The best tips for online writing with reference to famous celebrities (Article for training purposes)

Writing online, optimising for search engines and marketing your digital content via social media isn’t rocket science. In fact, the basics of digital journalism, SEO and getting seen on Facebook or Twitter are really simple, but it’s the rigorous application of them that can prove problematic for a lot of people. But you can learn how to nail your blog posts, get ranked first on Google and become a social networking expert by learning from generic celebrity X.

Yellow Journalism

 

Discovering, sourcing and verifying articles:

There are a number of ways for online journalists to discover promising new stories. In addition to building contacts the traditional way, it’s possible to use social networking tools such as Twitter Search or Google Trends to monitor for a sudden surge in traffic for a term or phrase. And social networks can also be incredibly useful for finding people to quote or interview, in addition to specific tools for journalists, such as Newsbasis or Help A Reporter Out.

Using data in this way can be a temptation to emulate a content farm, but can also be useful for quality, investigative journalism and great content.

 

SEO

Delivering online journalism and SEO content:

Make sure your articles are written for people first, but ensure that search engines are also included in your audience with a few basic steps, such as including your keyword early in your article, ideally with a link to a relevant part of your site and the desired anchor text. And don’t forget to put your keyword first in your short and relevant headline.

Research variations on your keyword or phrase to avoid repetition, and don’t be tempted to just stuff your content with the same keyword over and over again as it won’t increase your ranking, but will annoy your readers. If you’re looking for relevant keywords, you can use Google’s keywords tool to find which are the subject of popular searches, whether for global or local audiences. You can also use H1, H2 and H3 tags on your site to ensure the right sections are highlighted.

Social Media Day

 

Social Media and inbound links

Social Media won’t necessarily help you rank higher in Google, but it can drive traffic to your site, and also help to get content indexed more quickly by the search engines. You can post links to your content to Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and you should find that it appears in search results faster, particularly if it is repeated by popular Twitter users.

You can also gain inbound links by posting comments on relevant blogs in the same subject area as your article, as long as you leave genuine and interesting comments and your article is relevant. You can also email the bloggers and website owners who run sites in your area of expertise and ask if they’d be interested in linking to your article, quoting from it, or even offering to guest post for them.

The important thing is not to spam either your social networks or fellow bloggers, and not to worry too much about whether links are DOFollow or NOFollow – a natural ratio of incoming links includes both, so you’ll look like a spammer if you only have one.

 

Quora with video – marketing dream and user nightmare?

The value of question and answer sites has long been shared by SEO specialists in terms of linkbuilding, and to some extent in social media for relevant traffic. But Quora may have just gone a step further in terms of allowing marketing material to be provided in answers.

The site is now embedding Youtube videos in answers, and converting any previous links to Youtube videos into the embedded version.

Quora includes video

Quora includes video

In some ways that’s a good thing, considering the value of relevant videos in answering the right questions. For instance, when the question relates to music, or sport. And being able to share a Youtube video explaining a technical point could be rather useful.

But at the same time, it also means an additional amount of content for Quora moderators to try and look after to keep the quality of their site up, and an additional way for anyone wanting to quickly push out a load of irrelevant spam videos to get some extra views. After all, the big reason why Google claims Youtube needs to post-moderate videos is that noone could ever manage to watch the huge amount of content being uploaded, and then decide what can and can’t be posted.

Now if enough spammers start flooding Quora with irrelevant videos, the much smaller start-up will have a similar problem.

It also means that you might struggle to load a page with 60+ embedded videos in it if you’re on a slow connection, but that’s probably something we’re just going to have to come to terms with as every site rushes to include video due to the huge rise in both video viewing and growth in video advertising…

SEO – Always worth revisiting the basics…

I’ve been offering SEO as a service to a growing number of clients for a while as both a standalone product, and also as part of everything I do in terms of content marketing and social media. Jumping into blogger outreach, social networking or blogging without a strategy which includes targetting relevant keywords and encouraging inbound links wastes quite a lot of the potential benefits and misses out on the chance for content, social media and SEO to amplify each other.

And much of good SEO practice starts with the basics, which is one reason why I really appreciated an invite to a day with SEO PR Training, who specialise in explaining the art of SEO to PR professionals, and the equally mystifying art of PR to SEO professionals. As someone who has worked with people in both camps, I can vouch for the fact that mutual understanding is unbelievably more effective for all concerned and can really give great benefits.

As a taster event, the attendees ranged in experience, so the training had to cover everything from a pretty basic level upwards, but the SEO PR duo of Claire and Nichola did a really good job of going through the building blocks really effectively (and with some nifty learning methods to make it quite fun), and then going into a lot more detail for the more advanced/geekier attendees. Ironically I ended up partnering with an old social media acquintance, @farhan, which meant we were instantly seen as the techies after an early exercise to list what things we do on our own sites regarding SEO – mainly because we ran out of space on our paper…

A couple of people asked why I’d come along if I already work in SEO, and I figured the reasons were worth sharing:

  • SEO is constantly changing, and it’s easy to get so involved in working on client sites and my own that it’s always good to get outside confirmation that Google hasn’t decided the sky is pink or Bing has gained 99% of the search market while I’ve been busy building keyword lists.
  • As someone who works to educate clients on best practice, it’s always good to see the training techniques being used in workshops in a more formal setting. I’m not suggesting I’m going to replicate Claire and Nichola’s exact exercises, but it definitely reminded me that learning/teaching SEO can be more fun than it sometimes appears.
  • One area which can get expensive is signing up and evaluating all the tools available for monitoring and analysing every element of digital marketing, and I’m always fascinated by what services other people use, and how they rate them.

Two elements of the day really stood out for me – one was a live attempt to rank for a specific phrase, based on an article published just before we broke for lunch. Utilising existing assets and social media, it was in the top two results by the time we came back after eating, which was a great way to provide a realtime example of both what’s possible, and what elements went into it.

The other stand-out was the analysis of an example site. In this case, one of mine! The good news for me and my clients is that it did pretty well in terms of keywords and links, and the recommendations that followed were things I’d been aware of, but hadn’t found time to sort due to my daily workload – but it was a great reminder that even my spare time projects need to follow the same structured approach that I apply to client website development and SEO, particularly if prospective SEO clients find me via those sites instead of client references!

So thanks again to the SEO PR Training team for a really useful and enjoyable day, and also a really good chat in the pub afterwards which gave me a chance to go into full geek mode! The follow-up emails with a jargon buster and a full list of all the useful tools mentioned on the day are also a handy touch…

A must-try deal to get some great SEO tools for free…

I use very few examples of paid software, and as I won’t recommend that you spend money on something unless I’m using it, I don’t often share links and offers on here…

However, this one is something that I really think is to good to miss. Basically, SEOmoz are offering their PRO service free for 30 days. Which is a pretty good offer in itself – but there’s more. Sign up for the free trial now, and if you’re one of the first 10,000, you could win free SEOMoz Pro access for life. So not only do you get the chance of a no-risk trial of their software for a month, but even if you don’t continue spending on it, you could still end up with free life access, which is a pretty good deal.

And the software is something I’m happy to recommend you try – the web app alone tracks 20,000 campaigns (sites), 500K keywords and 60mil+ pages each week, and the Pro account includes campaign tracking for 100s of keywords and 10,000+ pages of your site, access to Open Site Explorer for Link Analysis, and an SEO Toolkit which includes a new On-Page Optimizer, a Keyword Difficulty Tool, and a Historic Page Rank Tool (One of those things which is invaluable when you discover you need it). Plus you get access to their Q+As, webinars, and more… Generally that’d cost you $99 a month, and having used SEOMoz for a long time, I’d definitely say you’ll get the value there if you work in anything involving SEO reporting and analysis. Even their free Firefox toolbar really helps to speed things up when you’re analysing a lot of websites for potential inbound links for example…

So if you’ve ever been tempted to try a decent SEO tool for SEO analysis, or more likely if you aren’t already using it, for building on your social media skills, or helping to improve your own websites, now is the perfect time to sign up for the SEOmoz Pro Tools and maybe get a lifetime of value for free.