Three Ways Good SEO Ensures Readers Find Your Blog

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a set of tools and techniques for increasing a blog’s likelihood of being noticed by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, etc. Effective SEO helps search engines categorize and index blogs with accuracy and speed.

SEO must be used accurately. There’s a happy medium between coming across spammy and writing content no one will ever see. Good SEO ensures readers will find your blog. Here are three ways to use Search Engine Optimization to your advantage:

1. Write interesting and concise post titles using keywords.

Search engines pay special attention to blog post titles. Titles should clearly state what the post is about both to be useful to readers and to grab the attention of search engines.

Cute post titles might catch a reader’s eye, but often don’t get the post read. When busy or pressed for time (and who isn’t?) potential readers don’t have the leisure to click through to posts with cute titles without a good sense of the usefulness of the post.

Tip: People love “top ten” lists.

2. Write keyword-rich content.

Use keywords in every blog post, but always write with your readers in mind. Keywords should not be overused. Not only does it make for poorly written copy, it can also get a blog labeled as spam by search engines and destroy your credibility.

Search engines lend more weight to the leading words in a post. Placing keywords near the beginning of a post makes it more likely to rank well. It also gives readers a strong sense of what the post is about. The first couple of paragraphs are essential to holding readers’ interest.

3. Use keywords in anchor text.

Linking out from a blog not only provides readers with additional information but builds relationships with fellow bloggers. Most times it’s obvious where to place the link — names of individuals or organizations for example. Sometimes an action word makes a good fit for the anchor text. Whenever possible, keywords should be used. A keyword linked to a well-written post on another site gets brownie points with search engines.

These three ways to use SEO may be kinda obvious or already known to some of us, but they can be a good starting point for those new to blogging. The main things is to always keep the reader’s needs foremost while writing posts that are engaging and useful.

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New Zealand Book Council: Going West

The mission of the not-for-profit New Zealand Book Council is to promote literacy, with special emphasis placed on the writers and writings of New Zealand. Their diverse programs educate and entertain children and adults throughout the country.

The following short film, which uses paper cut animation of Maurice Gee’s novel Going West, was launched mid-November and has since breached the top ten videos on the Viral Video Chart compiled by Unruly Media. (It has fallen to number 11 at the time I am writing this post.)

Everything in the film is made by hand. Scalpel blades, paper, and eight months of hard work and patience combine to create this intriguing film.

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Video SparkNote: 1984 by George Orwell

While growing up I held the impression that SparkNotes were something to be avoided, a scheme for cheaters who didn’t read their assignments. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I finally read a guide out of curiosity. It discussed George Orwell’s 1984.

I wish I had known before the value of these little books. I now purchase guides for all of my favorite literary classics. (SparkNotes covers a lot of other subjects also.)

Recently I came across VideoSparkNotes’s Channel on YouTube. Right at the top of the page is an animated video covering 1984. It contains a plot summary, an analysis, and a discussion of the major characters and themes from the classic novel. It’s worth a look for its incredible animation alone.

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Thinking about Post Titles, Keywords and SEO

Redesigning The Sky’s the Limit has caused me to think more seriously about not only the look and feel of the whole site but the look of individual posts. There have been a few problems nagging me over the months, and now is the time to address them.

I could be doing a better job at writing post titles and at SEO in general. I want to strike a balance between creating headlines that are useful to you and headlines that feature good keywords.

I’m also revamping the categories and tags. I’ve created categories as needed while attempting to keep them simple. The problem is that they’re not very concise. My tags are a mess. I’ve used both singular and plural variants of some words; I’ve hastily added others that weren’t well planned. There’s always going to be a plethora of tags, but I need several strong keywords which I can utilize over and over in the mix.

A friend who knows about SEO once offered to teach me some things. I hope she meant it, because I’m about to take her up on the offer.

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Possible… or Probable? Future of Books

This short film from French publishing group Editis presents one vision of the future of books. The video doesn’t represent Editis’s digital strategy regarding the epublishing market, but encourages discussion of future possibilities in the market.

Originally filmed in 2007, this appears to be the latest version with english subtitles. You’ll want to skip ahead to the 45 second mark.

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National Novel Writing Month 2009

This is NaNoWriMo’s 11th season of literary abandon. The annual adventure in noveling, held from November 1 – 31, offers participants the chance to be a part of a vibrant, web-connected community as they create 50,000 word works of fiction.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a project of The Office of Letters and Light, the non-profit organization which also hosts Script Frenzy every April. Their programs combine web and real world components to provide encouragement, foster creativity and build community.

Over 100,000 individuals have signed up this year, eager to be  a part of the seat-of-the-pants writing inherent in the program. Everyone who makes it to the 50,000 word finish line — and has their word count validated by the site — by the end of November is a winner. The forced speed and lack of over thinking fostered by 50,000 words in 30 days encourages participants to just write, ignoring that nagging inner critic which normally slows the process.

This is my eighth year to participate in NaNoWriMo. I’m taking a semi-layed back approach this year as I’m already busy with school, a site redesign and Tweetsgiving, but I know I can make it to the 50,000 word mark with a little effort. If you want to join me in my noveling adventure, you can still sign up at the site.

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Site Redesign: Is it Time to Start Over?

I’m not sure where to go from here in my efforts to redesign and relaunch The Sky’s the Limit. As I mentioned before, I cut my blogging teeth on Yahoo! 360. I briefly tried Blogger, but couldn’t get along with it. I’ve used a handful of blogging platforms, but the two I like the most are Xanga and (I hear Posterous is good; I haven’t tried it.)

When I came to WordPress the free version suited me fine for a start. I chose my URL without giving it too much thought. My name and a couple of other choices were already taken.

‘Adamtree’ is a throwback to a time nine or ten years ago when some friends and I discussed creating comic books. We needed a company name, and I made a list to choose from — including Adamtree. We never did make any comics, but I liked the name and began using it on the net.

Now I’ve outgrown it. Not only is it in my URL, but it also identifies me when I comment on other blogs based on the WordPress platform. I would rather be marked by my name.

So here is what I want:

  • a registered domain name
  • a new URL
  • a new blog name
  • a new username

It seems my best option is to start with a new account. I can transfer posts, images and even comments. I can’t transfer my site metrics, but I won’t cry over their loss either. The drawbacks to this approach are the amount of time it will consume and the care I will need to exercise in making sure old post addys point to the new locations.

Can you tell I don’t really know what I’m doing? There’s no way to learn quite like hands-on experience. If you have any advice, tips or wisdom, or know of any appropriate resources, please let me know. Thanks for your help. You make this blog worthwhile.

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