to post content gives you more freedom in managing your blog.

However, giving a contributor scheduling access requires trust. Trust that they will follow your posting guidelines. trust that they will post approve content. Trust that they will post their blog on the scheduled date for the scheduled time.

But email communications and agreements to posting schedules and regulations don’t guarantee that your rules will actually be followed. I recently had a guest contributor violate those rules.

They posted an article that I expressly said I did not agree with and was not going to publish without serious revision. Then they posted on a day that was outside of the schedule.

My response? I deleted the egregious post, removed them as a user of the blogsite, and changed the byline of their blog posts from their bio to the generic “Guest Blogger”.

Being a guest blogger is an honor and a privileged. Don’t abuse it.