Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What is Search Engine Optimization?

I have the good fortune of belonging to an informal business support group. We meet for breakfast to talk about how we are using social media to publicize our companies. For the gathering this month, I suggested we learn about Search Engine Optimization – a concept generating a lot of buzz these days. I don't know much about Search Engine Optimization, but marketing gurus insist it is the pathway to a successful website.

Anything related to the internet boggles my mind, so I thought Search Engine Optimization for Dummies seemed like a good place to start http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/search-engine-optimization-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

Generally speaking, SEO refers to the visibility each website has for search engines such as Google. The name of the game is to get the highest ranking possible on a given search engine to increase the chance of people clicking on your website. Using effective keywords and including lots of links in your content can increase the chances of getting on the first or second page of a search engine.

How can an ordinary person optimize the search for their websites? Here's an easy tip: ensure that specific keywords are part of the URL. For example, my website is http://www.yikesaudiobook.com
which contains the title of my project and identifies it as an audio book. I then registered my website with major search engines such as Google and Bing.

The tags for web pages are important too, and this is where it can get confusing. There is a difference between a Meta Tag and a Title Tag but both are important tools for helping search engines identify what a website is about. I thought this article did a good job of explaining how the different tags work http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2067564/How-To-Use-HTML-Meta-Tags
From what I gather, tags do not determine website rankings, but a tag can appear on a search results page.

Using links within blog or web content can also increase visibility. Done correctly, key links will make it more likely that search engines will find a certain page. As a general rule, it's best to use keywords in the file name, tags, subheadings and multiple times throughout the body of the page. If possible, use keywords in your links. Here is an article about selecting the best keywords for content links http://www.linksmart.com/how-to-pick-the-best-keywords-for-in-content-links-in-your-posts/

For most people, trying to sort through all this technical information is frustrating. There are a number of companies who claim to understand Search Engine Optimization, but this is where it pays to do a little homework. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hacks out there who can spew some impressive internet jargon, but that doesn't guarantee they can increase the rank for a website. My advice is to start with a generic government website such as HowTo.gov http://www.howto.gov/web-content/search/seo

Even if the riddle of Search Engine Optimization isn't solved in one day, it is an issue worth exploring for anyone who wants their content on the web to be easily discovered.      

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Write on America!

Writers looking for a place to talk about their craft and learn from others in the field can take advantage of a podcast called Write on America http://writeonamerica.us/

The show is hosted by Adam Scull and Amy Phillips Penn – both seasoned entertainment corespondents. Scull spent 10 years working as a staff photographer at the New York Post. Throughout his career, Scull covered numerous red carpet events and photographed celebrities at the world famous Studio 54. Scull's portfolio includes photos of people like Eartha Kitt and Muhammed Ali, Woody Allen, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote http://PHOTOlink.net/.

Phillps Penn also worked at the New York Post, serving as a society columnist. As a polo enthusiast, Phillps Penn has written a book on the subject titled Diosa: One Mare's Odyssey on the Planet Earth

Using Skype, Scull interviews authors from all over the world. Scull describes himself as a geek for technology, guiding his guests through tech issues associated with online interviews. I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the Write on America Podcast. Scull proved to be a funny, easygoing interviewer looking for writing tips to share with others. Take a listen http://writeonamerica.us/

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jump Start Your Novel

Writing novels is a long, lonely process. It's easy to feel discouraged, isolated and frustrated. I should know because I'm currently trying to hammer out the manuscript for my next audio book. In an attempt to increase my level of enthusiasm, I jump started the process by scheduling a work session with Cindy Clemens, a life coach, writer and motivational speaker. I gained a lot of useful tips from our meeting, a few of which I'd like to share with other writers who might also benefit from them.

For starters, Cindy recommended I set a time limit for when I'd like to have my manuscript completed. Things tend to get done quicker if there is a deadline. I calculated what steps needed to be taken, careful not to overwhelm myself with unrealistic goals. Cindy suggested I dedicate a specific time to write each day, keeping that period “sacred” and free of distractions.

I have a tendency to feel guilty when I don't live up to my own expectations. Sometimes, life has a way of way of sidetracking even the most noble of endeavors. But rather than beat myself up about it, Cindy offered a better approach: measure the progress I make rather than focus on what didn't happen. As a tool, Cindy provided me with a blank calendar and suggested I award myself a gold star each day I worked on my novel.

To my happy amazement, I quickly grew addicted to those gold stars. I can't bear the thought of leaving even one day on my calendar “star-less.” Following Cindy's advice to set “do-able” goals, I've found myself taking great pleasure in exceeding them.

I'm not suggesting that a few gold stars will eliminate the hard work that goes into writing a novel, or in my case, an audio book. However, by shifting my attitude from one which focuses shortcomings to one that celebrates accomplishments, my outlook and productivity have greatly improved.

To stay inspired throughout the week, I followed another one of Cindy's tips and signed up for a free Note from the Universe http://www.tut.com/. These notes are custom tailored to fit each reader and I look forward to reading them. Here is the note I received today:

Being in the right place at the right time, Adele Park, isn't something you can force.
It just happens when you keep busy. Effortlessly.
Imagine that,
The Universe
No, really! Imagine that, Adele Park! And then get busy because AMAZING awaits!

If you'd like to learn how to get more out of you efforts or how to launch a whole new dream, Cindy is available for virtual life coaching sessions http://cindyclemens.com. As the author of Life is a Do Over, Cindy has vast experience in helping others create the life they've always dreamed of http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B9ZK03W

You can also sign up for Cindy's newsletter called Food for Thought http://cindyclemens.com/whats-new/. This is a free monthly newsletter with all kinds of goodies designed to keep you inspired, excited and ready to pursue your passions. Here's to you and your next best seller!

Meet Cindy Clemens
After a 15 year career as a trial attorney, Cindy took a do-over and redesigned her life. she now works as a life coach and motivational speaker helping people move from just thinking about improving their lives into actually living a great life, with joy and ease.  Her specialty is blending practical tools with insights and support people need to make life changes and reach their dreams. Find out more at www.cindyclemens.com.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rock Star Marketing

Like many writers, I find the world of virtual marketing overwhelming and confounding. I was happy to discover Rock Star Marketing by Linda Leon to help build a virtual platform. Leon lays out a marketing strategy in seven steps, using the analogy of the seven major keys used in music.

Internet marketing is great for writers because they can take advantage of so many freebies. The problem comes with how to effectively use these mechanisms. In simple, concise terms, Leon explains how to leverage the tools offered through Google and Alexa to promote a book. The concept of Search Engine Optimization is also explained along with tips on how to use it.

Although I read a physical copy of Rock Star Marketing, I think this would actually make for a better e-book because Leon includes so many important links. These include links to organizations who support writers, some of the top blogs for books, contests and sites for press release distribution. As a bonus, Leon goes over how to write a press release which creates drama, curiosity, and a compelling need to find out more information. This portion of the book includes examples of press released which meet this criteria.

I read a lot of stuff about marketing, but find that a lot of it goes by the wayside. Leon's solution is to include a number of assignments in the back of Rock Star Marketing to help readers put what they've learned to good use. I completed some of these assignments and have been delighted to discover they improved my online presence.

Leon closes Rock Star Marketing with some personal thoughts. I appreciate that Leon brings prayer and meditation into the equation. We all have our own spiritual beliefs, but tapping into a power greater than ourselves is the best advice a person can give. If readers mine only one of the many gems offered in Rock Star Marketing, I hope it is this one.