Entries from March 2011 ↓

Blog Commenting – Are You Adding Value or Spamming?

blog commentingAdding comments to blogs is thought by some as a great way to gather back links to their own sites.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble but it doesn’t really work like that. You see blog commenting may drive traffic to your own site but only if you have something interesting to say.

Running two blogs I get my fair share of spam comments. Some are blatant spam full of links to other sites; others are seen as spam because of the content of the comments.

So how can you legitimately leave comments without being seen as a spammer?

4 tips to becoming a good blog commenter

1. Read it

If your comment is “Wow! Great post!” it will show the blog owner that you really haven’t read the post and may well be seen as a spammer.

If you’re going to take the time to read someone’s article and comment on it, at least make sure you’ve read it, understood it and leave a comment that’s relevant and intelligent.

2. Know who you are

When you leave a comment you are asked for your name – so use it.

Many people try to get a leg up by using their keyword as their name (so rather than leaving my name as the commenter, I would write freelance copywriter). If you do use your keywords you’ll probably be seen as a spammer and your comment won’t be published.

3. Forget link juice

Most people comment on blogs with high page rank (PR) because they think they’re going to get some link juice from their comment.

Think again. Most blog platforms will only give a nofollow link. You may get a bit of traffic (if you’ve left a well considered and intelligent comment) but you won’t be getting anything else.

4. Be relevant

Following on from number 3, those under the impression they’re going to get link juice only target high PR blogs, even if they have no relevancy to their own field.

Comment on blogs that are relevant to you. That way, assuming you’re leaving intelligent comments, you may get other people popping over to your website for a quick peak.

What it comes down to is this – blog commenting is not going to help your SEO. But, it will get your name in front of people who are either interested in your product or service or in the same industry as you. This kind of exposure could bring a bit of extra traffic your way.

The Effect of Keyword Research

keyword researchKeyword research (as opposed to keyword guessing) is vital if you want your search engine optimisation activities to bear fruit.

The words or phrases you decide to target will have a big effect on your website and its contents which is why it should be done before you begin the design process.

How can a few keywords affect your site?

Well quite easily. After all it’s not until you know what you’ll be targeting that you can:

  • Create your on page text (SEO copywriting)
  • Decide on your link building anchor text
  • Work out your internet linking structure
  • Decide on your site navigation
  • Produce your page titles (title tags)
  • Decide on your URLs
  • Write your META tags

So as you can see it’s quite important that your keyword research comes first.

How to decide on your keywords

That’s all well and good but how do you begin the process of deciding on which words and phrases to target?

Here are 3 steps you can take to ensure you get the best possible match between your keywords and your target audience.

1. Be open to new ideas

Don’t go into the research blinkered to the ideas of others. You must remember that you are trying to find the words that other people search for to find your products and services, not necessarily the terms you would use.

The main thing is that the words you decide on must be relevant to your product or service. There’s no point in using a keyword that generates lots of traffic if it’s not pertinent to what you do. You’ll just end up with a lot of frustrated people.

2. Create word groups

Your starting point will be to generate a list of words that relate to your product/service.

Then, expand that list to incorporate names used in your industry for what you do. Expand this again with words used within the media for your product/service. Then, if you work in a specific locality, add in relevant geographical modifiers.

Then it’s time to use keyword research tools such as Google’s to further refine and expand your list.

3. Check competition and relevancy

The final step is to work out which are the best terms to go for.

Although you want to target terms that generate a lot of search traffic, you don’t want to pick something so competitive you won’t stand a chance of ranking for it.

This table below will help you determine which the best terms to try are:

keyword tool chart

That’s why keyword research is so important. Make sure it’s the first think you do before starting your web design process.

How To Become An Ideas Factory

ideas factoryYou know you have got to get to grips with SEO if you want your website to get noticed.

You also know a big part of that strategy will be the building of back links which means one thing – blogging.

The regular production of blog posts relevant to your business is essential to:

  • Boost your link building activities
  • Drive traffic to your sales site
  • Add value to your customers
  • Position yourself as an expert in your field
  • Increase your online exposure

Whether you are a writer, designer, plumber or manager you can utilise the power of blogging to drive targeted traffic to your website.

But there’s always one thing that holds people back from giving it a go…

What on earth do I write about?

A blank mind coupled with the idea that you don’t have time to blog usually means you don’t try.

But there’s so much you could write about.

If you’re a copywriter like me you can provide tips on sales writing, marketing and using social media. If you’re a web designer you can talk about new thinking in your industry, how to structure a website, or how to get the most out of your site.

But what if you’re a manager, or supplier? You can still blog about your core business. Give hints and tips – if you are an intermediary to source gardeners for people, for example, you can blog about garden related issues, what to look for in a gardener – perhaps you could even get some of your gardeners to guest blog for you.

As long as what you are blogging about is relevant to your business it will help drive traffic if you utilise your keywords as anchor text back links (in the way I’ve linked the word ‘copywriter’ above).

How to get your ideas

That all sounds fairly straight forward but even I will admit to getting writers’ block now and then.

So when your mind goes blank what do you do?

Well, here are 8 tips to help you banish the dreaded block for good:

1. Fresh air brain storming

Get out of the office and go for a long walk. The fresh air and change of scenery will do wonders for your blankness. Take a note pad or Dictaphone with you so you don’t forget your blinding flash of inspiration when it strikes.

2. Write what you like

The best way to get the creative juices flowing is to write about something that interests you. You will already have the knowledge so no research is necessary and your passion for your subject will shine through.

3. What if…

Reading around your subject is a great way to spark ideas. Take a look at other blogs in your industry and see what other people are saying. If you find their writing interesting think about the subject from a different angle – that’s where the what if comes it.

4. Outline

It’s not very often someone can sit down and write an article straight off. If you have ideas buzzing round your head but can’t quite form them into an article list them as bullet points. This visualisation of ideas can often help you flesh them out into an interesting blog post.

5. Put it away

If you have managed to get a few ideas down but somehow it still doesn’t seem to gel, put it away for a day or two. Fresh eyes can often help craft it into an interesting and thought provoking post.

6. Magazine time

As with number 3, reading any sort of material can help the creative process – they don’t even have to be from your industry. An article in a magazine or newspaper can trigger an idea especially if a topical event can be seen to affect your industry.

7. Fancy a coffee?

Relaxing your mind will refresh it. Meet up with some friends for a coffee and a chat. Again you never quite know what will come out of your conversations; they could stimulate a great article idea. But if not, at least you’ve had time to recharge your batteries before returning to your desk and trying again.

8. Swipe file

No, I’m not talking about plagiarism! Your swipe file can be electronic or paper and should contain items you find of interest. As a writer, if I come across an effective sales letter I’ll save it, if I receive a brochure that’s particularly eye catching, I’ll save it. If I read a great article, I’ll save it. All of this is great information that can be used for inspiration when I need it.

Blogging is a great business tool and one that shouldn’t be ignored. Everyone can blog regardless of their industry or skill set. So give it a go – once you get the hang of it you’ll find that you really enjoy it.

Ranking and Traffic Don’t Always Go Hand in Hand

no traffic

Congratulations, you’ve taken the bull by the horns, spent a shed load of cash on search engine optimisation, you’re website is finally in the top 10 for your chosen keywords so you’ve made it, right?


Yes, you’re ranking well but there’s something missing…you’ve got no traffic.

Is that possible? Can you have a top ranking website that doesn’t get traffic?

The simple answer is yes and it’s probably caused by one of these three reasons:

  1. You’re Not Really Ranking
  2. Your Keywords Don’t Deliver
  3. Your Results Don’t Get Clicked


This post on seomoz.org explains all. Entitled I’m ranking, so where’s my traffic it explains why, despite your bank balance’s best efforts, you’re not getting traffic to your website.

It could be anything from distortion from Google’s personalised search results, badly chosen keywords or the fact that you’re not attracting those all important clicks when you do appear in the search results.

If you’re website isn’t performing as you think it should, it’s well worth taking a few minutes out of your day to read this article – it could help turn your under-performing website around.

The Etiquette of Social Media

A beginner’s guide to social media interaction

social media etiquetteSocial media – does it strike fear into your heart?

Do you suddenly experience hot flushes when someone asks if you’re on Twitter or Facebook?

Do you have the blankest of all blank moments when it comes to starting your blog?

You’re not alone. Those that ‘get’ social media make it look effortless and will wow you with their success stories. Those that don’t ‘get’ social media will tell you it’s a complete waste of time.

One of the biggest hurdles a social media newbie will experience is working out what they’re going to say, when they’re going to say it, and how to interact with other people.

I have put together a few tips to help you on your way and to demystify some aspects of social media.

How should I look on social media?

Once you’ve set you account up, you should upload your avatar.  Some people upload company logos, others don’t upload anything and just use one of the platform’s generic images.

First off, use a photo of yourself and not your company logo, especially if you’re a sole trader. People like to know who they are interacting with. If your company is a partnership or larger organisation, try adding a photo of the person that tweets on your Twitter home page.

Use a good photo (not something that’s grainy or hard to make out), and a recent one. That way you’ll avoid the embarrassing moment when you meet face to face and you’re unrecognisable.

How do I follow people?

As you know Twitter is a social media platform where you gather ‘followers’.

If you want to control who follows you, you can protect your tweets so people have to ‘apply’ to follow you. The only problem with that is that you come across as being very secretive and unapproachable and therefore may actually put people off interacting with you.

One thing I’m often asked is what if you don’t want someone following you? Well you can block them if you want but the main thing to remember is that you don’t have to follow them back if you don’t want to.

The most important thing about Twitter is that you follow people you want to follow and that you interact with your followers. Very few people will check out who’s following you first before they decide whether they want to or not. A following decision is usually based on:

  • Who you are?
  • What you have to say?
  • Are in an industry relevant to them?
  • Are your tweets interesting?

One of the great things about Twitter is that it makes people accessible – people you wouldn’t normally have contact with. But don’t worry if not everyone follows you back. Celebrities for example don’t always return your follow.

As for whether it’s the done thing to follow your competition, why not? They’ll follow you and you can learn a lot about them from their tweets. Most people enjoy interacting with people in the same industry. As a freelance copywriter I follow a number of fellow scribes and enjoy interacting with them, exchanging stories and tips for best practice.

What should I say?

The first thing to remember is that social media channels are social – they’re not paid for advertising space which you can constantly promote your business through. If you do, you’ll become very lonely very quickly because people will get fed up with your constant spam.

Comment on other people’s tweets/posts/blogs and promote them to others if you find them interesting.  If someone shares your content by retweeting, thank them but don’t retweet their praise and then thank them – that’s bad form.

If you want to retweet something (or blog about someone else’s work), make sure you credit the original source. Also if someone does retweet your content, comment on your blog or post something on your Facebook page, thank them.

What else do I need to know?

When inserting links in your blogs, tweets or Facebook updates, make sure you always disclose whether they are affiliate links, or a link that you’ll benefit from in some way – be honest.

In the same way, if you’re writing about a client or using them within a case study etc., make sure you mention them and link back to them.

I get the interaction stuff now, but how can I promote my business too?

Blatant and constant self-promotion will be frowned upon, but that’s not to say you can’t promote your business.

Giving great information and sharing with others will show you as someone who is knowledgeable, approachable and an all round good egg.

If you have special offers you want to promote, tweet about them but not constantly.  And balance your own promotional tweets with plugs for other people.

Plus if you want to encourage people to retweet your stuff, make sure you leave room for them to do so. Tweeting something that’s 139 characters long doesn’t make retweeting very easy.

The final aspect I want to cover is the use of direct tweets and direct messages on Facebook. Promotions made this way are really annoying because you are targeting people specifically – it’s a bit like having a doormat full of junk mail all day long.

Go forth and socialise

If you’re not already on social media, do it. It’s not scary, it doesn’t have to take over your life and it can be great fun and a great source of new business too.

Using Facebook (I’m at freelance copywriting) and Twitter (@sallyormond) have been great for my business and they can be for yours too.

Feel free to follow me and ask for any pointers, I’ll be happy to help you get to grips with the wonderful world that is social media.