Archive for January 5th, 2013

January 5, 2013

Changes in SEO that writers should be aware of

My WordPress blog site...does this look familiar, anyone? :)

My WordPress blog site…does this look familiar, anyone? 🙂

Has anyone else heard of Google’s Penguin and Panda updates?

I learned about them last night while reading SEO 2013 and beyond: Search engine optimization will never be the same again, by Dr. Andy Williams.

While they bring to mind fun trips to the zoo rather than online marketing, the ideas Dr. Williams presents are intriguing.

Apparently, these two Google updates have changed online marketing. Now, Williams writes, search engine optimization is more difficult than it used to be. He describes four main areas that writers (and anyone wanting to make their web site better) can use. These include:

  1. Quality content–this means content should be created for the visitor and not for search engines. Williams discusses the density of keyword and key phrases in your article, including what Google now penalizes sites for, and emphasizes that content should read as if it were written by an expert. 
  2. Site organization–Williams describes ‘silos’ for categorizing content, delves deep into categories and tags and internal links. The great thing about this section is that he helps define what a good use of these tools can be and how the misuse of them leads to duplicate content and not-so-great web sites.
  3. Authority–this has quite a bit to do with external linking. Overall, Williams indicates quality is better than quantity, and you should go for a few really great links to your site rather than a lot of irrelevant ones. He gives a few strategies to do this, including writing for other web sites and then linking back to your own. Lots of good stuff here.
  4. Always considering what the visitor will get out of your site. This includes how attractive your web site is, how fast the pages load, and how ‘sticky’ your content is. If a visitor comes and lingers for several minutes, viewing several pages, you’re on the right track.

Throughout the book, Williams gives practical ways to put his ideas into use and suggests the use of certain programs or tools–Google Analytics, for example, and Majestic SEO. 

This book isn’t long, but it requires some mental digestion. I plan to reread this book several times and use it as a lab manual while I try to put some of these new concepts into practice. It’s going to take some time.

Learning even a little about SEO is worth it to me, but I especially enjoyed reading about the ‘niche vocabulary’ Williams describes in conjunction with quality content. I may write more about that when I’ve had a chance to practice with it and understand it better.

One quote from the book resonated completely with me:

To put it simply, all of the content on your site has to be the best you can make it.

Creating good content, to me, is writing well. That’s something I love to do anyway, and as a writer, that gives me hope.

I said in an earlier post that I think writers are often paid more to market their writing than they are to write. With this in mind, marketing skills–including online marketing and a knowledge of search engine optimization–can only be good for all of us.

Here’s to a new constant education.

January 5, 2013

Deadline management strategies I learned from a leadership coach

Working on the clock!

Working on the clock!

Most writers feel the crunch of a nearing deadline at least a few times during their careers. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s apprehension, hope, pride and dread mixed into one great flurry of activity.

Managing these deadlines–especially if you’re working on multiple projects–can be tricky.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a series of one-on-one sessions with LaVonn Steiner, president of Excel Leadership. We focused on time management, and it changed my life.

Here are some of the things I learned:

Set your priorities first. Once your priorities are set, you know what your goals should be and whether or not they’re realistic.

This strategy also helps balance your life, since overall priorities can include family time, personal time and the like.

When it comes to work alone, setting priorities gives you a feel for the type of work you like most and do well, which can lead to an area of specialization or new education. Then you can pick and choose your jobs–and the deadlines that go with them–according to what’s really most important.

Use a journal. This simple tool allows you to keep track of the people you work with as well as your deadlines. Writing about the people you work for connects them to your writing work, helping you stay on task.

The insights you gain into  how they work can help you communicate efficiently and professionally, as well. This translates into time saved because you know what they expect from you. The chance that an article will be sent back for revisions and rewrites goes down.

This strategy can be especially helpful for freelance writers who work from home and don’t have a lot of daily, face-to-face interaction with their clients.

Also, writing out your emotions can keep your priorities in line and provide momentum for your goals.

Take time to daydream. For me, this includes a quick series of brainstorms that cover every part of my life, from what I’ll make for dinner to a plot outline for a possible new book and questions I’ll ask a certain source.

Doing this every day before I hit the meaty part of my work means I’m less distracted and work with greater clarity and focus. It also makes life fun.

I’m a firm believer in fun. I think it makes all of us better writers and better people, and it certainly eases the stress of working on the clock.

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