Tag Archives: blogging

Rel=Author May Be SEO’s Newest Signal

18 Oct

SEOs have been chattering about authorship as a potential new ranking signal, since the HTML 5 specifications were first released in 2011. Although HTML 5 is not going to be finalized for another few years, many of the markup language’s new features are already supported by leading web browsers and in use by web and software developers.

One of the new features that HTML 5 allows for is a rel=author tag, which tells a web browser that a certain individual is the author responsible for the content on that page. This tag will put a face behind a name, showing an author’s head shot and byline when a piece of blog or web content comes up in the search results.

Authorship goes hand-in-hand with many of Google’s recent algorithm changes, all of which focus on serving up more relevant, higher quality search results. It seems as though attributing authorship using this rel=author tag will let engines like Google know that the content is authentic, high-quality and written by a real person (and not spun or ghost-written).

I can imagine searching on Google a year or so from now, and only ‘trusting’ content that appears with a real photo and byline. In a few years, I can imagine a SERP where every piece of blog content and news has a photo and byline.

If you want to get a head-start and begin integrating authorship into your blog and content marketing strategy, visit these helpful resources:

Matt Cutts video defining rel=author: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgFb6Y-UJUI

Matt Cutts video on implementing rel=author: 

Linking your content to  a Google+ account: 

Troubleshooting rel=author implementation: 

A recent Pubcon talk on the new author tag: 

SocialMediaToday.com on the importance of authorship: 

SEOMoz blog on preparing for Google author signals: 

AJ Kohn’s blog on how author tags may affect SEO: 

SocialMediaExaminer.com post all about authorship: 

An Eric Enge Interview with Sagar Kamdar, a group product manager for Google search: 

Photo Credit: Alex Barth.

4 Quick Writing Tips to Improve Your Quality and Speed

20 Mar

ImageWhether you are working on a blog, business plan, or website copy, you may find the experience of writing alternately inspiring and frustrating.

Why is writing so exhilarating and yet so challenging?  It’s because you can always become a better writer.

Even the most seasoned writers must turn on their inner editors and practice self-criticism to train their prose into a publishable form.  So how can you improve the quality of your writing? Here are some of my personal writing tips below:

1. Outline First
Good writing will lead the reader through a logical structure. Before you dive into writing, think about the high-level structure of what you need to communicate.  Outline the key paragraphs and for each paragraph list the ideas, research, or arguments you are going to mention in each paragraph.  A thoughtful outline ensures that the writing to follow will be logical and coherent.

2. Let It Fly
When you begin to write, it’s tempting to strive for perfection with every word you type. Yet getting bogged down at the sentence level right away is actually counter-productive. Consider your first pass at any writing project as a free-write. Focus on getting your ideas down. After you have completed a paragraph or two, then go back and check that what you wrote relates back to your outline. Save word choice, grammar and sentence structure editing for the end of your process.

3. Don’t Abuse $10 Dollar Words
Eschew obfuscation is a favorite tongue-in-cheek idiom among editors for a reason. Writers commonly make the mistake of sprinkling their writing with multi-syllabic vocabulary words in an effort to sound more intelligent or authoritative. The problem is, most readers will have last seen these words when they were 16 and studying for the verbal portion of the SAT. When you edit your own writing, keep an eye out for complicated language and phrasing and always try to find the most direct path to your meaning.

4. Vary Your Style
Every writer has crutches in terms of word choice and sentence structure.  Take note of the phrases and words that you tend to repeat. While editing, look at the grammatical construction of each sentence, including how it starts. See  if you repeat that same type of sentence throughout your work.  Embed a Thesaurus search widget on your desktop or in your web browser so that you can more easily vary repeated words throughout your writing.

What’s your biggest writing challenge? Please share any of your own writing struggles and tips in the comments below!

Photo via stevendepolo.

4 Good Reads About Google’s Panda Updates

27 Jan

It’s being reported around the web that Google is rolling out the next iteration in a series of algorithm updates that are focused on returning higher quality search results.

The Panda updates are meant to penalize black-hat SEO practices and prevent low-quality, keyword-laden material (written by content farms and spinners) from dominating search results.

If content used to be king, now content is a supreme being — and it’s all about quality.

Below are four useful links packed with tips about the Google Panda updates. Many businesses may need to update their existing content and rethink their SEO and content strategies in light of the changes.

  1. Google Panda 3.2 Update Confirmed
  2. Are You Making These 7 Panda-Punishing Content Mistakes?
  3. More Guidance on Building High Quality Sites
  4. How to Write SEO Friendly Blog Posts with These 13 Questions

Photo via mozzercork.

Anatomy of a “Sponsored Post”

11 Aug

Screenshot from Gawker.com.

Embarrassing Disclaimer: In order to write this blog post, I have to admit that I occasionally read Gawker.

In magazines, publishers put “Special Advertising Section” across the tops of the sponsored content.  I guess my online eye is a little less trained to recognize sponsored materials, because today on Gawker I was tricked into reading a sponsored post!

Being in the online marketing realm myself, I have to admit that the sponsored post on Gawker was well executed for the following four reasons:

1. The Headline: “You Need a New Profile Picture.”
Why it Works: The headline leads with the word “you,” which is always a good thing. It plays on mine and other reader’s insecurities about online personas.  It doesn’t sound like an ad.

2. The Image: An egotistical dude in a suit taking his own picture.
Why it Works: I instantly don’t like this jerk with long hair, wearing a suit and taking himself too seriously. Reading about him and why he is an idiot will make me feel better about myself so I am drawn in.

3. The Body Copy: “That over-exposed, half-faced, self portrait is not even Top Eight-worthy. It’s time for you to get over 2005 and get a new damn photo of yourself.”
Why it Works: This post leads with interesting copy that does not mention the sponsor right away. The copy sounds like other Gawker posts.

4. The Offer:  Take a survey and enter to win a camera.
Why it Works: Fuji, the advertiser, stands to learn something about its audience and the survey participant gets a chance to win a camera. That’s a win-win. Fuji isn’t just counting clicks or impressions here. Instead, they are doing market research with a survey and at the same time generating interest in their products. Now that I know I can win a Fuji camera, I become more interested in the Fuji brand and its products in general.

The Downsides: There are two big areas where this sponsored post misses the mark.

  • The survey link takes you to an off-site, unbranded survey page which doesn’t exactly scream “TRUST ME! I AM SECURE!  YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE!”
  • In order to enter to win the camera, survey participants must send a separate email to Gawker where they cut and paste the last question of the survey. This low-tech and time consuming step will definitely lower response rates.

Have you seen any shining examples of sponsored content or in-conversation marketing? What do you think of this ad?