Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Content: Is It Killing Your Website?


There are many factors that go into a successful website, from usability to SEO, and much more. But people often overlook the importance of quality content. If the content on your website has spelling and grammar errors, isn’t factual, or is just plain boring, you are going to lose potential customers and discourage them from coming back.

Keep your intended audience interested in what you have to say or sell by following the tips below:

Don’t duplicate. Why would anyone spend time browsing through all the pages on your website if the content is the same throughout? If you don’t like to write, hire a professional writer and let them craft unique and persuasive content for each page of your website. Not only will this make your products and services stand out, it will help your site to rank better on the search engines.

Stop spamming. There’s nothing wrong with having ads on your website or blog – hey, we all have to earn a living – but going overboard can leave your prospective customers with a bad impression of your company. If your site or blog is so full of ads that it detracts from the content, you’ve got a problem. Reduce the number of ads you have on your site or blog and see if it helps boost your conversion rate.

Step up the quality. Think of the reasons why you would spend your valuable time reading someone’s blog or the content on their website. Most likely you would read something that was informative, factual, interesting, and engaging. If your web content is full of spelling errors or useless information, your reader won’t return. Quality content is necessary to sell your products or services and it helps establish your credibility as a company.

Don’t overdo SEO. Too much of a good thing will kill your conversion rates. But finding the right balance will help it. Keep this in mind when incorporating SEO into your web content. Always ask yourself if you’d read the SEO article, blog, or website content you just created and actually find it interesting and/or informative. If you wouldn’t read it, don’t expect your target audience to either.

Check out these links for more information about how you can create great web content:

7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Usability

Seven Tips to Make Your Website Sing

And if you're interested in increasing your visibility amongst the major search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo, Voice of North America can help. Voice of North America lets you post blogs about any topic you want, getting you quality link backs from relevant content.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Conversion Rate Crashing? Fight Back!

He-Man would never give up. And neither should you. 

If your website hasn’t been receiving a normal amount of traffic lately and/or your conversion rate is crashing, don’t just sit there and take it! There are some things you can do, starting today, that can help your website get back on track.
  • Test the speed of your page loads. If they’re slow, this could one of the reasons you’re losing prospective customers. Remember, people are impatient, if your site is slow, they’ll move on to one that isn’t. Invest in a superfast site that gives the people what they want when they want it.
  • Check the links throughout your site. If you have broken links, it may discourage people from continuing to view your products or services. Broken links give an unprofessional impression. Test your links often to ensure they’re working and linking to the proper pages. 
  • Review/update your site’s keywords. Search engine optimization is a great tool that can not only help drive traffic to your site, but also direct your target audience to your products and services. But don’t forget that keywords can lose their relevancy, so reviewing them is always a good idea. If they’re no longer relevant to your products or services, check AdWords to find the keywords that are being used more frequently now and revise ASAP. 
  • Enlist the help of an outside source, like Voice of North America, to ensure you’re getting the most relevant web traffic possible. Voice of North America enables you to blog about your products or services in a 50 domain network and it lets you control keywords and meta data for your listings. You’ll get high quality linkbacks to your website from the audience you’re targeting, which can up your conversation rate.
  • Ask a few people you know to rate your site’s usability factor. If your website is hard to navigate, confusing, or cluttered, your intended audience won’t be able to find what they came to your site for in the first place. If your usability factor is low, you may want to consider investing in professional web design. 
See: How to Improve Your Website’s Conversion Rate and How to Increase Website Traffic

6 Steps to Effective Web Content

Is your web content so boring it even makes kittens fall asleep?

Writing for your website is different than writing a press release, blog, or email newsletter. If you want your content to draw people in and keep them interested, it has to include a few key ingredients. Persuasive, interesting, and well-written web content can help convert web traffic into paying customers and ensure that your company comes across as both professional and credible.
  1. Your first step is to do a little research on your target audience. If you know who you’re writing for, you can tailor your content to match. Depending on what you discover in your research, you may learn that your audience is driven by emotion and creative content that moves them to contact you will be your best bet. If they’re a technical audience, statistics, graphs, and figures might be more appropriate.

  2. Search engine optimization is going to be an essential ingredient to the success of your website and business as a whole. You can use Google’s keyword tool – AdWords to conduct research on which keywords and/or phrases are searched the most. Using broad keywords won’t be as effective as specific keywords, so keep that in mind.

  3. Writing catchy SEO titles for each page will help catch your target audience’s attention. Remember that infusing your site, content, and titles with SEO keywords is a wise business decision, but if you go overboard, it’s going to have the opposite effect on your visitors. Make sure your titles and content read as such; if they come across as just a way for you to have SEO throughout your site, no one’s going to read your content or learn about your products and services anyway.

  4. Keep your content concise. Write small paragraphs that contain information relevant to each page. Make sure each page of content on your website is unique as well. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will see your website as redundant if you have the same copy on each page and it can affect your rankings.

  5. Add bullet points or numbered list where you can. This will allow your visitors to skim your content for the information they’re looking for. Make sure you have a link to your contact form on every single page so they can easily reach you by email or phone.

  6. Don’t forget about call to action. Your content needs to be persuasive—but not overly so. If your content is too sales-y, you may lose visitors. But if it’s filled with informative, engaging, and persuasive content that leads them to an action, then you’ve done it right.
See: Call to Action: Why Your Marketing Content Needs It

Once your content is up and running, you might also want to think about blogging about your products and services to help increase your visibility amongst search engines. Voice of North America lets you post blogs about any topic you want in a 50 domain network, getting you quality linkbacks from relevant content.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Little Grammar Lesson Never Hurt Nobody (Ironic?)


No matter if you’re writing professional web content or a Facebook status update to your friends, knowing the grammar basics is essential. Since I love learning about grammar (nerd alert), I ‘follow’ quite a few editors, proofreaders, style guides, and grammar experts on Twitter. This is a great way to learn everything from basic grammar tips to more complex grammar issues on an ongoing basis. But if you’re ready for a quick review of the most common grammar errors right now, check out my tips below!


You’re is the contraction of ‘you are.' For example, “Shannon, you’re the best blogger in the world” and “Hey, Shannon, you’re doing an amazing job on that witty and highly informative blog – keep up the good work!”

Your is the possessive form of you. For example, “Is that your dog that just crapped on my lawn again?” and “You better start cleaning up after your dog or I will be forced to rub your face in his poo.”

If you’re still unsure whether you need to use you’re or your, a good way to test it is to insert 'you are' (you're) into the sentence.

For example, would 'you are' work in this sentence? “Is that you are dog that just crapped on my lawn again?” Since it clearly doesn’t make any sense, you know you need to go with 'your.' You can use this trick anytime you are unsure which you need to use.

They’re/Their/ There

They might sound the same, but these three words all have very different meanings.

They’re is the contraction of ‘they are.’ For example, “I’m only going to their wedding if they’re having an open bar” and “Don’t worry, cheapskate, they’re having an open bar with lots of vodka – your favorite.”

Their is used to describe belonging. For example, “Their wedding was a smashing good time. No, really, I got super smashed” and “I’m glad you had fun, but you probably shouldn’t have helped yourself to some of their wedding gifts.”

There is used to a refer to a place, whether physical or abstract, but it can also be used to introduce a sentence. For example, “There is nothing wrong with a little bump and grind” and “Look at that couple bumping and grinding over there.”


It’s is the contraction of ‘it is’ and ‘it has.’ For example, “It’s going to kill me if there are no hot guys at the bar tonight” and “I can't believe it's taking this long for all the cute guys to show up."

Its is a pronoun that shows possession. For example “This glass isn’t going to refill itself on its own” and “This blog will never lose its appeal.”

Remember the trick from above… insert 'it is' (it's) in the sentence if you're unsure which to use.

For example, “This glass isn’t going to refill itself on it is own.” Immediately you can tell that the correct choice to go with is ‘its.’

I hope this helped! Another great source for easy-to-remember grammar tips is Grammar Girl’s website. Check it out and see what you think!

And if you're interested in increasing your visibility amongst search engines, Voice of North America can help. Voice of North America lets you post blogs about any topic you want, getting you quality link backs from relevant content.

Want Tweet Cred? Speak the Language

Does Twitter have you looking like this?

So you wanna learn Twitter-speak, do you? Or maybe you just want to learn the basics so you know what’s going on when you see things like #FF or RT. Either way, understanding the“language” Twitter users have created over time will help you engage with your followers. And the good news is that you don’t have to take any Twitter Rosetta Stone classes to get the hang of it.

I’ve include a list of the most commonly used Twitter-inspired words below as well as some basic Twitter terms to help you get that tweet cred in no time at all.

  • Tweeple - users of Twitter, or a users’ followers (also “tweeps”)
  • Tweetup - a real world gathering of Twitter users
  • Twisticuffs - a verbal argument conducted via tweets
  • Tweet cred - social standing on Twitter
  • Twelete - removing a previously-published tweet
  • Twirting - flirting in 140 characters or fewer
  • Twitterfly - A social butterfly on Twitter
  • Twitterish - Erratic behavior/prone to outbursts
  • Tweme - a popular idea (meme) on Twitter
  • Twittiquette - the social norms of micro-blogging
  • Twebinar - a “web seminar” using Twitter
  • Retweet - RT- reposting a tweet someone else already sent out
  • Hashtags - Hashtags are keywords preceded with the # symbol See: Hashtag 101
  • Dweet - A tweet sent while drunk (Not advisable)
  • OH – If you see this preceding a post, it means that you're letting people know something funny or interesting that you overheard and not posting an original thought
  • DM – This means direct message
  • Twittersphere or Twitterverse – Refers to the entire world and culture of Twitter.
  • #FollowFriday or #ff – Used on Fridays to suggest people who are interesting to follow on Twitter.
  • #MusicMonday – Used on Mondays to suggest music to your followers or to let your friends/followers know what your favorite song(s) of the week are
  • #ThankfulThursday – Used on Thursdays to tell your followers what you’re thankful for
  • Microblog. Twitter is often referred to as a microblog because it allows people to update their status using only 140 characters.
  • Mistweet - Accidentally sending a tweet to the wrong person or wishing you didn't send a particular tweet. Dweets can often become Mistweets.
Have more to add? Feel free to keep the list going in comments.

And to read more about Twitter-speak, check out these articles:

Are You Down with the Twitter Lingo? AKA Twingo

The Twitter Glossary

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don’t Be a Creepy Jerry

Everywhere in the blogosphere you’ll find Creepy Jerry’s … trolling blogs all day long but never leaving any comments. Why is this? If Creepy Jerry’s have the time to read, don’t they also have the time to leave a quick comment?

Are you a Creepy Jerry? Do you prefer to engage in the equivalent of one night stands with a variety of blogs? To read posts quickly and then slip silently away, never to be seen or heard from again? Or do you like to form a personal and long-lasting relationship with a blog, commenting and visiting on a regular basis?

As I’m new to blogging, I’m interested to see what might entice a Creepy Jerry to leave his world of trolling and lurking behind and become an active member on a blog such as mine.

Creepy Jerry’s of the world, I’m asking you to come out of your trolling closet and leave a comment today! You can even use a fake name if you’d like or simply be known as “anonymous.” Baby steps.

And if you're wondering, there is a real-life Creepy Jerry at my office who inspired this post. In fact, he's probably reading this right now, lurking in the shadow of his computer, never commenting, but always there.

Stocking – You Can’t Go to Jail for This Kind!

Still planking? That was sooo two months ago


Tired of planking? Looks like it’s on its way out thanks to something called stocking. Stocking involves recreating a photo from istockphoto or Getty Images and then placing them side by side - like this:

I wish stocking didn't make me laugh. But it does.

IMO, it’s way funnier than planking ever was and more interesting to see photos of. I can’t wait to see some of the weirder istock photos recreated though because we all know there are some super creepy things to be found on istock. Looking forward to those!

Want to know more about planking? Read Stocking is the New Planking and check out this Tumblr

And if you’ll always be a plankophile at heart, this link is for you: Best Planking Pictures

What are your thoughts on stocking and planking?

Holiday Shopping - Is Your Business Ready for It?

Screw busy malls - she's doing all her shopping on her phone from now on

Google’s Mobile Ads Blog posted some interesting news recently. 15% of searches on Black Friday will come from mobile phones. What does this mean to you? Well, if you’re a business owner, investing in mobile technology for your website could help drive sales this holiday season and ensure mobile users can easily access your website (and purchase your products) year-round.

There’s still time before the holiday shopping season hits! Follow these tips to maximize your profit this season.
  • Go mobile. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile phone use, you’re missing out on a big market that is only getting bigger. Websites that aren’t mobile can appear jumbled, hard to read, and simply  not worth the hassle of trying to navigate. Don’t let yours fall into this category. Consider this: Google says 44% of last minute gift searches will come from mobile phones. 
  • Make your keywords festive. Okay, maybe not exactly festive, but updating some of your SEO keywords to include holiday shopping trends and popular shopping locations can help your site optimize for the profitable holiday season. Be sure to keep your biggest and best keywords the same, however. 
  • Combine shopping deals with social media. Offer special Facebook and Twitter-only specials that will entice holiday shoppers to purchase your product or service. Post updates detailing your specials and include a link to your website. 
  • Stand out on the search engines. There’s a lot of competition out there, so you should take all the help you can get to promote your business. Voice of North America can get you high quality linkbacks to your website.
What are you doing to help maximize your profit this holiday season?

Websites Need Love Too

Every time you ignore your website, a puppy cries 
Did you know that updating your web content regularly can help improve your rankings in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo? Plus, having fresh content on your website gives your web visitors a reason to come back, improving your rankings further. Don't ignore your website any longer - it needs love and care to help your company grow, gain exposure, and become profitable.

Here’s how you do it: 
  • Invest in a content management system (CMS). If you don’t already have one, a CMS will enable you to make regular updates to the content on your website. You’ll also be able to add pages, add/update keywords, add/delete images, tag images, and much more. This allows you to make regular changes to your site without having to pay a costly webmaster to do it for you.
  • Conduct your own website review. Go through each of the pages on your site and determine which ones need updating or new images. Pay special attention to outdated content, including old contact info, products you no longer sell, outdated prices, and specials you’re no longer running. Make a list of the most pressing changes that need to be made to ensure you get to those first.
  • Add new content on a regular basis. After you’ve made the initial revisions, it’s important you continue to do this on an ongoing basis. Add new pages, including a company blog where you can talk about new products, exciting news, or simply discuss industry news and happenings. Try to make updates at least once a month, but if you can find the time to do it more often than that, even weekly, the search engines will look upon that favorably.
  • Don’t forget to link. When you add new pages, put a link on the homepage to each one. Don’t forget to also include links to your Facebook and Twitter pages on your home page as well as your blog if you have one.
  • Get outside help if needed. If you need help getting high quality linkbacks to your website, utilizing Voice of North America’s services is a great idea. Voice of North America lets you blog about your products or services in all 50 states, helping you reach local customers as well as drive relevant traffic to your website. 
  • Keep learning. The best way to continually improve your rankings in the search engines and continue to reach your target audience is to stay on top of advancements in SEO, SEM, marketing, and web development. The more you know, the more your company will benefit. 
Here’s a few great places for you to get started: 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hashtag 101

Ahh, the sweet sound of hashtags
Pretty soon after you sign up for a Twitter account you’ll start noticing a whole lotta hashtagging going on. There is no hashtag police (that I know of) who will arrest you for using hashtags the “wrong” way, but it’s always helpful to know how to use them to benefit not only your company but also to enhance your experience as a Twitter user.

First of all, if you post a tweet like this:

"Longest day ever! #sofreakingtiredcantwaitforbedzomgimgonnadie" ….

Some might say you used your hashtag incorrectly. While this is debatable as there are no actual rules or governing hashtag authority, there’s also no real point to using a hashtag in this way either. Other than trying to be funny, no one is ever going to use that hashtag again or search for it, which is the point of using a hashtag in the first place. 

However, there are a few ways you can use hashtags that will engage your followers and encourage interaction.

Hashtagging for a cause. If there’s a particular cause, charity, or organization you are interested in, putting their name as a hashtag in your tweet is a good way to show your support and talk to other people who are also interested in this cause. If you’re a business owner, don’t forget that engaging your followers doesn’t mean only talking to them about your products or services. Talk to them about similar interests and build trust and loyalty – two essential ingredients for success.

Entice followers with a contest. Want to keep track of conversations about your brand? Run a contest and give it a hashtag that you created specifically for it. This way, all of the people interested in your contest will use the same hashtag, which enables not only the community to interact with each other but also lets you keep track of what people are saying and who is engaging with your brand. I may have forgotten to note that when you use a hashtag, it becomes a clickable link, which goes to a page that shows only results for people using the same hashtag.

Chat about your interests
. Love a certain TV show? Find their official Twitter page and use the hashtags they designate for each episode. For example, as a True Blood fan myself, a Trubie, if you will, I can use not only the hashtag #trueblood but the specific hashtag they dictate for each episode. Last week’s episode was hashtagged #souloffire and the week before was #burning. By using those hashtags when you talk about the show, you can click on the hashtags and go read what everyone else on Twitter is saying about that episode. This gives you a unique way to interact with people who share your interests.

Here’s the Wikipedia article on hashtags for more info and another helpful article titled:  How to Use Twitter Hashtags.

While Twitter is a great way to promote your products and services and get to know your followers, you’ll still want to make sure your website is getting found on the search engines. If you could use a little help, let Voice of North America help you increase your linkbacks by driving relevant traffic to your site.

Who Says SEO Isn't Funny?!

I don't know if you're ready for this jelly but here are a few SEO jokes anyway to brighten up your day. Enjoy!



  • What do black hat SEO’s eat on Thanksgiving? A: Keyword stuffing.
  • Old SEOs never die, they just lose their rankings.
  • What does a links super­hero wear? A Linkscape.
I have to admit, "keyword stuffing" literally made me LOL. #embarrassing #meganerd

Have any good SEO jokes to add? Leave a comment, we'd love to read them!

If you want to increase your visibility amongst search engines, Voice of North America can help. Voice of North America lets you post blogs about any topic you want, getting you quality link backs from relevant content.

Big Mistake, Google. Big. Huge!

"My business is not closed! Do you hear me, Google Maps?!"
Yes, the title of this blog post is a Pretty Woman reference – I hope at least one person out there got it!

I just read an article about Google listing businesses that are actually open as CLOSED on Google Maps due to spam. Since users can make updates to business listings, they can incorrectly list a business as permanently closed, costing that business countless lost customers and profit. I don’t think I know anyone, (except maybe my Grandma) who doesn’t use Google Maps. Can you imagine the consequences if hundreds or thousands of people were searching for your business on a weekly basis only to have a supposedly trusted listing telling them it’s (incorrectly) closed?

This brings up a good discussion for business owners. Do you regularly ‘Google’ your business’ name? Do you check Google Maps to ensure your company’s info is accurate? Do you check review sites like Yelp to find out what people are saying about you?

Being proactive about your business can help you maintain a positive reputation for your company, help you retain customers, and help you find errors (like a closed listing on Google Maps) before they can spell disastrous results for your business.

Here's that article in full: Google Maps Spam Erroneously 'Closes' Open Businesses

What do you do to ensure your business is correctly listed on the web and how do you maintain your business’ reputation with so many review and social media sites out there?

And if you're interested in increasing your visibility amongst search engines, Voice of North America can help. Voice of North America lets you post blogs about any topic you want, getting you quality link backs from relevant content.

Daily Deals – Should Your Business Do It?

They just got 70% off those drinks thanks to a daily deal site
Groupon, Living Social, WeeklyPlus, Deal Chicken … I could go on … 

Right now, there are (at least) 5 different daily deals sitting in my inbox. If you’re a business owner, chances are you’ve started to wonder if advertising a deeply-discounted product or service on one or more of these sites is a smart business move for you. While there are definitely advantages and disadvantages, it will depend greatly on the type of product or service you have to offer. Restaurants and special events seem to do quite well on daily deal sites, but risk takers, like the dealership that offered the very first daily deal for a vehicle, lost big with only four takers total. 

Let’s discuss some pro/cons to advertising your business on sites like Groupon and Living Social
  • With the huge database of followers the big daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social have, your business will gain a lot of exposure
  • If people like what you have to offer, they may return, helping you make up the profit you lost by offering the discount and hopefully increasing your revenue over time
  • Most daily deal sites do not take profit from you upfront, which means you do not have to pay out of pocket
In short, repeat customers, business exposure, and no upfront costs are the advantages to promoting your business on a daily deal site.
  • You may see a temporary increase of customers due to the daily deal, but if those customers do not return, you may not make your profit back
  • If you have a regular customer base already, offering a daily deal may alienate them. For example, if you own a yoga studio and have a class full of regulars who attend every day, they may not enjoy overcrowded classrooms of sweaty daily deal buyers and take their business elsewhere.
In short, daily deals can be a risk for companies, especially small businesses. If you’re banking on getting a slew of new, regular customers, keep in mind that daily deals run, well, daily. This means that there’s always going to be another company like yours offering another great deal for them to buy. So why would they pay regular price at your business when they could just wait for another daily deal to pop up and go there? 

Here’s an interesting article to read: Groupon Offers Discount on University Tuition by Jennifer Van Grove

Let’s discuss – what are your thoughts on daily deal sites? Would you try it? 

Having trouble getting found on search engines? Why not check out Voice of North America, an online tool that lets you blog in all 50 states and helps increase your brand’s exposure and your web traffic. 

A Company Cannot Exist on Social Media Alone

There's more to a marketing strategy than social media
When it comes to social media, anyone looking to promote a business, product, or service should definitely have a strong presence on sites like Twitter and Facebook. But relying on social media alone to gain business exposure isn’t a good idea. If you want optimal results, you will need a well-rounded business plan that attacks all mediums of exposure.
  • If you’re already on social media sites, make sure you’re tweeting and posting regularly on every account you have set up. Initiate conversations with your fans and followers and make sure you respond when they talk to you. Try to engage with your followers on a daily basis by posting interesting content and links to informative articles. If you’re not yet on social media sites, make sure you set up your accounts ASAP. Developing a strong following takes time, so don’t expect results overnight. Instead, be patient and make growing your presence on social media part of your everyday routine.
  • Don’t forget about the power of press releases. Press releases are a great way to announce a new product or service or highlight important company news. You can incorporate SEO keywords into your press releases too, making them easier for your target audience to find them. There are free press release distribution sites out there, so do some homework and submit your press releases to a few of them. You can also pay a company to do this for you as well as post press releases on your company’s website and/or blog. (Be sure to send out an update or tweet on Facebook and/or Twitter with a link to the press release to gain more readers). Here’s an article with more in-depth tips on how to distribute a press release: Effective Free Press Release Distribution in 5 Easy Steps
  • Email newsletters and announcements are an easy way to reach hundreds (if not thousands) of potential and past customers. The key is making your newsletter content interesting enough that it doesn’t get thrown into the trash bin the second it hits their inbox. If you’re not a great writer, hire one. Make the content interesting, informative, witty, or funny depending on your product or service and eventually your customers will look forward to seeing your newsletter pop up in their inbox. Don’t have enough customer email addresses to send out a newsletter? Why not offer a special email-only discount that requires customers to sign up for your newsletter to receive? Again, you can cross-promote this on your blog and social media sites. Here’s a helpful article on email newsletter writing: How to Write Email Newsletter Articles Your Audience Wants to Read
For help growing your business, check out Voice of North America, a site where you can blog about your products and services in all 50 states. You’ll gain exposure on the search engines and increase quality linkbacks to your website or blog.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Hungry for online success? SEO and SEM go together like chips and salsa.
When it comes to search engine optimization, there are many terms floating around that can be confusing to an SEO newcomer. The good news is that SEO and SEM are a way for you to increase your business’ exposure as well as your profit—and they’re simple to understand, too!

SEO – If you’re a business owner or trying to promote a product or a service, SEO, or search engine optimization, is a term you will want to become very familiar with. Search engine optimization is the process of analyzing what keywords or phrases people use to search for a product or service on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Then, those keywords are incorporated into the html on your website, into the web content on your website, and in headlines, descriptions, articles, press releases, ads, blogs, and much more.

The goal is to use the most relevant keywords related to not only your industry but your target audience. If you get good placement in the search engines by using SEO, you’ll reach more customers, get more exposure, and increase your profit. Not all SEO use is positive though – be careful about the quantity of keywords you use and how you use them. Stay away from the dark side of keywords or you might become a black hat SEO user. See: The Difference between White and Black Hat SEO.

SEM – SEM, or search engine marketing, is somewhat of an umbrella term for all marketing techniques that will gain you higher placement on search engines. This, of course, includes SEO. So you can consider SEO to be a subset of SEM. Search engine marketing can also include pay-per-click campaigns, banner ads, ad placement, and more. Since SEM and SEO go hand in hand, you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) use one without the other.

For example, if you do not use keywords in your pay-per-click ads, they won’t target your intended audience, which will waste your money and not get you any quality backlinks to your website. SEO and SEM are useful in many forms of business marketing and will help you grow your business when done correctly. See: You Down with PPC? Yeah, You Know Me!

Can’t get enough of online marketing techniques? Check out these articles for more info:

3 Keys to the Future of SEO

4 Tips on Search Engine Optimization from AOL’s SEO Director

If you’re ready to put an SEM marketing technique into action today, Voice of North America is a great place to start. Through Voice of North America, you’ll be able to post blogs about any topic you want, getting you quality link backs from relevant content. 

Creepy or Cool? Social Networking Vehicles of the Future

The Ford Evos is smart enough to unlock the door for you. It just doesn't want to.
When it comes to new technology, especially something highly advanced, do you welcome it with open arms or are you a bit wary? I read an article today titled Ford Evos, the Social Networking Vehicle of the Future by Charlie White and I thought it might be an interesting topic to discuss.

Designers of the Ford Evos want it to be able to not only socially connect with its driver’s friends, but also be able to recommend alternate routes the driver should be taking. The Evos will even potentially be able to continue the song you had been listening to inside your home! This is in addition to the vehicle learning your work schedule and adjusting handling, heating, cooling, and more to fit your preferences all on its own.

Sounds cool in theory, right? Maybe I’ve read too much Sci-Fi stuff, but when a vehicle is that smart, it scares me a little. I mean, what happens if your fancy new Ford Evos becomes self-aware like Skynet? What then, Ford designers?

What if the Evos decides one day that it’s sick of your work schedule and decides to give you an “alternate route” that makes you late for work? Worse, what if your Evos decides it’s sick of you and tries to burn you to death by refusing to unlock the doors and adjusting your heater and seat warmers to the hottest setting? What if all Evos unite to form a revolution in which their only goal is to annihilate all humans by running them over?

Am I the only one who thinks this way? What are your thoughts on the vehicles of the future? They could be here sooner than you think!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Difference between White and Black Hat SEO

This is what your typical black hat SEO user looks like.
If you’re a blogger or want to write content for your website, you need to know the difference between white and black hat SEO. When used properly, search engine optimization can bring more traffic to your website, increase your exposure on the Internet, and build your brand. When used improperly, it can turn off potential customers and possibly even blacklist you from the search engines.

White Hat SEO – If you want to stay in the good graces of major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, stick to white hat SEO in your blog and website content. White hat SEO involves using a few relevant keywords or phrases in your tags, quality content with the relevant tags used throughout, inbound linking, and SEO-friendly headlines for blog or website’s pages.

Black Hat SEO – This type of search engine optimization is not recommended. Black hat SEO involves stuffing your tags with an overabundance of keywords, many of which are not relevant to your blog or website. Black hat SEO users will often hide keywords on their website and engage in link farming, which is exchanging links with other websites to boost your site’s ranking. Basically, you’re trying to trick search engines into thinking your site is popular and visited regularly.

Check out this funny and interesting article titled SEO Wars: Forget Black Hat, White Hat - What Color is your Lightsaber?  by Angie Schottmuller … if you’re a white hat SEO user, you’d be a good Jedi, but if you’re a black hat SEO user, you’d be venturing into the dark side. Read the article and decide ... which side are you on?

If you want to increase your visibility amongst search engines, Voice of North America can help. Voice of North America lets you post blogs about any topic you want, getting you quality link backs from relevant content.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Grammar Matters

This couple is devastated by a typo they just found on your website.
After reading an article titled Nobody Cares about Spelling and Grammar Anymore by Tim Berry,  it got me thinking about whether or not that’s true.

I have to admit that I care … a lot, actually! If I find a grammatical error in anything I’ve written, whether it’s a personal email or published web content, I feel more than a little sick to my stomach. I guess I’m kind of a grammar nerd, but even with a keen interest in the subject, I know I’m still far from using perfect grammar. However, I do my best to make sure everything I write is spelled correctly and free from grammatical errors.

Do I suggest you do the same? Well, if you’re a blogger or a writer of web content, it’s important that you not only proofread your work, but know the grammar basics. I’m not saying you have to geek out on grammar, but it wouldn’t take long to do some light reading on the subject. Doing this will make sure your reader isn’t turned off by typos and it will make you a better writer in the long run.

I think everyone can benefit from brushing up on grammar basics, so check out the links below before you write your next blog and see if they help!

10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling
Your Versus You’re

If you’ve been looking for a way to get more traffic to your blog or website, visit Voice of North America. Voice of North America will help you get found on the search engines and increase traffic to your website.

Get More Out of Social Media with Crowdbooster

Want to learn more about your social media followers? Try Crowdbooster!
If you have a business, product, or service that you’re currently promoting on Twitter or Facebook, you might be interested to learn about Crowdbooster.

Crowdbooster is a free (of course, you can also upgrade to a paid membership) site that analyzes your social media accounts and provides you with detailed feedback on how you can improve. Some of the data they’ll give you includes your follower growth, influential followers, recommendations on how you can improve your content and gain more readers, audience insights, and even a content scheduler that analyzes the best time for you to post updates and send tweets and then does it automatically for you!

Signing up is very simple – you log in with your Twitter or Facebook info and then create an account. Crowdbooster instantly starts analyzing your account and provides you with feedback very quickly. I think this could be a good tool if used regularly to learn how your company can better reach your target audience. What do you think?

Want to increase web traffic and brand exposure now? Visit Voice of North America.

RSS Feeds: Do You Need One?

Do you have an RSS feed on your blog? An RSS feed is a way for your readers to sign up to receive your blog posts by email or in their reader. It can be hard for people to remember all the blogs they like to read, so this is a quick and easy way to ensure your readers will be coming back for more.

Here’s an article I read today titled: BTW, WTF is RSS by Bob Dunn. It’s a good summary of what an RSS feed is, why you need it, and how you can implement it into your blog.

If you’re just starting out your blog, however, all the add-ons and widgets out there can be overwhelming. My blog is still a newbie and does not have an RSS feed just yet. When you're just starting out as a blogger, it’s hard to figure out which add-ons you really need or which your readers would even use or like. My advice is to not worry about it and just start out slow.

Build your blog a little each day and don’t worry about doing everything all at once. As you get the hang of things, you’ll feel more comfortable and you’ll begin to understand the type of add-ons and widgets that would be best for your particular blog and your audience.

Having trouble getting traffic to your blog or website? Voice of North America can help. Through Voice of North America, you’ll be able to post blogs and articles on a 50 domain network. This will help you get found in the search engines and increase your quality back links.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do You Have Social Media Cred?

She's smiling because her Klout score is higher than yours.
Did you know that every time you post a story, article, link, or comment on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, you’re influencing your followers? But wouldn’t you like to know exactly how much you’re influencing them and conversely, how much they’re influencing you?

There’s a new site out called Klout that lets you know just that. It gives you your “Klout Score” based on how many people you influence, how much you influence them, and how influential they are. It’s an interesting concept and pretty fun. You sign in with your Twitter or Facebook account and it gives you your score plus a detailed report. Right now, my Klout is only at 28.3%, clearly I need to work on that. Sad face.

Check it out and leave a comment letting me know what your Klout Score is!

Trying to grow your business? Don’t forget to check out Voice of North America to learn how you can start blogging in all 50 states, maximizing your exposure on the search engines, and driving more traffic to your website or blog.

Get the Latest Breaking News on . . . Twitter?

Poor weather man. Social media is taking over his job.
I’ve seen many articles lately about how social media has become an unlikely news source. Take for example the east coast earthquake that just occurred. Apparently Virginia residents began tweeting about the earthquake before it even had a chance to hit New York—leaving Twitter to claim it’s faster than an earthquake.

I can’t deny that my knowledge of major news stories occurring around the world have come directly from my friends’ Twitter and Facebook posts. I first learned that Osama Bin Laden and Michael Jackson had died from a Facebook post and heard about the Casey Anthony verdict on Twitter.

I think the reason that so many social media users immediately post on sites like Facebook and Twitter with news-worthy stories is because they simply want to be the first one among their friends to break the news. This way, they get all the shocked comments and get to enjoy the satisfaction of being the first one to report something big.

Here’s a few interesting articles I’ve seen lately on this topic:

East Coasters Turn to Twitter During Virginia Earthquake by Lauren Indvik

Timeline: How News of Osama Bin Laden’s Death Unfolded on Twitter by Brian Anthony Hernandez

Be sure to check out Voice of North America if you’re ready to grow your business and get noticed on search engines. Voice of North America allows you to blog in all 50 states about your business, product, services, or anything else you want to promote.

What’s Your Favorite Blog?

I bet she's tweeting about her favorite blog right now.
There are billions of blogs out there - how do you choose what to read? I think all of my favorite blogs have been introduced to me by a friend via Twitter or Facebook. I’ve noticed that many of my friends will put a link to a blog post they particularly like in a Twitter or Facebook update and encourage everyone to read it. If I end up liking the post, I will usually keep reading, and before you know it, I’m hooked on a blog I previously didn’t even know existed!

Here’s a few of my fave blogs right now, in no particular order.

The Fitnessista – The reason I love this blog is because it’s a personal take on healthy living. The Fitnessista is constantly posting about working out, eating healthy, new exercises to try, workout DVD reviews, recipes, workout plans, and so much more! She’s even made me crave more vegetables and fruit by posting pics of what she eats at every meal. And she does it all in a fun and friendly manner. She normally updates a few times a day, too, so it keeps me coming back regularly to read her tips.

Hyperbole and a Half -This blog kills me. Every time. It’s so weird but so funny. I love reading these posts and normally always laugh out loud at some point. The weird drawings only make it better. This was the post that a friend initially shared on Facebook that instantly had me coming back for more. This blog is witty, hilarious, and a little demented – just the way I like it!

Diva Marketing Blog – For a fun way to learn about various marketing topics, from social media to blogging, check out the Diva Marketing Blog. The writing is done in an easy-to-read yet interesting style, so you never get bored and a new blog post is always a welcome read!

Practical SEO – Read this blog to learn about SEO and everything SEO-related. From optimizing your blog to optimizing your website, you’ll learn tips and tricks for optimal success. Practical SEO also ventures into other related topics, like web development, content writing, and more, so you’ll never get bored and always learn something new.

Not sure how to get your blog or website noticed by the search engines? Check out Voice of North America – a blogging platform that lets you post about any topic you desire in all 50 states. You’ll get found by the search engines easier and get more traffic to your website or blog.

Are Keywords the Key to Blog Success?

Unlock blog success today!
Search engine optimization is a great tool for increasing exposure to your blog. If you put keywords into your content, the people searching for those topics on the web will find your blog and hopefully become regular readers.

Read on for tips on how you can incorporate SEO into your blog starting today! 

Research. You can search for relevant keywords with Google’s Adwords and find the most popular ones related to your specific industry. Remember, targeting specific keywords is the point; using too broad of keywords won’t help your intended audience find you. Check out Google’s keyword tool here

Read. Learning about search engine optimization is a great way to get better at it. There are countless informative blogs out there that will teach you how you can incorporate SEO into your blogs. Check out: SEOmoz for some good info.

Relax. Don’t go crazy with SEO! Use keywords in all of your blog posts, but don’t go overboard. You still want your blog posts to flow like they normally would and you don’t want to lose readers because you took search engine optimization to the extreme.

Remember. It’s important to remember that the key to becoming a successful blogger doesn’t depend on search engine optimization alone. There are many ingredients that go into the creation of a popular blog, from social media to syndication. Read How to Get More Blog Traffic – Real World Data by Tom Pick.

If you need help getting your business, product, service, or blog more exposure, visit Voice of North America -  Voice of North America is a platform that allows you to blog about any topic you desire in all 50 states. This will help you get found in the search engines and drive traffic to your website or blog.

Social Media, Blogging, and You

Even wild horses shouldn't be able to keep you away from social media.
Remember Myspace? It was pretty much the first social networking site to gain an enormous following. However, most Myspace users were young – my guess would be under 25 at least – with most being much younger. This would mean that only businesses whose products or services related to a younger demographic would benefit from having an account or advertising on there.

But with Twitter and Facebook now leading the pack, the game has completely changed. More and more adults are now using both social networking sites on a regular basis. In fact, I received a Facebook request from my Mom just a few days ago—the jury’s still out on whether or not I’m going to accept that request! My cousins (of ages ranging from 26-39) and aunts and uncles (ages 55+) are all on there as well.

Just today, I read an article titled Adult Use of Social Media Soars by Sarah E. Needleman. She noted that 65% of all U.S. adults now use social media accounts and on a typical day, 43% of those adults say they visit sites like Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re a business owner, this news should be very interesting to you. This means that you’re now able to reach a huge demographic through social media and effectively target your intended audience, no matter what their age range is. It seems that pretty much everyone is using social media sites—if your business isn’t represented on them, you’re losing out on exposure, consumer interaction, and potential profit. 

If you’re a blogger, promoting your blog on social media sites is a very valuable tool. Whether your blog is just for fun or for profit, marketing yourself on sites like Facebook and Twitter make for a more personal experience for your readers and help you gain more followers.

I read a blog that I love called The Fitnessista on a daily basis and I’ve made sure that I’m also a fan on her Facebook and a follower on her Twitter account. I know right away when she posts a new blog because she updates both accounts and she also posts different content on her social media sites that cannot be found on her blog. If you do the same, you’re going to gain exposure and keep your current readers engaged.

What social media sites beyond Twitter and Facebook have you found to be the most beneficial to you?

If you’re having trouble getting found on the search engines, you might want to consider enlisting some outside help by visiting http://www.voiceofnorthamerica.com/. Voice of North America is a great way to market your business, gain exposure, and reach potential customers. You’ll get to blog on their site in all 50 states, helping you get found on search engines and increase your web (or blog) traffic drastically! 

It's the Content That Counts . . . Right?

Is your blog as pretty as a picture?
I read an article today that I found interesting titled HOW TO: Build a More Beautiful Blog by Matt Silverman.

We’d all like to think that it’s the inside that counts, but when it comes down to it, do the aesthetics of a blog determine its success? This also led me to ponder if the jazzy book background I’ve chosen is enough to make you want to stay to read my blog posts or is it so annoying that it makes you want to leave and never return.

Personally, if I really loved someone’s content, but they had no interesting images to go with it and a boring background, it wouldn’t be enough for me to stop reading it. However, I can definitely see how a beautiful blog could enhance a reader’s experience. There are a few blogs I currently love reading and all of them have great images and backgrounds that do add to the overall blog experience.

If your blog is in need of an extreme makeover, check out the link above for some tips on how to snazzy up the place. And if you’re in the commenting mood, please let me know what you think of my book background, too.

On a side note, if you’re ready to grow your business (if you have one) check out: http://www.voiceofnorthamerica.com/

Voice of North America gives you the power to blog about any topic you want in all 50 states, helping you reach potential customers and drive more traffic to your website or blog.

The Power of Proofreading

They're reading your blog post right now. Hope it doesn't have any errors!
Before you hit ‘publish’ on your next blog post, make sure you’ve proofread it.
If a post is riddled with errors, it’s not going to be well-received by your readers. Plus, if your goal is to ever have a blog post go viral or to simply have people linking to it in their own blogs or on social media accounts, it’s not going to happen if it’s filled with errors.

Here are a few simple tips to ensure your next blog post is easy to read and free from typos!

Take a break. After you finish writing a blog post, it’s always a good idea to take a short break and then come back to it and proofread. Once you’ve been staring at the same content for any length of time, it gets harder and harder to spot errors. Walk away and then proofread when you come back. You’ll be able to find more errors this way.

Talk to yourself
. Reading your blog posts out loud is a great way to find errors you normally may have missed. Once you’ve fixed the typos, you’ll have a post that flows better and reads smoothly.

Use a spell-checker
. Such a simple thing, but a surprising amount of people publish before doing this easy task. Maybe you think your post is already error-free and doesn’t need the help of a spell-checker, but it can’t hurt to find out! It takes two seconds and the spell-checker could find something your eyes overlooked.

Enlist a buddy. You may be a fantastic proofreader, but even the most typo-trained eye can miss errors. If you have a buddy you can ask, have them read your blog posts before you publish them.

Follow these tips for error-free blog posts and you’ll establish credibility with your readers! If you’re having trouble getting your blogs noticed, also check out http://www.voiceofnorthamerica.com/. Through Voice of North America, you can blog in all 50 states, which will help you get found on the search engines!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wherefore Art Thou, Comments?

Look at those fingers go! She can't type comments on your blog fast enough!
So you started a great blog, much like this one, filled with interesting and witty posts, yet you still haven’t received any comments. Don’t get too down . . . all blogs have to start somewhere, right? But instead of just constantly refreshing your screen waiting to see comments that never come, why not do something about it?

Here’s an idea—Find a few blogs that you like reading and comment on them regularly. I’m not talking about being a comment spammer, either. Most blog owners do not mind if you put a link to your own blog or website in your signature, but they do mind if your comments don’t seem genuine. Pointless comments like “Great post” don’t go over well because they’re clearly only placed there so you can get your link on their blog. Leave thoughtful and interesting comments that actually add something to the conversation and make sure to keep the convo going if people reply to your comments. This is a great way to gain exposure for your blog and increase the likelihood of building regular commenters of your own.

Once you start getting visitors and commenters to your blog, make sure you actually reply! Seems silly to ignore the visitors you’ve tried so hard to get, doesn’t it? But this is a common mistake many new bloggers make. Talk to your visitors, engage them with questions and polls, and by all means, respond when they comment on your posts. If a visitor leaves an especially interesting comment, maybe even give them a shout out in another blog post – this is a fantastic way to make your blog an interactive and rewarding experience for your visitors.

A way to reach as many blog visitors as possible (and get those commenters) is by checking out http://www.voiceofnorthamerica.com/. Voice of North America lets you blog in all 50 states, reaching people easily and quickly. Direct them back to your blog or your website and gain valuable exposure and watch those comments roll in!

Lastly, consider getting an add-on that lets your blog visitors sign up to be notified when a person replies to a comment they left. This will ensure they do not forget about your blog or the comments they’ve left! Here’s one I’ve heard of that works, ubt you’ll have to see if it works with the blog service you’re using first. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/comment-reply-notification/ 

I must say, my blog would like some comments, too. Feel free to add a comment or two or leave a tip on what you feel the best way to grow your blog follower and commenter database is.

Are You a Reader Or a Skimmer?

Do you think she's reading or skimming that newspaper?
When it comes to content, whether printed or on the web, there are two types of people, the Readers and the Skimmers. Which one are you? If you’re a Reader, most likely you thoroughly read blogs you enjoy and make it a point to post comments. You probably revel in replies to your comments and continually engage in blog conversations.

A Skimmer, on the other hand, might be a person who doesn’t have time to read blog posts in full and skims posts for interesting information. Skimmers probably don’t often leave comments because they are pressed for time.

If you have your own blog, which category do you feel most of your visitors fall in to? A great way to accommodate both the Readers and the Skimmers is to make your blog posts shorter and keep the content fun and informative without getting into too much detail.

You might want to:
  • Use bullet points (just like this one!)
  • Try out numbered lists
  • Add images throughout to keep visitors interested
  • Post questions or polls to engage visitors
If you’re having trouble getting people to visit your blog or getting link backs to your website, you may also want to check out http://www.voiceofnorthamerica.com/ - it’s a great way for bloggers to attract more web visitors and get maximum exposure on the web!

6 Tips for Increased Blog Traffic

Look at all those people heading over to your blog!!
Starting a blog is a great idea – no matter if it's a blog to share stories about your own life, to initiate convos on certain topics, or to help promote your business.
If no one is reading or commenting on your blog, however, it can get a bit lonely. If you’d like to attract visitors to your blog, read on for 6 tips on how you can do just that, starting today!

Do it on the daily. Blogging, that is. If you update your blog every day, you’re more likely to have people coming back to it again and again. Who remembers a blog that’s only updated once a month? Not many people. But who remembers a blog that’s updated daily with fresh, interesting, and informative content? Everyone! Yay!

Be social. Any by that, I mean engage in social media. Once you post a blog, update all your social media accounts with the link so all of your followers can go read it. This is a great way to gain exposure for your blog and hopefully get more followers for your social media accounts and more for your blog, too. Everybody wins!

Add a picture. Does every blog post absolutely have to have a picture to go with it? No … but it does make reading more fun. Blogs can look a little dull and routine without an image to go with the content, so check out royalty-free sites that offer images and spice things up a little!

Be a blog troll. Yes, I said it—get out there and troll some blogs! Find blogs that are of interest to you and comment on them. Include a link to your own blog if allowed and engage in convos on a regular basis. Don’t be spammy or a non comment-leaving lurker – just be you – and you’ll start to get some people linking in to your blog from comments you’ve left out in the blogosphere.

Post with a purpose. Decide what the nature of your blog is going to be and stick with it to ensure you’re able to target a clear audience of readers. For example, this blog is going to be about blogging. Hence, a blog within a blog. All topics will relate back in some way to blogging, or content writing, etc. Whether it’s family, fitness, search engine optimization, animals, or anything else, decide what the purpose of your blog is going to be and make sure all topics you post about are at least mildly relatable.

Add some add-ons. To make your blog more user-friendly, interactive, and fun, check out http://whos.amung.us/, http://www.sharethis.com/, and http://www.outbrain.com/. And reach more blog readers in all 50 states by blogging at http://www.voiceofnorthamerica.com/

If you liked this post, please feel free to link to it from your own site or blog!