Quick SEO Tips

9 Quick Tips to Improve Your Blog’s SEO

Quick and dirty post today on how to improve your blog’s search engine optimization (SEO). Obviously any one of these could be a post on its own, but we’ll keep it basic for now.

1. Start at the URL level, and choose a domain name which includes at least one of your keywords.

2. Title your site, using the title tags, with the name of the site and an appropriate keyword or two.

3. Analyze your competition to determine how they’re doing with SEO. Find a highly ranked site in your niche and see how it ranks for valuable keywords. Then take a look through their source to see how they’re tagging the site. Also check out where their backlinks are coming from.

4. When setting up your feed, don’t use the “see more” feature. Always try and go full-text. While you may get more page views from forcing readers to click through to read your content, you risk confusing the search engines (and frustrating some of your fans).

5. Don’s skimp out on the About page. Summarize who you are, what your site’s about, and don’t be afraid to throw a few main keywords in there.

6. Use keywords for all of your pages and posts instead of the generic “post=1″ far too many WordPress users seem to be so fond of.

7. Try to make your categories as specific as possible. It’s tough, and we didn’t do the best job at it here either, but the more specific the better. But don’t go overboard on creating a new category for every post. Try to keep everything as tight as possible.

8. Always be looking for more relevant keywords in your niche. And while you’re at it, be sure to check how you’re ranking for your chosen keywords on a regular basis.

9. Last, but definitely not least, don’t ever plagiarize. If you find a post you really like on another blog, either paraphrase it or rewrite the whole thing in your own words. When you need to quote something from another site, keep the quote short and sweet, and put it in quotes with an attribution to the original author and a link back to her page.

And there you have it. 9 incredibly simple ways to help improve the SEO on your site in no time. If you have any more quick tips to share, let us know in the comments, and when we have enough great tips from our readers we’ll make another post attributing all of you for your hard work.

How to Stop Comment Spam

6 Tips to Find and Kill Comment Spam on Your Site

This site is designed for those new to the internet business, so expect the posts to be of a more basic level—at least until we get some feedback from our readers. Well, maybe those new to the business and getting the swing of things. If you’re already getting tons of traffic to your site and you’re doing bang-up business, it may be time for you to turn to my business law blog instead. In any event, as a new internet company owner, you’re probably pretty damn excited every time you see a new comment or trackback on your affiliated blog. I know I certainly was when I first started in the online business world so many years ago. However, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but have you actually looked at who those people are commenting on your site? Do they have funky names with equally funky email addresses? Are they more interested in leaving backlinks than commenting on your posts? Just because you have a halfway decent spam filter installed doesn’t mean you’re protected from all of the spambots out there—spambots hoping to leach off your site’s good ranking to further their own agendas. Here’s 7 tips to help you root out spam before it starts to get the better of your blog.

1. What’s the commenter’s name? Was it a normal name? Catchy internet handle? Or something that looks like someone’s trying to sell you something? Spammers generally use keywords or phrases they’re trying to sell with a link back to their site, hoping the link (even if its nofollow) will benefit them. Be on the lookout for names like “Eco Homes GA” or “Cheap Melatonin.” Just a couple of the spammy names we caught today.

2. What’s the commenter’s URL? Some kind of crazy list of keywords? You’ve got a spammer. Weird link to a Facebook account? You’ve got a spammer. Anything that looks bizarre and sounds that little alarm in your head? Spammer.

3. Can you read the comment? Comment in a foreign language or using characters that look like a mix of hieroglyphics and alien writing from Independence Day? Just delete the comment.

4. What kind of comment did they leave? I usually see three main types of comment spam. There’s the really obvious type that doesn’t fit with anything related to the post at all and reads like a list of all the cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals you could ever want. Then you have the very detailed comments that sound like they’ve been lifted from someone’s post on another website. Finally, you have the generic “Great post” type of comments, which are generally fine to leave if you want to pad your comment count.

5. Did they call you by the wrong name? This only applies if you’re actually using your name on your blog. If it’s painfully obvious what your name is,
and the commenter used another name, you can keep the comment if the comment is good, or you can delete it ’cause its probably spam.

6. Install an awesome anti-spam plugin. Five tips on how to identify spam, and one easy tip on how to remove it. Install an anti-spam plugin. Simple as that. I’ve used everything from Akismet to Antispam Bee, and I can tell you a plugin makes a world of difference. Without one, even on a growing site like ours, we get many dozens of spam comments a day.

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A Lesson on Writing: How to Say Nothing in 500 Words

Everyone claims to know how to write. I claim to. Other bloggers claim to. College professors claim to. Authors, editors, literary agents claim to. Essayists claim to. But one essayist in particular, from the 1950s, seems to have wrapped it all up pretty well. Paul McHenry Roberts perfectly described the college admissions process in his essay How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Words. Its a blast to read and, I can tell you from experience, its all true.

In case you don’t have time to read it in its entirety, I’ve summed it up for you:

  • Avoid the Obvious.“Say the assignment is college football. Say that you’ve decided to be against it. Begin by putting down the arguments that come to your mind. Now when you write your paper, make sure that you don’ t use any of the material on this list. If these are the points that leap to your mind, they will leap to everyone else’s too. Be against college football for some reason or reasons of your own. If they are keen and perceptive ones, that’s splendid. But even if they are trivial or foolish or indefensible, you are still ahead so long as they are not everybody else’s reasons too.”
  • Argue the Other Side. “One rather simple way of getting into your paper is to take the side of the argument that most of the citizens will want to avoid. They are intellectual exercises, and it is legitimate to argue now one way and now another, as debaters do in similar circumstances. Always take the that looks to you hardest, least defensible. It will almost always turn out to be easier to write interestingly on that side.”
  • Quit with Abstraction. “Look at the work of any professional writer and notice how constantly he is moving from the generality, the abstract statement, to the concrete example, the facts and figures, the illustrations. For most the soundest advice is to be seeking always for the picture, to be always turning general remarks into seeable examples. Don’t say, ‘Sororities teach girls the social graces.’ Say, ‘Sorority life teaches a girl how to carry on a conversation while pouring tea, without sloshing the tea into the saucer.’”
  • Remove the Padding. “Instead of stuffing your sentences with straw, you must try steadily to get rid of the padding, to make your sentences lean and tough… You dig up more real content. Instead of taking a couple of obvious points off the surface of the topic and then circling warily around them for six paragraphs, you work in and explore, figure out the details. You illustrate.”
  • Call ‘Em Like You See ‘Em. “If he was a fool, call him a fool. Hedging the thing about with “in-my-opinion’s” and “it-seems-to-me’s” and “as-I-see-it’s” and “at-least-from-my-point-of-view’s” gains you nothing. Delete these phrases whenever they creep into your paper. Decide what you want to say and say it as vigorously as possible, without apology and in plain words. Writing in the modern world, you cannot altogether avoid modern jargon. But you can do much if you will mount guard against those roundabout phrases, those echoing polysyllables that tend to slip into your writing to rob it of its crispness and force.”
  • Beware of Pet Expressions. “Other things being equal, avoid phrases like ‘other things being equal.’ Those sentences that come to you whole, or in two or three doughy lumps, are sure to be bad sentences. They are no creation of yours but pieces of common thought floating in the community soup… No writer avoids them altogether, but good writers avoid them more often than poor writers.”
  • Colorful Words. “Some words are what we call ‘colorful.’ By this we mean that they are calculated to produce a picture or induce an emotion. They are dressy instead of plain, specific instead of general, loud instead of soft. Thus, in place of ‘Her heart beat,’ we may write, ‘her heart pounded, throbbed, fluttered, danced.’ Instead of ‘He sat in his chair,’ we may say, ‘he lounged, sprawled, coiled.’”
  • Colored Words. “When we hear a word, we hear with it an echo of all the situations in which we have heard it before. The word mother, for example, has, for most people, agreeable associations. When you hear mother you probably think of home, safety, love, food, and various other pleasant things..The question of whether to use loaded words or not depends on what is being written.”
  • Colorless Words. “A pet example is nice, a word we would find it hard to dispense with in casual conversation but which is no longer capable of adding much to a description. Colorless words are those of such general meaning that in a particular sentence they mean nothing…Slang adjectives like cool (‘That’s real cool’) tend to explode all over the language. They are applied to everything, lose their original force, and quickly die.”

Unless you’re writing a novel, conciseness is key. And even if you are writing a novel, you don’t need all the extra stuffing. I know–I just edited a novel down from over 105k words to under 95k.

The Mega-Guide to Terrible Small Square Advertisements

Now that you’ve learned what to do in order to design the perfect small square ad, here’s a few ideas that will ensure your ad is never clicked.

No Visual Interest. Don’t make your ad look like every other ad. Since the ad is stuck in between several other square ads, it needs to have some kind of visual interest. Skip the dull colors, boring graphics, and loads of text.

No Hook. While I’ll be the first to tell you that the hook probably isn’t as important as attracting the viewer’s eye in the first place, you still have to have it. After all, without the hook, how will the viewer know what you’re selling? Unfortunately, I’ve seen far too many small square ads forsake the hook altogether in favor of a cool logo or some other type of branding. The point is you have to do both.

No Branding. As more and more advertisers turn up on websites from around the globe, you need to have something to set yourself apart. The visual appeal and the hook will do it for awhile, but wouldn’t you like to take your product to the next level? Make it a household name? (Or at least a recognized name on the internet). Branding’s the only way you’ll be able to do it. You want clicks on your ad, you want traffic to your site, and you really want conversions. Make the product known to the masses, and you’ll accomplish the trifecta.

Projecting the Wrong Image. This one’s simple. Do a quick search of other small square ads until you find one that looks like its promoting a scam. Make a note of how it looks. Now design your ad to not look like that.

Too Much Text / Too Many Animations. I don’t care how good your product is. If I have to sit at my computer and read ten lines of text at point 4 font size, I’m never clicking on your ad. The same goes for lengthy animations. Keep your message simple. Keep your message short.

Wrong Site. Know the demographics of the site you’re advertising on. If the people who visit that site are only interested in a few small niches, and you’re product isn’t in those niches, you’re out of luck.

The Mega-Guide to the Perfect Small Square Advertisement

Got something to sell? Want to sell it online? Unless you have some amazing references, you’re going to need an ad.

But what kind of ad? Vertical banner? Horizontal banner? Or what seems to be the most popular ad: the 125 x 125 pixel (small square) ad that you see on sidebars everywhere. Protip: Look to your right. We’ve got a few here.

Now that you’ve decided to make your ad, you’re going to need to design it. Here are a few good tips.

Advertise on the Right Site. Even if your ad is amazing, you’re not going to find any success if you’re selling your product on the wrong site. Selling Ferrari steering wheels on a writing site? Wrong. Selling a sleek new word processor for the iPad on a writing site? Right!

Make it Eye-catching. No matter what you’re selling, your ad needs to be visually interesting. While making it beautiful helps, it only has to stand-out from the other ads nearby. Remember, these types of ads are usually contained in grids of four or six. Just be sure to stay away from making your ad look cheap with animation and gaudiness.

Have a Hook. You must motivate the viewer to click on the ad so she can get to your product page. Attractiveness may draw their eye, but they won’t click unless they’re enticed to. Try including a special offer or expound the benefits of your product.

Keep it Short. Viewers aren’t going to dedicate more than a second or two to any ad. Remember, they’re visiting the site for the content, not for your beautifully designed ads. Grab the viewer’s attention, hook them to click, and be done.

Brand It. Ever drink a Coke? I bet you can tell the logo from just a small sliver of the can. The amazing marketing teams at Coca-Cola have spent years, decades even, branding their product so consumers will instantly recognize it. You want to do the same thing with your ad. Don’t fall into the trap of designing for nothing more than clicks–make your viewers lust after your product.

Stay tuned for our followup: The Mega-Guide to the TERRIBLE Small Square Advertisement.