Search Engine Optimization: Tips for getting your site noticed (In a good way) and Marketing on Social Media

 

SEO means improving the visibility of your web site in search engines like GOOGLE, which is the way most people find your site in today’s web environment. SEO allows you to get more hits on your page through natural search results, aka unpaid.

First things you need to think about

  • Who comes to my site NOW-demographic
  • Why do they come to my site?
  • What is the most popular thing on my site (Google Analytics or Review should tell you this)
  • What do I WANT to be the most popular thing on my site/what do I want to get more attention on my site?
  • What kind of marketing am I doing now to get people to see my articles
  • Goals: What audience do we want, how big of an audience, and what do we want to be the “draw” of the site

Most Popular sites today and why

  • The most popular sites today (traffic wise) are search engines and social media sites. They include Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, Wikipedia, and Twitter
  • Why do they get the most hits? #1—b/c they are excellent search engines/easy ways to get information you want fast. #2 B/c they promote interactivity, they are a part of the “social media” lifestyle and they get you committed.
  • Applying it to you—you need to make sure your site gives your target audience what it wants from you in an easy way and you need to promote interactivity to establish some loyalty/commitment to the site.
  • Most popular think tank site (based on some Google searches): Heritage Foundation. Why? My guess is b/c they have targeted their audience, given them the content they want (and can only get there) and provide some interactivity.

 Ways to improve your SEO-Marketing Outlook

  • Know your audience and give them a lot of what they want. Do they come to the site b/c of a particular issue? Nail that issue on the head and give them ways to spread it around to their friends on social media.
  • Think to yourself-what do I Google? What kind of phrases do you Google—like “Top 10 election lies,” “Economic experts on immigration,” etc and incorporate those phrases into your URL titles (which are the titles you come up with in your headlines)
  • Use social media to your advantage but do not come off as a used car salesman. Target certain groups, media and leaders that would be interested in your issue.
  • To find target followers—see who similar orgs are following and follow them but don’t bombard them with ads for your organization via @’s or DMs. Give them a taste of what they want but don’t force it in their mouths.
  • On Facebook-announce upcoming events, give away prizes for joining and facilitate dialogue on each post through “comments”
  • Promote your video projects on the home page and send out a notice about them in your newsletters (I get them, so I’ll know!)
  • Use lists! People Google lists all the time and those will pop up first.
  • Have your fellow colleagues and interns promote site content on their personal social media. Nothing’s more convincing than the recommendation of a friend.

Ways to improve your SEO-Tweaking your website

  • Search for your Twitter audience using popular hashtags either by issue #iranelection or news event #midterm. Go to hashtags.org for a starting point. But the best way to use a good hashtag is see what others who cover what you cover are using and join those conversations.
  • Use tags on your website when posting stories as your personal branding. Do you want to be the go-to source for a certain issue, expert or trend? On every post, tag the story with whatever keyword you want to be associated with.
  • When using multimedia—like a photo, image or graphic, people won’t find it in a search if the description or title is built into that multimedia. You have to label them in the body of the text for it to show up in searches.
  • LINKS LINKS LINKS! Do not put a hyperlink on “click here.” Rather, hyperlink the keyword you want people to find when they type it in a search. Add lots of links!
  • Your title: Make your title search friendly with keywords, phrases and names that will be searchable. In AP style you’re supposed to only put someone’s last name, but SEO calls for full names.
  • To show up in area specific searches, you need to specify the location in the body of the text.like instead of “the store,” say “the Houston store,” etc.
  • Make sure your URLs in each post aren’t a bunch of mumbo jumbo. From what I understand you can change the URL of a post on most CMS platforms. If your URL is something like http://www.ladannekoomaram/top-10-ways-to-get-fit that will show up more likely than http://www.ladannekoomaram.com/article-13453234. Likewise, when you create URL names, put hyphens in between in each word instead of having them run together.
  • Always remember, if you spend a lot of time on a video or fancy piece of flash, it is unsearchable. Put what you need in text too.
  • Search spiders love UPDATES, so make sure to update frequently and link to other popular sites that cover what you do. If you get picked up and linked from another popular site, that’s free traffic for you. The best way to get noticed is by the recommendation of someone trusted which is what happens when you get linked by someone or put on their blogroll.
  • Surround your links with relevant, descriptive text
  • Don’t overuse keywords b/c if a spider sees the word being used too much in an abnormal way, it will count against you.
  • People don’t usually read a site for more than five seconds, so give them something clean, visually pleasing and a great lead “above the fold” on the left side. People read screens in the shape of an F (left to right then down).
  • Always put captions with images
  • Never underestimate the power of the “share” feature, comments and social media
  • Your “about” page should have good links, tags and keywords that will make it so your site comes up in relevant searches or similar searches
  • Avoid using JavaScript or FLASH navigation. Google’s crawler typically moves from one page to another by following your links/navigation. It can easily navigate “a href=” links, but cannot always follow JavaScript or FLASH links—nor can it complete any forms on your site, needed to “view” a page. This is important if you have any web content behind a password-protected login.
  •  If you want more details, I found a great “Beginners Guide to SEO” which is free online, but lengthy http://guides.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization

Free Speech, Hate Speech, Inciting Racial Violence: Facebook group declares July 9 “Kill a Jew Day”

July 9, 2010 has been declared “Kill a Jew” day on Facebook and had over 70 confirmed attendees to the event before it was taken down today. A handful answered “maybe” and hundreds filed reports and complaints against the creator of the site. According to a screen shot of the Facebook page that displayed the symbol of the Nazi party, the killing would take place between 12 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. and the event description read, “You must kill at least one Jew.”

According to the blog Atlas Shrugs, the creator of the event lives in Singapore.

The Jewish Internet Defense Force swiftly responded to the Facebook event by issuing an action statement requesting the millions of Facebook users to report the site. Within 12 hours, the page was taken down and JIDF obtained hyperlinks to all of those who joined the group either to attend the event or “as a joke.”

David Appletree, founder of the Jewish Internet Defense Force, released a statement of concern about the length of time it takes Facebook to block or shut down pages that incite violence or racism. While Facebook acknowledges First Amendment rights to free speech, those who call for the killing of someone can be held liable in criminal court if the crime, in this case, murder, is committed.

“Despite thousands of people reporting helping to report the material in a coordinated fashion by the JIDF, Facebook rarely took any action to remove the content, which was blatantly against Facebook’s Terms of Service.  It was only after we started getting international mainstream media attention that Facebook started to react to our work, but it would still take weeks and sometimes months for Facebook to respond,” he said in the statement.

As of now, the Facebook page is still down and those involved have not faced any legal action. Follow developments at JIDF’s Facebook page.

A few questions arise when looking at such a report: We who study communications law understand the significance of free speech in publications and now in social media. However, with free speech comes the opportunity for those with hate to spread that hate. The question then becomes: when can you take legal action against racism and hatred and when do you have to conquer it other ways?

In this situation, from what I understand, calling for the death of a specific group is a crime and those who are behind the page can be held accountable if any Jewish people are killed on July 9 who signed up for the page. Technically, the creators are aiding in the murder by calling for it and organizing a specific event around murder. In terms of free speech, however, I’m not sure if this would be considered hate speech, fighting words, or someone’s beliefs that are unfortunately protected.

Another big issue comes up with this case, and it involves Facebook’s response to hate content on its site. While Facebook has the grueling responsibility of going through millions upon millions of profiles, it also has the responsibility to respond to pages that are reported. Appletree seems to think that Facebook does not respond quickly enough to antisemitic pages nor does it enforce the removal of hate speech. My question is whether or not Facebook CAN take down hateful pages unless the pages are crossing the lines of libel or aiding in a criminal act? And is it Facebook’s obligation to do so, or is it the Facebook community’s responsibility to push out the haters through anti-racism posts and movements?

I’d love to talk to a communications lawyer about social media and hate speech.

Climate Change, American University, Twitter, Facebook, Iran, Haiti, Kim Kardashian: A Lesson in Search Engine Optimization

SEO is the name of the game when writing for the web.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the way you file your article into the content management system that will maximize the amount of hits you’ll get on search engines. Whether your title is “The future of our earth” or “Climate Change and Global Warming” can make the difference between single digits or hundreds of viewers.

Same goes when using Twitter or Flickr. If I throw in a bunch of hashtags saying #climatechange, #global warming, #americanuniversity, #environmentalists, that will up my chances of my post getting re-tweeted.

At the American Forum on Monday, I added hastags and links to other Twitter feeds everywhere I could. It seemed a little much, but I’d argue it helped drive traffic to the event and the Twitter feed.

Last week, I got more hits than ever before on my post titled “Top 10 Facebook don’ts,” and something tells me it isn’t just because people were deeply interested in my list. I used a very SEO-friendly title that Facebook users around the world probably Google frequently. Plus, Facebook is a popular topic among my age group, and these types of lists are things they could see themselves writing or contributing to. Simply put, I chose a hot topic that a large demographic wants to read/weigh in on, I made it easy to search, and I used Facebook and Twitter to market the post. My friends in turn commented on it, retweeted it and posted it on their pages.

Can this kind of luck happen again? Absolutely.

It’s about creating posts that are

a) easy to find via SEO

b) easy to read and relate to

c) address a hot topic, even if it’s not a serious one

d) linkable, aka getting it out there to people who are internet savvy and spread your content

e) well written and aesthetically pleasing via photos/multimedia

f) updated frequently

I was hesitant at first to fully embrace the language of SEO because I figured it would make my headlines less creative. But I realized that I could simply make the subhead SEO friendly and keep the more creative leads and headlines. Including links and tags will also help spread your content.

My fellow classmates and I have analyzed The American Observer’s traffic via Google Analytics. We saw that we get a steady rate of traffic on the days we publish, but it plummets on the days we don’t and during breaks. To my surprise, my story has the most page views of the year (starting in August). Was it ground breaking journalism? Not really. I put a lot of work into it, but I’m guessing its success has everything to do with SEO.

The title: “U.S. Military Presences in foreign countries exceeds rest of world.”

So people, probably doing research projects or from the government, have been visiting this page. It continues to get hits even though it was published months ago, so that says it wasn’t from advertising it on Facebook and Twitter: it’s from search engines.  From this semester, my friends Kim and Coryn lead in the top story about sexting and modern dating. Not only is it a clever article, it came out right before Valentines Day, sexting is a hot topic, and the story had good SEO.

So how is this going to influence my blog and future writing?

a) I’m going to try to post every day or every other day to fulfill the “updated” factor

b) I’m going to add more links, tags, and references to other sources

c) I will make my articles cleaner to read with more SEO friendly titles

d) I will incorporate lists, photos, and any mulitmedia I can to enhance presentation

e) I will post them on Twitter and Facebook (already do that…but why not do it more?)

f) I won’t just write about things I feel will help with my career. I will dive into other topics that are popular, shorter, less formal posts, and talk about different subjects that others would be interested in.

Status Matters: Top 10 Facebook Don’ts

Can I just say that I love the advent of sites like Failbook and Lamebook because they publicize what I’ve been thinking all along? Think before you update.

I’m not going to be like someone’s HR representative and say you must keep all of your social networking professional, but there is definitely a line between being social and being stupid.

I used to ban myself from doing the following:

a) writing anything slightly related to relationships or men

b) writing something emo that merits a pity party or makes me look depressed

c) updating dramatics (including complaints, frustrations, anger towards something) that would cause a negative reaction from friends

d) friending professional contacts and family members outside of my brother and sister

e) swearing

f) referring in any way to drinking or going out in a social setting

Today, I still think some of those values hold true, but I’ve loosened up a bit on who I friend. Sometimes it’s nice to see your fellow coworkers, bosses, or acquaintances in a non-work environment. I get a little peek into their passions, loved ones, and daily lives. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out you have something more in common than your job.

The reason Failbook and Lamebook are so popular is because we all have a Facebook friend who does the things they make fun of. We all have the emo friend, the inappropriate friend, the friend that advertises how much they party, who they date, misspells EVERYTHING, complains about his or her job, and gives off a negative online persona. Do we all have the right to do these things? Yes. But should we? That’s another story.

My favorite Lamebook example thus far:

And from Failbook….

Here are my personal recommendations on ways to avoid such humiliation. Below are my top 10 DONTs on Facebook (and I guess Twitter for that matter)

1) Do not friend your parents. Even if your profile is relatively clean, you never know when it backfires. Say you tell a white lie that you stayed in and did homework when instead you went out. Say your friend gets inebriated one night and writes something private on there that your parents find first (because if they’re anything like my parents, they get up hours before me). Honestly, they will either lather your page with comments and “likes” or they’ll catch something inappropriate that you or your silly friends write.

2) Do not engage in a heated political or social debate via someone’s wall comments. If someone wants to post an article in favor of health care or gay marriage, don’t use that as an excuse to go on a soapbox. Facebook isn’t really a forum to have intense fights with your friends or your friend’s friends. Take it outside, people.

3) Do not write emo statuses unless you’re willing to acknowledge that you are in an emo mood for the irony of it or if it’s clear you aren’t about to jump off a bridge.  It’s uncomfortable for people to read and makes whatever is wrong seem silly or melodramatic. If you really do feel those sad feelings, broadcasting it to the world probably won’t help and will in fact isolate you more.

Sidenote: Emo songs are also included. I do love my share of Death Cab and Celine Dion, but paragraphs of heart-wrenching lyrics won’t change your luck in life. We’ve all had emo moments, but do you really want everyone to know? A blog dedicated to those thoughts or poetry might be better.

4) Do not make your profile open to the public. Do you really want ANYONE scrolling through your photos, your info and what people say? I took it a step further and made myself unsearchable, but there’s no need to go that extreme. I would advise making it open to your friends only.

5) Don’t post an entire album dedicated to your Mac Photobooth picture twists. Everyone who gets a new Mac does the whole picture distortion thing and it’s just weird.

6) Don’t friend your exes or their new girlfriend or boyfriend. It might be a fun game at first among your friends, but it ends up eating up hours of your time at night when you’re having one of your emo days…which in turn leads to more emo statuses.

7) Don’t over post on your own page. It makes you seem like you’re on Facebook too much or that nobody cares enough to post on your page.

8 ) Don’t gush to your significant other on Facebook. I’m not saying don’t show some online loving, but if your girlfriend takes up your last 10 posts, it might be too much. No need for an album of kissing pictures, closeups of you gazing into each others’ eyes, or little virtual gifts when you’re too cheap to buy a candy bar or something.  It’s not pleasant to look at and it makes it seem like you’re compensating for something missing in your real-world relationship.

9) For the love of God…no Animal farms (farmville?) no virtual pets, no sorority life games, nothing other than the simple act of social networking and article/picture posting. If your page is filled with little turtles and giraffes, you have to find a new hobby.

10) Always log out. If you use a school computer and simply click off of Firefox, your profile is still logged in and subject to embarrassing posts from strangers. Also, NEVER give your password to anyone unless you have theirs in return. I’ve seen too many girlfriends hijack their boyfriend’s Facebooks and what dark direction that turns. And YES…even log out on your own personal computer. I’ve had my Facebook hijacked while going to the bathroom in my dorm. And don’t make your password your name. If you do, then you deserve to get it hijacked.

If you have more, please leave a comment.