Google’s Link Scheme Changes Mean Changes for Us

September 16, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                        return to JayVee Media Link LLC

When Google makes changes we all need to take notice.  And Google has recently made changes to reinforce its new emphasis on quality content creation.  In fact, its new decrees are forcing a shift away from formerly acceptable methods of traditional link building; thanks to the modification those strategies may now land our sites in the penalty box.

The target of Google’s recent changes appears to be bloggers who sprinkle their posts too liberally with keyword rich anchor text links. In the past such a practice was a good way to attract inbound links.  Writers would guest blog on other sites, or create online ad copy that was stuffed with niche related keywords.  Then they would turn those keywords into links back to their own websites.  Ideally, interested readers would click those links, and voilà!  Inbound links would be earned, increasing traffic to the writers’ own sites.

Google link building scheme screen shot

Google’s recent changes reflect a new perspective on this formerly acceptable practice.  It now apparently views the strategy as more of a scheme, and will penalize websites that use it to increase their visitor traffic.

content crownThe answer to this shift is to adjust our content to reflect Google’s emphasis on quality creation.  Google wants us to build links, but via the natural route: the higher the quality of the value we impart, the more our readers will want to visit our sites.  So we need to concentrate more on readability, word flow and informational value, and less on keyword stuffing and rich anchor text links.  We can also boost our website traffic via other Google approved methods such as our Google Plus and other social media profiles, and registering our businesses with location services.

Do you think Google’s link scheme changes will facilitate the growth of website traffic for businesses?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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The Importance of a Well Written Blog – and 6 Tips to Make it Stand Out

spotlight from February 20, 2012                         return to JayVee Media Link
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli

typing a blog

blogging away!

In social media marketing, everyone knows that the blog is the life blood of an online presence.  Without an intelligently written, interactive blog site, would-be internet marketers are merely floating along in a chasm of vast, unresponsive cyberspace.  How else do you get your message out there in a way that connects with potential clients?  How do you build the trust factor and earn credibility?

Of equal importance to the blog itself is the manner in which it is composed.  With few exceptions, we fool ourselves if we believe we can sit down and bang out a quality piece in the blink of an eye.  We need to acknowledge that proper construction takes lots of time and repeated self-editing.  Here are six tips to help get us pointed in the right direction:

  1. Get a feel for the right length as you organize your thoughts into a usable sequence.  You are not going to attract hordes of readers if your posts are long-winded and rambling.
  2.  Show your human side.  No one likes to read a detached, uninspiring passage.  Potential clients have no idea who is behind the keyboard at the other end of their internet connection.  Being able to inject some personality and humanity into your writing will put your blog readers into a comfort zone.  And the more comfortable they feel, the more their trust in you and your brand is likely to build.
  3. Make sure you deliver quality content.  The best method for building trust and respect is sharing value from within your field.  Educate your readers; impart helpful tips and share instructional information that they can take away from your posts.  The more value you deliver, the more trust and confidence you instill.  The more trust and confidence you instill, the more repeat and referring readers you will create!
  4. Include pictures, and be sure to use alternate text and to caption those pictures with optimized text.  Not only are photos attractive to a reader’s eye, they help break up the monotony of reading an ongoing stream of words.  As an added bonus, in this age of Pinterest, you can spread your blog more widely by pinning its related pictures to your boards on that platform!
  5. Post short videos.  The best way for blog site visitors to get to know you is to have them see and hear a message directly from you.  While video blogging, or vlogging, has been popular in the past, this year it is ESPECIALLY so!  Videos don’t have to be masterpieces of production.  In fact, the more informal ones tend to do best among viewers these days.  There’s nothing wrong, and perhaps everything right, with recording yourself sitting across the table from your camera,  having a brief, intimate chat with your audience.
  6. Watch spelling and grammar!  This is BIG.  There is probably no faster way to rob yourself of respectful consideration than by having potential clients read a professional blog that is full of misspellings and grammatical inconsistencies.  Take the time to get it right!  Have a dictionary and thesaurus (or the URL links to them) handy while you write.  Keep your wording interesting by making use of synonyms instead of repeating the same terms ad nauseum.  Make sure subjects and verbs agree in tense as well as in singularity/plurality.  Lastly, read and then reread your post before publishing it.  Take the extra few minutes to make sure your presentation is completely professional.  You won’t regret it if you do; you just may if you don’t!

Like it or not, the blog is THE way we communicate across the worldwide web.  Whether we are announcing business promotions, sharing helpful pointers, making new connections or teaching lessons, the blog is the vehicle by which we get it done.  Learning to appreciate the form and giving it the creative respect it requires will go a long way toward achieving success in our online connections and transactions.

Have you any additional tips to offer?  I’d love to hear them!  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

I think, therefore I blog

Building Blog Visibility – 6 Tips

August 5, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

bullhorn overflowing with blog postsYour blog post is done and ready to ride the internet wave.  You used a great title; seeded your keywords judiciously; included a couple of compelling graphics; hit your message concisely.  You release it…and it is promptly swallowed up by the mind numbing horde of other blog posts released at the same moment.  How do you cut through the noise to get your content found?

The first thing to understand is that unless we are already established blog creators, even well optimized content will not necessarily get found right away.  Like so much else in the world of social media, ranking takes time to build.  It takes time physically for the search engine bots to find, crawl and index our sites and web pages.  And it takes time to build a trust factor between those search platforms and the websites they are working to rank.  Unfortunately, these factors are out of our control.

What we can do

We can work to facilitate those search bots’ discovery of our content and websites.  Here are six steps we should take:

1. Write consistently, even if it means delivering only one post per week.

2. Make sure the information shared is of the highest possible value for our target audiences, and presented in a professional manner.

3. Use keywords, but use them judiciously.  “Stuffing” our posts with them will result in rankings penalties.

4. Work hard to come up with blog titles that virtually scream to be clicked.  Titles should never be afterthoughts; they are the gateways to our wonderful content.  The more clicks our titles generate, the more search engines will take notice!  For excellent tips on creating killer titles, see Anne Reuss’ wonderful post “You Can’t Afford Not to Write Bewitching Headlines.”

5. Share widely, across all social media platforms. And include sharing buttons with blog posts so readers can easily share them as well.

6. Google authorship screen shotSet up Google authorship for our posts.  This creates a link between our blog posts and our Google Plus profiles, and adds our thumbnail profile pictures to the meta descriptions of our posts when they show up on Google search.  Rob Henry shared easily understandable directions for the procedure in his excellent post “How to Set Up Google Authorship.”

I’ll note here that promoting our posts is also a good way to gain visibility for them.  But it should be understood that doing so lends a temporary bump which ends with the termination of the promotion.  So even if we plan on promoting we must still do the SEO work to build overall longevity for our posts and websites.  Staying power is the goal, after all!

What additional tips can you add to help boost our blogs’ visibility?  Please share your ideas in the comments Google botsection below!

Your Content is Top Flight; How to Get it Seen

June 17, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

first prize winning blogAs we know, content is the primary driver of activity and engagement in the social media realm.  We are aware that in order to inform, entertain and excite our target audiences, our original content must be

–created and shared consistently;
–well researched;
–high value in its ability to solve a problem or address a need;
–delivered in a personable, entertaining manner.

We even comprehend the importance of spelling, grammar, sentence structure and thought flow.  With all these bases covered, why are we STILL not seeing the traffic and response our posts should be receiving?

While what’s inside is what counts, without attractive “packaging” and unique presentation there is a good chance our content may be swallowed up in the sea of millions of other blog posts released every minute of every day, by every writer on the internet.  It is critical that we think outside the box in all possible ways to draw attention to OUR content.  Here are two strategies to help achieve that goal:

Looking Good!

font styles in book

I have a confession to make: I am a recovering Comic Sans junkie.  I wanted a different look when I started JayVee Media Link’s blog site.  The most common font I saw on others’ sites was Times New Roman; the second was Arial.  Both are attractive; but I didn’t want my site to look like all the rest.  Comic Sans appealed to me, and I didn’t see it anywhere else (my daughter told me there was a good reason no one used it, but hey, why listen to reason?).  I decided to go with Comic Sans, laughing off my daughter’s humiliation.  Just over a year later I came across a terrific post: Best Fonts for the Web, by Kathy Marks. Nowhere on that list was Comic Sans!  That, coupled with other scathing comments I saw convinced me to FINALLY ditch that font in favor of Verdana (to the thrill and delight of my daughter!).  But seriously, it is a great idea to research a different look for our blog pages.  Pick a font that works well, and that preferably isn’t too widely used.  It’s a great way to stand out while nicely complementing the eye catching optimized pictures we add to our posts.

The WOW Factor

With outstanding blog posts ready to be shared, how do we convince our target audiences to click our links?

1. We can use the power of our pictures.  Rather than uploading our blog posts’ links directly to our social media sites, upload their best pictures. When we do, they open in an eye catchingly big way.  Before posting add short teasers and the links to their corresponding blog posts in the accompanying text.  We can also pin those attention-grabbing pictures on our Pinterest boards or share them via Instagram, again with links back to their corresponding blog posts.

2. Google “social media sites.” Entry after entry comes up, offering information about countless platforms that exist.  Some may cater to specific interests or fields; others may be broad like the big guys, but more modest in membership numbers.  Chances are BECAUSE they are smaller platforms there may be less competition among blog posts.  That means ours have a better chance of being seen and shared.  It is worth doing some research into whether any of these social media platforms that are considered “second string” to the most popular sites might return better results than those biggest ones, and hence should be included in our sharing activities.

Vine and Dubbler logos3. With the introduction and rapid rise of innovative social sharing sites such as Vine, which allows us to create 6 second looping videos, and Dubb, in which we can create audio recordings of up to one minute, we have an opportunity to put a truly novel twist on our blog sharing activities!  Why not create enticing audio or visual teasers, and link our resulting presentations to our blog posts when sharing?

For a more expansive look at these options plus more, Kimberly Reynolds’ post “5 Creative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog Posts” is an invaluable resource!

These days there is a tremendous amount of competition across the worldwide web.  We need to rise above it all if we are to get our content noticed, appreciated and shared.  How do YOU accomplish this daunting feat?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

SEO’s Death is Greatly Exaggerated

February 18, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                           return to JayVee Media Link LLC

RIP SEO tombstone“SEO is dead.”  Haven’t you heard?  Search Engine Optimization doesn’t work anymore, so we need to come up with new strategies to boost our websites’ rankings on search engine results pages.

In truth, SEO is very much alive, and as important as it ever was.  But as new website structures and online platforms are introduced, and strategies for good online presences develop and morph, SEO is constantly changing to keep up.  The folks who conclude that SEO must be dead generally cling to the old ways of working it…or worse, try to game the system.  If any death knells are tolling, it is for those outdated or unscrupulous methods.  Any internet business that desires good search rankings today needs to be vigilant with its research as well as flexible enough to adapt to the ever changing online landscape.

Today’s SEO strategies must reflect a difference in the way optimization is assessed.  The “bots” that crawl our sites are much more intelligent than they used to be.  They are now capable of identifying most if not all the system-gaming strategies that used to go unnoticed.  Hence, a drop in search rankings COULD mean whomever is doing a website’s optimization is engaging in “black hat” techniques that no longer work.

Search engine bots have become smarter in other ways as well.  Keywords are still important – both short and long tail.  But the bots are sensitive to their overuse – a black hat strategy known as “keyword stuffing.”  And they now look for relevance between those keywords and the text that contains them.  The search bots also recognize the growing importance of social media for relevance in a merchant’s field.  They now pay attention to businesses’ presence on the various platforms, and more importantly, to what they are doing on those sites.  They evaluate factors such as post frequency; value-relative-to-field of original and shared content; ability to inspire and nurture engagement; and good client relations as evidenced by GENUINE recommendations and testimonials. That means generic, “canned” testimonials composed by paid SEO specialists as well as those written by employees of the businesses being lauded are discounted… and could even lead to a penalty in ranking.

With a new emphasis on quality content, search bots take note of whether or not a website contains or is linked to a blog page. Authorship credentials are becoming more heavily weighted in the rankings game.  Also, while still very important for SEO ranking, inbound links to blog posts are now evaluated for relevance to the business field.  Those that lack pertinence will cost both the business that gives and the one that receives them.

SEO person with thumbs upAs is the case with every facet of social media, SEO is constantly evolving.  The key to maintaining successful optimization is to constantly research and become familiar with all the emerging strategies.  And remember, the only things about SEO that are dead are outdated and unethical practices.

How do you keep up with the constantly changing SEO landscape?  Please share your strategies in the comments section below.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

January 21, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                   return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Our blogs are the most potent weapons we currently have in the great war of the search engine rankings.  Considering the recent algorithm changes that give more weight to our original content creations, our blog sites can literally make the difference between being found and being invisible.  For our clients and ourselves, there is no getting around the power of our blogs.

WordPress is probably the most popular blogging platform.  The choices and the versatility it offers make it a favorite home for our original content.  The platform even comes in two varieties, with each offering different levels of features and user abilities.  Which one is best suited to us?

WordPress.com

wordpress.com home page screen shot

For the beginning blogger, the person who desires a simple, straightforward platform, or one who possesses limited technical know-how, wordpress.com is the way to go.  It is an open source platform, free to use at its most basic level.  While they can do so if they wish, users don’t even need to purchase domain names.  There is no charge for hosting the blogs, and set up is quick and easy.   WordPress.com also provides some handy features, including spam protection, automatic backups and updates, and security protections.

As convenient as the platform is, wordpress.com does have its limitations:

–Users are allowed 3 gb of storage space for their posts.  Additional space is available for purchase.

–More enterprising users who would like to customize their WordPress.com sites may quickly discover how few choices they have.  There are a limited number of free themes available for site design.  While some “premium themes” are available for purchase, users are not permitted to upload custom ones.  Whether free or premium, wordpress.com themes are not transferable off the platform.  Also, at the free level users have no option to alter those theme designs (a small annual fee permits only minor changes).

— As for customized enhancements to the blog site’s functionality, wordpress.com offers a very limited selection of “plug-ins” – just a fraction of the more than 19,000 that are available for wordpress.org.

–The .com platform also does not permit video hosting on its free site.  The feature is available for an additional annual fee.  Embedded videos from YouTube are accepted.

–Users who do not have custom domain names and large followings are not permitted to advertise on their wordpress.com blog sites. But the platform itself may place third party ads on them.  Those can be removed…for a fee.

Ultimately, for those users who wish to expand their free blogging sites, the paid add-ons to the wordpress.com platform may exceed the cost of a wordpress.org site. Even then, only limited control over a user’s page can be attained.

Here’s a final thought on the wordpress.com site that I find mildly disturbing: technically, users don’t “own” the content they publish there.  The chances of having the platform decide it has an issue with a user’s content and shutting his/her site down are supposedly infinitesimal.  But even a tiny chance of that happening sets off alarm bells in my head.  That’s one of the reasons I advocate against foregoing a website in favor of using Facebook to house our content.  Even if the chance is smaller with the .com site, the fact that a chance exists at all makes me uneasy.

WordPress.org

wordpress.org home page screen shot

For any use beyond a beginner stage, and especially for business purposes, WordPress.org is the desired alternative.  The platform does require a user to purchase a domain name and pay a service to host it.  But these are not big costs.  And many hosting services offer free one click installation of the WordPress platform, so the user doesn’t have to know the intricacies involved in a manual install.

WordPress.org does require a degree of technical knowledge. Happily, there are scores of support forums and how-to guides to help users along.  Unlike its .com counterpart, WordPress.org offers complete control over the look and feel of the site.  Beside the abundance of free and paid themes available for the platform, users may upload custom theme layouts.  And functionality can be tailored to users’ needs via any combination of the 19,000+ available plug-ins.  Layout and page design as well as its functionality are subject only to the limitations of users’ imaginations and capabilities.  Video hosting is permitted, as are affiliate advertising and promoting of products and services.  Ultimately, the .org site can be configured to serve as a whole website, and commerce can be conducted from it (either platform can also be connected to users’ websites if they already have separate sites). Best of all, users own and maintain complete control over all the content on their WordPress.org sites.

Needless to say, there are some drawbacks to WordPress’ self hosted platform.  Spam protection and backup services are not automatically provided.  Appropriate plug-ins must be installed and configured to obtain them.  There is a fee for spam control.  And again, users need to possess a level of technological knowledge to use the site.  In the event the support forums and how-to guides aren’t enough for a user, this factor can be mitigated by outsourcing responsibility for it.

wordpress.com or wordpress.org?

WordPress.com or WordPress.org?  Which is best for you?  Your needs, intended purposes and technical abilities should guide you in making the choice.  And in case you think you made an incorrect decision, there’s no need to worry:  a wordpress.com site can be migrated to the wordpress.org platform.  So which is it for you, and why?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

In Social Media, a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

July 16, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                 return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Twitter blog post pictureWe love pictures!  They draw our eyes, offer a respite from line after line of written text, and make posts more interesting and attractive.  They are our favorite part of any reading material, on or offline.  There’s no getting away from the fact that we are visual animals!

Knowing this fact and capitalizing on it yield great benefits as we attempt to draw readers to our blog posts.  There are a few things we can do to maximize the good pictures do for us:

  1. Choose appropriate pictures.  Obviously, we want photos that are related to the subject we are covering.  We don’t want to post pictures just for the sake of posting them, for that would risk confusing our readers.
  2. picture in my blog post

  3. Get permission, and give proper credit!   Other people’s pictures are their property.  We wouldn’t steal someone’s personal property, right?  Anytime we use pictures that are not our own, we need to make every effort to obtain permission for their use.  And absolutely assign credit to the pictures’ owners.
  4. Don’t overdo!  Remember the old saying, “Too much of a good thing…?”  While pictures are a wonderful asset for our blogs, too many of them can be distracting.  We want to complement our written efforts, not overwhelm them!
  5. Optimize those pictures.  We may love pictures, but they are invisible to search engines, which can only scroll through text.  We need to help our posted photos get noticed by optimizing them.  When posting, we are given a chance to add alternate text.  Take advantage by adding a short, keyword rich description of the pictures we are posting in that “alt text” box.
  6. adding alternate text to blog post pictures

  7. Don’t forget to pin them!  For those of us on Pinterest, pinning pictures from our posts is a great way to drive traffic back to our blog pages/websites!  Don’t miss that opportunity!

Pictures are one of the most important ingredients we can use in our blog posts.  Let’s take advantage of all the perks they offer!

How do you maximize the benefits pictures bring to YOUR posts?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Content CURation = Better Content CREation

July 2, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                return to JayVee Media Link LLC

content is king“Content is king.” That is the mantra we hear constantly – and rightly so.  It is the only avenue we have online to communicate with our current/potential clients.  We also hear all the time about the 80% – 20% formula for sharing, representing 80% value and 20% sales oriented material.  As evidenced by the latest SEO emphasis on original postings, a good amount of that 80% segment should consist of new, “user generated” passages.  Smaller businesses with only one or two content creators may find it daunting to keep delivering a steady stream of original material.  But even with a best case scenario of having a team of talented writers contributing regularly to our blogs, it’s not always easy to come up with fresh material and new angles on a steady basis.  Happily, help can be found from another sector of that big percentage:  content curation.

In addition to original content, an important ingredient of the golden rule’s 80% segment is valuable information reposted from other authoritative sources.  How we proceed can benefit us as much as it does our readers.  Curating content can be a very fertile activity for garnering knowledge, learning from experts’ viewpoints, and ultimately gaining inspiration for our own original compositions.  Granted, taking advantage of these inspirational benefits can make the process a very time intensive one.  The temptation can be strong to repost based solely on the author’s reputation, without even looking over the material that we are sharing. But in order to reap the benefits, proper time and effort must be invested.

The bulk of the knowledge I gain and the views that I post are shaped by issues and tips I learn while curating content created by the heavy hitters in our field.  That is why I am always eager to read the posts I am considering sharing, in spite of the time it takes me to do so.  Sometimes I am drawn to a post’s title, only to find that the passage is not what I thought it would be.  But reading those blogs is important too, because they help me to focus and define my views so that I may state my case effectively when I am arguing for or against an issue.  In short, my view is why forfeit the chance to learn and be inspired in our own written efforts by sharing something without reading it first?

Do YOU take advantage of the learning opportunities that present themselves when you curate content?  Is it worth the time spent to you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

creating content

Content Creation’s Number One Rule

June 18, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Content creation seems to be the reigning hot topic lately.  Lots of blog posts are addressing it, and many industry leaders are offering formal instruction on how to do it optimally.  That’s good to see, because the importance of the exercise cannot possibly be overstated.  The blog is the only social media channel through which we connect, communicate with and ultimately service our clients.

content rules above everything else

For my latest offering on the topic, I am going to focus on one of the most important aspects of good blog writing.  Of course, there are numerous facets, including content value and keyword usage.  But from my view, one characteristic rises above all the rest.  And it does so regardless of the field in which a blog writer is working: proper structure.  The potentially best, most interesting offerings fall by the wayside unless they are written in correct form.  That includes careful word selection, proper spelling and sentence structure.

old school marm sitting at desk holding a rulerI apologize for offending anyone if I sound like an elderly “school marm.”  But the fact is, if we want good exposure for our creations, we need to adhere to the old rules.  Allow me to use myself as an example:  I dedicate at least one full day a week to research and content curation for my clients’ and my own businesses.  I have lost track of the number of times I have come across very compelling blog titles or subject lines, only to encounter one misspelling after another, and/or sentences structured so poorly they render the blog writers’ ideas unconveyable.  I’ve even seen otherwise wonderful passages laced with obscenities.  How could I possibly share those works without it looking as though my clients or I care nothing for clarity and professionalism?  This is why it is critical that we cling to the old rules for proper spelling, word use and sentence structure.

It is important to remember that a memorable, sharable blog post takes considerable time and effort to create.  Whether online or in print, our two bestdictionary and thesaurus friends need to be present for each one we produce:  a dictionary and a thesaurus.  Besides correct spelling, attention must be paid to wording. Are we using the same terms over and over?  It’s time to consult a thesaurus.  Are our efforts “G” rated, or are we attempting to grab attention by using racier language?  While that practice may succeed for our private compositions, it can and will backfire in a professional setting.  We need to revisit all those old rules of grammar that used to drive us crazy…if we learned them at all.  Sadly, many of our younger generation word crafters may have to discover those old rules for the first time.  But that’s ANOTHER issue.

Lastly, we need to be sure as we create our masterpieces that they are well thought out, flow logically and are clear in meaning.  This entails proof reading in an ongoing manner.  We must stop and look over our efforts every paragraph or so.  Read our creations aloud to see how they sound.  If possible, have an associate or two take a look.  Sometimes errors and inconsistencies need to be spotted by a pair of eyes other than our own.  If all these efforts prove too time consuming or beyond the range of our practical resources, there are professional proof reading and editing services available.  Some, like Scribendi, offer very reasonable rates, especially when an immediate turnaround (i.e., within 24 hours) is not required.

In addition to enjoying writing my own posts, I look forward to learning from the efforts of my peers.  I’m also enthusiastic about researching the fields of my clients.  In this realm, few things disappoint more than discovering an excellent topic, only to be unable to share it because the post is written in a manner that makes it less than professional.  Great ideas and superior knowledge deserve to be shared.  Let’s make sure we do them the justice that earns them viral spreads!

What other blog writing tips can YOU share to ensure that our efforts are stellar?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

the rule book for grammar