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In the SEO Game, Key Words and Strong Content are King

Ever wondered how to maximize your online presence through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Stacy Williams, Search Advisory Net blogger and president of Atlanta-based search engine marketing firm, Prominent Placement, Inc., recently shared her best practices with an audience of Atlanta-based technologists with the International Association of Business Communicators.

The most important step, according to Williams, is generating strong and on-target keywords. “If you target the wrong keywords, then nothing else works. Use the verbiage your target audiences uses, not only what your industry or internal experts use.”
Stacy Williams, president of Prominent Placement.

Her company has a lot of B2B software clients, and many of them don’t like to talk about software; they like to talk about solutions. But their target audiences are searching for software instead.

When thinking about what keywords to use, the more detailed the better. You should think about the buying cycle of your prospects you’re trying to reach. The more specific you are with key word choices, the  higher probability of higher rankings and of connecting with people who want to make a purchase decision.
 
What do you do once you’ve figured out what keywords to target?  Williams says her team then takes one or two key search terms and assigns them to the key pages of the site.  “We like to work it into text headline when we can and the copy on the page – these are real important places to put your keywords.”  She also points to the title tag in the blue browser bar as a key place to put keywords.
 
Search engines don’t just look at the web page itself when determining rankings, Williams emphasized, rather, they also assess the quantity and quality of links pointing to that web page.
“Creating a well respected, authoritative site with lots of links pointing to it is the goal. Google knows which websites (and links) people want to read.” She considers link building one of the hardest tasks any SEO firm pursues.  Ideally, you want to get links from sites that are in your industry, on the same topic and are related.  
 
“The easiest way to get links is to not go out and ask for them, but to create really good content whether it’s a widget of some type, an article a lot of people refer to – something cool, something funny, something that goes viral.”
 
WebStoreSEO.com
One way to build links is through so-called “optimized press releases.” This is not “doing PR. But, it is taking a PR tactic – a press release – and using it for search marketing purposes. For example, using a service like PR Web, you can embed keywords in the headline and press release lead – you can dictate your anchor text. “These releases show up in search engine results and serve as search engine results agents,” Williams says. 
 
Another factor that can affect a company’s rankings is its level of activity on social media, including posts on Twitter or blogs, as well as a company’s Facebook and LinkedIn presence.
While your search engine ranking – how high your site is referenced on a page compared with competitors — is important, it’s not as critical as the number of visitors who actually come to your website and are converted into a customer.   For this reason, Williams advises that companies invest first in the content of their website, before investing in an SEO service to drive traffic to their site.
 
Hear Williams’ podcast on  the latest in social search. The 10-minute presentation covers how social media has changed the search landscape, Google+ and what marketers think about its chance for success, and how businesses can improve the SEO value of their Facebook page.

Writing Wisdom from Children’s Books

My children know the magic of books. Since before they could talk, my husband and I have read to them nearly every night. Reading was one constant in our family’s evening routine. I found myself loving the opportunity to bond as we lost ourselves in the worlds of Narnia, Hogwarts, Whoville and the Hundred-Acre Wood.
 
Children’s literature goes beyond its purpose to entertain and inform; it provides youngsters with an early – and often enduring – introduction to language and the power of storytelling.  I’ve witnessed the benefits of a regular diet of literature on my own kids’ imaginations. It’s most apparent when they create their own stories on the fly when we are on long drives and want to break up the monotony of the road.

Here are a few key writing fundamentals from children’s stories that you can apply to improve your own writing, with examples of these techniques in action.

– Using imagery to set the stage and to bring characters to life

– Introducing alliteration and rhyme to make passages unforgettable (and fun)
– Varying sentence length for dramatic effect (simplicity works)

                                       Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

British author J.K. Rowling is masterful at setting scenes rich with detail that come to life on the page. This excerpt comes from the fourth novel in her Harry Potter series.

“Four fully grown, enormous, vicious-looking dragons were rearing onto their hind legs inside an enclosure fenced with thick planks of wood, roaring and snorting — torrents of fire were shooting into the dark sky from their open, fanged mouths, fifty feet above the ground on their outstretched necks.

“Mesmerized, Harry looked up, high above him, and saw the eyes of the black dragon, with vertical pupils like a cat’s, bulging with either fear or rage, he couldn’t tell which….It was making a horrible noise, a yowling, screeching scream…”

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

This line by an exasperated Mr. Knox gets my kids giggling non-stop. It’s a clever use of both alliteration and rhyme that moves the story along:

“I can’t blab such blibber blubber! My tongue isn’t made of rubber.”

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

The beautiful conclusion to this classic tale underscores how you can intersperse short sentences with longer ones for dramatic effect.

“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte.
Although he loved her children and her
grandchildren dearly, none of the new
spiders ever took her place in his heart.
She was in a class by herself.
It’s not often that someone comes along
who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

 

Let the Party Begin – Targeting Key to Social Media Mastery

Evidence of social media’s explosion onto the business landscape is everywhere. More than 250 million people use Facebook Connect every month. Since April, Twitter has gained 40 million users, according to ClickZ.

The time has never been better to integrate social media into your marketing efforts — but where to begin? I spoke with Social Mediaologist Dawn Gartin on tips and tools to getting started.

“You can spend 15 minutes a day building your brand through social media – it’s easy with the tools available today. The key is to make it a part of your daily routine,” says Gartin, a 15-year speaker and trainer in the technology industry, who regularly consults with entrepreneurs and small business owners on their social media strategy and implementation.

Gartin likes to tell groups that social media is a “PARTY” – an acronym she uses to describe the five steps you need to make social media an integral part of your work life:

  • Plan: strategy, design and develop
  • Act: channel setup, SEO content
  • Reply: engage, fresh, feedback, listen
  • Test and try
  • You measure: what does success like?

 “The most common pitfall is taking too much on without a plan,” says Gartin, who has seen instances where people think that doing social media is about “being everywhere.” But, that’s not doing social media right. According to Gartin, savvy social media users tie their online efforts to their business marketing plan. You must target those channels where you will find the influencers you need to reach. “Are they on Facebook? YouTube? LinkedIn?”

If you decide you want a broader online presence and need to keep track of conversations on multiple sites, you can use resources to manage those connections. A great dashboard management tool is Hootsuite.

For communicators just testing the social media waters, consider starting with LinkedIn since it is the leading business social media networking site.
“Join the party – be social, have fun, grow your business,” she says.