Since I started having a closer look at SEO I have found myself checking my blog a lot more. Every time when I publish a post I keep an eye on the amount of views and comments I get. Quite exciting to be honest to see the figures and as a result I have become more interested in getting up in the rankings.
Also interesting is that I have received a lot more comments since I explore SEO and it seems that this topic is close to many readers’ heart. Some comments have been bizarre but most of them are useful and give me the feeling that I am adding value to people’s websites and blogs.
So thanks for all the positive and inspiring comments!
How to choose effective key words?
‘Is there a magic formula to ‘find out’ what keywords to use?
This is how I ended my last post. I have been trying to get an answer to this question and have again found out that there is a lot written about keywords. I am trying to simplify it and have picked some of the main points to work with. Let’s start at the beginning.
- You have a blog and write content for it. Your aim is for people to find you, to read and ideally subscribe to your blog
- You have an idea who your target audience is and you write your posts accordingly
- You want this audience to find your blog when they search for information. In other words you need to anticipate what words they put in search engines such as Google and Yahoo
- If you can anticipate such words you can use them as keywords in your blog
- Search engine spiders depend on keywords to find your site therefore a lack of keywords in your blog prevents the spiders from finding you and consequently your readers as well
Keyword selection is an important part of your marketing strategy and is vital for your search engine optimisation. The words in your blog are indexed by search engine spiders who classify your blog content.
To my opinion one of the main objectives of your site is to provide a satisfying user experience. If you have been capable of selecting appropriate keywords and place them in your blog content, you will attract more searches and your readers will be able to find your information. It is as simple as that!
The process of keyword selection
Once you have defined your target audience, anticipated what words they search, you can start brainstorming possible keywords. No need to be too hard on yourself at this stage as the main aim is to get a list with keywords. Be creative, persistent and stay clear from words that are too competitive.
For example if you want to write about ‘organic herbs’ don’t use the word ‘herbs’ as a keyword. It is too general and you will compete with every other site that has anything with herbs on it. Use a keyword phrase instead that indicates that you write about ‘organic herbs’.
The next step is to research the effect of your selected keywords. There are a number of specific tools for this purpose but before I go further into this topic I like to widen my research. Examples of keyword search tools are ‘Google Trends’, Word tracker and Trellian Keyword Discovery.
Placing keywords in your content:
Place keywords in the content of your blog ensuring to maintain a natural flow. You have to use them where they make sense and where they facilitate a better search result for your target audience. Ideally each page should have 1-3 related keywords.
Once you have placed well researched keywords in your content, search engine spiders can find your site and you will be able to offer your readers a better experience. The result may be that they come back for more, talk about your site and become one of your followers.
The other day I stumbled upon a blog post about ‘blogging as therapy’. This particular lady had started blogging as an outlet for certain emotional issues. She had found great support in expressing herself through the medium of a blog. What helped her even more was the fact that many other people were reading what she was writing about. Her statistics were impressive and she must have inspired many others to start blogging or at least take in what she writes about.
A group of researchers in Israel have conducted a study amongst teenagers who were struggling with issues such as social- and emotional well-being. None of the teenagers were bloggers before. Half of the teenagers were asked to blog regularly about their problems while the other half did not. And again half of these bloggers were allowed to receive comments while the other half was not. All of them were tested regarding their self -esteem and interaction with other peers before and after the blogging period. The results showed that those participants who wrote the blog significantly improved on all measures. And the teenagers, whose blogs were open to comments, gained the most.
Blogs, diaries and therapy…
Blogging can indeed be a great way of getting rid of baggage if that is what you need. It somehow feels more ‘real’ that it is being published although you don’t know who will read it. It is an exciting awareness that anyone could read your words. A diary on the other hand is just written by and for you and probably never read by anyone. That‘s what it is supposed to be at least.
Blogging is different. You initially write for yourself but deep down you are aware that someone might read about your issues and even come up with a comment. While blogging you may think about the way you phrase whatever you like to say because you don’t want to come across as dumb or short-sighted. To come to the point writing a blog is an effective way to reflect on your issues and that is essentially what you do. You express, write, edit and correct and then you publish it – almost as if it is someone else’s stuff.
‘Therapeutic value’ of a blog
From a psychological point of view this is indeed therapeutic, because while you are writing you take distance and reflect on whatever is in your mind. In a nutshell that is what a therapist wants you to achieve. That you are able to ‘step back’, look at your issues and hopefully see the path to a solution. Therapists are not supposed to do that for you – you’ll have to do this yourself. They are only supposed to guide you in the process! If you are made to believe differently, consider changing your therapist!
Blogs can attract comments and those comments can be eye openers. They can act as a mirror, be critical or supportive. Sometimes they are insulting but if indeed such remarks are enticing you to explore a different avenue than you are used to – listen and explore. Who knows where it might lead you.
Albert Einstein had a great view on that:
You cannot solve the problem with the same level of thinking that created it!
The other day I had lunch with a friend who mentioned that I had really got into this ‘blogging thing’. It felt good to know that she noticed. Then she said something that made my day. She told me that my English was really good – she even looked to be impressed. She seemed surprised that my writing English was of a high standard. I suppose my speaking English must be of a lesser standard!
You have to know that I am not a native English speaker. I am from the Netherlands and only started to speak English fulltime in my twenties when I left Holland to live in London. I speak English fluently but I do have an accent – over time less than when I first went to live abroad. I very likely have picked up some Aussie slang, a bit of London jargon and before that Swiss German influences may have tainted my way of speaking, so who knows what it sounds like…..
But – when I write, nobody knows, as I have the time to think about whatever I am going to write. I do take my time to review, re-read and rephrase my articles. I actually spend a lot of time on getting it right. Certainly after I took the effort to blog about grammar in one of my earlier posts I make sure I use it correctly. I prefer to genuinely ‘walk the talk’- at least I try!
When I read other blogs I usually can pick up when the writer is not from an English speaking background. Most people write in English but the way they express themselves gives away that they may not be native English speakers. This also counts for comments I get on my blog. Some are unfortunately so cryptic that I can’t post them as I honestly do not understand what they mean. Sometimes I don’t even know whether they are genuine or whether they are attempts to ridicule.
Same letters – different pronunciation!
Hopefully I am not insulting anybody but this is the way it is. I have developed a rather thick skin when it comes to languages as on many occasions I get to hear that people do not understand what I say. It has to do with the way we, Dutch people pronounce certain letters. We apparently have an issue with the ‘a’s and the‘s’s. My name is also a good example – Marijke. I know it’s not an easy name for Anglophiles. In general people are thrown by the ‘ij’ but I pronounce it the way English people tend to pronounce it and not the Dutch way. So what I don’t understand is why half of the people seem to hear that I say Veronica when I answer the phone! It must be me but it does make me frown.
To be honest I have given up on being annoyed a long time ago. Actually the whole thing justifies me pronouncing names wrongly as well. Not that hard in a country where it is possible to have 20 nationalities in one gathering!
So hearing the other day that I surprised one of my friends with my writing ability makes me smile and gives me confidence. It confirms my choice to ‘indulge’ in writing about things that matter to me and publish it for anyone to read. It’s a wonderful feeling and it shows me I am on the right path.
A belated Happy Easter to all who read and enjoy what I write!
4 simple techniques to make your blog post stand out!
2012, there we are. First blog post of the year, full good intentions and maybe even some resolutions.
Although I have postponed the commitment to the final structure of my ‘future’ blog, I have already started to write posts for it. Exciting stuff as I get to go places. The idea is to review places in Brisbane and immediate surroundings. Places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas, galleries, shops and what else I can think off. To start off locally but I may expand to other areas.
Okay, back to blogging about blogging. In a previous post I was talking about content and I realised I had more to say than I could in one post. I wrote about simplifying information in an easy format for people to find and to read. I suppose writing a good blog post is a bit like writing a good essay. It has a heading, possibly a sub heading, an introduction, explanation, discussion and a conclusion. It requires logical thinking and creating a natural flow. Anybody who thinks that it is easier than that is wrong!
So what contributes to ‘good content’?
- Keep it simple and easy to understand
- Keep it fresh
- Keep it unique
- Keep it useful
- Make it look nice
Simple! A good way to ‘keep it simple’ is not trying to be everything to all people. This is a trap and it easy for an enthusiastic blogger to fall into. The majority of successful bloggers have created a ‘niche blog’ and concentrate on a narrow topic. If you have inspiration for a wider point of view, splinter this into a number of more specific topics.
‘Fresh and nice’ is an important one for me. I am not keen on busy web pages with so many ads that you can’t distinguish ads from blog content. It is confusing and it tires the eye too much. When I find such a blog/ website and when I realise it is successful, I feel a little cheated. I feel that potential advertising income has replaced the originality of the blog. There must be something in between. Give your topic an ‘attractive jacket’ and it will be a pleasure to look at!
Unique! That is a big one. How difficult is it to be ‘unique’ with millions of blogs already out there. As a blog is an opportunity to show your ‘voice’, it should be exactly that. Don’t copy someone else’s stuff. If you want to use information from others, reference properly and acknowledge that it is not yours!
Useful! A good way to find out what is ‘useful’ for other people is to have a good look at comments. The issues people raise in comments can give you as a blogger countless ideas for future posts. After all if you want readers you must find out what people want, so you can give it to them!
I found it hard to come up with a ‘good title’ for this post, so I suppose that is what my next post will be about…