Moving to a new blog

Hi subscribers,

I’ve created a new blog called http://alice-online.co.uk which is basically another version of this blog. This is because I believe I have more scope with a self-hosted WordPress blog, so I am concentrating on that for a while.

Meanwhile, if you subscribe to this blog, please renew your subscriptions with my new blog. It still has all the old posts which I have transferred over, and will have all my new posts from now on. I’ve even made it easy for you by changing the details in the sign up box in the sidebar.

So don’t miss out – transfer and subscribe now! And get all your friends and colleagues to do so too!

See you on the other side!

Alice

How to do marketing for free

This is a good subject for start-ups and very small businesses who don’t have a large budget to work with..

The first free marketing method is networking. Go to as many meetings as possible, particularly the free events or those that don’t require a big entrance fee. But to make these successful you must arm yourself with a good pitch, both 10 and 60 second versions, the first to grab attention to yourself, and the second if you get a chance to address the whole room. If you can create something that is different, easily understandable, poignant and relevant to your listeners’ needs, then you have a head start above many others.

It is important to get yourself as visible as possible in the business world. There are two possibilities: blogging and social networking group pages. It is very easy to create a free blog, and social networking sites allow you to create groups or fanpages which you can devote to your business.  In these you must regularly post up information about your business, and then, as with the blog, use RSS feeds to inform your followers of your new posts, or email through the social networking system to your followers that you have recently contributed new material for them to read.

And then there’s Twitter, equally free, which is an excellent way to promote your business, not forgetting that you can feed your blog to it, and now your posts can be automatically replicated on your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

Writing articles and publishing them around the net is another way to spread your expertise. Make sure the resource boxes direct the reader back to your website, blog or social networking profile pages, so they can find out more about you.  Take advantage of keywords to improve your search engine optimisation, and careful attention to the headlines and first paragraph will increase the likelihood of a response.

If you do have a website, get as many links back to it as possible from other websites and web directories. The more high profile the link source, the more respect search engines give your website, not to mention providing more portals for the spiders to crawl over your site and report back pages for indexing.

Create a good signature for your emails, to publicise your website, blog and social networking profiles. Don’t forget that the space at the bottom of your communication is just waiting to be filled with promotional written material and links, and everybody you write to will get a chance to see them.

What 3 elements make up SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the natural or organic method of getting your website placed higher in the search engines, as opposed to paying for online advertising.

As a result it is a task that is never ending, always requiring you to be one step ahead of your competitors, and any successes tend to be short lived, as Google responds to all new material that is posted online, and it is always the latest contributions that are indexed at the top.

But it is a process that should not be ignored. Even if your website or latest blog post reaches its desired placing for a short time, it has got there, and who knows will look at it or read it while it resides in its lofty position. The more times you manage to attain this prize, the higher the chances of recognition, acknowledgement and conversion through response.

To explain simply, SEO work on three main elements: new content, links and keywords. I know all SEO experts out there will be saying ‘Oh, but you’ve forgotten this element’, and of course they’re right, as experts they should have many tricks up their sleeves to attain the final goal: get as high as you can in Google. But if you understand these three elements, there is no reason why anybody can’t give it a try.

New Content: search engines rely on their spiders: mathematically driven robots that ‘crawl’ the net looking for new material that has been posted. Once found, they feed greedily on it before passing it onto their master, the search engine, to be indexed. If your website or blog, especially the blog, has regularly published new content, it stands a better chance of being placed higher than any old material from your competitors.

Links: spiders need to have a method of entering and leaving your website or blog. Think of links being the doors or portals spiders use to find new content. Incoming links allow spiders to enter and feed, and outgoing links (especially if they are relevant to the content and final destination) will enable them to leave and visit other suitable sites, giving you brownie points as they do so.

Keywords: relevance is vital for spiders to work effectively. Keywords should be relevant to the content, destinations of links, and popularity of searches, eg what people are searching for at that moment. It would be wise therefore to properly research suitable keywords that are not only popular but truly reflect your new material and business. It’s simply like a game of snap, and the best results are attained through correct recognition of a match!

Now that you know these three elements, take them into consideration next time you post up something new on the net.

Learn how to link in to LinkedIn

Here’s just a small visual e-course I quickly compiled to demonstrate how easy it is to submit articles into groups in LinkedIn:

http://www.designyourmarketing.co.uk/How to create submissions in the BinB LinkedIn group.pdf

Let me know if it helps to make it easier to contribute. The more activity there is in these groups, the more there is to read, the more promotion members can make, the more new material there is for the internet spiders, and the more interaction from members also contributes to search engine optimisation.

So how about it – go on, give it a go!

Close your websites doors before someone gets in

On 23 July 2009 my website was hacked into.

The result was that some malware was put into the code of my theme of my website.  This activated links to hundreds of pornographic sites whenever I uploaded new material.

Recently I have been quite busy uploading new pages about my blogging beginners self-help e-courses, so all my activities had been blasting off all this pornographic stuff left right and centre throughout the net.

I do have a wonderful brother who is a wizard in website programming, and he worked his magic behind the scenes, locating and removing the malware. Let’s just hope it doesn’t have secondary programming to reappear again later.

Meanwhile I have tried to submit my website for reconsideration by Google. I have contacted my server and have closed all my FTP access (which I will have to temporarily open every time I want to upload something). That was the back door that was wide open and allowed the hacker in.

So check all the portals of your website to make sure they are secure. Change all your passwords to everything regularly and use combinations of letters, numbers and punctuation to make them stronger.

Keep an eye out for anything suspicious or out of the ordinary with your website. This malware was totally invisible on my website, so it was the fact that I couldn’t see my theme that alerted me that something was wrong, but only after all the damage had been done.

How is a blog post like a chocolate muffin?

Chocolate MuffinsLet’s bake some muffins (the American ones that resemble large cup cakes) and compare the process to writing a blog post.

First, gather together the necessary equipment and ingredients. You will need a bowl, a saucepan, cooking scales, a bar of chocolate, flour, butter and sugar, an egg, vanilla essence and chocolate drops, muffin cases, a baking tray, an oven, some hungry people, and a recipe book.

Your bowl represents your blog’s posting page. It’s empty, and needs the ingredients to be put in it to make your muffins. Likewise your edit post page needs some post material to be written into it.

The idea for your post is like deciding what flavour your muffins should be. It’s best to choose a subject that everybody will want to read, so we have chosen chocolate as this is usually a favourite. Melt your chocolate in a saucepan.

Now weigh out your flour, or the words of your post. This is the bulk of the final product. But other ingredients need to be added, as flour alone won’t make a muffin.

But before you add the flour to your bowl, you must cream together the butter and sugar. This mixture represents the headline or title of your post, as it needs to be done or thought of first. It can be hard work to create the correct consistency, but it will be worth it.

Add a beaten egg to the mixture, or check that the headline has become a suitable permalink or URL for your post, and doesn’t read just as a page number. The permalink is important for search engine optimisation, to allow the mixture to rise during cooking, so it is a good idea to get it right.

Now you enhance the flavour of your muffin mixture with vanilla essence and chocolate drops (which represents the tags or keywords of your post). These will transform your muffins into tasty double chocolate samples rather than just ordinary chocolate ones.

Now you fold the flour into the mixture, or write the words with all the elements included above. Remember to add the melted chocolate (or retain the relevance of your post), or your muffins won’t turn out as expected.

Then spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, so they retain their shape and cook better on the baking tray. This is the equivalent of allocating your post to its category or topic page.

Now you need to publish your post, or cook your muffins in the oven. Mmmm, wonderful chocolatety smells! Once the time is up, they should be ready to be devoured by hungry readers.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the baker’s shop. If you supply a baker’s shop to sell your muffins, more people who pass by or visit the shop will get a chance to buy and eat them. And if the shop provides a delivery service, regular customers will receive half a dozen as soon as they are baked. This is the equivalent of RSS feeding and subscribing your newly published posts.

And the last item is my recipe book, or blogging pages, where you can learn more about blogs and how to create them.

To comment or not to comment, it’s all about interaction

One of the aspects of a blog is that it is interactive. This means readers are able to contribute to your blog if they have something to say. Blogging programmes automatically add an area after posts where readers can add their point of view. The ability to comment is also part of the phenomenon Web2.0, which is about interaction on the web.

So, what is special about blogs and commenting? Ordinary websites don’t have areas to put your point across, unless it’s a form to leave your details or send an email. Therefore what you have written is not automatically showed to you afterward for others to read, something that naturally occurs on a blog (unless the blog’s administrator wants to moderate your comment first, to make sure it isn’t spam).

But why should you comment on blogs? Apart from sharing your opinions, your comment may increase the value of the blog post, making it more interest to other readers. The author may also be inclined to respond, and starting a conversation – all adding to the entertainment factor.

Another thing to note, comments are viewed by the search engine spiders as new material, so the more interaction, the more the blog post goes up the search engines.

Comments can vary in content, as their authors can agree or disagree with the topic of the post. As long as you continue to be polite and forthcoming, and your contribution is relevant and resourceful, any comment is good. Sometimes comments lead onto other blog posts, especially if backed up by links. As spiders thrive on links, there are opportunities for comment authors to leave their details.

How do you induce a comment? Simply ask for one, as sometimes it won’t occur to the reader to leave one otherwise. Positioning a question at the bottom of your post may also encourage a response, as well as controversial subject matter. Those who comment are usually used to interaction on the net, and are likely to be avid social networkers, but anything that stimulates a reader to take action is advantageous.

Why is it good to comment? If you want to find your way in your chosen field, visit as many relevant blogs and leave a comment where you can. Then you will begin to get noticed by other bloggers and blog readers, and commenting will also enable you to link back to your blog or website, thus increasing your visitor rate. If you get a name for yourself by leaving good quality comments, visitors are more likely to visit to read your articles, subscribe to your blog and even leave comments themselves.