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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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 WordPress.com. (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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Writing Goals 2009 Q4

We’ve just passed the Autumnal Equinox, and we’re now (believe it or not) in the fourth quarter of 2009. You know how much I love Spring, especially the time from Passover to Pentecost, but this is also a delightful time of year — Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo, cool crisp weather.

My writing goals for 2009 were first hampered by my procrastination and then totally derailed by returning to school after an 11 year absence. Those of you new to college: Don’t drop out!

I’ve done okay by four of my nine writing goals for this year. I’m participating in a few online communities, I began a novel, I’m creating a (somewhat) weekly comic strip and I’m still going strong with 12for12k.

I’m on track to at least participate in NaNoWriMo and to complete a rough draft of my inspirational book. The other goals have fallen by the wayside.

It might take some doing, but here are the writing goals I plan to reach during the fourth quarter of ’09:

  • Begin earning a sustainable income from home-based employment.
  • Complete a rough draft of my inspirational book.
  • Redesign the Sky’s the Limit for a 2010 relaunch.
  • Continue building relationships through social media.
  • Continue supporting 12for12k.
  • Continue work on my novel through participation in NaNoWriMo.
  • Continue my weekly comic strip.

I began this year with some lofty writing goals. I haven’t reached them all. That’s okay, except I shouldn’t have put things off like I did. These last three months look to be interesting , and I’m very excited about the things I have planned.

Thanks again for your participation. I couldn’t do what I do without the support of wonderful friends and readers like you.

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A New Direction for the Final Days of 2009

I’ve been neglecting The Sky’s the Limit partly due to my course load at school and partly due to laziness. Posts over the last couple of months have not been up to par, and you deserve better. For that I apologize.

But even though posts have been scarce and somewhat less than acceptable, the blog has never been far from my mind. You might say I’m a gestation thinker. I stick things in this brain of mine and let it work on them for a while. Given enough time (and good raw materials) it usually comes up with something decent.

I’ve been blogging for about three and a half years. I’m afraid my earliest posts were lost to the inconsistencies of Yahoo! 360. Those of you who were there (and I thank you for sticking with me thus far) will remember the many problems with that platform. The earliest post appearing on this blog — The 100 Most Common Words in English (since edited and renamed The Power of Old English) — I carried over from the blog I wrote for FictionAddiction.NET. The first post written for The Sky’s the Limit was Free Comic Book Day 2008.

I’ve learned a lot since then — much from experience and much from good teachers. Michelle, Clary, Chris and Danny, you know who you are. And I can’t discount the wonderful feedback from so many readers over the years. Now I want to take all of that and move this blog to the next level.

Starting tomorrow — when I review my writing goals for 2009 and finalize my writing goals for the last quarter of this year — I’m embarking on a project to redesign and relaunch The Sky’s the Limit. I’ll be giving the blog a new name and a refined focus, making it a more pleasant read for you and a better platform for me.

I’ll need your help with this endeavour — your comments and feedback. And if you know anyone else who might be interested in the content of this blog or this project to improve it, please invite them to come along.

Thanks again for your participation, your friendship and your patience. You make this blog worthwhile.

Follow Friday: Four Folks Worth a Follow

Follow Friday is a Twitter meme which is spreading to blogs and other social networks. This is the fourth in a series of blog posts highlighting individuals and groups worth following on Twitter and elsewhere on the net.

 Ruthie Austin@Ruthieaustin

You can imagine my surprise when an actress followed me first. It’s usually the other way around when it comes to TV and movie stars. But I’m certainly glad she did. Not only is Ruthie Austin a pleasant person to meet on Twitter, she can be seen in programs such as That’s So Raven and Fight Club. A full list of her theatre, commercial, television and movie appearances is available at Ruthieaustin.com.

Clary Lopez@Clary

I’ve known Clary Lopez through the net for a few years. Her love for God and family shine through in everything she does. This writer and photographer always has something both insightful and positive to add to any topic. Be sure to check out Clary’s website. Her personal blog is Moonlit Walks.

David Peach@dpeach

Friend, marathon runner and dedicated missionary, David Peach has been a part of my life — in person or through influence — for many years. His Twitter stream always carries some interesting tid-bit about running or missionary work among the deaf in Mexico. You can read David’s thoughts on life, family and work on mythoughtspot.com.

Lilli Day@bookbabie

Lilli Day is a writer, photographer, blogger, mom, wife, daughter, sister… She says she’s still trying to figure out who she is. I normally follow tweeps with a link-intensive style, but something about Lilli’s conversational tweets drew me in. Her bookish blog can be read here.

That’s it for this Follow Friday. I hope you’ll check out the Twitter feeds and/or websites of these fine people. There’ll be more to come next time.

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Five Steps to Becoming a Vital Member of Blog-Based Communities

I recently changed one of my 13 writing goals for 2009. “Build an online community around this blog” became “Become a vital member of a selection of online communities.”

I want to take the focus off myself and my blog and place it on my fellow bloggers and their projects. I want to be an encouragement. I’m sure my blog will benefit in increased traffic and more contributing readers, but my aim will be to benefit others.

I have considered whether or not I should list the blogging communities I have chosen to target. Some of my choices are apparent based on my post Eight Bloggers I Want to Know Better, but there are others. It seems a little odd to point them out in this post.

Here are five steps to becoming a vital member of a blog-based community:

  1. Choose wisely. There are so many wonderful blogs out there that it’s impossible to follow them all. Being selective creates an opportunity to get more value out of each blog followed.
  2. Visit often. Some blog posts are time sensitive. A three or four day gap in checking posts can result in missed opportunities to contribute to the blog or join in related projects. I’ve found the best way to keep up with blogs is to subscribe to their RSS feeds.
  3. Comment. Reading a blog’s posts is only half the experience. Good blogs deserve participation and feedback. It’s important when commenting to leave useful posts, and not just the ‘nice blog’ type.
  4. Contribute. Many bloggers use their blogs to promote larger projects or develop side applications, like message boards. These are wonderful places to offer your assistance / expertise.
  5. Share. Social bookmarks, your blog posts, Twitter and personal e-mail are excellent ways to share finds with friends and associates. If a blog is worth the time and effort it takes to read and contribute, then others will find it useful too.

Any comments / feedback will be a huge benefit to the project. What have I missed? How do you contribute to your favorite blogs?

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Eight Bloggers I Want to Know Better

proximade_awardShonda of TexasRed Books has awarded The Sky’s the Limit a Proximade Award. The aim of which appears to be the creation of new friendships and stronger ties among the blogging community.

Keeping the spirit of the award, I intend to strengthen ties with my fellow bloggers; but I won’t be passing along the award according to the rules.

Here are eight bloggers I want to know better:

Chris Brogan – chrisbrogan.com

I joined Twitter while I was promoting YUDU Media. One of the first people I followed there, Liz Strauss, introduced me to Chris Brogan. He advises businesses, organizations, and individuals on the use of social media and social networks to build relationships and deliver value.

His blog and Twitter stream are consistently full of useful information. I learned how to use Twitter by following Chris. I have attended an e-conference where he presented and watched video of him speaking at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference.

Danny Brown – dannybrown.me

I met Danny Brown through Twitter. Chris Brogan had an idea last December to support a different charity each month of the year. I was already thinking about how I could use my blog to help the Pink Cross Foundation so it seemed like perfect timing.

A few days later Chris tweeted about Danny Brown and the budding 12for12k Challenge. 12fo12k supports a different charity each month, asking 1200 people to donate $10 each. The Challenge started strong in January and February and has exceeded the goal for March.

Danny is the owner of Press Release PR, an agency combining traditional PR and marketing with social media. He provides consultancy services to clients in both the consumer and commercial markets, from small start-ups to Fortune 500 businesses.

Michelle Devon – Freelancing and Fiction

Michelle and I have been connected on Yahoo! 360, MySpace, Twitter and (most recently) Facebook. We have participated in NaNoWriMo together. She has spoken at West Texas Writers and will be our featured speaker for our second annual Celebration of Writers.

Most importantly, I know I can pick up the phone any time and ask writerly questions of Michelle. I can learn so much from her, and she is willing to share her knowledge.

Shonda – TexasRed Books

Shonda currently serves as the Secretary of West Texas Writers. I first met her at one of our meetings. She came to visit, signed up and has been an integral part of our organization since.

On her bookish blog she says, “I moved to a small town in West Texas in early 2008. After moving 11 times in the past 10 years, I’m enjoying putting down roots, the slower pace of life out here, and the ability to indulge in creative interests such as my shameless addiction to fiction.”

Clary Lopez – Moonlit Walks

Clary and I go back to my days on Yahoo! 360. She is kind, spiritual and a fascinating writer. Originally from Puerto Rico she came to live in the United States in 1982.

A fairly active community surrounds her blog. She excells at encouraging reader participation using thought provoking posts and interesting questions.

David Peach – My Thought Spot

David and I went to a Christian school together. He was a few years older, and I looked up to him and his brothers. I think a lot of the kids did.

David keeps a personal blog covering topics such as books, geocaching, running and podcasting. He produces a podcast called Missionary Talks. He has served as a missionary and is currently speaking and preaching in churches in the United States.

Chuck Westbrook – Chuck Westbrook’s Blog

I’ve forgotten how I first heard of Chuck’s plan to bring deserved attention to under-appreciated blogs. I do remember signing on immediately, thinking it would be a benefit to my own traffic. I have seen an increase, but the real value is in the blogs Chuck has exposed to me.

I keep up with his new pick every two weeks and follow him on Twitter. Chuck is always quick to answer my questions, has taught me the value of partnering to achieve big goals and is an all-around nice guy.

Zoe Westhof – Essential Prose

Zoe’s blog was Chuck’s first featured blog. Her posts were fascinating and challenging, and she was happy to answer my nosy questions about her experience as Chuck’s first pick.

Zoe consistently offers well written posts on creativity, balance and writing. It seems like she is always writing about a topic that has been on my mind, and her posts help me develop my thoughts.

I know each of these eight bloggers to some degree. Some are friends. Some I’ve met face to face. Some I know only a little. They are all creative, well written and involved with social media beyond their blogs. (Everyone listed is a Twitter user.)

 I want to know these people better. For that reason I will be strengthening ties with each one, reaching out and offering friendship. I look forward to developing valuable relationships with everyone on this list.

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