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Who Wants to Win $1,000 in Cash?

Jan 24, 2012   //   by Gerald Weber   //   blogging, Contests, SEO Blog  //  3 Comments

Regular readers probably know the following two things about me:

First, I’m a big fan of guest blogging contests. Not only do I like the fact that they give participants an opportunity to win cash and all kinds of great prizes, but I also think they’re a great opportunity for a writer to be exposed to a new audience. Whether a writer is an active blogger or someone who owns a business, a guest blogging contest can connect them with readers that may have otherwise never known about them.

Second, I recently launched MySEOCommunity.com. Because it brings together everything that I’ve been working on for the past few years, I view it as “my baby.” Although I’m well aware that it’s not the Internet’s first SEO community, I think that it has several features that set it apart from the rest. You can read about the community’s unique features on its About page.

As a result of my love of guest blogging contests and the launch of MySEOCommunity, it’s only logical that we’re celebrating the launch of the site with a new guest blogging contest:

The Mad SEO Scientist Guest Blogging Contest – Grand Prize $1000. Cash!

2012 SEO Guest Blogging Contest

Since a great SEO guest blogging contest has to feature a great 1st prize, the maddest SEO scientist in this contest gets $1,000 in cash and a lifetime premium membership to MyBlogGuest.

If you check out the official announcement, you will see that the prizes for the contest’s other winners aren’t too shabby. In fact, this contest has over $2,000 in total cash prizes, as well as some other awesome goodies from all of our sponsors!

If you’ve participated in any of our other guest blogging contests, you know there are two parts to the recipe for success:

-Write a killer post
-Promote the heck out of it and interact with the post’s audience

Since the new site is all about community, we’re really emphasizing the social aspect of this contest. So, not only will you want to Tweet your post out once it’s published, but you will want to engage with everyone who leaves a comment on it. Additionally, if readers start discussing it on channels like Google +, be sure to interact with them there as well.

The deadline for this contest is March 5th, so it’s time for you to head to your lab and start cooking up an amazing post!

And a huge thanks to all of the sponsors who made this contest possible:

$1000. Sponsors

Next Digital is Asia/Pacific’s largest full-service digital agency. They specialise in creative, marketing, strategy and technology, leading the new digital age to discover what’s next! Digital Marketing

$150. Sponsors


Google AdWords

WordStream, provider of ppc software and a better Google Keyword tool

Search Engine Marketing Group SEO Link Building services

$100. Sponsors

Julie Joyce www.LinkFishMedia.com

Doc Sheldon The Clinic

Create amazing blog using our Awesome Thesis Child Themes

web design company

A professional website design copmany Helping you create a unique brand image

ShellShock UK Content Strategy Link Building aka Content Marketing

Ash Buckles www.SEO.com

$50. Sponsors

Brian Waraksa Houston Internet marketing

Jacob Share Group Writing Projects

Ajeet Khurana About the Web

The people at Top Web Design Schools, a directory of web related college programs

Customer Paradigm Magento Developers

BestGardenGifts.com Best Garden Gifts

HotTubVariety.com Hot Tub Reviews

EarthCareGreenhouses.com Wholesale Greenhouses

GoGardenGuides.com Home & Garden Social Bookmarking

USA Greenhouse Store Greenhouses

Bob Jones Perth SEO

NewsPuff.com News Puff

MiniGreenhouseKits.com Commercial Greenhouses Supplies

OurCrazyDeals.com Our Crazy Deals

www.Zoomit.com Canadian News

David Leonhardt SEO Ottawa

John McElborough SEO Agency

Contest Media Partners

www.Blokube.com

www.famousbloggers.net

Contest Media Partner Blogengage

Free Blogengage Account $29.95 Value blogengage.com

Ana Hoffman www.TrafficGenerationCafe.com/

Non-cash SEO Prizes

David Harry A full years membership at SEO Dojo, a value of $250.SEO Training Dojo

Lifetime membership to: My Blog Guest. MyBlogGuest.com is the free guest post exchange community where users meet to exchange guest posts and network.

Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise (max. functionality license) SEO tools

SEMrush.com – the best tool to spy on your competitors ($210 value) www.semrush.com

WebSEOAnalytics.com 1 Year subscription to their Professonal SEO tools

www.Hostgator.com 1 Year Business web hosting

Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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Publish Free Content and Win $1000 – MyBlogGuest Articles Gallery Contest

Jan 3, 2012   //   by Gerald Weber   //   Contests, SEO Blog  //  3 Comments

How would you like to win $1000 for publishing a guest post on your blog?

No, that wasn’t a typo; you don’t even have to write a post to win $1000!

MyBlogGuest Contest

While this is the first big blogging contest of 2012, it’s the coolest and simplest contest I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of wearing yourself out by trying to put together the perfect post, you can let the platform do the work for you.

So, what’s the catch? There’s not one. MyBlogGuest is an awesome site that’s holding an awesome contest. In case you haven’t had a chance to check them out before, MyBlogGuest connects bloggers with people who want to write guest posts. Instead of spending time sending out cold emails, MBG provides a thriving community of people who already want this content. What’s neat about MBG is you can benefit from both writing guest posts and accepting guest posts from others.

$1000 Contest Details

This contest is centered around a specific feature of MBG, which is the Articles Gallery. Here’s a quick video that shows how easy it is to use the Articles Gallery to find awesome free content to publish on your blog:

Yup, MBG really does make it that easy to find great content that’s 100% free. While you can use MBG all year long, for this contest you will want to publish your guest post anytime between now and February 15th; the contest itself officially ends on February 20th. Keep in mind that the earlier you put your post up, the more time you will have to promote it to your audience.

To participate in this contest, head over to MyBlogGuest to sign up for free. All you need is a PR2+ blog, Twitter & Facebook count buttons installed at the post level and a commenting system that doesn’t require registration.

The winner will be determined by a combination of Tweets, Facebook Likes, comments and how engaged you are with the post & the MBG community.

You can check out the 3 rules on the original announcement, but they’re nothing overly strict. Instead, they just boil down to don’t be a cheater!

Ann Smarty has done an awesome job with MyBlogGuest and this contest, so I’m pumped to see the posts you all enter!

Leave a comment with a link to the post you enter into the contest:

Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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Announcing the 2nd Annual Bad Ass SEO Guest Blogging Contest Winners

Nov 3, 2011   //   by Gerald Weber   //   blogging, Contests, SEO Blog  //  21 Comments

Wow! I have to say that this year’s Bad Ass SEO Guest Blogging Contest REALLY lived up to its name. Not only was the sponsorship level greater this year (a whopping $2700 in cash), but the talent level took a big leap forward as well. I am honored to have so much talent on my blog!

Now, without further ado, the moment you have all been waiting for. The winners are:

1st Place – $1000 + a Lifetime Premium Membership to MyBlogGuest.com:

How to Optimize 7 Popular Social Media Profiles for SEO by Kristi Hines

2nd Place – $500 + 1 Year Membership to The SEO Training Dojo:

Come on People, Your Attitude to Guest Blogging Is Killing Me! by James Cave

3rd Place – $350 + Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise License:

But I Don’t Have Enough Klout: How To Be Good At Social Media By Not Being A Jerk by Colette Bennett

4th Place – $250 + 3 Month Subscription to SEMRush.com:

Have You Claimed Your Local Business Listing on These 21 Sites? by Kaila Strong

5th Place – $225:

Using JavaScript to Hide Content: Advanced White Hat SEO? by Darren Slatten

6th Place – $125:

The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts by Andrew Nattan

7th Place – $100:

Panda, Panda, Panda by Amanda King $100

8th Place – $75

Secret 4 Step Affiliate System by Ben Jackson

9th Place – $75

Social Media Suffocation: Why I’ve Had Enough Of Networking Online by Lewis Austin

Now for a brief explanation of how we can up with our winners:

We had 4 independent judges who scored each post on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best). The judging factors included style, creativity and usefulness. We then averaged the scores from all 4 judges. You can click here to see the Excel spreadsheet with the scoring.

This year, Kristi absolutely dominated the top spot! Not only was her guest post published on Sphinn and mentioned in SEOMoz’s newsletter, but it has received:

20,892 Views
1000 Facebook Likes
1498 Tweets
224 Google Pluses
Over 200 Comments

Places 2 and 3 were also clear winners. However, places 4 through 8 all tied with each other. As a result, we had to use social engagement factors to determine those winners.

The way our social engagement scoring works is 1 point for each tweet, +1, Facebook Like, Stumble or comment. Also, we looked at social engagement on blokube and blogengage. Additionally, we didn’t count meaningless or ambiguous comments like “Great post thanks.” By calculating these totals, we were able to determine who won spots 4 through 8.

Everyone who won, please email me your Paypal email at gweber at sem-group dot net so I can hook you up with your cashola and non-cash prizes!

Once again, I want to thank all the sponsors, contestants and judges who donated their time. Without all of your help, this contest wouldn’t be possible. You all rock!

We’ll see you all next year when the donkey starts misbehaving again!

Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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Using JavaScript to Hide Content: Advanced White Hat SEO?

Oct 18, 2011   //   by Darren Slatten   //   Contests, Copywriting, Google, SEO  //  28 Comments

If you provide some kind of SEO-related services, there will come a time when your client or boss looks you in the eye and says something like this:

“Yeah, so about those page edits you recommended…

We’re actually quite happy with the current design of our landing page, and our tests have shown that adding text to the page actually decreases conversions. So…um…is there any way you could optimize this page…like…without adding all those words to it?”

To most SEO’s, the idea of achieving top rankings in a competitive niche–without putting keyword-rich content on the page–is unrealistic if not downright ridiculous. But from a design perspective, we also have to acknowledge that text and keywords are not always what’s best for Users. Sometimes, the best User experience comes from a simple, minimalistic interface with no distractions.

The Google home page itself is a perfect example. Arguably one of the most valued resources on the Web, and certainly one of the most visited, google.com currently displays a total of 25 words.

+You Web Images Videos Maps News Gmail More Sign in Google Search I'm Feeling Lucky Privacy Change background image About Google Advertising Programs Business Solutions

But what if Google was your client, and they wanted you to optimize their home page to rank for keyword phrases related to search engine

Would you recommend something like this instead?

Google home page with Wikipedia-style text

Hmm…no, that’s not going to work. So it’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? On the one hand, you’re trying to satisfy your client and their Users by providing a slick, clutter-free interface…and on the other hand, you’re trying to be mindful of Google’s relentless addiction to plain text content. So what do you do?

Well, if you don’t know how to code basic JavaScript (or you’ve seen how bad Google sucks at reading JavaScript and thus avoid it entirely), then you probably pick content over User interface, pollute the page with stacks of keyword-dense garbage, and hope that the potential increase in search traffic eventually makes up for the immediate loss of conversions.

But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could fill your landing pages with SEO-friendly content…without it getting in the way of your Users?

Luckily, there’s a solution. It’s called hidden content.

* GASP! *

That’s right, folks…if you’re trying to improve your website’s User experience without hurting your search engine rankings, then you need to start hiding some content–ASAP. But you can’t just hide it anywhere–you need to hide it somewhere where search engines will see it for sure…but Users won’t.

Wait... isn't that SPAM?

That depends on a number of variables, but the short answer is:

No, it’s not spam. It’s not even gray hat SEO. Hiding content is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it right.

Which brings us to the million-dollar question…

What is the right way to hide content?

Unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to provide a useful answer anytime soon. So you know what? I’m going to take a crack at it. Seriously. I’m going to make a genuine effort to lay down some technical guidelines for all the aspiring content-hiders out there, and I’m going to do so without pretending like “your intent” has anything to do with it.

So here we go. First I’m going to suggest the guidelines; then I’m going to provide a working example that incorporates all of these best practices.

Basic Implementation Techniques for Content Hiding

  • User Friendly – Hidden content implementations should improve the User experience and must not impair the User experience.
  • Dynamic – Hidden content elements must have a visible state–a set of conditions under which the hidden content is visible and readable by Users. The visible state must be capable of being activated by a browser event. The event should be automatic (e.g., document.onload) or it should be triggered by Users’ actions (e.g., element.onclick). In the case of Users’ actions, the trigger element should be conspicuous and intuitive.
  • Accessibility – Hidden content should not be implemented in such a way that it causes the content to be inaccessible to Users with disabilities or Users who rely on screen readers or similar devices.
  • Progressive Enhancement – Hidden content must default to a visible state when rendered in a browser that either doesn’t support JavaScript or doesn’t have JavaScript enabled. A document in which all hidden content elements are in the default visible state should provide a User interface that is functional, cohesive, and reasonably intuitive.

A Perfect Example of Hidden Content

If you don’t really understand the BITCH, don’t worry–I have an example for you. And this isn’t just any ol’ example; this is my attempt at creating a perfect example.

Let’s say you have a news blog with the 10 most recent stories showing on the home page. For whatever reason, you decide that the home page should include the full text of each post. The problem is…your Users are overwhelmed by all that text, and all they really want is an easy way to scan the latest headlines before they choose a story to read. The solution…hide some content!

This example has two versions: the original plain text version and the modified “hidden content” version. As you can see, the User experience is much better in the modified version, simply because it’s easier to navigate (especially on a mobile device that requires swipe scrolling). But the real magic is in the code, so take a few minutes to view the HTML and JavaScript source. Before you go check it out, I’ll leave you with some questions/concepts to think about:

  • Compare the HTML source between the two versions. What differences do you see?
  • What happens to the Hidden Content version when JavaScript is disabled?
  • What is the likelihood of Google flagging the Hidden Content page as suspicious or deceptive?

Plain Text Content

Plain text content example

Hidden Content

Hidden content example

 

Download the Hidden Content Example

The live examples linked to above are hosted on GitHub. This means you can easily download the source code files for your own personal or commercial use (files are released under a non-restrictive free software license). And for the truly advanced SEO’s out there: you can even fork it or suggest improvements via pull requests.

Download the Hidden Content example source code files!

Darren Slatten

Darren Slatten is one smart mofo. Some say he's the World's Greatest SEO. When Darren isn't studying SEO or web programming, he's usually busy developing online marketing strategies and web hosting solutions for local small businesses. Darren also likes to use keyword-rich anchor text in his guest blog bio links, but only when it makes local SEO for small business sense to do so.

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Don’t Dare To Make These Seven Social Media Mistakes

Oct 13, 2011   //   by Sandipan Mukherjee   //   Contests, Social Media  //  28 Comments

This is a guest post from Sandipan Mukherjee. It is part of The 2nd annual “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.

Social media has become a necessary part of any kind of online marketing efforts. While there are many success stories of people using social media for personal and business reasons, there are also plenty of people who may feel their efforts are not paying off.

So are you feeling the same? Have you taken the time to create great content, but feel like you’re not getting the recognition you deserve? Here are some of the most common mistakes you must avoid when targeting social media for your traffic.

NOT ENGAGING WITH FOLLOWERS

Do you have conversations with your followers? Do you reply when they comment on your Facebook page or @reply to you on Twitter? If you don’t, then you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to build goodwill. The best professional and corporate social media users engage with their followers. They answer questions from their followers. They ask questions to their fans. Yes, it takes more time to have a two-way exchange online, but it also creates much bigger rewards. Take the time to reply to your followers and let them know you’re listening.

USING SAME STRATEGY

Facebook is not MySpace. Twitter is not LinkedIn. And they’re all different from Google+. Every social networking site is different and you need to create a different strategy for each site you decide to engage in. Trying to run a one-size-fits-all approach will limit your ability to be successful anywhere.

HAVE NO SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN

Research and planning is just as important on Social Media websites as it is in any other form of marketing and advertising. Every community is different and won’t respond in the same manner. Every successful campaign needs to have a set of goals. You should always do some research if you need to achieve these goals. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve with your social media content? Are you able to identify what type of impact you want to have?

IGNORE CRITICISM

It is inevitable that you will get negative comments as well as positive ones. Do not make the mistake of ignoring or dismissing your visitor’s criticisms. Sure, sometimes it’s frustrating to read negative feedback about your site – but criticism can also be beneficial.  Obviously, not all things can be changed, or need to be changed, but try to respond politely to any criticism. There is no way to please everyone, but be diplomatic. Nothing damages your brand and website more than ignoring criticism or fighting fire with fire.

MISLEADING IMAGES, HEADLINES AND TAGS

Coming up with a great headline and intro are important for written content, but make sure your headline isn’t misleading. If your headline has no relation to your content then your visitors won’t stick around for very long. Similarly, don’t use misleading tags or images. You might get some initial clicks, but most people won’t ever come back to your site if it appears that you deliberately tried to deceive them.

TARGET ONLY ONE SOCIAL NETWORK

With so many social networks covering almost every available niche, why are you just targeting one? Most successful websites that target social media traffic will use different social networks.

IRRELEVANT SPAM

One of the worse things you can do is to send out your content to completely the wrong people. Most social networks allow you to have friends and thus you can share links with them. Use the search bar to find people who have an interest in your topic. Sending every piece of your content with everyone on your friends list is a definite way to have your content voted down in the short run, and in the longer term, you’ll be labelled as a spammer. What you should do is to get to know who you have added as friends and find out what they are interested in. This way, you will be able to share relevant links and you will increase the chances of others voting your story up.

Hope this post will help you avoid the major mistakes you can make when targeting social media for your traffic. Feel free to add comments if I missed out some points.

Sandipan Mukherjee

Sandipan Mukherjee is the founder and CEO of Squarex Technologies. Squarex Technologies is a Web and Software Development Company.

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Panda, Panda, Panda

Oct 11, 2011   //   by Amanda King   //   Contests, SEO Blog  //  23 Comments

Or Why Panda is the Marsha of the SEO World

google panda logo mashup

from seo-hacker.com

Everyone talks about it. Constantly. “Oh, my rankings dropped because of Google Panda,” or like just recently, the SEO world is all a-twitter over the new algorithm roll-out of Panda. It’s perpetually on people’s minds and has their tongues wagging. And I want to shut them all up.

Honestly, I don’t see why everyone is so surprised. Technology is constantly evolving – just turn out your pockets and see what gadgets fall out – so why shouldn’t search engines and the internet evolve with them? Even the internet is evolving – and social media – the red-headed stepchild of SEM is going through pubescence at an alarming rate. Everything is growing up around (and because of) search engines – so growth in the capabilities of search engines is inevitable.

If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m a writer. So the main thrust of Google Panda – to weed out s$^* content in whatever form – doesn’t phase me. I’ve always been an advocate of having unique, informative and relevant content on your website. Sitting down for a few hours a day for a few weeks to write unique descriptions (even just one or two lines per product) makes a huge difference. And I’m not the only one saying so, so don’t take it from me.

But it seems like what is straightforward to me is not so straightforward to everyone else. Let me vent my frustrations about customers who don’t understand the value of content and educate you at the same time! Two (angry) birds, one stone. (Gee, look. I made a funny…)

Angry birds

from rovio.com

Your Homepage is Not an Infographic

Yes, you heard me right. Your homepage is not the place to use just images. An image may be worth 1,000 words, but only if you can see it. While it may be pretty to have big, high quality images that dominate the above-the-fold of your website, frankly, it’s stupid. Especially if your developer doesn’t know CSS3 and the @font-face rule – any non-web-ready font that you use (unless you buy the license, and who does that…) will be cut and pasted into your site as images.

Thus, your website would look like basically a blank slate to search engines. Plus, the higher the quality, the bigger the file, the longer the load time. Not good.

And for customers, let alone search engines – having a massive block of images does not immediately inform them what your site is all about. You want to make sure you do that, too, or your bounce rate will go sky-high.

My rule of thumb is to have at least 150 words of text on your homepage – basically, a short paragraph. And to make sure any text is actually TEXT and not image blocks.

Screenshot of Picture People's homepage

Picture People starts off well, but then they fail, because their very clean, modern-retro slider is all image. Fail.

Loosecubes homepage screenshot

And I would like to kiss the feet of whomever dev’d Loosecubes. Basically all of the textual elements that I ran across on the homepage were actually translated into text, and those that weren’t probably couldn’t be anyway. Follow their example (though unfortunately they don’t have my rule of thumb one paragraph of text – but rules are meant to be broken, right?).

Become A Resource

Have an e-commerce site selling yoga mats? Don’t just have unique product descriptions – but become a yoga resource for your clients. Have a page talking about different yoga styles. Have a page talking about the health benefits of yoga. Keep a blog and update it frequently with new and cutting-edge information on the industry (whether or not yoga can be “cutting edge” is another question…bad example choice?). And if you don’t want to write it – head over to MyBlogGuest and browse the topics there.

This should intrinsically make your website sticky – though keep your content length reasonable and break it up, of course. People are going to stay and read if you put the information out there, and engage with the community.

And a by-product of that stickiness is that you will be kept top-of-mind for clients – more and more research is showing now that not only is it long-tail keywords that make your conversion, but return visitors rather than initial visits. People shop around these days – a byproduct of the economy tanking.

Seriously, how do people not understand this?

Optimize Your Media…

Or goodness, have media! Make sure that your images aren’t too big and properly alt-tagged, offer product reviews, connect all your social profiles – badges and the whole shebang – for chrissakes, have a YouTube channel and make a few videos (and embed them on your site)…a big part of the content revolution in search engines is the push to really include not only social media metrics but also social media involvement. Just do it.

And Now I’m Running on Steam…

So that is the end of my rant. Do you see now why this all seems so straightforward to me? You want visitors to convert into customers, and the most obvious way – to me – to do that is to have the most interesting stuff to say.

Amanda King

Amanda King is a writer and search engine marketing specialist at Mountain Media in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has wanderlust like whoa - she wants to go to Romania next. You can find her and more of her writing on Google+.

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How to Optimize 7 Popular Social Media Profiles for SEO

Oct 10, 2011   //   by Kristi Hines   //   Contests, SEO, Social Media  //  248 Comments

If you want to strengthen your personal or business brand’s visibility, then one of the top things you will want is to have strong social media profiles that rank in the top results for your name along with your website and blog. Having a strong online reputation that is comprised of nothing but content that highlights the best about your personal or business brand will allow you to keep undesirable results at bay, such as bad online reviews or mentions.

You’ve probably read lots of posts talking about how to properly optimize your social media profiles for search, and they’ve probably all sounded a little like this.

  • Be active – Yes, this is true. Just like Google loves regularly updated blogs and websites, they equally love regularly updated social profiles.
  • Optimize photo filenames – This only works on some networks, which I will mention below. It doesn’t hurt to upload photos with your name or keywords in the filename, but networks like Facebook rename the photo filenames anyway, so for some networks, it’s useless.
  • Engage with your followers, fans, and connections – This is a good thing to do regardless of the SEO value of it. Engaging with others will keep your profile updated often, and being helpful will also lead to other’s recommending you to their audience. Search #FollowFriday to see what I mean.
  • Vanity URL – From what I can tell, the URL does not count for anything but branding except on specific networks. For example, my Facebook fan page name is Kikolani, and the username for the URL is artofblogging. The fan page does not rank for art of blogging, but does rank for Kikolani. But again, it all depends on the network.

While these are great tips for your overall social media strategy, they are not the end all of SEO for your social network profiles. Certain networks use specific elements of information that you supply in your profile to optimize each profile on their network. The following will guide you to the right fields to optimize for the best possible search optimization of your social networks. The best part is that all customizations noted are using each site’s free accounts – no need to upgrade to Pro if all you’re looking for is optimization!

Quick and Dirty Onsite SEO 101

Before we get started, here are some key things to keep in mind about the following mentioned SEO elements of your social profiles. The order of importance is generally SEO Title, Meta Description, header tags (H1, H2, H3), image ALT tags, image filenames, and bolded text. Also, when it comes to search results, the typical result will look like this with the SEO Title as the linked information and the Meta Description as the details beneath it:

But what if you don’t care about the SEO?

That’s ok – this post still has some great information for you! Usually the parts of your profile that are used for search optimization are also used for the network’s own search results. So if you don’t want to think of it as SEO work, think of it as simply social optimization!

Google+ Profiles

Let’s start with the hottest new social media network of them all – Google’s own Google+. Whenever you are filling out your Google+ profile, be sure to note the following areas of information that will enhance the search optimization of your presence on this network.

Google+ Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name – Google+

Google+ is all about the personal branding, and they insist that you use your real name for your profile. So don’t try to stick keywords or business names in your profiles – not yet at least!

Meta Description: Your Name – Your Headline + Your Occupation

The Meta Description for your Google+ profile is a combination of different pieces of profile information, starting with your name followed by your headline (the line below your name), your occupation, your first employer listed, and then your introduction text. So make sure that the first 160 characters count by writing a great headline and occupation title. Also make sure those areas are set to be seen by anyone on the web.

Extra Search Tidbits: Your Links

From what I can tell, the links within the introduction content as well as the ones under other profiles, contributor to, and recommended links are all dofollow. So don’t shy away from anchor text as this is a prime Google property!

Facebook Pages

Assuming that not much changes when Facebook decides to revamp the fan pages as they have recently with the personal profiles, the following areas of information contribute to your fan page SEO.

Facebook Fan Page Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Page Name | Facebook

If you didn’t consider keyword optimization when you created it, and you have less than 100 fans, you’re in luck. You can still change your page’s name. What you will want to keep in mind is that your branding may be more important than your keyword rankings, especially if you want people to be able to find you if they are searching your brand.

Meta Description: Your Page Name + Your About Description | Facebook

To edit your About information to make a great Meta Description, go to your page and Edit Page > Basic Information, and fill in the About field with a 140 character description like you would with any website Meta Description.

Extra Search Tidbits: Your Fan Page Updates Have SEO Value

Did you know that each of your status updates on your Facebook fan page have a page of their own (click the timestamp of one to see). If you’re posting a standard status update, the SEO Title for the individual page of your updates will be pulled from the first 18 characters (though sometimes it is a bit less). If you’re posting a link to your fan page wall, you’ll have an option to “Say something about this link…” – the first 18 characters of what you enter in this field are going to be the SEO Title of that status update.

If you’re concerned about optimizing your updates while considering them as individual pages under the umbrella of your fan page, then you might want to consider sticking some keywords right at the beginning of your comment. So if you’re posting an update about keyword research, just start the update with keyword research. It is a simple, effective way to keyword optimize each update.

Twitter Profiles

Twitter doesn’t have much in the way of traditional SEO elements for your public profile, but it has a few important things to keep in mind.

Twitter Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name (username) on Twitter

On Twitter, your name under the Profile Settings and your username are the title tags for your profile. So keywords in your username might just be worthwhile if they are still available.

Profile Image: Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag

When it comes to your profile image, be sure to optimize it by using your name as the filename. Twitter will automatically use your name under the Profile Settings as the ALT tag for your profile image as well.

Extra Search Tidbits: Keywords in Your Bio

While they may not come up in the standard SEO elements for your profile, your bio information is key. Services like Klout pull your Twitter bio information as your Klout profile description. FollowerWonk, Formulists, and other Twitter search engines use keywords in your bio in search results when people are looking for similar tweeps to follow. You can also include a link or another Twitter handle if applicable.

LinkedIn Professional Profiles

LinkedIn, the leading professional social network, has the most user-controlled SEO elements out of any other network I’ve checked out. Here are the areas you can customize!

SEO Title: Your Name| LinkedIn

While some people suggest adding keywords to your name field, the LinkedIn terms of service discourages this practice. Be confident that your personal branding is strong enough not to need the extra keyword stuffing that you can do later in your profile.

LinkedIn Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

Profile Image: Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag

Just like Twitter, you should make sure you use your name as the filename for your profile image. LinkedIn will use your name as the ALT tag for your image as well.

H3 Tags: Your Job Titles

Are you ready to get some keywords into your profile? Make sure your job titles for current and previous positions include some great keywords and those keywords will be in your profile page’s H3 tags. Mine include freelance writer, blog marketing expert, photographer, and guest blogging contributor.

Extra Search Tidbit: LinkedIn Search Optimization

According to the LinkedInfluence program by Lewis Howes, if you want to rank well for keywords searched within LinkedIn’s people search, you will want to include your targeted keywords in the following:

  • Your Professional Headline
  • Summary
  • Specialties
  • Skills

I also think that belonging to some industry appropriate groups that are publicly listed on your profile can add to extra keyword usage on your profile. So choose your groups wisely!

YouTube Channels

YouTube offers a lot of great SEO options, from the channel to the videos. Here is what you’ll want to make sure you include in your profile.

YouTube Channel Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Username’s Channel – YouTube

This is one of the cases where your username which doubles as part of your URL counts in terms of the search optimization, so make it count – just be sure you do so with your branding in mind more so than keywords. It will be a lot harder for people to find you if they search SEO company vs. Your Uniquely-Named SEO Company.

Meta Description: Your Channel Description

Whenever you are setting up your channel, pay extra attention to the Channel Description which is under the Profile > Edit settings. This will be your channel’s Meta Description!

Extra SEO Tidbits: Your Website & Your Videos

Ever wanted a backlink from a PR 9 domain? Then your search is over – whenever you create your YouTube channel, be sure to fill in your website link. Granted it has no anchor text, but it’s a dofollow link sitting on a strong Google property.

When it comes to videos, the reason they do so well in search is because the video title doubles as the SEO Title and the video description doubles as the Meta Description. And even though Google doesn’t supposedly care about Meta Keywords, they do use the video’s tags in that space – just group multiple keywords in quotations. My search story uses the tags “kristi hines” “freelance writer” “online marketing consultant” scottsdale arizona. Keep these fields in mind to rank well in both the YouTube and Google results.

Also, be sure to get your video-specific keyword ideas using YouTube’s own keyword tool. It looks at what is searched the most on YouTube itself.

Biznik Professional Profiles

Biznik, another popular professional social network, has some areas that you can customize to optimize your profile for SEO.

Biznik Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Job – Your Location – Your Name

The SEO Title for your Biznik profile combines three important parts of your profile – your current job title, your city and state, and your name. It’s perfect for keyword optimization, local search optimization, and personal branding!

Meta Description: Your Google Summary

Unlike most profiles where you have to condense your About Me information into 140 characters, Biznik allows you to have a What You Do description for visitors and a separate, optimized Google Summary for your Meta Description.

H1: Your Name + Your Job

In case the SEO Title and Meta Description are not enough, Biznik also uses your name and job title as your profile’s main H1 Tag. Nothing like a little extra optimization!

Profile Image: Filename and Your Name as ALT Tag

Just like Twitter and LinkedIn, you should make sure you use your name as the filename for your profile image. Biznik will use your name as the ALT tag for your image as well.

Extra SEO Tidbits: Your Website

Your Biznik profile allows you to add one website link with your preferred anchor text (you can have two if you go Pro for $10 / month) . It’s dofollow, so don’t miss out on adding it for visitors and for search engines!

Quora Profile

Quora, one of the hottest question and answer networks, offers a little SEO optimization for users who join their community.

Quora Profile Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name – Quora

As is the trend for most networks, Quora uses your name in your profile’s SEO title.

Meta Property: Your Long Bio

Quora is a bit unusual in the sense that they use the Facebook Developer’s Meta Property=”og:description” instead of the traditional Meta Description for search results. For this, they pull the information that you include in your Long Bio which should be one to two sentences long. If you search your profile in Google, however, you will see that it pulls your name, your Short Bio, and then your Long Bio as the actual Meta Description snippet.

H1 Tag: Your Name + Your Short Bio

The H1 Tag for your Quora profile will be your name plus your Short Bio. It unfortunately cuts off your tag at 50 characters, so be sure to get your main keyword into your short bio first.

Extra SEO Tidbits: Including Your Websites in the Long Bio

Although the links are nofollow (and mashed up into some crazy looking code), one thing I have noticed about Quora is that you can generate a lot of views and followers fast by answering questions. So SEO value or not, be sure to include your main website links in your Long Bio box. Just type out the URL – it will automatically hyperlink.

About.me Profile

About.me is one of my favorite online business card sites. It allows you to compile your social profile links, blog, and a short description all on one page. The nice part is that it is a well-optimized page!

About.me Social Media SEO Optimization

SEO Title: Your Name (Your Username) on about.me

About.me is another network where both your name and your username count heavily in the optimization of your profile.

Meta Description: Your Biography

Although you can write as long of a biography as you want on your profile, remember that the first 160 characters count for your Meta Description. This also means if you use a link in your biography, it will be counted as part of the Meta Description, so try to save the links until after the first 160.

Extra SEO Tidbits: Website Links

There are two ways to add website links to your About.me profile. One is through the biography mentioned earlier. The other is through the Services as Flat URL’s. I prefer adding them in the biography because not only are they dofollow, but the coding within the biography is cleaner than the coding used for the Flat URL’s. It may not make much of a difference, but since every bit of link juice helps, it doesn’t hurt to use the most cleanly coded HTML possible.

Bonus: How to Check Your Profile’s SEO

Curious about more networks than the ones listed? Check out your social profile’s SEO by doing the following in Google Chrome using the SEO Site Tools extension.

Google Chrome SEO Site Tools for Social Media SEO Optimization

  • Logout of the network. You want to see your profile like a search engine sees it with whatever information you have made public and accessible to anyone, not just those logged into the network.
  • Click on the SEO Site Tools magnifying lens button and look under Page Elements. Here you will see your SEO Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords.
  • Scroll down through the Page Elements for additional information such as Img Tags, H1 Tags, H2 Tags, H3 Tags, and H4 Tags.

Chances are you will see elements in your social profiles that you can control in those tags – be sure to optimize your profile accordingly from there!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please be sure to share it with others so they can also reap the benefits of a SEO optimized social media profile for better personal and professional branding! If you’re curious about the SEO optimization elements of other social networks, feel free to ask in the comments and I will check them out for you! And let us know what profiles rank the best for your name or brand!

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Don't miss her Web Domination Review on Kikolani. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!

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Have You Claimed Your Local Business Listing on These 21 Sites?

Oct 7, 2011   //   by Kaila Strong   //   Contests, internet marketing, SEO Blog  //  34 Comments

Several years ago I started compiling a list of the best of the best review, social, and local sites on the web. If a website was out there that offered any sort of review, sharing, or local listing ability I surely tried to get our client’s listing on the site. Not only are these sites great for building local authority, they’re also a factor in how search engines determine your local listing placement. David Mihm’s page on local search ranking factors is pretty epic, if you want to learn more check it out.

Fast forward to today, and my list has grown to an unimaginable size. When I start to think about manually submitting to each of these sites my eyes start to cross. Thankfully business can use services like UBL or GetListed.org to ease the process of claiming and optimizing all these listings, but they don’t submit to every single site. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 21 ‘little known’ sites that you should check out, just in case your service of choice hasn’t submitted to them yet. Some on the list you’ve probably heard of, and others you probably haven’t. I’ll also introduce a few niche sites that you might not be listed on.

1.) Kudzu.com

This site was launched in 2006 and in February of 2009 integrated Facebook Connect onsite. The site boasts 4 million consumer reviews, over 27,000 local deals, and a domain authority of 78. Quantcast measures the traffic at an estimated 678,000 site visitors per month. Kudzu is a fairly well known site so it might already be on your radar, but if not it’s certainly worth a look.

2.) LikeList.com

Recently coming out of beta, LikeList.com is a “social-local referral service” with more than 510,000 business “like’s” in the system. LikeList has more than 2 million friend relationships on their current user base. NeatStat.com estimates their monthly traffic at about 20,000 visitors. Just recently the site launched Sharelists – “A collaborative list for groups of people with interests or tastes in common to share what they like and help each other”.

  • List Your Business for Free Here

3.) OpenList.com

Touting itself as “your local guide”, OpenList.com  was founded in 2003 in Seattle. Initially the site just focused on restaurants, hotels and attraction listings. Today it is open to all businesses. A domain authority of 44 and site traffic estimates from NeatState.com at 2.5 million a month, the site has seen incredible growth since 2003. To get on this site you’ll likely need to submit to Localeze and eventually will get added to the site. Or inquire on their site here.

4.) MatchPoint.com

Helping users find the right business, MatchPoint.com has been around since 2007. In Vertical Measures’ post “10 Good Citations You Can Get Right Now” we featured MatchPoint in 2009, and the sites value still holds true. Quantcast estimates monthly traffic at 12,000 visitors, which in comparison to other sites is quite small. MatchPoint, however, offers free business listings and additional advertising options like most of the sites on this list so they are worth a look.

5.) Jayde.com

Jayde isn’t so much a local search site per se, it’s more so a B2B and business search engine that’s been around for many years. You’ve probably heard about it; the site has been around since 1996. Quantcast estimates traffic at 13,600 visitors a month, and domain authority on the site is 76.

6.) YellowBot.com

YellowBot lets you “do. tag. write. share.” since 2006. With an average of 744,000 visitors a month, the site stays active and is fairly authoritative with a domain authority score of 61. They also offer international versions of YellowBot for Canadians and users in Bermuda. Tip: Add a variety of tags to your listings for better optimization.

7.) MacRaesBlueBook.com

MacRae’s Blue Book is America’s original industrial directory since 1893. Today with more than 1 million active users monthly, the site can help users find the industrial and manufacturing products and services they’re looking for. They have a wide array of categories your listing can fit into, and they offer free listings.

8.) Zidster.com

Helping online users find coupons and local businesses is what Zidster is all about. With an estimated half a million visitors a month (according to NeatStat.com), the site has grown in popularity since launching in 2007-2008.

9.) iBegin.com

iBegin provides businesses in the US and Canada with listings for free, and helps users find your businesses through their incredibly easy to use local search site. The site has been around since 2006, and since then has grown to an estimated 1.5 million visitor per month site (according to NeatStat.com).

10.) MerchantCircle.com

This popular site once talked about by many local search experts is still alive and kicking, allowing businesses to claim listings, respond to reviews, and create deals for their prospective customers. The site averages a whopping 5.8 million visitors a month. If you still haven’t found the time to claim your listing – do it today! Tip: Use the coupon functionality on MerchantCircle to get more traction with your weekly/monthly deals.

11.) MatchLocal.com

Get found online with Match Local. A fairly new site online, their parent company Matchbin has been around for quite awhile revolutionizing the traditional media industry. NeatStat.com estimates MatchLocal’s traffic at a few thousand visitors a month. While the site still has some growing to do, it’s yet another place to get a listing for your business.

Niche Local Search Sites

Do your due diligence when finding sites to add your business listing to. It might seem daunting, especially after you’ve added your listing to the hundreds of sites already out there. Tip: Set aside an hour or two hours a month to look for new sites to list your business on. Search for niche local search sites that are specific to your area.

Below I’ve listed a few that I’ve found that have a decent amount of traffic on a monthly basis and are fairly authoritative. Tip: Use advanced search commands like “local keyword directory” “city/state” “claim listing” or  “local keyword” “city/state” “submit business listing” to find sites specific to your location. Or –try these search commands in Rand Fishkin’s post.

12.)  WickedLocal.com

13.) Gazlo.com

14.) ShopCity.com

  • Over 8,000 local marketplaces including ShopPaloAlto.com, ShopBuffalo.com, & ShopCorona.com.
  • Over 35,00 estimated visitors per month
  • Add your business for free today!

15.) WebLocal.ca

  • Canadian specific
  • Estimated 1.7 million visitors per month
  • Signup today!

16.) Qype.co.uk

 17.) WeLoveLocal.com

  • UK specific
  • Signup today!

Industry Specific Local Search Sites

Additionally, business owners should look to place listings on sites that are specific to their industry. Whether you’re a local restaurant, doctor, hospital or even an accountant, there are industry specific sites your business should have a listing on. Tip: Use advanced search commands like “industry keyword directory” “city/state” “claim listing” or  “industry keyword” “city/state” “submit business listing” to find sites specific to your industry.

18.) HealthGrades.com

 19.) UrbanSpoon.com

20.) RestaurantRow.com

21.) Ratingz.net

Update

I’ve received quite a few great additional suggestions via the comments, Facebook, and Twitter too. Thanks for your suggestions! Below are a few more sites to add to the list of little known local search sites:

22.) Manta

  • A local search site dedicated to small businesses.
  • Estimated 23 million visitors per month
  • The site has over 30 million business listings!
  • Add your listing for free today!

 Have some great local sites that you’d like to share, or some tips I missed? Add your feedback to the comments below.

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts

Oct 5, 2011   //   by Andrew   //   blogging, Contests, Copywriting, SEO Blog  //  19 Comments
La Defense, Paris

Go on. Follow these irresistible steps to success...

It’s easy to get hung up on the words you write. As a top blogger, you’d be foolish to not at least consider them. After all, words, sentences and paragraphs are your bread and butter.

But once you’ve worked out what to say and the tone in which to say it, do you take the time to consider the format?

Because if the layout of your copy isn’t readable, nobody’s going to stick around to see what you’ve written. And that renders all your well-chosen words redundant.

So read on and learn the secrets that are going to ensure your target audience is going to read all the way to the end.

The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts

Master the Art of the Paragraph

We all remember when we’re obliged to start a new paragraph. When you change topic, change time or change place. That’s what your teacher told you at school, so you just keep ploughing on with the same rambling paragraph until you’ve exhausted the topic, run out of time, or moved to sunny Tijuana.

You credulous buffoon. Why on earth did you think your teacher was right?

Here’s the one time you need to change paragraph. Doesn’t matter if time, topic and place are still the same, there’s one point when you need to hit that return key.

When dramatic effect demands it.

A quick, single sentence paragraph is visual shorthand for “this bit is important”. So make use of them when you’re sharing something groundbreaking. And watch as your reader starts to scroll down looking for the next one.

Or for something just as arresting…

Hit ‘em With a Hail of Bullet (Points)

What have great bloggers and successful gangsters got in common? Other than a penchant for whisky cocktails and jaunty hats?

That’s right – they both know how to fire bullet points with deadly accuracy.

Why are bullet points so effective?

  • Visually arresting – a bullet point hits you like, well, a bullet between the eyes. You can’t ignore it. You stop and read.
  • Clear and concise – it’s impossible to ramble on a bullet point. You’re throwing out pure, distilled information
  • Breaks up blocks – people won’t read a wall of text. Liberally scatter your bullets, and your layout remains fresh and interesting.

Stop Skimmers by Sprinkling in Subheadings

Skim readers love subheadings. It’s pretty much all they’ll stop for.

And you want a skim reader to stop, because if they don’t, they’re scrolling all the way to the bottom, off the page and out of your life.

So unleash a few content speedbumps to slow them down. Enticing and enlightening subheadings help your readers to find the content they find most useful or interesting – so they’ll make a bee-line straight for it.

And then they’ll read it.

And if they’ve slowed down long enough to read a whole subsection, they’ve slowed down long enough to write a comment, hammer out a tweet, or buy your eBook.

Not bad for a bit of bolded text.

The Internet Can’t Say No to a Funny Picture

He might be able to write Shakespeare, but he can't format it

By now, the reader’s concentration is beginning to flag. All the typographical tricks are keeping them on the page, but you need to cut them some slack.

So throw in an illustration or two.

Preferably one that backs up your points – and don’t forget to add an amusing caption, just to re-enforce your message. Because long after they’ve forgotten the exact wording of your advice, they’ll remember that the funny monkey told them just how to keep people reading.

Beef Up Arguments With Block Quotes

By now, you’re coming around to my way of thinking. You’re plotting sublime subheaders, and coming up with cunning captions.

But something’s nagging at the back of your mind. Wouldn’t this post be truly, completely irresistible if you could just see a second opinion?

Block quotes are a great way of providing a second opinion. As they’re generally from another authority on your subject of choice, they carry weight.

And because they’re visually interesting, they fulfill the same role as bullets points and subheaders – they force the reader to slow down and pay attention!

Mr603 – Outspoken Member of the Twitterati

Yeah. That’ll just about cover it.

Think About Your Font

What font is your blog written in?

I can say with some certainty that you’re probably not going to have a clue. Which is frankly ridiculous if you want to create a truly irresistible post.

The art of font creation is a huge subject that I don’t have space to get into here. But prove the power of the font to yourself. Copy this post into a word processor.

Now set the font to Comic Sans or Vivaldi.

I think that proves my point. Don’t you?

 Avoiding Irritations

Follow the six secret steps, and you’ll have framed your content in an absolutely irresistible way. But don’t rest on your laurels yet, dear blogger.

Because you’ve still got a final chance to throw it all away. By irritating your readers and driving them from your site, never to return.

Irritating blog quirks could fill a whole post to themselves, but there are two content killers that you’ll need to avoid at all costs:

  1. Pop Ups: I know you want your reader to sign up to your mailing list. But please don’t hurl a pop-up at them after they’ve just started to read. It’ll break their concentration and raise their hackles. Just don’t take the risk.
  2. Pagination: We’ve all got mouse wheels. So don’t split your post into seven chapters across seven pages. Because a blog reader will scroll for miles and miles to read your content. Just don’t expect them to click.

So there you have it. The seven secret steps to making your blog’s content truly irresistible. You don’t need to use all seven techniques in everything you post, but keep all of these techniques in your locker, and you’ll find your audience to be far more responsive.

And who can blame them? You’re totally irresistible.

Andrew

Andrew Nattan is the wholly modest genius behind the Unmemorable Title copywriting blog. If you really loved this post, you should probably follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his RSS feed. And if you didn’t, you can always email him threatening messages.

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But I Don’t Have Enough Klout: How To Be Good At Social Media By Not Being A Jerk

Oct 3, 2011   //   by Colette Bennett   //   blogging, Contests, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  46 Comments

If you’ve ever used Facebook, Twitter or any other social media outlet a single day in your life and done so with any rate of success, you’ve probably already heard the whines of other users who are mystified at how you did it, or been accused of making up the term “social media specialist.” In fact, some of the stuff people like to say is starting to sound positively rote by now:

“Look at you, little Ms. Popular! How did you ever manage to get all those Twitter followers?”

“I tweet stuff all the time, but no one ever retweets me.”

“I only have 100 friends on Facebook. No one cares what I think.”

The last sentence there is the most deadly — making a broad decision that isn’t yours to make, and giving up before you’ve even started to try. But many people do that, and it can be your death sentence in a digital world where your output can make or break your public persona. So here’s a handy list about what you can do to improve your social media standing and maybe get a few more people to notice you. Also, if you could stop whining about how unpopular you are, that would be super.

1. Decide What You Need to Say

One of the greatest dangers of social media is that it allows us to report information to the world stream-of-consciousness style, especially with Twitter. This is the reason that the service is crammed with photosofpeoplesfood and complaints about their ailments, which frankly is stuff that should be saved for your dining partner or the person you live with. Yes, I know you are excited about your food, but realize that no one else really is OTHER than you (unless you just so happen to be a master chef-turned-blogger tweeting pics of your newest mouthwatering creation.) We’ll delve into this more later in step two, but let’s keep a one-track mind here.

So if you can’t tweet/FB/blog about whatever you damn well please, then what can you write about? Well, that’s the first key — before you start blathering all willy-nilly on a platform where everyone can hear you, make a decision about what it is you want to talk about. If you’re coming up blank there, consider what you LIKE to talk about. Are you crazy about squirrels? Passionate about vintage computer collecting? Nuts about repurposed home decor? Whatever your favorite topic is, that classic and cliched old rule writers have been following for years still applies: Write what you know. However, there’s a new addendum for the modern world: Write what you love. Enthusiasm is catching, and if you communicate it with honesty, people will come. Except when it’s a picture of your lunch. But that’s all about consideration for others, and as long as we’re on that, let’s hit up step two. Read more >>

Colette Bennett

Colette is a freelancer writer and a member of the Content Management team at Search Influence, a a full-service website promotion company. Read her and her other team members' views on internet marketing and social media on their blog, or follow them at @SearchInfluence.

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