You Are an Authority

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There is one thing that Google is harping on about in its search engine results page (SERP). This is the context of the search. Google has been trying to create the best SERP based on the context of the search. It has gotten to the point that it includes other things about you and your prior searches in order to understand what the search results mean for you.

That means that the SERP are no longer just about the keywords you typed. It means that Google is trying to understand what you want to see on SERP. It includes your location, and the context of your prior searches, as well as the pages you have been to. What has not changed is that the SERP also provides the best sources of information possible. The SERP typically provides authority figures or websites with high credibility.

Authority and credibility

For those keywords which are services or products, the authority and credibility is computed by Google based on the web presence, this includes the number of same-industry websites which link to your site. It also refers to includes the articles which you have on your site, or in other sites which are attributed to you or your Google persona. It also takes into account the volume of articles, and the breadth of topics related to the authority subject.

In easy to understand words, it takes into account your brand.

To get an idea of where you or your brand is, take a look at your web presence:

  • How many social media followers do you have?
  • How many likes and comments do you elicit?
  • How many web articles have you posted?
  • How many topics or subjects have you written about?
  • How long are your articles?

What do you know?

Moving forward, the task is to write articles on the company blog, or on your own personal blog, about things that you know, or are related to your work or industry.

What do you know? What service can you provide? What product do you sell? These are the things to write about. You also have to write it regularly and explore all possible aspects of the topic. You are developing a brand, you are now supporting the brand by putting out quality work online proving that you know what you are and what you are offering.

You do not have to know everything about your product, although that is expected of you. Whatever that you do not know, you can write about later. You can have stock knowledge up front in your blogging calendar. The rest will follow.

What is your passion?

One advice given to those who are just starting out in blogging, is to write about a passion. When you write about something you are passionate about, you would be writing about a topic you have a better than average knowledge about. It is something which fires you up. You are easily motivated to write about it.

If you have a personal blog, you can write about your hobby, or your personal travels, or food you have eaten at restaurants.

Although it may not be true for all cases, but generally, if you are passionate about something, that means you are an authority about that topic. If you are not an authority about the topic, then at least you know where to get the information about it. You may not be credible in the beginning, but in time, you can establish your credibility. Or at least, you can establish your credibility with Google.

If you have a hobby which is not aligned with your brand, product or services, you can still write about your passion, and use it in parallel with your brand. You can talk about how your hobby is related to what you do or what services you offer.

Write it down and post it

For a lot of people, the problem with blogging is that it is a form of writing. Not every blogger is a writer. Some are video bloggers, others are photographers, while still others are podcasters, or digital artists. If you are not comfortable writing in English, then write in another language. If you are good with graphics, create an infographic.

Create it, write it and post it.

For written articles, strive to have posts longer than 500 words. For video and audio posts, try to have them longer than 5 minutes, depending on the frequency and topic. For photographers, try to re-post in other websites, including Deviant Art, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Unsplash, Reddit and Tumblr. For infographics, check out the graphics sizes on Pinterest, and repost on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Tumblr.

Google is searching for authorities and credible brands. When you keep regular posts, you are creating your brand’s credibility.

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The Blogging Calendar

A monthly desk calendar
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Most companies have websites and in a previous part I mentioned that there should always be fresh articles on the website for the search engines to index. In that same article I also mentioned that the best way to do this would be to write blog articles.

Strictly speaking, the best way is to add new pages describing products or services. Unfortunately, not all websites update their product pages weekly. In which case the only alternative is to update the blog.

Writing Takes Passion

This is where passion and commitment come in. It takes pain to keep on working articles about a product or service twice weekly. This is also the point when passion and commitment to write articles is not enough. At some point, the blogger runs out of things to write. Or runs out of inspiration.

There is no secret to blogging for a company website. There is only the persistency to keep on writing. Admittedly, not everyone is a writer. Not everyone can write 500 to 700 word articles at the drop of a hat. This is where planning can help the blogger.

The best solution to the writing problem is to create a calendar of topics and titles, and to write them in batches.

Topic List

The blogging calendar is a list of topics and titles to be posted in the coming year. This includes, but is not limited to seasonal articles, company notices, pa releases, videos, infographics and others.

A calendar takes the load off of the need to think up of topics. In addition, the writer has the luxury of time to write articles in advance. Since he already knows what topics to write, the blogger can write them a month or even two months in advance and have the content management software schedule the posting accordingly.

For those who sell services, this can also be a way to schedule a series of topics and have them posted in a logical order. If the blogger is writing an ebook, he can post the chapters in sequence and then use the articles as drafts. With minor edits, the ebook takes shape online while it is being written. After all the chapters have been published, the ebook can be edited to make it more cohesive.

Ad Hoc Articles, News and PR

There will be instances when a new article has to be inserted in the posting sequence. One article alone is not  a problem. It can be inserted at any time, even while adhering to the posting schedule. However, if it seems like an article which is part of a series, then the calendar can be adjusted accordingly, with an eye towards keeping seasonal posts on time.

There are articles which are time-sensitive and these should be given priority. These include any product updates, software updates, promotions, news or press releases. The writer will know if these articles should be prioritized due to the newsworthy value of the topic.

There are seasonal topics which should not be skipped. These topics, due to their nature can be plotted on the calendar ahead of time. These include Holy Week, summer vacation, start of classes, Independence Day, other holidays, religious holidays including Christmas, Holy Week, the start of Ramadan, Hanukkah, as well as Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year. When it comes to holidays, you should customize it to your geography or your target audience.

The Evergreen Article

For those topics which can be calendared, these should be written in such a way that they timeless. There should be almost no signature as to the general time when it was written. It should be fresh and relevant in 2005 as it is in 2025. That is a hard task, but if it can be done, well and good. Otherwise, try to inform the reader that the article was written at a certain time, and who are the relevant personalities as well as the pressing issues of the day. These backgrounders are important to provide context to the article.

The topic or blog calendar is not fool-proof. Neither is it written in stone. What it really does is give the article writing more weight. It is also used by the writer to write articles in bulk, where he can focus and write four to ten articles in a day or two.

Remember, not everyone is a writer, so you should be kind to yourself or the writer, and give the writer time to write the whole month in one batch.

Rambling About Why I Include My Methods in My SEO Proposals

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I write my own proposals for search engine optimization (SEO) and social media management campaigns. Most times I recycle portions of previous proposals because that is how boiler plate proposals are. The most important part of my proposals are the definitions and the methods.

I write definitions of terms and explain them as best I can. I use analogies, and write easy to understand images to better illustrate what the terms mean. SEO is not easy to explain. It is not just branding, it is a goal and a method. It has rules, and it has directions. I try to explain the current state of SEO as well as where I think it is going. I write this in order for the reader to understand that I don’t know as much as the next guy, and that the next guy is also guessing things about SEO. I want the reader to understand what I know and appreciate what I don’t know.

I also write the methods I use, or have used. I write the methods because this is what I will use in his case. With different clients, I use slightly different methods. The basic method or framework is there, but I revise these depending on what the client wants. If he does not want to use Facebook, then we won’t use Facebook. If she does not want to use videos, then we will not use videos. However, I tell the client that the option to use these is open and available when he or she decides to do so.

I am open and transparent about my proposals. There is a reason for that. I believe that the secret to a successful campaign is in the execution. It is dependent on the everyday tasks, scheduling and the quality of writing. The client can turn down my proposal and still use the methods I outlined. I have no problem with that. However, there is a bigger chance of success when I do it, because I already know how to do it forward and back. If my the proposal used by somebody else besides me, the implementor will have to research, find and study the tools I use before he can use my method. That will take some time.

At some point, the implementor will realize that the method uses two or three persons working as a team. This is where things start to unravel. My proposal only assumes payment equivalent to getting a part-time technical person. The cost of the campaign is affordable and only mentions one person working, part-time. I wrote it down that way because it could be done by a person working part-time. A part-timer with more than 15 years of experience in blogging and social media, and who knows the necessary shortcuts. A part-timer who also has a team working for him.

If the client would ask how much he or she was paying, the only answer I can give is that it is equivalent to paying for only one additional personnel, for the duration of a one-year contract. If, however, he tries to hire another person for the job, it can’t be done that easily. He will have to hire at least two persons, maybe up to four, because they will have to be trained in my methods, and they have to understand the rationale behind the campaign strategy.

The latest proposal I submitted included provisions for product photography, videography, blog writing, infographics creation, some marketing copy (which I would have to source out), as well as social media posting and scheduling. I do not expect every proposal to be accepted, but I did have a great time presenting my proposal, as we drank wine, ate cheddar still in the ageing process and their signature product, breadsticks. That was an enjoyable proposal presentation.

Finding Yourself on Search Results

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"Lupa.na.encyklopedii" by Julo

“Lupa.na.encyklopedii” by Julo – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lupa.na.encyklopedii.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Lupa.na.encyklopedii.jpg

One of the benchmark exercises that an SEO practitioner should do is to search using his name as a key phrase. Other variations include less obvious variations like nicknames and jobs, or nickname and event. This is a vanity exercise to know where in the world they are. In the same way, this should be the first thing that they should do before engaging a client.

Every few months, I check my name on Google search, just to see if I’m on the front page. A person or a company should also do this often, to see if there are others with the same name. If a company has a website, they should also check out the results for their website name.  For instance, a law firm, like Gabionza, De Santos and Partners can type in their website name, “VGS Law”, to see if they are on the first page of SERP. (They are.) I also looked up “Sol Dean of Law” and Sol Mawis of the Lyceum University of the Philippines was on the SERP.

Sometimes when you search for something, the search key words may not be the most logical, but these are the key words that you remember. Things like, “bakery at the corner of JP Rizal and Bonifacio streets”, will become more common in the following years.

I played around with my variations of my name, like “andoy seo”, and was pleasantly surprised at the results. I was on the first page of SERP, and there were several “Andoy” around. My Quora page was on the page. The funny thing about the search results was that I ran the search with “andoy SEO”, and my other links came up.  This time, my picture was on the page.

This is a simple exercise to see how large your web footprint is. For those who are aggressively pursuing high visibility in search engine results, this is a simple way of finding out your ranking without going to any other analytics page. It is one way for a client or a newbie to understand the impact of SEO, and what it can do.

For those who would want a low profile, this is one way of knowing how small your footprint is. If you have a fairly active social media presence along with Facebook account, as well as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, and you have a unique name, chances are that you would have the search results pointing at you.

Sometimes, off-page SEO is all about being active, putting up organic shares, comments and interaction with other users. For companies, they have to find out what people are trying to find when they use search engines. This is where the analytics comes in. Page analytics compile data about the website traffic and the searches. This includes search keys. On top of that, because search engines compile data for your searches, they also have data on the search keys, and you can take a look at the keywords, how many searches for the keyword, as well as how many pages use it as a keyword.

This is a more scientific way of looking up the competitive keywords. It also leads to better results.

 

 

Back Linking is for Beginners

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loom bands

Loom bands

Back linking is an SEO method where links are created in other websites pointing to the promoted website. A back link could be part of a profile, or a comment. It could also be a mention in an article or blog post. It could be a link attached to a picture, animated GIF, video, sound bite or any other media.

Backlink Spamming

Because it is relatively easy to do and very effective, it has become an important tool in any SEO toolbox. Because it is very effective, Google has been working on ways to discount the effects of back linking. Google penalizes excessive back links or a too rapid increase in back links. How excessive is “excessive”? Organic backlinks take time and comes in diverse forms, usually through links in social networking sites, microblogging reposts, blog reposts, social bookmarking, etc. However, if there is suddenly a thousand backlinks after only one day of posting, or there is a huge increase in backlinks without any increase in followers or in posts, then this can be attributed to back link spamming. This is what Google de-indexes, and it also penalizes the website. The website might not show any search for a certain period of time.

Entry-level Task

Back linking is usually a task given to new guys. This is a repetitive task which only needs someone to constantly search for sites to add a “do-follow” link. Candidate sites would be.social media, social networking, other Web 2.0 sites, news sites, directories and feeds. If it is possible to put p a link in a comment or profile, that would work fine.

The main problem for back linkers include:

  • The mistaken belief that PPC is better than creating back links. Comparing a PPC campaign to SEO is like comparing apples and oranges. Those are completely different from one another. The only thing in common they share is the need for an SEO compliant website. putting up an SEO campaign does not hurt PC efforts. In addition we masters do want to rank high regardless of PPC.
  • The misconception that back linking IS SEO. The belief that SEO is all about back linking is a limited point of view. You can create organic back links without back linking on your own. With the use of social media and social networking sites there is no reason why followers would not share your links. The only requirement is a link which is worth sharing.

As a relatively simple task left to entry-level personnel, back linking is not clearly spelled out, in terms of what it is, and how it works. The newbies just know that they are doing SEO work. When they leave the company or their employer, they have this idea that they are SEO professionals. This is a grave mistake. They then apply with other companies not knowing anything else but creating back links, without any understanding of the ideas and concepts behind SEO in general, and back linking in particular.

In the end, back linking is just a tool. It is not even a strategy. Nowadays, you keep your backlinks in trickles, and try to get the post listed in social bookmarks, sharing sites, in order to create a credible presence.

Getting Things Done with Automation

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Salt-powered robot.

Salt-powered robot.

There are a lot of things that need to be done when you have a blog, or when you are into internet marketing. The blog is only the tool to keep your site updated. Informing the internet that your site is updated is a different matter. There are automated tools which you can add to your site, and there are some other tasks you need to do afterwards.

Sitemap and RSS feeds

First off, you have to make sure that your sitemap is updated. There are tools to ensure that the sitemap is updated. If you use a content management system (CMS), it should have its own XML-sitemap creator. Otherwise you can use online sitemap creators and upload the resulting file to your site.

Another automated tool which your CMS should have is an RSS feed. This is one way to send syndication from your site. It is also one way to inform web crawlers that you have updated your site. Independent of the RSS feed, you have to submit the sitemap to search engines, or you can send a ping to RSS aggregators. These are two different things, which aim to do different things, but with the same result. Somehow, the search engines will be informed that your site has been updated and that they need to crawl through it to index it again.

Bookmarking Automation

Moving forward with your update, it is a good idea to have it bookmarked in online bookmarking sites. On top of that, it also has to be shared on social media and social networking sites. One way to automate this is to use a plugin. For WordPress there are a lot of plugins available which automatically post the latest article to social bookmarking sites, and social media, including Twitter and Reddit. For Blogger, there is an option to automatically post on Google+. Tumblr on the other hand can share the post automatically to Twitter and Facebook.

Besides the in-app automation, there are also online automation tools, like IFTTT.com and Zapier. Zapier is a paid service, but it also has freemium accounts. With Zapier freemium accounts, the actions are checked every fifteen minutes, and you can have a hundred actions per month. If you need more than that many actions, you can upgrade to their paid service. Zapier also has access to more sites than IFTTT. It is aimed at a corporate market and a lot of their sites are also meant for business use.

IFTTT on the other hand aims for an easy-to-use interface. The triggers are checked every fifteen minutes with no maximum limit to the number of times the action is done.

If you think that you need more functionality or the target website is not accessible by third-party online automation services, you can create your own, using the target website’s API and some PHP programming skills.

Sharing and Follower Interaction

For each article, you should have a handy sharing button. In fact, just in case you might be anywhere else on the website, a sharing button should always be accessible. You can insert AddToAny’s code to any website and have that functionality.

What you want to happen is for website visitors to share your post and to comment on it on social media or social bookmarking sites. The most common share buttons also have follow and like buttons. These have different functions depending on the social networking site. The main point is that your post will be shared and cross-posted, and visitors can like or follow your blog or your article.

Scheduling

If you had a linux workstation or server, you can put up cron jobs to schedule a lot of things. Otherwise, you can make use of HootSuite, SocialOoomph and IFTTT to schedule your posts, and shares. There are some posts and tasks which are recurring. These can be scheduled beforehand and fine-tuned every so often. If it works, there is a tendency to forget about it, but just keep that in mind.

The most important part is that the article you posted gets moving. It should be seen by the most number of people, discussed and commented on online. With these automation tools, you can focus on the website content and not worry over much about promoting your site.

SEO Automation and Its Limits

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If you have been blogging and putting up articles for some time now, you would notice that there are some necessary tasks after the article has been posted. These include sending the RSS to an aggregator and ping the blog, putting up bookmarks and sharing on social networking sites. At least, these are things you would want to do if you want to promote your site.

If you don’t really want to promote your site, you can just depend on your free-blog’s default settings, whatever they may be.

The reality is that there are a lot of new blogs being put up every day. Some are company sponsored blogs, others are attached to a corporate or ecommerce site and are official blogs of sorts, and the majority are personal blogs. Blogs which are associated with a company’s official site are meant to promote the company or its products. The same goes for ecommerce and internet marketing blogs. Personal blogs are usually self-promoting, but mostly these are not meant to be shared to the public at large. Personal bloggers write for the fun of it, for their own enjoyment and for sharing within their circles. Usually, these are not promoted outside of those circles.

For corporate and ecommerce blogs, that is another matter. These are promoted as aggressively as possible, and all that time the website owners are hoping that it would not be de-indexed by Google. This is a walking a fine line, because there is no way of knowing beforehand when Google’s newest algorithm release would affect the site or not.

Without the use of backlinking services (which Google hates and tries to filter out of their algorithm) there are only a few things which can be done to promote the site. Basically, what it all boils down to is to ping the site for new updates (with RSS), bookmark, and promote on social media. These are mundane and daily tasks which can be automated up to a certain degree.

There are plugins and scripts available which can take the RSS feed and post the update to bookmarking sites, and social media. There are automated services on the internet which can post on other social media. The posts can even be scheduled on a recurring basis. However, there is a limit for which these could be done. Taking the next step in automation, the website owner has to think of creating scripts using popular social media APIs in order to post to these other sites. At least, an automated posting system makes a whole day or several days’ work out of the picture and the admin can keep to creating content for the website.

There are other ways to promote the site. But these take a lot more work and some level of creativity. The most important part is to carry a conversation with the audience. It is no longer enough to post to Facebook, or Twitter. Taking the next step, there should be interaction between the audience and the blog. Carrying the conversation over to social media is one way of getting a lot of mileage for the blog.