Keep Tabs on Your Competitors

I use Google Alerts to watch for news coming from competitors. It’s easy and it works.

Publicity & Rankings: Chicken or Egg?

I was going over rankings with a client, and she asked if her book’s recent publicity push was responsible for several #1 Google placements. Great question.

Your continued blogging helps traffic, a lot. Steady, frequent, quality content has no equal. You give people a great reason to go to your site, and Google recognizes that. Google helps those who help themselves with regular quality content.

To answer your question though, recent publicity got you more traffic, but not higher rankings. Two very different animals. Search engine rankings are usually a lagging indicator of real-world popularity.

WordPress 2.7 is Out

This post isn’t the place to go on about why I love WordPress and have created only one web site without it in the past 3 years.

This is the place to let you know that WordPress 2.7 is out, and it’s even easier to use than any version, ever. I’ve upgraded one of my sites to it, and I’m very happy.

See how it works:

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WordPress Blogging: Best Practices w/ Formatting

My clients sometimes end up with oddly-formatted blog posts on their WordPress sites. It’s usually because they write in Word, copy, then paste into the WordPress text window. That carries ugly, hidden formatting. To get around this, the WordPress authors created the Paste from Word button.

  • Compose in Word or whatever you enjoy writing in… stay comfortable.
  • Don’t format in Word.
  • Open WordPress, Write a Post, Click “Kitchen Sink” button on the toolbar.
  • Click on “W” icon (Paste from Word) when the second row opens.
  • Format to your liking in WordPress with the toolbar buttons.
WordPress' "Kitchen Sink" button

Clicking the Kitchen Sink button opens the second row.

Voila. Consistent formatting across all your posts.

I’m not a fan of the Kitchen Sink functionality. I want the WordPress authors to just display both rows of the formatting toolbar. The extra space taken up by the second row is too little to warrant hiding the second row of buttons to newbies.

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Breaking Up Long Pages = SEO Benefits, User Glee

Usually my clients don’t have enough copy. Here’s a case study of (and actual email to) a client’s site that has too much copy. Well, too much copy per page; there’s really no such thing as too much content as long as it’s divided into sane-sized pieces.

A client contacted me about reducing the long stretch of dense, small-sized text with hidden paragraphs that can be revealed by the user with a show/hide button. Here’s my response:

I think that would be the right idea but the wrong method. Personally, if this was my site, I’d break each of those sections into their own pages. It would help users and help spiders.

Your pages tend to have a lot of small-ish text, and I think it gets a bit daunting. I know you’ve done your best to break it up nicely with bolded subheaders.

For spiders, when you have a laser-focused page, you increase your chances of coming up in Google’s top 10 for that term because there’s no extraneous content to dilute the page’s message to Google (and thus users).

As individual pages, we can put a nice big arrow at the lower right to create a flow to move through your content in bite-sized chunks like I do on my site http://www.sitesforphotographers.com.

Three well-marked steps and you’re dropped at the Contact page… reducing the falloff rate and driving the user to an action.

Moral: 1) breaking up long pages into multiple shorter pages is a win-win. It helps your users and it helps your site’s SEO effort, 2) guiding the user with Next buttons helps you convert users into customers.

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