Digital Guyana

Posts Tagged ‘seo

This was a half-day session aiming to build on the blogging lessons from the main course. The idea being to build on the students’ basic knowledge and introduce them to

Tools of the trade

We used WordPress.com in the lessons, but there are other blogging platforms, each with slightly different features.

There are comparisons of the various services at Online Journalism Review and TopTenReviews.

Other useful services that we discussed include:

  • Facebook – a social network
  • Twitter – a flexible micro-blogging tool
  • Delicious – a ‘social bookmarking’ website
  • Google Reader – useful for reading blogs via their RSS feeds
  • Firefox and Firefox plugins – a web browser that is preferable to Internet Explorer in many ways and allows for customisation via easy-to-use plugins.

Blog promotion

Four key concepts:

  • Write good content
  • Post regularly
  • Link generously
  • Comment on other blogs

We also looked at the concept of using other social media profiles as outposts.

It’s worth bearing in mind the basics of SEO – incoming links, keywords in tags and titles, relevant anchor text and regular content are all good.

Also, while online interaction is great, you can’t beat meeting people face-to-face for making longer lasting connections and building relationships.

We also looked at more traditional ways to promote a blog – by telling people about it, adding the URL to email signatures/flyers/posters, etc.

Other tips

The following is a random selection of hints and tips aimed at improving your blogging.

Develop an editorial calendar that will allow you to plan blog posts over the year (including any lead-in/previews).

Consider guest posts:

  • Writing on other people’s blogs will introduce you to a new audience
  • Having others write on your blog will provide your readers with a fresh perspective, a new writing style and it’ll help spread the load of writing new content.

Group blogs are blogs with several contributors. Each contributor may have different topics, days of the week to post on. A group blog spreads the amount of effort required from each person, as well as providing a place for structure and support.

Involve your audience – blogs and social media allow audience engagement in ways that broadcast media do not. By interacting with your audience you can strengthen your relationship with them and learn what content they prefer.

While asking your audience and listenting to them is important, you should be wary of pandering to the vocal minority, whose views may not be representative of all your readers.

Statistics – your can use Feedburner and Google Analytics to discover what your readers (including the silent majority) respond to.

Mix up your blog posts – use video, audio, text and photos to provide a rich and varied experience for your readers.

Write like a person – blogs work well as a conversational medium. It’s much easier to converse with a person than a press release.

Know your target audience – build up an impression of who your readers are, what they like, how they get their information and so on. This will help you write for them. Getting out and meeting your readers face to face (ie at events) will help with this.

Comments guidelines – if you have a lot of people commenting on your posts and moderation becomes necessary, it can be useful to have comment guidelines in place. This will explain to people what behaviour is not tolerated and what action (editing/deleting posts and banning commenters) may be taken if they are breached.

Finally, the best way to learn is to look at other successful bloggers and their blogs and see what they do.

In this session we gave a brief overview of online marketing and selling, finishing with an exercise where the students presented a quickly-devised online marketing plan.

Ecommerce flip chart

There are many ways in which the Internet can be used for selling goods and services. We looked at some basic online marketing techniques and then examined ways to sell directly to customers online.

Getting leads

It is possible to use the Internet to increase sales of goods and services in ‘real life’ without selling anything directly via the Internet. For instance, by publishing your location and the products you have for sale you can encourage people to contact you or visit your shop.

Establishing reputation

Businesses that sell services may not be able to sell them over the internet. However, when purchasing services (especially tradespeople – electricians, plumbers, handy-men, etc) reputation is important. By writing online about their experience, recent work and successes, people can find out whether the person is likely to do a good job for them.

Advertising

If you are writing regular content about a certain topic then it may be possible to serve adverts next to that content. Google Adsense is one method for doing this, whereby you will be paid a small amount each time someone clicks an advert on your website.

Affiliate sales

Via the Internet you can make money helping to sell other peoples’ products. An affiliate scheme is one where, if you link to a product in an online store and you send website traffic to it, you will be paid a percentage of any profits.

Amazon Associates is the affiliate scheme for online store Amazon.

Auction sites (ie eBay)

The first step to selling online may be to use an auction site. eBay doubles up as a pre-existing marketplace – people know they can go to eBay’s websites and browse through many different sorts of products.

Marketplaces and 3rd party shops (ie Etsy and Big Cartel)

Etsy is a marketplace in the same way that eBay is – people go there to browse items of all sorts. Rather than having to establish a shop elsewhere, you can take advantage of the fact that people know and trust the Etsy brand and will visit the website.

Big Cartel will give you an online store that you can customise and sell items through. You may pay a commission on any items sold. They are very simple to set up and

Direct sales (ie Yahoo Merchant Solutions)

When you reach a certain size it may be worth considering owning your own store. This may be more expensive but you will save money on paying commission and will have more control over the look and feel of the website and aspects such as SEO.

Subscriptions

Some businesses provide regular content in return for a regular payment. For example, magazines and online courses. Threadless is a T-shirt website with a subscription service.

User Generated Content

Websites and services like Lulu (self-publishing books) and Cafepress (branded cups, bags, t-shirts, etc) allow you to upload words or a design to be turned into a product and sold remotely. You will receive a commission on any sales.

SEO

We gave a brief overview of the basics of SEO including:

  • On-site – header and meta tags, well-written code and navigation
  • Off-site – incoming links

Taking payment

People may be wary of sending money, especially overseas. However, services like PayPal, Google Checkout and WorldPay have an established reputation and will operate like an effective middleman.

Consider also

Online business directories and review websites (ie TripAdvisor)

Mini marketing plan

After the presentation, we split the group into three teams and gave them fictitious businesses to promote via the Internet.

We asked the teams to decide:

  • What they would be selling
  • Who their target audience will be
  • Where they will find their customers
  • What methods they’ll use to take payment

Team 1 – Sweet Nothing/After Dark, a nightclub in Georgetown

The club would sell products at the venue and use the Internet for marketing. They would publicise the website using offline tools (billboards, posters and flyers).

They would also use Facebook and GT Vibes to publicise the club as young people use those websites. The website would link to other similar services, with a view to building a relationship and links to other communities.

Team 2 – Spanish Jumpstart, a company selling Spanish lessons

The service would target students, adults and travellers. They would start a blog to demonstrate their expertise in Spansih lessons and advertise via directories and adverts on social networks.

The business would sell online courses, translation, seminars and video conferencing, taking payment online via PayPal.

This is a good example of taking a core product (Spanish lessons) and repurposing them for selling online.

Team 3 – Magic Touch Craft Shop

The shop would sell jewellery, footwear, belts and accessories.

They would give customers the URL of the website as welll as collecting email addresses and other contact details to keep customers updated with new products.

Potential customers would be contacted via social networks as well as having a shop on eBay.