Posts Tagged ‘market samurai’

Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 6: Find a Keyword

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

This week’s meeting brought us very close to starting blogs. Our blogs will be the focal points of all our social marketing strategies. Our other online activities will invite the world to our blogs where we’ll demonstrate our craft and establish authority in our areas of interest.

We started, as usual, with a discussion about the importance of increasing activity on Twitter. Someone on my social network recently asked a bunch of people with similar concerns to join a Facebook group and share insights. In one day there had been a lot of interaction in that group (and it has continued since). My point of sharing this story was to emphasize how the contacts in your social network can become very important to you. Until you show your own chops and get your network established, you’re missing out on these opportunities.

Keyword Research

We’ve had mixed experience doing keyword research with Market Samurai. A few of us have found key phrases with decent stats, but that aren’t necessarily easy to work into conversations. A blog built around a marginal key phrase can be awkward; you’ll know it when you read one: the sentences will be grammatically and stylistically hacked-together to include a phrase that really doesn’t fit.

So, we bounced phrases around to decide whether we could write them into conversations naturally.

We looked at the Market Samurai keyword competition matrices for a few key phrases, and I gave my interpretation of the statistics they provided. Again: some of the key phrases look very good.

Creating a Blog

I provided an overview of 2 options for starting a blog:

  1. Use a free services such as blogger or wordpress.com. The advantage is that the service is free. The disadvantages are that a URL that is part of some other domain may receive less Google love than one that you own outright. Also, free services are rather limited in the selection of themes (appearance) and plugins (added features beyond the blog) available.
  2. Buy a URL and host WordPress (free software) on a commercial service. The disadvantage of this is that you spend about $100 per year for the service and the URL. The advantages are many. For example, there are no restrictions for what you do on your own URL. You can commercialize your own URL, while you may not be able to commercialize a blog on a free service. Hundreds of free plugins are available to help you build Google love and otherwise customize your blog; many of these won’t work on a free blog service. You can expand a WordPress blog on your own URL by adding pages within WordPress, and by adding custom-built web pages outside of WordPress, if you so desire.

You can be successful with free blogging services and with your own URL, but I’m encouraging that you buy a URL and host it yourself because I’m confident we can get such blogs high in Google’s rankings very quickly; you’ll build your online presence more rapidly when you own your blog.

Find a Hosting Service

You can use any hosting service you prefer to hold your own WordPress blog, with one technical requirement: Make sure the hosting service comes with CPanel. CPanel is a dashboard for managing everything you do on your hosting service—uploading files, creating email accounts, installing new web sites, and dozens of things that will probably never matter to you. CPanel is important because software we’ll use to set up blogs relies on the CPanel services.

I recommended the hosting service Hostgator for two reasons:

  1. I know Hostgator and they are reliable and responsive on support issues
  2. Hostgator is relatively inexpensive. If you pay for 3 years and have only one URL, they charge $5 per month. I especially like their Baby Plan that lets you host unlimited web sites for a fixed price. Today it might be hard to imagine having even one web site, but some day you might add a second and third; with Hostgator the cost doesn’t increase when you add sites. Of course, if you start with the “Hatchling” plan for a single URL, you can probably upgrade should you later decide to add more URLs.

If you decide to go with Hostgator, please do me the favor of clicking over to their web site from my Web Social Marketing Strategies web site (or from the links in this post). I confess that I receive a referral fee when you do this, so you can see I have some “bought” bias toward Hostgator.

For Next Week

My hope is to start blogs next week. This will involve buying the URL, registering with a hosting service, pointing the URL to the service, and installing WordPress on the new site (we might be stymied on this last one; it can take a day or two for a new website to show up on the Internet in central Pennsylvania).

At class I asked everyone to do three things by next week:

  1. Find 4 or more key phrases that fit the criteria (see last week’s post) and that you feel comfortable about working into conversations. It’s OK to have one key phrase that fits, and several others that are pretty close.
  2. Decide on your level of financial commitment to your online presence: Either free services only, or about $100 per year to host your own.
  3. TWEET!!! Seriously: more chatter on Twitter, please!

If you have time and inclination, this would be a good time to write a blog post or two or three. Even 200 words is adequate, and generally try to keep your posts under 600 words. You don’t have to post a blog entry the moment you install your blog, but it’s kind of nice to be able to.

Work in whatever word processor makes you happy. For you 2-computer people, consider writing in a Google Docs word-processing file. If you remember your password at the meeting, you’ll have access from whatever computer you bring.

IMPORTANT!

If you’re ready to start a blog on Wednesday AND you’re going to host your own, you’ll need a credit card to submit payment to the hosting service and/or the Domain registration service from which you buy your domain name.

PLEASE DON’T PANIC or feel pressure to jump in. If you’ve done decent keyword research, but you’re not ready to blog… or if you haven’t had time to find just the right key phrase, we’ll still be around. Once the blog is up, things can get pretty lively!

See you Wednesday!

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 5: Market Samurai

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of this fundamental social marketing strategy: TWEET!!! Writers’ Digest’s recent issue has a whole bunch about social media… the writing industry is catching up with us. As the word gets out and more writers break away from traditional approaches to getting attention, it will be harder and harder to build a presence that stands apart from the crowd. WE SHOULD ALL HAVE our presences well-established before the writing & publishing industries figure all this stuff out!!! In 15 minutes a day, you can seriously build up a social network on Twitter and make a place for yourself online. So, TWEET! (Please?)

Questions About Social Marketing Strategies

A few questions had come up from one or another participant through the week. We talked about them as a group in case anyone else had run into the same issues:

Spam Robots: Terrible Social Marketing Strategies

The more involved you are with Twitter, the more likely it is you’ll attract spam robots. A spam robot is software programmed to watch the Twitter stream for specific key phrases. If one of your tweets happens to contain a phrase for which a robot is watching, the robot may follow you. In some cases, a robot doesn’t follow, it just sends an unsolicited suggestion of a link it wants you to follow; that’s pure spam and it’s good practice to report such activity.

You can report spam quietly if you follow @spam on Twitter (go to http://www.twitter.com/spam and click the follow button). @spam will follow you back. Then, when you receive a spam message (someone you don’t follow sends you a link), report the spammer by writing a direct message to spam. I usually write something like this:

d spam Please review activity of @spamrobot Looks a lot like a spam robot to me. Thanks!

If the robot follows you without spamming you, you’ll be able to tell fairly easily. Consider the checklist I published in “Why I Didn’t Follow You Back” You can usually spot a robot simply by the “New Follower” email message you get from Twitter. But sometimes you might need to click through to the new follower’s Twitter page and evaluate the twitter stream to decide if you’ve been followed by a robot.

I argue: Ignore the robot. Let it follow you unless its Twitter stream is morally objectionable. Having more followers than people you follow isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t want a particular follower paying attention to you, you can block that follower.

Spam robots must work or there wouldn’t be so many of them; what’s so bad about them? You’re building a SOCIAL network so you need to be a real person. Real people tend not to care for spam robots. You want people to get to know you and your work, not some software-produced drivel.

Keyword Versus Key Phrase?

What’s the difference between a key word and a key phrase? The number of space characters. I’m afraid I use the terms interchangeably, as does much of the Internet marketing industry. However, when you’re starting a web site or blog, these days you’re most likely not going to find a one-word key phrase on which to optimize. It would be terrific to be in position 1 on Google for a word such as faith, happiness, writing, or whatever, but getting there could require life-time commitment and prove very expensive.

So… in searching for a key phrase for which we’re more likely to rank well, we start with a very broad idea that may be just a word. Then we ask Google for suggestions and research those suggestions until we find a good phrase or two or three that meet the established Internet marketing targets.

Those targets, again, are:

  • 80 or more people each day click a link in Google as a result of a search for that key phrase.
  • There are fewer than 30,000 web pages on the Internet that have the exact phrase in them.
  • There is decent correlation between the “phrase match” and the “broad match.” That is, when people search using the words in your search phrase, do they use the exact phrase, or do they use a phrase that simply contains the same words?

Our big push for the day was to download Market Samurai and use it to do some key phrase research. We had some problems, but eventually three out of four computers had new installations running. People had brought candidate key phrases and we plugged these into the software to see where they’d lead. I’m not publishing key phrases here, but I will reveal that we each were searching in distinct areas. No one found a clear winner on Wednesday, but I hope everyone became comfortable with Market Samurai so they can continue their research at home.

Market Samurai Procedures

Start a project – We entered a key phrase for the project in the keyword box, and accepted the default project title and file path (which Market Samurai filled in when we typed a keyword. Then we clicked Create to start a new project.

Generate key phrases – We clicked the Keyword Research button on Market Samurai’s main screen…

…and then clicked the Generate Keywords button on the Keyword Research screen. Market Samurai prompted with a captcha dialog, and after completing it, we watched the keyword list box fill with suggested key phrases.

I encouraged you to pare down the list of key phrases; eliminate phrases that obviously don’t suit your intentions. I like to get the list down to 30-to-50 phrases. You remove a phrase by clicking the X to the right of the phrase. If there are phrases you want to include in your list but Market Samurai hasn’t suggested them, type them into the box labeled Add Keywords. Type one phrase to a line, and when you’ve typed all that interest you, click the Add Keywords button below the box. When the list of key phrases feels right, click the Analyze Keywords button at the bottom of the Market Samurai window. Market Samurai presents a second Keyword Research screen:

Evaluate the key phrases The box near the top of the Keyword Research page reveals settings that determine what data Market Samurai will load into the list box below. There’s already some data in that list box, but we wanted a bit more. The settings I like are as follows:

Note that I had to check the Total Searches box, change the SEO Traffic box from 80 to 0, change the Phrase-to-Broad box from 15% to 0, and change the SEO Comp box from 30000 to 3000000. Once you have the settings the way you want, click the Analyze Keywords button. It may take a few minutes, but eventually the list box fills with data:

To see items in order from highest traffic to lowest traffic, click the header of the SEOT column. Scan down this column for numbers greater than 80. In the adjacent PBR column, look for a number that is 15 or greater. In the SEOC column, look for a number that is 30,000 or lower. When you find all 3 in one row, the associated keyword may be a keeper.

Find more key phrases If you don’t find a key phrase that meets these criteria, use a few of the big SEOT key phrases to open a new tab in Market Samurai. To do this, click the key to the left of the keyword in the keyword list. Then click the new tab to activate it and use the first Keyword Research page to search for more, different key phrases that might meet the criteria.

You can save a project (pull down the File menu), but in my experience Market Samurai saves automatically, so you never have to save.

For next Wednesday, everyone should have a short list of very promising key phrases they’d be willing to use in their blogs. We’ll use Market Samurai to research the competition for those key phrases and decide whether we’ll be able to “beat” the competition’s Google listings if we do our SEO properly.

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 4

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

So many social marketing strategies seem silly at first, so at today’s meeting I wanted to encourage everyone to work through that feeling. I described some of the acquaintances I’ve made through social media, and I explained the nature of those relationships. I exchange thoughts from time-to-time with fellow gardening enthusiasts, writers, editors, publishers, television producers, and even television personalities. All of these people participate on Twitter at least in part to connect with people who share their interests… and they help each other out.

I pointed out some of my acquaintances who have gotten jobs through their online affiliations. My hope is that by hearing these stories you’ll be inspired to get to know Twitter well and to find some interesting people to follow. I encouraged everyone to find at least one new person to follow each day, but don’t be afraid to follow more than that.

To help identify people of interest, we looked at www.twittgroups.com and www.twibes.com. I was underwhelmed by twittgroups. Though it had been vital two years ago, it was nearly unfathomable today. Twibes, on the other hand, looks very polished, and I encourage you to spend some time searching the web site. Find some appropriate Twibes and join them, and follow people who are also members. As I’ve suggested in the past: when you find someone who is very established in your niche, have a look at the people they follow. These may be good candidates for you to follow.

You Must Tweet!

I’m encouraging everyone to move beyond merely lurking. First, I suggested that you tweet your status. Tweet at least a few times a day about what you’re doing: “Starting chapter x in my book about yadda yadda.” or “I finally came up with the right illustration for the fifth page of my latest picture book.” You don’t have to get personal, just put it out there that you’re doing stuff in your niche. Yes, it seems silly. It seems very, very silly. However, these few status updates begin to build a story about you on the Internet… a story that you hope will interest other people.

Find Folks to Follow

I’m also pushing you to find interesting people to follow, and participate with them. You don’t need to say anything to someone just because you follow them. However, I promise that the more you engage appropriate people, the quicker you’ll make friends and discover opportunities—both to get help from others and to help others. Asking questions is a great way to get to know someone. If they tweet about a writing project or a book project, why not ask what they’re working on? Of course, don’t forget to review their last 20 to 40 tweets and their blog (if they have one) before asking questions they’ve already answered. In my opinion, you come across as a little silly when you ask a question someone has answered in their Twitter profile or in their most recent tweets.

Key Phrases for SEO

We reviewed fundamental strategy for finding a key word or phrase on which to build your Internet presence. Yes, I know people whose only online presence was a Twitter account, yet they became well-recognized within a niche and eventually found jobs through their Twitter connections. We’re going farther and creating a website that supports your Twitter activity and becomes a focal point for all other marketing activity related to your web presence.

You’ll get help from Google if you start with a good key phrase. Internet marketers look for phrases that have favorable search parameters:

  • 80 or more people each day click through to a web page found in a Google search using the phrase
  • The “phrase match” appears on fewer than 30,000 web pages

We looked at Market Samurai so we’d be familiar with how it works. The features that matter to us: Keyword Research and SEO Competition.

The Keyword Research module generates a list of key phrases and then lets you compare their stats. The SEO Competition module lets you compare Google’s top 10 web sites that use the key phrase you’re researching. Stats include the Domain Age (how old is the web site), the Page Rank (how authoritative does Google consider the web site to be), the Pages Indexed (how many pages does the web site have), and the number and types of back links to both the web site and to the main page of the web site. The SEO Competition module also reports whether the key phrase you’re researching appears in the right places within the web site—the URL, the site’s title, the site’s description, and the site’s header. When we install your blogs, we’ll make sure the key phrases are in all the right places. This can give you huge advantage over other web sites that may already be in Google’s top 10.

For Next Week

I asked everyone to build up the list of folks they follow on Twitter. Specifically, I asked everyone to find at least one person of influence in their niche—an editor, publisher, producer—and follow that person. There’s no need to strike up a conversation if doing so doesn’t seem appropriate. Watch and see whether you can learn from this person.

I also asked you to think about key phrases in terms of what you have to offer an audience. You need to find the intersection of what people are searching for, and what you can write (and want to write) to hold their attention. I asked you not to download Market Samurai until we can all work with it together. There is a free trial period for the software, and I want everyone to be ready to take greatest advantage of the trial period… so please DON’T DOWNLOAD Market Samurai. When you have a few decent possible key phrases to research, we’ll get to the software; let’s not start the clock ticking before then.

Believe it or not, we’re almost blogging. Finding the right key phrase is the biggest hurdle: lots of thought and research. Once you have it, you can set up a blog in about 10 minutes.

 

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