If you want to be seen, go expose yourself!

I caught this article on outbound links and SEO in my Facebook feed. It instantly hit a nerve.

Can we just stop writing for SEO?

We have been so brainwashed about content – when we need to post, how often we should post, how we need to create it to show in searches that we have forgotten WHY we need to publish content.

Honest answer, please?

Why do you publish content on your blog? On Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever your flavor of social media is today?

Too often the first answer is something to the effect of the “I need to be on the first page of Google” reason. The second is usually about showing up in feeds. Both are essentially the same reason – to be seen.  The problem with this approach?  The point of your content is to provide answers, information, something of value to the reader, not to get you noticed.

If you want to be seen, go expose yourself!

Back in the day that meant cold calling, networking meetings, and after-hours business events. Today it means the same, only doing it via social platforms.

Get involved in groups, interact with the content of others. Make yourself visible. Give others a reason to WANT to read your content. Write it to provide value, show authority, to connect.  This way when they do seek out your content, they’ll read it, engage with it, and potentially share it. This game of creating and publishing content and focusing on getting it to show up is ineffective (Facebook’s whole reach thing).

As a salesperson with more than 30 years experience, I can tell you the best sales are when the customer buys, not when they are sold. From a content perspective, if you continue to try to shove content down your audience’s throats, they likely won’t read it, let alone convert. Drive them to WANT to read it and they will! They are also more likely to share it and to consume more of your content.

To be clear, I am not saying a piece of content showing at the top of page 1 in a Google search or a social feed will not convert. I’m pointing out that it’s not why we should be creating content or optimizing for as a priority.

All of my content is designed to provide value. Probably 90% of the content I publish has ‘SEO’ as an afterthought, if at all.

  • I write to provide value.
  • I write with the goal of keeping content moving and easy to read.

WHEN I get you to my content, you will read it.

Everything else is secondary. I know you chose to read my content and I know I provided value, you are more likely to comment on it, share it, link back to it or otherwise send signals, direct and indirect, to Google, that it should be ranked.

Search ranking is the indirect result of good content and social networking.

Write to answer questions, inform, educate, provide value. Network to drive views. The rest takes care of itself if you do these effectively. (FYI – this is the method I use for myself and clients to drive 20%+ reach and engagement levels on Facebook.)

Yes, you can optimize for SEO to your heart’s content and will likely show in SERPs. At that point, I need to ask, for all of your work, what is your CTR? Do people actually ‘click’ when you show in a search? Do you even know?

The same applies to social feeds. If you optimize for ‘reach’, is your content seeing engagement? Is it generating web traffic? Converting? Likely no…because the reader didn’t choose to see it, it was shown to them (simple human behavior – and yes, I know, there are ways to show it to them and get them to convert.

So about what started this little rant – outbound links and if they are good for SEO.

Here’s the thing. Many of the bits which are recommended for SEO optimization – all come down to good writing and presentation.

  1. Heading tags and small paragraphs – all about making it readable.
  2. Internal links – all about providing the reader with more related content.
  3. External links – all about citing sources, supporting claims, providing related content.

Remember those term papers we needed to write in high school and college? The elements above? They were required. Why? The reasons I listed. The teacher/professor needed to be able to read (and want to keep reading) what you wrote. They needed to know you understood the concept (authority). Outbound links provide you credibility. That credibility makes someone more inclined to share and link back.

Stop thinking in terms of SEO and start thinking in terms of your audience.

  • What does my audience want to read?
  • How will  I keep them reading until the end?
  • What will provide them the information they need?
  • How will I show my authority and understanding of the concept?]

Then go network. MAKE people want to learn more about you or your brand. Make them WANT to learn more and seek out your content.

SERPs and social feed ‘reach’ for your content is an indirect result of writing for your audience, which is a direct result of you creating its initial visibility through social interaction.

Next time you sit down to write, think in terms of your reader, not Google. Then go be social. Click To Tweet

Robert Nissenbaum is a speaker and you can find out more here.

The Best SEO Advice for Nonprofits — #NPChat Recap 4/19/17

What’s the best SEO advice for nonprofits? Do nonprofits even need SEO?

Yes. Nonprofits should care about SEO. Essentially online donations are e-commerce, so best practices apply to nonprofits.

Why should Nonprofits Care about SEO?

Donation sites are e-commerce. They need to be treated in the same way. You wouldn’t put an online store up and then not optimize i? Would you?

SEO isn’t black magic or wizardry. It’s really just intentional writing for your audience. It means being found. It means writing quality content that solves problems for your customers.

For nonprofits, SEO means answering the “why” to your current and potential donor base. What is your mission? Who are you serving? Why are you working so hard for your cause? Why should I donate? Who is my audience? What does my donor base care about?

SEO Tips from John Locke

Our friend John Locke of Lockedown Design, and co-host of WP-Tonic Podcast has a real-world SEO series on his site. I specifically reached out to him for some of his insight for nonprofits as he often develops sites for nonprofits and specializes in e-commerce and SEO.

Here is some of what he tweeted:

I lean heavily on Google sheets. I’ve been using these to grade content after audit exported from Google Search console & analytics. Also, test your keywords before you commit to writing. Make sure people are actually searching for what you want to write about. Tighten up your URLs. Tighten up your page titles. Excessive words don’t necessarily help those.

If you can get the page in question to page one in Google, the featured snippet can be anything off that first page. If you have bulleted numbered lists, those seem to show up more often as featured snippets at the top of page one of Google.

Most sites, 20% the content gets the bulk of the traffic. The other pages can be combined, improved, or deleted. If a page doesn’t bring traffic, like one or two visits in six months, it’s not doing much good anyway. Combine or improve. Anything that could be potentially back linked, shared, doesn’t necessarily need to be about your core offering, is valuable.

This is something I’m really beginning to implement in all content now. Break things up. Make it beyond easy to scan. Ideally, every sentence on the page can be tweeted — 140 characters or less. Web attention span is less than reading a book. The Yoast blog is on fire lately. So much great SEO knowledge is coming out of there.

If you look at blogs like Neil Patel or Brian Dean, notice how they do short sentences as paragraphs. This is the bucket brigade. Easily scanned. Draw people in at the beginning of the article. Don’t put huge paragraphs on the page.

The more you can publish, the better. But going in depth, and having a definitive article, the most thorough, is best. The advice a few years ago was to publish all the time, but it just led to a bunch of disposable 300 word articles. Without a doubt, the stuff that gets the most traffic is the most thorough on a subject.

Publishing is only the beginning of the battle. Promoting content and getting it seen is most of the work. Momentum starts somewhere. If you have a piece of content that you really want to promote, spend a little on Facebook boosting, Twitter promoted posts. Google reads traffic. The more traffic and engagement (comments, shares, dwell time) a page gets, the higher they will push it up.

Recap of #NPChat: The Best SEO Advice for Nonprofits

We had a great chat today with some engaged SEO pros and people involved in nonprofit marketing, volunteerism, and website development.

I hope you enjoy the recap.

Q1. How are you currently involved with a nonprofit?

Q2. How do you define SEO?

Q3. How do you determine your keywords?

Q4. What tools do you use to optimize your content?

Q5. What are your strategies to reach your audience?

Q6. How often do you publish?

Q7. What are your favorite SEO tips and tricks?

And that’s a wrap!

We’d love to have you join us every week on Wednesday at 10:00 am Pacific Time.

On April 26 2017, we will be talking about LinkedIn for nonprofits.

See you there.

#NPChat: SEO for Nonprofits

Do nonprofits need to bother with SEO? Why does it even matter? They’re just collecting donations, right? Or are they?

SEO isn’t black magic or wizardry. It’s really just intentional writing for your audience. It means being found. It means writing quality content that solves problems for your customers.

For nonprofits, SEO means answering the “why” to your current and potential donor base. What is your mission? Who are you serving? Why are you working so hard for your cause? Why should I donate?

Last fall, I wrote a post on GiveWP.com called “Why should your nonprofit care about SEO?” as part of my Nonprofit 101 series. Check it out.

And let’s talk about it at this week’s #NPChat on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 10:00 am Pacific Time over on Twitter.

Why Join a Twitter Chat?

Twitter chats are a great way to connect with like-minded professionals who are engaged users on Twitter. This elevates your brand, gives you visibility, and positions yourself as an expert on the topic and in the field.

Who doesn’t want to connect with your community? Who doesn’t need help every once in a while?

Joining our weekly Twitter Chat may just be the right thing for you. And, who knows, you may even have a few tweets featured in our recap!

#NPChat takes place every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

How to Join a Twitter Chat

  1. Follow the hashtag on Twitter (but don’t forget to add #NPChat manually after your tweet or we won’t see your tweet, especially in a comment retweet).
  2. Use Hootsuite or TweetDeck and make a column for #NPChat (but don’t forget to put #NPChat manually after your tweet).
  3. Go to the Twubs page for #NPChat.
  4. My preferred method is using TweetChat. Just go here and login with your Twitter account. You can even highlight the moderator so you don’t miss questions.

SEO for Nonprofits: The Questions

Q1. How are you currently involved with a nonprofit?

Q2. How do you define SEO?

Q3. How do you determine your keywords?

Q4. What tools do you use to optimize your content?

Q5. What are your strategies to reach your audience?

Q6. How often do you publish?

Q7. What are your favorite SEO tips and tricks?

 

See you Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 10:00 am Pacific Time on Twitter!

Blogging Track Recap for WordCamp Orange County 2015

Blogging TRACK!

It’s so nice to attend classes at WordCamp that help bloggers. Not all of us are developers and I was overjoyed to see so many great classes that totally apply to bloggers.

Well, there wasn’t a blogging track per se, but there were several classes I attended that every blogger should take: Google Analytics, SEO, Optimizing Images, and Beefing up Your Blogging Habits (well, it had another title).

This is the first time that I’m recapping four sessions in one blog post but they go together. Forgive me if it seems disjointed.

As the WordPress.tv talks become available, I will add links.

Some mentioned plugins that can help you along, and others were lifestyle changes.

Here are the highlights.

Google Analytics for Website Owners by Mike Hansen

Sidenote: Carol and I had a great “hallway chat” with Mike about some of these topics. Personally, I’m hoping he blogs about them more often.

Soundbites:

  • “Analytics can be intimidating.”
  • “A metric measures something and a dimension describes it.”
  • “If you change something from today, [the stats] will be from today forward.”
  • “Everything in analytics is about making your website better.”
  • Attach a monetary value to your Google Analytic goals for conversions to work.
  • “Google analytics isn’t an accounting software.”
  • “The Administration Screen is powerful.”
  • “Email the report to yourself once a week.”

Read more Blogging Track Recap for WordCamp Orange County 2015