Entries from February 2013 ↓

Blog Comments – Are They Worth It?

Once upon a time, commenting on blogs was a great way to build links and drive traffic. Today, that’s not the case and as a result many who once were prolific commenters have written off the practice.

After all, if they’re not going to get any benefit from doing it, what’s the point?

But is that true?

Is there really no benefit to commenting on blogs? Other than the obvious knowledge gaining you get (of course, I am assuming that you actually read the blog before you comment on it), do you gain anything else?

Well in my humble opinion the answer is yes. The benefits are threefold:

  • It can help you build a good relationship with other bloggers
  • Well thought out and relevant comments will show others your authority in a subject
  • In relation to the point above, that could potentially lead to traffic heading your way

But this will only happen if you write well-constructed comments showing that you have obviously read the original post, understood it and have something valid to say.

What you shouldn’t be doing is:

  • Write something trite such as ‘Great post!’ or ‘I agree’ which are absolutely meaningless. Respond to the points raised and make sure your comment adds value
  • Be controversial just because you can. I hate it when that happens; if you don’t agree, fine, but back up your opinions with relevant facts. If you just rant for the sake of it, you’ll end up discrediting yourself
  • Posting rude or offensive comments is bad (do I really have to point that out?) – as your mother once said, if you have nothing nice to say keep your trap shut (I may have paraphrased that a bit)
  • Posting comments that are full of links. It looks spammy and as such will be consigned to the spam bin
  • Posting a comment that’s full of typos. Just as with everything else you write, read it through before you hit send

The writing, reading and commenting on blogs is essential if we are to share information and knowledge. It’s still work doing, just make sure you’re adding value with every comment.

Sally Ormond – Professional copywriter and blogger

Securing Your Social Media Accounts

The news is often filled with horror stories of how accounts are being hacked and identities or information stolen. In fact there’s not a week that goes by without one of my followers on Twitter suddenly sending bizarre direct tweets asking if online securityI’ve seen ‘that’ photo or video of me (bet you’ve seen those too).

The frequency at which these events occur would suggest that despite being told to use strong passwords, people still aren’t listening.

I know what you’re thinking, these days you have to set up accounts for everything – social media, shopping, banks, job sites etc., it’s impossible to create new passwords and user IDs for everything.

Granted, it’s a bit of a pain, but would you rather be hacked? And let’s face it, if you’re using the same password (or a couple with only slight modifications), it won’t take the hackers long to get into your accounts – yes, that was meant to be plural; if they can hack one, what’s to stop them getting into them all?

Not wishing to state the obvious, but considering the number of instances of hacking there is each and every day I think I should, here are 3 very simple ways you can protect yourself.

1. Uniqueness

In an ideal world you would use a unique username and password for every account you set up.

Before you roll your eyes and think that’s impossible, why not set up a spreadsheet (password protected of course) to help you keep track of everything.

2. Protection

When it comes to dreaming up a hard to crack password, here are a few things to consider:

  • The longer the better – 16+ characters is ideal as it will seriously reduce the chances of hackers sussing it out
  • Variety – use a combination of letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols to add another level of complexity
  • Smartphone locks – most smartphone users will just go with the standard 4 digit pass code, but why not step it up a notch and use a complex one? For iPhone users go to ‘Settings’ then ‘General’, “Password Lock’ and switch off ‘Simple Passcode’ and opt for something a bit more complex

 3. Log out

 I’m almost embarrassed to include this one because it’s so obvious. And yet people still forget to log out of a site when they’ve finished doing what they’re doing.

OK, so none of that is earth-shatteringly new, but it pays to be reminded every now and then about how important your online security is.

Just think about how much information about you is stored online in your various accounts. Do you really want someone to get their hands on it?

Over to you

That’s enough from me, how about you? Do you have any other security tips you’d like to share?

If so, leave a comment below.

Sally Ormond

Copywriter, blogger, cyclist and Pinot Grigio fan

How to Write Blogs People Will Want to Read

What is the most important thing to get right when you start blogging?

Your blog site?

Sure, it needs to be attractive and engaging and easy to use, but that’s not it.

How about your niche?

Yes, that’s pretty important to make sure you attract the right kind of reader, but it’s not what I’m thinking about here.

OK, how about the way you layout your posts?

Again, a very important issue because if your posts aren’t reader friendly, no one’s going to read them. But, no that’s not what I was thinking about.

Give up?

OK, I was thinking about voice.

A lot of people get in touch with me to ask about that. They want to know how to write in an engaging way, what terms they should use and how they should phrase things.

My advice?

Stop trying to over think things.

The best way to write and engage with your readers is to write from the heart. No, I don’t mean Mills and Boon-esque, more like writing as though you were talking to friends.

Say what you want to say in your head and type it (that’s what I’m doing right now) then it will come across as though you’re having a conversation with someone.

And because it’s a conversation your vocabulary will be fairly simple, avoiding all that awful jargon you sometimes seen scattered liberally in blog posts. I mean, come on, do you really think the average reader understand it? It just leaves your post unreadable and, quite frankly, sounding pretentious.

Don’t forget that just because jargon is commonplace in your work life, it doesn’t mean it is in everyone else’s. Keeping it simple won’t dumb in down, it will make it accessible to all and that’s what you want, right?

After all, if someone is researching web design, SEO or ecommerce or some other such techie subject because they are in the market for it, they’re more likely to get in touch with someone who can clearly explain the benefits in plain English rather than one that goes into geek-techie-jargon overdrive.

That’s all I wanted to say really. When writing your next post remember:

  • Write as though you were having a conversation
  • Steer well clear of any jargon
  • If you have to use a technical term, explain it clearly
  • Lay your post out in short paragraphs and sentences so it’s easy to read

Sally Ormond – blogger and professional copywriter

Negative SEO – Matt Cutts Tells All

What is negative SEO?

Well, you know what SEO is, right? It’s a way of optimising your website so that appears in the search results.

Negative SEO is a way getting your competitors websites penalised by Google by various means, including poor or downright bad links.

Since Google’s last updates (Panda and Penguin), the search engine has been placing more emphasis on the quality of links pointing to a website. So, in theory, it’s possible to get sites penalised by creating loads of ‘dodgy’ links.

Before you start having sleepless nights, here is a video my Matt Cutts to put your mind at rest.



Sally Ormond – Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd

Why Not Everyone Loves Guest Bloggers

Sad but true, not everyone likes guest bloggers.Guest blog writers

Apart from the ones that email you claiming to love your blog only to offer a post that is completely unrelated from your niche (I was recently offered a post on parenting and childcare from an ‘avid’ reader of my blog…really?), some people just refuse to accept posts from other people.

Personally, I love to hear from people who want to write guest posts – that is assuming they actually offer something that is relevant to the subjects my blog covers.

To me guest bloggers offer a lot of pros:

  • They offer fresh content for my readers
  • Their posts offer a new way of looking at things
  • They enhance my blog with expertise that I may not have
  • They reduce my work load (very important)
  • They could bring in a whole batch of new readers to my blog

So, on the whole, there are a lot of good reasons why you should accept guest bloggers.

But as I mentioned earlier, not everyone shares my point of view.

 The cons of guest bloggers

After reading my list of reasons why you should accept guest posts (I’m sure there are loads more, but they are the ones that stand out for me), it may be hard to think why anyone would be anti guest posts.

Some people are very precious about their blog, only wanting their voice to be heard through it, which I guess is fair enough.

Others believe that bringing in outside writers may turn-off their readership. Not really convinced on that one, after all surely a new perspective would be welcomed? I don’t think the odd guest post would put anyone off. After all how many novel readers out there only ever read books from one author? Most people like to try others out for size too.

Then of course there are those who think they may lose readers when publishing a guest blog because there’s a chance that their readers will prefer what the guest author has to say and they’ll jump ship. But surely your readers will remain loyal and thank you for introducing them to a new voice that they may also want to follow?

Finally, there’s always the concern over being offered content that’s just been scraped off another site, or an article that’s been spun. But you can get round that by using tools such as Copyscape and Plagiarism checker.

What do you think?

Despite the cons above, I still think guest bloggers are worth their weight in gold (the good ones that actually read your blog before offering a post). For me, the pros far outweigh any possible downsides.

But then I am just one little voice in a vast blogging sea.

What’s your take on this issue?

Are you for or against?  Leave a comment below.

If you’re interested in writing a guest blog for me, email me for the FCB guidelines along with your idea.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD of Briar Copywriting Ltd