Why Good Grammar Makes Good Sense

grammar, punctuation, mistakes, errors, content

They were, but plans must have changed.

I am a self-professed grammar geek. I love how grammar puts writing and speech in order; properly used words can shape ideas, lay them out neatly, and become powerful on their own.

At the same time, I understand how grammar’s finicky rules and complexity frustrate many. Producing fresh, relevant on-line content is usually a hurried series of writes and edits, and talking points and pull-quotes may take precedence over finely crafted sentences and paragraphs.

But good grammar should still win the day. Here’s why: Correctly used grammar illuminates your ideas, sells your products or services, and gets people talking about you. Incorrectly used grammar highlights only the mistakes, and the content—the meaning and passion that adds spark to the words–is lost. [Read more…]

Three steps to improve your SEO

Social Media 1-2-3It’s been awhile since our last Social Media 1-2-3 post. For that, I apologize. We’ve been crazy busy here at P3. December is a jam-packed speaking, moderating and attending circuit for us. For me, being out of the office and away from the organized nature of my desk aren’t conducive to blogging.

This week’s post is on SEO. While you might think search engine optimization isn’t related to (or – gasp – necessary for) a successful social media campaign, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to draw in more relevant web traffic.

Finally, you might also think that SEO is for super-guru-expert web developers only. To be sure, there are aspects of SEO that would befuddle the average blogger, but the big picture is well within your grasp.

With that said, let’s look at three simple steps anyone can implement.

Keep it human friendly

If you take one grain of knowledge from this post, it’s this: what’s human friendly is also SEO friendly. It’s true in every instance I can think of – quality of content, ease of navigation, site speed, etc. Google serves human beings and it’s in their best interest to direct their incoming search traffic to sites that are human friendly.

What can you do to keep your site user friendly?

  • Write content that you would enjoy reading and keep it clearly organized using headings
  • Keep your site clearly organized using categories and tags
  • Create sitemaps – one in HTML for real people, one in XML for Googlebot (not using a CMS? you can still create a sitemap here)
  • Keep the navigation simple – real people don’t enjoy clicking through six levels of navigation to get to your sterling prose

Increase your incoming links

Give potential visitors a good reason to visit your site multiple times, comment and even share your content. Provide your would-be visitors with content that offers value (without heavy marketing jargon) and they’ll be more likely to share the link with others. Since Google and other search engines place a high value on the number of incoming links from other high-quality sites, increasing your incoming links (known as inbound marketing) is a great way to raise yourself in search results.

What’s the best way to regularly update content in a simple, SEO-friendly format on a website today? You’ve got a handful of options, but the easiest is probably a blog. Post new content on a regular basis. Find other bloggers that are covering similar content or reaching out to the same target market and comment on their blogs. While it might seem like a simple strategy, it’s also very effective and easy for anyone to do.

Avoid duplicate content

Have you heard this one?

You’re a new blogger. A friend has been blogging for years. In order to help you get some additional traffic when you first start blogging, your friend copies your first blog post and posts it over on their site. A link at the bottom tells readers to “visit this site for more great blog posts like this one!”

While it might seem like your friend did you a kind favor, the reality is that they hurt your SEO. Duplicate content appearing on multiple sites is a no-no for SEO. In short, you’re in competition against your friend for ranking on the same blog post. Since your friend’s site is older, has more incoming links and likely more content, you’re going to lose.

Avoid posting duplicate content on multiple sites. Although SEO experts disagree on how dramatic the impact might be, the general consensus is that it’s to be avoided whenever you can.

Three simple, non-technical tips can go a long way toward improving how Google sees and ranks your site.

For more specific tips on how to optimize a site built with WordPress, don’t miss Joost de Valk’s excellent post and presentation on the subject (and thanks to Rebecca at Illuminea for sharing the link to the presentation on Twitter).

For more technical (and frequently comic) tips directly from Google, don’t miss the Google Webmasters Channel and more info from Matt Cutts on Twitter.

Ask P3: Should I share the same content on multiple networks?

Ask P3

This week’s question is a common one we’ve come across when clients begin using multiple outlets for their content.

I’m using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (fan page, group and my personal account) to promote our site and the content we post on our blog. We also use YouTube for video. When I post a new video to YouTube, should I share that video on the blog too? Should I post the link in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? We have a lot of overlap on the social networks and I’m afraid people will get sick of seeing the same content in three places.

Thanks for your excellent question! In short, my answer would be yes. But, we need to take a look at how content gets shared to understand the reasons why.

Let’s say you’re in charge of marketing, including social media, at a software company. You’ve decided to give it a shot and created a company blog. You blog regularly and get some good traffic, but you’re always looking to get more impact for the time you spend creating content. To gain a bit of exposure, you start sharing your content on three networks – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. When you’ve got other content, you post it to a media-based site like YouTube, Flickr or SlideShare. So far, things are going well and you’re getting some success at engaging users, having posts go viral and converting a fair share of your new traffic into sales. In short, your social media is a success.

But you have this nagging worry that some of your geekier clients – stalkers, if you will – are getting the same barrage of content on multiple sites. You’re worried they’re going to get sick of you and stop sharing – or worse, stop using your software.

Not to worry – it’s not likely. While a user might connect to you on any multitude of formats (RSS from your blog, Twitter and Facebook, a fan of your YouTube channel), it’s unlikely they’re paying attention to you in each venue. Even though many of your users might be using all of the same social networks, they aren’t using all of them the same way.

Think about how you share content. When you see something you’re eager to share, do you run to Facebook or Twitter? Do you “favorite” things on YouTube and SlideShare or do you email the link to your friends (or share the link in another network entirely)? Are you active in social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious? No matter your answer, the point is this: you probably aren’t doing every one of them for every story that catches your eye.

Now let’s get back to your users. Even when the same story hits RSS, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, your users are going to share and spread it a little differently depending on their particular way of sharing content. By leaving out one network, you take a chance that someone who prefers to share in Twitter is going to copy and paste your link from Facebook, if that’s their preference for sharing. While it may not sound like much, it’s added work for a user – and a chance you may not want to take.

There’s another factor when it comes to sharing the same content – something akin to six degrees of separation. Although you might be connecting directly with the same people in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the people that they’re connecting with might be different. With the goal being that your network shares your content, the potential market you reach once you get a few steps removed from your original post might be dramatically different from network to network. Let’s look at a diagram to illustrate our point.

How networks share content

How networks share content

To be sure, there’s going to be some degree of overlap in each level of connections – this is especially true if you’re target market is B2B. That said, by the time my contacts have shared my content with their contacts, I’ve already reached a huge market I couldn’t touch directly. In this way, even a small but dedicated following within a social network can have a huge impact and reach well beyond their limited numbers with a valuable message.

Ask P3: Should I cross post content from my Facebook fan page to my friends?

Ask P3

Today’s question comes from one of our recent class participants:

I’ve built my Facebook page and I’m posting content to it from my site. My page is new, so I only have a few fans right now. But I have many friends in my regular Facebook profile. Should I post the content to my personal profile too, since more people will see it there?

That’s a great question. For example, our P3 fan page has about 100 fans, but I’ve got more than 500 friends in Facebook. Don’t I want to take advantage of that network? Or am I going to annoy the daylights out of the people who are socially connected to me but couldn’t care less about my work and self-promotion?

The answer is that it depends. Evaluate your connections on Facebook – and on every network you use – and determine whether or not they are likely to help you distribute your content. In most cases, it isn’t the size of your network that makes a difference – it’s the quality of interaction you can expect from those you connect with. If there’s a reasonable expectation that your friends would enjoy and share your content with others that might subscribe or become an active fan, tread gently and ask for their patience and help as your build your online presence.

For another look at how little the size of your network matters, don’t miss Debra Askanase’s post: The Case of the 4,000 Twitter Followers Who Don’t Care.