Archive for the ‘Distribution’ Category

An Intro to Search Engine Optimization

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Welcome to the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a sometimes frustrating experience of getting on the elusive first page of a search engine’s listings. Many of us want to know the “secret,” but if the secret became wide known, then a lot of people with bad intentions would scam the system and get ranked higher than people honestly trying to do business. Nevertheless there are several factors that influence how well your page ranks. There are some additional factors that a good search engine optimization expert and your website develop should delve into on your behalf, but the following list should give an average person some idea of the process for getting ranked well in search engines.

  1. How old is your site? Some systems like to see that you have content that has been around for a while. Others do not care. (As of this writing Yahoo rated this aspect less important that Google. Which means Yahoo was giving better rankings to new sites than Google.)
  2. What search terms are testing against and did you use those terms in your site text? After you hear this concept it seems obvious, but it may not be at first. You have to figure out what terms people will use to find your site. Then you have to use those terms REASONABLY in your site. If think people will search for “Nashville web services” and you never use the word Nashville in your site language, then you should not expect great results. However, be aware that the search engines also attempt to determine if you are throwing in words to get them on the page. Therefore, be reasonable in your use of different words and do not try to game the system too much. Essentially this concept requires most of us to write our content and then re-write it to include the search terms we want the search engines to find us. (And you thought writing the content once was hard enough.)
  3. Do other people like you? (In other words, to some extent it is a popularity contest.) Do other organizations have links to your site. (Are those organizations well ranked also.) How much site traffic do you generate. (Yes, this is just like the problem of looking for a job fresh out of school when all of the employers want you to have experience.)
  4. Do you have new content? The search engines want to believe that if they send someone to your site that you will the most up-to-date information. That means they want to see new content on a regular basis. (Yes, this is more difficult in an industry where things do not change much and it has been done the same way for the last 100 years.) Blogs and other social media tools create a sense that there is new content, which is part of their appeal.
  5. Do you have an information rich site? To some extent the people that could easily write 500 extra words on that English paper in school have an advantage here. The search engines have to count and catalog words, which is an easy process. To some extent this extra information may not really be helpful to the client but I am not aware of there being any great “fluff detectors” out there as the process would be very difficult. However, you can focus your energy to creating pages that look at your client’s problem’s from every possible angle. Consider news and information related to current events, industry trends, core offerings and more.
  6. Do you have external links? This topic is very tricky. Anytime someone leaves your site, they may not come back. However, a link to a great site with lots of information shows the search engines that you are willing to “spread the wealth” and gives you credibility.
  7. Do you have a good site name? If you name includes good search terms the search engines will rank you higher, especially if you the other attributes in place.
  8. Has your developer included the appropriate search terms in the page “special codes?” Every page has a variety of “meta tags” and “alt tags” that can be used to describe the page or specific page items for the web browsers as well as for people with access impairments such as blindness. Proper coding of these terms can help immensely. A good developer also knows how to construct the page so that it uses a minimum amount of html to produce the right results so as not to bog down the search engines. (Some sites are built like interstates and others like a muddy wagon road.)

What Is an RSS Feed and How do People Subscribe?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

What Is an RSS Feed

An RSS feed is a way for anyone to automatically distribute information without having to send email and risk it being filtered out as spam. The information is broken down into topics with titles and possibly some other additional information. Having an appropriate RSS feed will increase traffic to your site and help you market yourself because a variety of services will pay attention to you that will otherwise ignore you.

For the technician, an RSS feed is information displayed in a special programing language called XML. The programmer who creates the RSS feed will read information from a database, file system, or other file, and will cause the server to display the information in a format with specific XML “commands.”

Anyone with a good blogging software like WordPress or Blogger or Typepad, etc, is already making use of RSS Feeds (unless they found a way to turn it off or make it completely private.) A blog shows up on your website as a regular page, but it also creates this RSS feed thingy for you. (You can see mine here: http://asitethatworks.com/feed/)

One of the cool things is that you can create an RSS feed on any topic or groups of information from pictures, to recent projects, to blogs etc. (You do not have to “blog.”)

How Does an RSS Feed Help You

The really cool part is that several organizations and companies that help make the internet work in the first place, actively look for pages with this special coding. They keep lists of them and they check them very, very frequently for new content. They then pass this information on to their users in a variety of ways, not necessary as the original RSS Feed. The Google and Yahoo search engines are one such place.  However, to really get noticed, you should notify certain services, such as Ping-0-Matic, Feedburner, or Technorati, that you have updated your content. You can make these submittals by hand, or you can have a programmer do it for you so that it happens automatically.  (That is one way we can help you.)  However, if your RSS feed is for a private group, there is no need.

Another cool thing is that when you know the link for your feed you can provide this link to other places such as ning social networking sites, linked in, twitter, etc. It is just like providing someone your website address, just a little longer and more complicated. It might be better to copy and paste or send via email or link, rather than say over the telephone. (Ning is a free online service for creating and sharing your own social networks, such as a church group, civic organization, sports team, etc.)

As I mentioned above, RSS feeds can also be used to get people information without you having to send them an email. The “catch” is (yeah, you knew there had to be a catch) that to reach this objective people have to subscribe to your RSS feed. Unfortunately, you cannot make them subscribe; and this is also where the process is currently breaking down for many folks. As of mid 2009, most humans (the real targets of what are doing) are not getting their information via RSS feeds. However, the ones that use RSS feeds are more likely to be loyal to you for having an RSS feed because you are helping make their life simpler. If they like you enough to subscribe to your RSS, they really like you. Remember too, that organizations such as Google and Yahoo love RSS feeds; so they are still very important, even if they do not have wide and direct human appeal.

Subscribing

Nevertheless, subscribing to an RSS feed is very easy, even if the process is not commonly understood or used by regular humans.

In the Flock Browser, when you go to a page that is an RSS feed that flock has not recorded as a feed you subscribe to, you will get a big message with a subscribe button on top. click the subscribe button and flock will automatically add it to your list of RSS fees that you can access from a handly list in Flock itself. Firefox and Internet Explorer (7 and above) have similar options.

Here are the instructions directly from the Outlook 2007 help file. (These are actually fairly straightforward.)

  1. On the Tools menu, click Account Settings.
  2. On the RSS Feeds tab, click New.
  3. In the New RSS Feed dialog box, type or press CTRL+V to paste the URL of the RSS Feed. For example, http://www.asitehatworks.com/feed/
  4. Click Add.
  5. Click OK.

If you subscribe to an RSS Feed Service such as Gator , the process is probably very similar. (I don’t use one of those services, so I am not a reliable source on that topic.)

If you have a need for a custom RSS feed for information you want to present to people let us know. We will be glad to help you. Feel free to include a link to this information for clients and prospects if they need help figuring out how to subscribe to an RSS feed.


Leveraging Blogs and LinkedIn

Monday, May 4th, 2009

If you have a blog and you have a LinkedIn profile you should be leveraging them together.

1)  LinkedIn has several tools to help you share your blog information

2) Your blog can show that you are a real person and that you have information/skills that others can benefit from.

There are two applications within LinkedIn that will help you distribute your blog:

  • Blog Link:  This application helps distribute your blog posts to people in your network who are using this tool.  It creates a feed of all of the blog posts (including yours) in your network.  As such it makes a great place to aggregate content from your network so that you can see what people are up to.
  • Word Press:  This application allows you to post your blog posts to your profile.  It says it only works on wordpress, but a little trial and error an you can probably get it to work with other applications.
  • Make sure your blog is listed on your profile.  That way casual visitors will be able to click on the link if they are interested.  It’s not as nice as seeing posts, but it is a bare minimum.

So how do I get these LinkedIn applications?

Once you login to LinkedIn, you will find a menu bar on the left.  Look towards the bottom and you will find a listing for “Applications.”  Click on the link you will go to page with big incons you can click on to install the applications.

Bloglink is easier to install; just click on the icon.  The application will display blogs from anyone in your group that has a blog listed in their profile and display posts from them.  (However, I wish it had a tool recognize that it had already found a particular posting.)

A helpful article on setting the WordPress application shows up here:  http://www.ehow.com/how_4686552_add-wordpress-blog-linkedin-profile.html (I found this post with a quick scan of a new twitter follower:  http://twitter.com/darrenlinkedin )  It is still pretty easy, but you do have to tell it where to find your blog.  I’ve gotten most of the instructions to work.  My blogs are showing up in the linkedin profile for members of LinkedIn, though I am having trouble locating the appropriate privacy settings in linked in.  I was hoping the blog links would show up on the public profile.

Now, a word about your blog showing you have real skills to help people (or that your are a real person):  Hopefully, this blog demonstrates by example how this happens.  Compare the rest of my site’s content (www.asitethatworks.com) to the content on the blog itself.


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