Thursday, 28 November 2013

Major Retailer Christmas Delivery Deadlines

Still on the same subject, more or less, here’s the list, courtesy of The Telegraph, of the Christmas delivery deadlines for major retailers.  The differences are surprising, however some are obviously playing it more cautiously than others.  Pity the overburdened delivery services and order early.

Major Retailer Christmas Delivery Deadlines

If you do One Thing to your Website Today Make it This One

Happy Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow is ‘Black Friday’ which we seem to be adopting with gusto from the US.  And in just under four weeks it will be Christmas.  So much to do, so little time. 

This year is going to be a bumper online Christmas, with higher orders from mobiles and tablets and a total estimated sales value of £5bn, an increase of almost 20% over last year.  With so many delivery options now available from Collect+ to Next Day, delivery is going to be the battlefield for online orders.

It’s imperative therefore that you get your delivery options straight right from the start, and clear to your customers and passing visitors.

How many websites are you visiting you right now that offer you this kind of information?

The White Company Christmas Delivery Page

Having trawled through a few of my favourite sites I can tell you the answer…….very few.  Well my advice is to do something now.  Set up a well designed page with all your Christmas (and New Year) delivery details on it and link to it from your home page.  Don’t make people click through to ‘Delivery’ to find it.  Even if you want to just add a footer to your home page like this at this point at least do that.

 Christmas Deliveries at Lilia Nash

And by the first week in December (!) turn your link into a banner, obviously placed.  One of the most important things people are going to want to know before buying from you at Christmas is will you deliver to them on time.  It’ll be hard enough as it is.  Make it easier for your customers and let them know right now.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Brands vs Products–The War to Win Sales

Michael KorsWe are used to being bombarded by brand imagery – so much so that we ignore much of it.  Brand imagery, whether on billboard, tv or glossy magazine ad is there to reinforce the message that the brand wants us to assimilate but it so often fails because what we are really interested in is products, and it is products that get our hard earned cash. 

The proof is in the pudding, Apple was on a big slide down until it introduced products that people coveted and wanted to rush to the stores and buy.  Likewise fashion brands, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Chanel, are only as good as the products they offer.  No amount of brand marketing and expensive imagery will rival that ‘I must have that’ moment when something we actually want (need/love/lust after/covet) appears in front of us.

A great deal of money is spent on developing brands and brand marketing.  Drive potential customers to the stores to look at a specific brand’s products and if the products match our desires (and our wallets) we will buy.  We will not buy solely because of the brand, even though we may veer towards it because the noise that the brand has made has got inside our heads.

Having worked for many years in the fashion industry I know only too well how the importance of the brand – its image – its place in the brand pecking order can take precedence over the importance of offering covetable and – dare I say it – commercial products.  And when this happens the brand frequently fails.

Brands have to be in business for the bottom line.  It’s the only thing that matters in this commercial world.  And that means offering cleverly thought out products that set them apart from the rest, as well as being in keeping with brand identity.  Not an easy task, which is why so many fail. 

The rewards of combining clever brand management and marketing whilst at the same time recognising the importance of a regularly updating product range within the brand’s parameters, that entices and drives customers to buy, are huge.

Unfortunately, again referring to fashion brands, there are very few brands who have a strong enough equity not to need to go down the line into mass market at some level.  Louis Vuitton and Hermes to name but two.  Chanel!  Dior!  Do I hear you cry?  But there is always the lipstick……  Does this diminish the brand?  I don’t think so.  It creates awareness, it allows those who would not otherwise be able to buy into a brand to feel a part of it. 

Taking an upscale brand and creating an affordable diffusion product line, as long as it retains the handwriting of the brand overall, can only increase awareness and profits.   The winner of the war to win sales will cleverly combine both. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Content Marketing Strategy - 5 Tricks to Writing Email and Blog Headlines

Having been told over and over again that headlines matter most it’s amazing when you look at your in box and how quickly you delete most of what’s there.  You may not know this, but 8 out of 10 people will at least scan your headlines, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.  So it really doesn’t matter what you have to say, if you haven’t grabbed your audience at the get-go you’re never going to get them to read your friendly/interesting/inspirational words.  You might as well give up.

So if your headlines are the most important part of your communication, how do you go about making sure that they stand out?  The obvious point that you can’t write blog posts and newsletters by rote, let alone let allow someone who doesn’t really understand the importance of that first line write them for you.  This appears to be disregarded by many. 

Here are 5 ways to stop your posts and emails (and anything else you write) being a waste of time – and improve your odds of being read, and converting readers to customers.

1.   Write your headline first.  Get up from your desk, make a cuppa, go for a walk, go and talk to people and swirl ideas around in your head for a while on the subject matter you’ve chosen.  Don’t use the first headline that comes into your head.  You need something that will make people sit up, tell them you’re not going to waste their time and hopefully pique their interest.  Once you’ve come up with a headline that works for you write it down fast.

2.   Do your keyword research.  Make sure that what you’re writing about is actually being searched for and try and craft your headline around that phrase.  This helps you in many ways, not just because of SEO value, but also because…..eureka!…..this is what people want to read about. 

3.  Use a number in your headline.  For some reason these nearly always work.  Are you reading this?  I’ll say no more.

4.  Make it obvious you have something useful to say – use the words ‘how’, ‘why’, and ‘5 tricks to’, on whatever subject you’re writing about.  Make people want to dive inside and see what you have to say.

5.  Keep it short – long headlines can lose the message.  Keep it short and informative at the same time.  One scan and they’ll click through.  Make them read it a few times to get the meaning and they’ll probably be gone.

Of course there are other ways to get attention.  The Huffington Post for example keeps right on top of what’s happening and frequently sensationalises through headlines.  They are brilliant at getting most of us to read their content.  This won’t work for some, however it’ll give you an idea of headlines that ‘shout’ and demand you look.  Which is what you want, after all………

Monday, 28 October 2013

5 Ways to Improve your LinkedIn Profile

There seem to be two types of people who are on LinkedIn.  Those who realise just what a useful tool LinkedIn can be, and have made a real effort to make their profile look interesting as well as readable, and those who just have the bare bones, and aren't completely sure why they're there, or how to use it.

The first thing though before you establish your profile and work out exactly how to use LinkedIn, is to understand what you want to use LinkedIn for.  Are you looking for a job?  Are you looking for connections in your industry?  What do you want people to find out about you?

It’s important to do this first because much of your profile building and how you describe yourself will be based on this, including some of the terminology you use.

I want to be found on LinkedIn for what I do and the services I offer, and so I’ve optimised my profile accordingly and that is the starting point which links to everything else on my profile.  You need to do the same.

Patricia Davidson on LinkedIn

Here are 5 Easy Steps to Improving your LinkedIn Profile

1.  Change to your custom LinkedIn URL rather than stick with the URL that has a load of meaningless numbers at the end of it and makes you look as if you're not sure what you're doing there.....

2.  Put up a picturedon’t think for a moment you can get away without a picture of you.  Not funny or silly as you might do on Facebook or Twitter, but one that reflects who you are and what you do.  Not to have your picture on LinkedIn looks as if you may be hiding something. 

3.  Use the Summary area to outline in detail what it is that you do, and outline your work, highlighting the more relevant aspects of what you've been doing, and for whom.  You want to make all of this sound interesting, not over-wordy but not as if you can’t be bothered.  People will read as much or as little as they want to.  Make sure you give them the choice and allow your readers to find out about you.  LinkedIn is a tool where you need to sell yourself or really there’s no point in being there.

4.  List your experience.  Put as much information as you feel you need to for each position or activity you've held or undertaken.  But don't short change on this area.  Too many people don't bother here and this is one of the areas that visitors to your page will really want to read. 

5.  Then add your Interests to your LinkedIn profile.  These should not be work related but say more about you as a person.  Just as you list your ‘hobbies’ within a resume you should make sure you complete this area.  People considering employing you or utilising your skills want to know if you’re an active person or a couch potato.  What you enjoy doing says a great deal about you so cut out the nonsense and be honest. 


Ask people who you have worked with to recommend you on LinkedIn (as long as you can be fairly sure what they say will be positive rather than negative).  I personally don’t pay much attention to LinkedIn Endorsements as anyone can endorse you, even if they don’t know you (I’ll probably be disconnected by some for saying that).  Recommendations from people you have worked for carry far more weight.


Don’t accept everyone on LinkedIn who asks you to connect.  Yes you can have 100s of connections in a jiffy but what is the point?  You want people who are relevant to you, and who may be useful in the future.

LinkedIn is a really powerful tool that can connect you to so many people who may/will be of interest to you.  Work out why you want to be there.  Optimise your profile in accordance with that.  Make some connections with people who interest you and you’re away.  This is just the starting point though.  Keep going back and making sure that your profile is up to date.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Google Hummingbird Update – Conversational Search vs The Short Tail

Google Hummingbird Update Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update is the biggest change to Google search and SEO since 2001 and affects 90% of all searches.  It is focused on helping users find exactly what they want by divining intent from the whole sentence or phrase, rather than just a few words.

Hummingbird separates the wheat from the chaff in SEO terms; those who just want results from simple ‘short tail’ keyword and optimisation vs those who are willing to go the extra mile and pay more attention to long tail keywords, conversational and social possibilities and device differentiation.

The main changes from the Hummingbird SEO Update:Google analyses the whole search query rather than main keywords, taking in overall intent and utilising words such as ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and taking search to a more conversational level across all channels.

Hummingbird paves the way for differentiating between devices – ie we tend to use shorter search phrases on a mobile device to a pc, and a clearer analysis of voice searches which tend to be more lengthy and complex.  This makes it even more important that you are optimised for mobile search and for long tail keywords.

Long tail keywords, of four, five or six words (or more), which are frequently added into page relevant content alongside their shorter more obvious brethren, will as a result of Hummingbird deliver visitors more closely to the exact pages and content they’re searching for, rather than keyword rich home pages and main landing pages.

What this means is that even more attention needs to be paid by content creators to ensure that each page is totally relevant as a potential individual result to a search query and that content is regularly updated.  This will not only improve conversion rates, but also help drive more traffic to each page.

In its less recent updates Google has emphasised the importance of content written for readers as opposed to simply gaining rankings.  Hummingbird is a natural continuation of this process across all levels.  It may not have actively affected you in the short term, but what will become apparent quite quickly, as devices change and social media channels become more relevant as part of the whole marketing process is that relevant, regularly updated and well written content on every single page of your site will become more and more beneficial to conversion, not to mention the fact that Google may downgrade you otherwise…...

Other Reading:
Joshua Steimle at Forbes on Hummingbird,
Don Dodds at Huff Post,
The Art of Writing for Readers not Rankings.
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Thursday, 10 October 2013

5 Tricks to Selling off the Page–The Devil’s in the Detail

Michael Michael Kors Selma Bag in Black and Blue
If you’re searching for one product online, you’ll no doubt find that it’s available on several different websites.  Or hundreds probably.

Michael Michael Kors Selma Bag Model ShotTake buying a handbag online – by a well known brand or otherwise.  Looking at 6 websites all offering Michael Michael Kors’ Selma bag (and having just written about Michael Michael Kors totes at GlamourSleuth I thought I’d stay on track) this is a perfect example of how the competition for selling products online is hotting up, and who the winners are.  And the place you’re most likely to buy from.

The sites are these; Zalando, Net-a-Porter, Selfridges, Harrods, John Lewis and House of Fraser.  None short on budget and all fast growing product movers, whatever you’re looking for.  I’m not going to go through them name by name……. but:

All show you the bag front, back and side and inside, although some interior shots are more detailed than others.

Two show you the bag as held/carried by a real model, and one on a shadow modelMichael Michael Kors Selma Bag Detail Shot

One does not even bother to give you dimensions.  Just the colour and that it is made of leather.

What this really shows is that there is a formula for selling products online, whether they are handbags, dresses, vacuum cleaners, laptops or anything else you can think of.  And the store that takes the most care over the detail will be the winner.  More and more those stores who don’t take the time to get the detail in on every single product will be the losers, as it’s more about a state of mind, and who you allow to direct your product content then what you are trying to sell.  It applies to everything.

Michael Michael Kors Selma Bag Bullet Points
There are no shortcuts to selling products online - the main points are these:

1.  Photograph a product every which way, and make sure that your pictures are very high quality.
2.  Always show interiors (if applicable) and details shots.
3   If selling fashion and/or accessories show them on a real person as well as stills shots.
4.  Give every single detail in bullet points – broken up paragraphs are not so easy to read.  Don’t ever assume that ‘they will know that’ – they probably won’t, and they’ll buy from the place that tells them everything.
5.  Always give dimensions even if you’re showing a product (forget the laptop) on a real person

The main point is that you can never assume that people will know anything, never take any information for granted, and make sure that whoever is creating or updating your content pages really knows what they are doing, both from a descriptive, picture editing and detail point of view.

With the growth of online and the expected continuous growth we will demand more and more detail, better and closer photography until the old expression ‘but I want to see it and feel and touch it’ really isn’t relevant any more.  And that day is just around the corner.
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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Content is King | How to Write a Blog Post Including the Google Keyword Planner

I’ve written endless posts about a variety of subjects from restaurants and fashion to SEO and LinkedIn.  Nearly every time I think I’m writing a post that all are going to want to read I’m wrong, and quite often it’s the simple ones about the places I’ve been, that dress I loved or a book on web usability I use as my web bible that get the most reads.

Books Every Website Owner Should Read

Two of the things that have become more and more obvious when thinking about how to write your next blog post are that

a) You’re much better off including an image than not, as posts with images are much more attractive on the whole, and

b) You need to make your post long enough.  Short posts get fewer reads, less attention from Google and therefore less attention from everyone.  That’s not to say that you should blah on about nothing in particular, but stick to your subject, make it interesting and keep the information coming.

Komali Restaurant Review

Content is King
, in two ways.  You need to make sure that whatever you’re writing about is directed at your specific audience and takes account of their interests and needs.  You either know your audience exceptionally well, or you’ll be using the Keyword Planner to find out what’s being searched for in your niche, a phrase or word where the competition isn’t going to throw you down to the 25th page of search and one which you can write about knowledgably. 

How to Get your Custom LinkedIn URL

Now that Google has killed off the Keyword Tool which we all knew and loved you will need to use the Keyword Planner to explore keyword volumes and competition.  Take some time to get to know it. It’s free.  It’s a mine of information and to not use it would be ridiculous.  Why write about something you have an instinct about, which may be totally off key, when you can tweak that thought just a little and write about things that not only interest you, but you know others are looking for.  It’s a kind of double whammy, but one that always works.

You will have to create an Adwords account to use the Keyword Planner which is annoying but you can still use it for free.

So here we go;  How to Write a Blog Post in 6 Steps.

Step 1. Sign in and open up the Keyword Planner with an idea of what you want to write about.  Of course everyone should be working off a schedule/plan, and if you’re writing blog posts for clients, as I do, this is a much better way to work.  Otherwise choose a subject that’s close to you and put various ideas into the Planner.

Use the first option 'Search for New Keywords and Ad Group Ideas' to find highly searched, medium to low competition alternatives to your main keywords (and you'll be surprised at what's there and what you can get results from).  This is the most useful tool.  Make sure you click on 'Keyword Ideas' rather than 'Ad Group Ideas' if your keywords and alternatives are what you want.

Also don't forget to put in the location you want to include.  You will have to go in and change this if you want to see separate searches for different countries and those for your locality but you can do all this from your main search results page.

Use the second option (new) 'Get Search Volume for a List of Keywords' to get exact matches for your specific list.

Unless you are going to use Adwords ignore the third and fourth options for the purposes of this research.

 You’ll soon see what is being searched for (and what is not), where there is high competition and where the competition is medium or low.  Click on the little drop down arrows beside the word ‘Competition’ until you get the low competition options at the top and try and write around one of those, using it in your title and in your post, several times.

Step 2.  Write your Headline.  Include your chosen keyword or phrase and try also to make it catchy and interesting.  Interesting, by the way, is the key.  You want to give your readers information they may need, or may find useful.  But never be boring.  That way will surely lead to no reads. 

Step 3.  Include an Image.  Sometimes in a hurry I’ve written posts that don’t include an image and I find these are less read than those that do.  Use an image that’s relevant to your post (obviously) and if you’re using more than one you can either stagger the layout so that they’re left and/or right of your text, or center them as I have here.  Or just have one main image at the top.  Either way include something that you think will draw more attention to your post.

Step 4.  Write your Content.  Write your content and include your keyword or phrase, probably no more than three times but depending on how long your post is.  You don’t want to be accused of keyword stuffing by the powers that be, on the other hand you want to be found in search, so once you’ve found your precious word or phrase use it wisely and you will be found.  Don’t let your content be too short.  A couple of paragraphs does not a blog post make.  Give yourself enough time to craft something special and make it work for you.

Step 5.  Break down your content into readable chunks.  No one is going to read a huge page of text so break down your content and make it more readable.  I always find that posts with clear steps, or numbered hints particularly in a ‘how to’ post work much better than those that are just a series of paragraphs with no sense of the journey.  I wouldn’t read them myself.  It’s much easier to read something that is properly laid out.  You can either plan this in advance (better) or break down your content after you’ve written the whole thing.  Obviously a clear path will work better for you and your readers so try and do this first.

Step 6.  Don’t stop there.  Just writing and publishing your blog is not enough.  You need to take steps to ensure that it’s read.  Publish it to  your social media pages, depending on the relevancy, to your audience on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  The big danger of writing a blog is that no one will read it.  There’s no point in publishing into thin air, any more than there is in creating a website and then not marketing it.  Your blog can help you improve your website traffic, it can produce rich constantly – note that work – updated content for search which Google and other search engines will love, and it will give a voice to your knowledge.

And then of course, as a two edged sword, particularly if you’re a lone blogger, like me, you need to keep going.  Ensure that your audience knows that you’ll be back to them very soon.  Blog at least every other day.  We all fall down on this at times, but the more you blog, interestingly and with relevancy, the more you’ll be read and listened to, the more clicks you’ll get to your website.  Don’t give up.  Make a start and keep on going.  Dividends await…..

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

SEO and Search Competition 2013 now the Google Keyword Tool is Gone.

No matter how many other SEO and PPC analysis programs optimisers and search analysts signed up to they all regularly tapped into the quick and easy to use Google Keyword Tool.  Now Google has taken this down, not realising (or not caring) that orangutans are indeed sceptical of changes in their cages and there’s a lot of head scratching – not to mention weeping and wailing – going on.

The new Google Keyword Planner is what we have to work with now or go elsewhere.  Having done a reasonably fast run through of the alternatives, free and otherwise, out there, many of which are so much more complicated than the Keyword Tool I have come back to the Keyword Planner even though for the moment it has some drawbacks.  And I say for the moment as we’re all hoping that this will change.

The advantage of the old Tool was that it was free.  Fast.  Perfect for smaller retailers wanting to do their own keyword research, and offered a list of clear alternative suggestions plus global and local search volumes and competitions. 

The Keyword Planner is free, but you have to sign in with your Adwords account.  There’s nothing you can do about that but as always with Google it makes you feel that big daddy is watching you…..again – and wants you to use Adwords rather than organic search optimisation.  Well no surprises there then.

This is an excellent post, just pre the demise of the Google Keyword Tool, comparing the Google Keyword Tool and Keyword Planner in great detail.

For those who are out there scratching their heads as to what to do next where keyword research is concerned I suggest that you read it, several times, in detail and then spend some time understanding the Keyword Planner so that you can get all the benefits out of it.  It’s still free, after all, other than the emotional cost of having to sign in each time, and as Google’s new baby there will surely be improvements over time, such as the option to ‘show ideas closely related to my search terms’.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Find my Phone and 3 Other Essential Phone Security Measures

Mobile Phone Security FeatureA recent survey in the UK revealed that 42% have no active security measures on their mobile phones.  Those between 16 and 24 were four times more likely to lose their mobiles, but more likely also to have taken security precautions.  Of those between 55 and 64, 59% had no security measures in place.
You may well be switching off reading this right now, in the knowledge that you’ve done everything possible, however you, like me, may know someone who almost certainly hasn’t, so pass this along and then go back to the day job please.

There’s an obvious huge problem in losing your phone in that if it’s unprotected you may well lose not just your pictures and videos which you may or may not have backed up (!) but also have allowed those who shouldn’t have it access to your private or work emails, text messages, facebook page and twitter accounts.  Forget hacking……who needs it when this is all so easily attained?

The Metropolitan Police announced that ‘56,680 mobiles - 28,800 of those iPhones - were reported stolen in London between April and September last year.’  Read the rest of that piece here..

So…… what are the basic steps you can take to secure your phone and make it – if not impossible – much harder for your phone to be stolen or accessed?

Firstly enable auto lock –
This may sound obvious but a lot of people don’t do this.

Secondly passcode your phone.  It makes it much harder to access at least initially and will hopefully make someone move on from your phone to elsewhere.

Thirdly  back up everythingRegularly, pictures and videos that you have taken included.  Don’t wait until your phone is gone to discover that you’ve lost something really precious.  And see below for a great picture back-up tool.

Fourth install phone tracking software such as the app Find my Phone – which is available for both iPhone and Android devices from the App Store and Google Play.  So you can see exactly where you left your phone, in the house, in your car or elsewhere – or of someone else has it, where it is in real time. 

These apps also give you the facility to erase your phone content, if it’s fallen into unknown hands, and play a sound to help you locate it when it’s slipped down the side of the sofa and you’re in a panic that you left it on the bus.

You may of course be one of the 60% who have got all of this right already.  If not, do something now, before you have to start again with a new mobile phone, wondering who is doing what with the data on your old one, and at which point you will, undoubtedly, take these steps.

Also read:  Mobile Go from Wondershare – when did you last back up your pictures.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Mobile Go from Wondershare – When Did You Last Backup your Photos on your Smartphone?

Mobile Go You’re probably thinking ‘why would I need Mobile Go?’ I have iTunes to back up and sync my media.  But when was the last time you tried to back-up and edit your photos?  iTunes is great for music, movies and apps, but falls short when it comes to managing your photos and deleting from your camera roll. 

Most of us now use our smartphones to capture everything, from new baby moments to where we are and what we’re doing, the camera roll goes on growing and is the only thing about our phones that would really be lost in the event of damaging your phone or having it stolen. Phones are easily replaceable, memories are not.

Most are lazy when it comes to backing up – anything – from PC to smartphone, this read from Consumer Reports on smartphone security is quite frankly scary.  When it comes to precious photos this is a completely unnecessary risk, but one that you frequently don’t consider until they’re gone. 

Mobile Go will download all your photos and videos quickly, and then you can edit them, delete from your camera roll (if you want), and store them in folders on your PC.  You can also transfer media between devices.  There’s Mobile Go for ios and Android plus data recovery software from Wondershare who offer Mobile Go.  So far I have just played with the photo transfer, transferring over 5000 photos on a camera roll with ease and storing them on my PC after deleting the ones I don’t want.  Easy.  Try doing that on your phone or with iTunes.

Plug in your device to your PC, download Mobile Go (there’s a free version if you just have a small amount of content) or it’s about 25 pounds to go for the full version, and you can easily download all of your photos, then edit them as you please and of course store them for back-up purposes.  The software is clear and easy to use.  Read this review by PC World on MobileGo.

You’re never going to use Mobile Go instead of iTunes, but as an added facility it’s excellent, and as PC World says ‘Mobile Go goes where iTunes won’t’ and it definitely does. 

Friday, 16 August 2013

Linkedin Endorsements – Valid or Valueless?

Linkedin Endorsements LinkedIn Endorsements – If you spend any time on LinkedIn you’ll have noticed over the past year that people who you may or may not know well are endorsing you for skills you may not even know you have (in which case, by the way, you can add those skills quickly to your profile without missing a beat).

According to LinkedIn, who launched the feature back in September 2012, (via Forbes) these are an incredibly popular feature generating many millions of endorsements, and they’re here to stay.

I have always thought LinkedIn an excellent resource, allowing you to have a permanent and regularly updated profile of who you are, what you do and what you have to offer so that people can make quick decisions about connecting to you and how useful or interesting you may be to them.

LinkedIn endorsements to me are at risk of being used as a shallow tool, whereby people who really don’t know what you do can get your attention by endorsing you for pretty much anything reasonably close to your skill-set (or otherwise).  Most who have been active on LinkedIn for a while have reached 100s of connections, and some of those will not be of value now if ever, but if they are a 1st Connection then they can visit your profile page and endorse you whether you’re in touch with them or not.

You can use endorsements for networking purposes and reciprocate, or you can hide them. They can be given mindlessly, or they can be in good faith, but as they are so easy to give it’s impossible to tell which is which, and any intelligent evaluator will discount them because of this.  They are, as has already been said, far too close to the Facebook ‘Like’.

It’s up to you, but as with everything on LinkedIn, because it is such a valuable and much used resource, and you never know who will be looking at your profile next, it’s a good idea to keep up to date and please, if you haven’t done so, put your picture up there………..

Alternative Reading:
Why you Should List your Interests on LinkedIn
5 Reasons Not to Accept a LinkedIn Invite
How to Get Your Custom LinkedIn URL

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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Exclamation Mark – or How Not to Make a Point

Exclamation Mark
“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

The exclamation mark (or point) was first used in the English language in the 15th Century.  It didn’t show up on standard keyboards until the 1970s.  Used to show strong emotion they’re also known informally as ‘shrieks’ – some writers apparently like to shriek a great deal.  Particularly on the web.

You’ll find exclamation marks in all sorts of unnecessary places, where good writing would have the same effect, creating its own emphasis through use of words and ordinary punctuation rather than the short cut of the exclamation mark, which in fact more often than not shows weakness rather than strength.  In emails in particular exclamation marks seem to be being used more and more – although we usually read or delete emails as a result of the headline, not the text, where they’re frankly wasted, although not maybe quite as badly as shouting by WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPS!

Personally I am anti-exclamation marks unless I feel there is a really good reason for using one, and if I know I’ve used them I will go back and take them out, re-read, and use sparingly if I think they are really called for. 

In an article in the NY Times Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings, The Ten Year Nap) is quoted as saying “There’s a case to be made that the exclamation point is the adverb of punctuation; if you have to put it in, then maybe the sentence didn’t do its job,” she said. “Then again, I’m also highly uneasy about ever using italics. If the exclamation point is the adverb of punctuation, then italics are the Ambien of typography. I guess my only rule is to use the exclamation point sparingly, like adverbs, italics and cortisone cream.”

And again in The Guardian:  ‘There is surely a point after which exclamation marks no longer express friendliness. In this post-literal time, exclamation marks become signs of sarcasm as witty correspondents rebel against their overuse. Hence: "I loved your last email! OMG did I LOVE it!!!!!!" The point is they didn't. They were being IRONIC’.

In other words.  Make your points through your words.  And use the exclamation mark with care if it is not to weaken both your message and your writing style.  And if you’re editing someone else’s writing look out for them, and delete as necessary.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Content Marketing - Why Blog?

The basis of content marketing is simple.  If you don't talk about it (as in online) you won't be listened to.  Hence we've all become content publishers in our own right, whether business or social.  So why blog?  Blogging is by no means as easy as using Facebook or Twitter (or LinkedIn etc) to communicate.  To blog you have to:

Come up with an idea you want to write about
Think of a headline that people are going to notice
Write your blog
Optimise your blog (hopefully)
Publish - not just on your blogging platform, but to other places on the web
And then do it all over again on a regular basis.

The first three above are the hardest, and the reason why many are put off by the idea of blogging, and yes there are those who still don't.  You can write a list of ideas to blog about, so that's not so hard, however thinking up a headline that is going to catch attention and worst of all WRITING - those are the most difficult.

The first time I had to write a piece (not a blog, but a column for a Conde Nast online magazine) putting pen to paper was the hardest thing.  Finding your voice and writing can be extremely daunting until you've had some practice but after all it's not exactly like getting up on stage in front of an audience.  You can start off quietly, read people's work that you like who write around your subject, show what you've written to some friends and ask for honest opinions. 

And practice, practice, practice.

The best way to find your own 'voice' is to get out there and do it.  Blogging has become part of content marketing for every online business and should be an essential part of it.  So the question 'why blog?' is an easy one to answer, because you can publish your blog post to so many places on the web, from your own website to your Facebook page, to Twitter and on.  You can link to your blog on Pinterest and get more readers that way, you can use it as a basis for your newsletters.  And if you're lucky one of your posts may go viral (for the right reasons hopefully) and bring you thousands of visitors.

For any online business out there who does not as yet have a blog I suggest that they get going right now.  Apart from anything else, blogging can be enjoyable, and put you in touch with so many more potential customers than you ever had before.  But don't just blog to sell.  Any more than you should just post to Facebook or Twitter to sell.  Blog to be useful, informative, friendly, helpful and interesting.  QED really...............

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Thursday, 1 August 2013

3 Steps to Increase your Sales this Autumn

It seems to me that it’s much too early to start talking about increasing sales for Christmas, but let’s face it, that is what this is about, and if you don’t take these steps now you’ll be wondering why others are getting the orders and not you.

There’s no doubt that potential customers are becoming much more wary about who they buy from online particularly if you’re a first time buy.  Can they trust you?  Are they getting the best price?  How can they be sure you’ll deliver on time? 

The first of these is the one to get on to right away, that of establishing more trust with visitors to your website who may not have heard of you before.  You know you’re trustworthy, but how should they.

I’ve written a couple of times about this and you can read more here:
Customer Reviews – How to Catch the Savvy Shopper
3 Reasons Why You need Customer Reviews on your Website

I’ve listened over and over again to clients who have said ‘but we have some not so good reviews, can we leave those out?’ and ‘we don’t want to go to the expensive of adding review software to our website’.

Well the fact is that if you want those extra sales, you have to show what your customers think in some way shape or form.  It’s better if you can add software to your website which collects independent reviews, (look at Amazon, for example.  Don’t tell me you don’t read reviews before you buy – we’re all at it).  However if you’re a small retailer you can collect customer testimonials and make sure they’re clearly visible.  They’ll be read, trust me, and they’ll increase the trust people will have in you and encourage them to buy from you.

Lilia Nash Customer Review
Be prepared for those who will be thinking about, browsing for and looking for gift ideas early on.  Create a special landing page for those items that are most gift worthy.  You certainly shouldn’t call it ‘Christmas Gifts’ too early on as that may put people off, but there will be items you offer that are more suitable to be given as gifts than others, and you want to spend some time, whilst you have it, in collecting these together onto one page, which you can then optimise and draw people’s attention to.

Your Gifts landing page should have a wide range of products, broken down into segments as appropriate and depending on how many you have to offer.  Your lead in prices should not be too high, you don’t want the first thought of your visitors to be ‘everything here’s much too expensive’. 

Put some thought into this one now, and buy in some product if necessary to increase your range.  Gifts are very shortly going to be the main buy for most people and you want them to buy from you.

Be obvious with information about last posting dates and gift wrapping services.  You may think (again) that Christmas is months away, but in reality it is just round the corner and some overseas last posting dates occur in late September and October.  You want people to know that you are ready to offer the best services they can find anywhere to any destination in the world and you need to make that absolutely obvious from your home page. 

You would be amazed at how many don’t take advantage of these strong selling tools.  You will not only get customers encouraged to buy from you now, but they’ll come back to you and recommend you to others, recognising that you are a trustworthy service orientated, online business with a good choice of products and a wide range of products.

My advice?  Get on with it now.  It’s never too early and time has a habit of speeding up at this time of year.

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Monday, 29 July 2013

The Changing Face of SEO - 4 Ways to Stop Wasting Your Time

SEO has changed a great deal in the past year.  You'll no doubt have heard over and over again that quality for your readers wins hands down over quantity.  That meta keywords don't count any more (actually they haven't for a while), that all of us have become publishers of content which will only work if it's relevant, interesting and attention grabbing to your market.  That over-use of keywords is a no-no.  That highly competitive keywords won't work well for you.  And content has always been king.

That's all very well, and it's been a lot to take in, however there are some SEO changes and activities it's well worth getting fully clued up about, and others to lose from the list. 

Some of the changing face of SEO works well in your favour, as you can cease some time consuming activities you may have been continuing with, and save money by not paying someone to do them for you: the best type of content is created either by you or by someone who really understands your business.

Article Marketing - Articles for the sake of getting content out there are no longer of value.  Article spinning is a total no.  So if anyone comes along and offers to write articles for you on any subject of your choice and get them spread around the web so you can be 'number 1 on Google' drop them from a great height and forget them.  What you want are well thought out intelligent articles posted to where they will be of interest.  That's all.

Directories - Most web directories were created just for link building.  They have little value any more, and can act against you if it's obvious that that is what they are (and you're there).  This is not the same as a directory or guide that contains websites (and links) of interest to a niche audience where content is added regularly. 

Comments on blog posts
- unless you have something really interesting to say forget about these.  And in any case don't try and use them to post links.  Most have woken up to that tactic and your comment will simply be deleted.  Better to use your profile and say something that others will want to read, you'll create far more interest that way.

Meta Keywords - Don't bother.  A web developer recent told me that he leaves the field in as 'clients expect to see it', giving them the opportunity to fill the space with duplicated keywords and phrases.  Not only will they for the most part be ignored, therefore wasting your time, but they can also be held against you as 'keyword stuffing'.  Wise up and leave the field blank.

The whole point of SEO today is quality vs quantity, readers vs rankings, and if you want your content to be considered by the search engines as anything other than spam you need to keep that in mind at all times when creating content for the web.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Graphic App - Think Before you Click – How to Catch a Hoax on Facebook or Twitter

Think Before you Click A couple of days ago on Twitter I read a re-tweet ‘a baby is born…..George Michael Windsor’.  And then stopped and thought for a moment before passing on this happy news, and went to the BBC News website where of course there was no news of any such thing.  I have no idea how many were caught by that one but I suspect quite a few (thousands?).

Then yesterday a good friend of mine told me of a message he had received from a friend (a highly respected lawyer) on Facebook, regarding new Facebook privacy setting which were needed as a result of the ‘new Facebook Graphic App’.  This is nonsense.  And you only have to do a search on Google for ‘Facebook Graphic App’, to realise that it is a hoax.  However it took me a while to get there.

I have to confess that this one nearly got me because of its provenance, although once I looked at it closely the instructions didn’t make sense, particularly having checked my Facebook privacy settings, and so having done a bit of research and come across endless posts on Google about the hoax like this one, I saw it for what it was.

The problem is that anyone can be fooled by a tweet, retweet or Facebook message particularly when it’s from someone you trust.  The answer is don’t trust anything you read unless you know for a fact that it’s accurate, and if it’s big news check on the news websites first before sharing.  And no matter how trusted your ‘messenger’ is he or she may have posted something received from someone else in good faith. 

A hoax will go viral as fast as anything else (or probably faster if it’s sensationalistic).  Be the one to think before you click.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Content Marketing Strategy and SEO Best Practice

Keywords So all business have now become publishers in their own right,  every webmaster has a content marketing strategy, and they’re churning out reams of content all over the web in the hope that some of it will encourage visitors to their websites and win them gold stars with the search engines. 

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on how intelligent their content marketing strategy and how relevant their content is.  To their market, that is, not to search.  And with Google responsible for between 90% and 95% of all search on the web let’s just call ‘search’ ‘Google’ for the purposes of this post and apologies to the others.

Keyword research is what you have to do before writing anything.  It’s what anyone involved in optimisation (of anything) will spend time on before they start to write.  If you’re writing content, no matter how enthusiastic you are about your subject, before researching your keywords and phrases then think again.  There’s a far better way to get results.

The whole point of doing keyword research (and I use the Google Keyword Tool) is to find out how others are searching for your products or services on the web.  If you don’t do your research you’re guessing at best, and wasting time at worst.  Take the time to find out a) what terms are being used most on the web and b) what the competition is – and look for other than high competition keywords and phrases.  Your content marketing strategy, no matter how involved, is wasted otherwise.

As I said before in a previous post ‘Write for Readers and not Rankings’.  Your content needs to be relevant, friendly, interesting and engaging.  And optimised.

Share your work or you won’t reap the benefits.  Once you’ve produced optimised, well written and interesting content relevant to your niche you need to share it via social media channels, your blog, and email marketing.  This is the only way to get your content shared (and increase readership), and without sharing you won’t generate backlinks.

I haven’t gone into the SEO worst practice tactics of article spinning and those who promise to get you on Page 1 of Google in a nano-second.  But anyone who promises you the latter and indulges in the former (changing your content and chucking it at the web in the hope that some of it sticks) should be avoided at all costs.  There’s far more hard graft involved in SEO now, and it starts with intelligent, optimised writing.  There are still those operating in the dark ages before Google’s updates.  So don’t put pen to paper without thinking about it first.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sales Forecast for Online Retailing – IMRG and Retail Research

I’m always looking for a clear sales forecast for online retailing, if only to convince those wedded to bricks and mortar that they should be making a move right now into the online sphere and those with poorly responding websites that they need to do something fast.  And yes there are still those out there, nothing like as many as there were, who have not yet taken the plunge, and there are still thousands of poorly responding websites, usually because of a combination of poor design, badly set up SEO limited or no content marketing and a poorly thought out product range.

In a nutshell, online retailing, according to IMRG, was up by 20% year on year in June.  This is the highest recorded rise since 2011, heralding more recovery to come, and with clothing and home and garden sectors seeing the strongest growth, 29% and 35% respectively.

Mobile shopping was up 136%, and mobile conversion rates increased from 1.37% to 2.03 in June 2013.  This is still behind the average desktop conversion percentage but obviously catching up.  Conversion rates from tablets are higher than those from smartphones. If you want to read a more in depth article about e-commerce conversion rates click through here to on E-Commerce Conversion Rates

Looking Forward to 2018
The Centre for Retail Research has published ‘Retail in 2018 – Shop Numbers, Online and The High Street’, forecasting that total store numbers will fall by 22% (which I suspect will surprise no one), and that by 2018, total online retail spend will be accounting for a huge 21.5% of total retail sales, up from 12.7% today.

If any of this needs to make you think, it’s obvious that those who are still lagging behind in this omni-channel marketing world need to get a move on.  Just going online isn’t enough, there’s a great deal to do to make a website work, but a usable, navigable site with a well thought out product range is a start.  After all, Christmas is practically tomorrow and the countdown has begun………….

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Writing a Blog – How Long Should Your Posts Be

Facebook 2012 Writing a blog is a time consuming exercise if it is done properly.  One of the things I notice on many retailers’ blog rolls is a series of very short posts, a picture with a headline maybe, which is not what writing a blog should be about.

So why are you writing?

A blog has one main focus, that of containing regularly updated, interesting and relevant content for your readership and customer base. 

The SEO element
However, as you want also to reap SEO benefits from your blog, you need to do your keyword research before starting to write, to ensure that your keywords and phrases are not just relevant in your mind but also being searched for. You can’t just sit down and write any old thing for the sake of it.  Or at least you can, but it probably won’t help you very much.

Some things are easier to write about at length than others, so of course some of your posts will be longer than others.  Some people will tell you that a minimum of 400 words is needed, but for what, precisely?  Basically your post should be a long as it needs to be to capture the interest of those you are writing for.  Too short and you quite possibly won’t get their attention.  Too long and they’ll have left you long before you’ll have finished unless you have a seriously devoted following.

Basic Recommendations for Writing a Blog

Concentrate on quality rather than quantity
Preferably make all your posts longer than 250 words. 
400 – 600 words is ideal
Make sure your post is broken down into digestible bites.
Use sub headings to break up your post
If you’re tempted to write a very long post, consider breaking it down into a series of shorter posts.

You May Also Like These:
Content is King:  How to Write a Blog Post,
How to Optimise your Blog,
Link Within:  The Simple Way to Link to Past Posts and Increase Engagement,

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Monday, 15 July 2013

The Re-Order Revolution – 5 Ways to Get Customers Back Time and Time Again

Lenstore Contact Lenses There are some products, many, that are just one offs and that you wouldn’t think to re-order.  That new dress, garden furniture, food mixer, handbag etc.  You buy them once and don’t repeat.  You go on to something else.  Different.

Then there are those products that you buy or re-order regularly, certain foods, household goods, vacuum bags, contact lenses, bathroom staples.  You always order the same brand because you’re loyal to it.  You want the best price and a quick service.  And you want the whole process to be easy.  Ideally there would be a mechanism for taking the daily grind out of this.  And of course now there is.

One website that achieves this brilliantly is Lenstore.  For those who wear contact lenses, many of which now are daily or monthly lenses, you just want them on tap.  Some may order for six months at a time, and others month by month.  Lenstore makes it so easy you can re-order on a train journey, which I have done in the past (both one son and I wear daily lenses).

To get customers back time and time again Lenstore offers the following:

A very well designed and clear website.
Customer reviews
Two click re-ordering
Speedy delivery (next day as well as standard)
Reminder service

In the same way that you create your ‘favourites’ list at an online supermarket, you need to spend time at the start putting in your prescription.  But once you’ve done that you’re all set up to re-order.  And this company makes it a breeze, showing everyone else how to do it on the way, not necessarily with contact lenses, but with any other product you need to re-order regularly.

And not forgetting the all important follow-up:  If you haven’t ordered for a while they’ll also send you a discount or free delivery code as part of their content marketing strategy. 

If you’re an online retailer looking for ways to get the customer to return, and you have any products that fit into the re-order category, Lenstore is well worth taking a look at.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

5 Ways to Make LinkedIn Work for You

LinkedIn Logo More then 225 million people have profiles on LinkedIn.  Needless to say not all will be relevant to you, but undoubtedly some will be.  If you’re not set up properly and using LinkedIn positively then you’re missing one of the best opportunities in the social media sphere.

There are a lot of people who put up a very basic profile on LinkedIn, leave it to sit there, and then think of LinkedIn as a waste of time.  Well of course for them it will be.

LinkedIn is a great opportunity, to get yourself out there, to say what you do, what your areas of expertise are, and to communicate with others, whether in the same industry or one you’re interested in.

The first way to make LinkedIn work for you is to either set up your profile, or go back, revisit and augment it, this really doesn’t have to take very long although it’s your starting block and so worth the effort. 

Make sure your headline reflects who you are and what you do and you’ve completed properly the experience section with regards to your Summary, and Work History. Don’t even think of leaving any of these as one liners.  People don’t want to read essays, but they go to your page to find out about you, and so you need to make your information succinct but interesting.

Then put up a profile picture.  There are so many out there who haven’t bothered to dFacebook 2012o this, either because they’re not sure how, or they don’t think they’re photogenic, or they don’t have a good picture.  This is simply detrimental to your page, and will cause many (like me) to disappear as  soon as they land on it.  Let me put it simply….if you don’t have a picture people will wonder why. 

Your LinkedIn picture must not be a daffy Facebook or Twitter picture, but should reflect what you look like in a way that is commensurate with what you do.  So wear what you would wear to work, whether glamorous, or arty, or lawyer-like.  And look friendly.  You don’t have to give a bared teeth smile, but if you look friendly and interesting people are more likely to be drawn to you.  This is mine.

Make your page look professional by customising your LinkedIn URL.  This is really easy but it’s amazing how many haven’t taken this simple step.  Why would you want a series of numbers after your URL rather than your name?  I have written about this before so you can find the instructions as to how to customise your LinkedIn URL here.

Make sure your contact details are correct, so that if someone wants to reach out to you they can.  LinkedIn is the place I will always go first if I want to get in touch with someone as it makes it so easy.  You can use your business or personal contact details.  Or you can put your mobile number if you want to (although most don’t).  But put something at least and don’t make people have to go to your website, and then call your company and ask for you there.  The whole point is that LinkedIn makes it easy.

Connections – Reach out.  I don’t go down the whole ‘connect with everyone in my contact list’ idea, I prefer to go to people in my industry and related industries with whom I may be interested in starting a conversation.  I don’t befriend everyone who comes to me either.  Yes again if they’re related work-wise and industry-wise, or people I have worked with in the past.  But no if they’re from a totally unrelated field. 

This is just the start – there are plenty more ways of making LinkedIn work for you and I’ll be coming up with the next steps in the next week or so and another post, however if you haven’t got around to these……I suggest that you do them today.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Customer Reviews –How to Catch the Savvy Shopper – 5 Tips

Watch yourself the next time you’re shopping online.  You’re almost certainly reading the customer reviews from other buyers of the product you’re looking for before you make your buying decision, and with research showing that 61% of customer read online customer reviews before making a purchase, and 63% are more likely to buy from a site that offers reviews, if you have an e-commerce website, and you’re not offering reviews, you’re almost certainly letting some savvy shoppers slip through the net.

Amazon Customer Reviews

Today’s Times headling reads ‘Savvy Shoppers Weigh Their Options’, and although you need to be subscribed to The Times in order to read this, the gist of it is that we’re making fewer impulse buys, dithering before we decide, and taking time to read what other’s have to say before we click on ‘buy now’.

One of the problems of reviews is that there is a black hole of fake reviews which have been written to order.  Read The Guardian, on ‘Fake Reviews Plague Consumer Websites’ which may of course put you off the whole review issue altogether. 

However there is a middle line, of real customer reviews, independently written by customer who have actually bought the product.  Many e-commerce companies steer away from these because a) they are not free, and b) they will be honest reviews, negative or positive, and who wants to publish a negative review?
Well actually you do.  Showing negative reviews when you have the opportunity to show how you have dealt with problems, swiftly and effectively, can be far more profitable than trying to sweep problems under the carpet.

5 Tips to Catching the Savvy Shopper using Customer Reviews

1.  Use an independent customer feedback system such as Feefo or eKomi, where an email is generated and sent to the customer post purchase requesting a review.  Only those who have purchased may review the product and their experience.

Customer Reviews Feefo

2.  Make it obvious on your home page that you are showing customer reviews.  More and more shoppers like transparency and the ability to see what others have said.  They’re doing it on Facebook and Twitter so let them start with your products on your website.

3.  Show your customer reviews on each product page or link to them there, both good and bad reviews.  Prospective customers want to get at the truth.  They are not going to trust a 100% five star rating.  Would you?

4.  Make it easy for your customers to review your products by making your questions short and sweet – don’t ask for an essay, but give them the opportunity to write one if they so wish (within reason).

5.  Deal with any problems within reviews openly and quickly – you’re more likely to profit from problems and turn customers into advocates by making it obvious how much you care about your customer service.  Never allow a negative review to go un-answered.

As we shop more an more online those e-commerce websites not publishing customer reviews will fall further and further behind. 

We want to shop from trustworthy retailers, and not all will be household names.  Publishing customer reviews encourages a more level playing field by encouraging trust, and shows that you care about your customers and react swiftly to problems. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Content Marketing Strategy – The Art of Writing for Readers not Rankings

Patricia Davidson Your content marketing strategy should have changed radically over the past year, particularly if you were one of those employing cheap writers to write articles for you and then spread them over the web in ways you didn’t delve into too hard.

In case you haven’t gathered, Google doesn’t like that anymore for many reasons, most of all because most content creation was part of a marketing strategy to obtain backlinks for ranking purposes predominantly, and frequently didn’t benefit the reader that much.

With this turned on its head two things stand out – that from now on you have to write for your reader first, and SEO second, and that those who will succeed the best at this are those who can both write about your subject specifically, have a good working knowledge of SEO, and therefore an ability to write optimised content.

So Who Should be Writing your Content?

I read only last week but in an undated post, that you should ‘find a fella in India to do your article writing for you’, well nonsense to that.  You need people to write your blog posts, email newsletters and social media sharing posts who can understand your subject or product, write grammatically sound content, incorporate your keywords into the relevant content and craft pieces of 400 words plus that are attractive, interesting and useful to read for your market.  So cheap writers offering ridiculous prices per article have just fallen off the wall.

Those writers with value now to a successful content marketing strategy are those who can write quality content on niche subjects.  Make sure that you have one of those to hand in your niche as this is definitely going to be the trend going forwards.

Quality vs Quantity

Content Marketing Keyword Stuffing

Whereas previously it was considered an advantage to create a positive outpouring of content, dripping with keywords, and post it everywhere, now the only thing that matters is the quality of writing and publishing this relevant branded content via your own resources.  There’s no question that brands have now become publishers in their own right and the most successful brands have picked this up and are running with it. 

You’re not writing for search any more, but putting real people first.  Imaging you’re writing for someone specific and that what you’re writing matters, and you’ll get the drift.

Those who are still looking for cheap article writers are about to be left out in the cold and are obviously not keeping abreast of the new content marketing strategy rules.  These can benefit you, or work against you.  And if you’re wondering why you’ve suddenly slipped in the rankings you need to get up to date fast.

You may also like:  Content Marketing 2013:  3 Ways to Optimise your Content

Saturday, 25 May 2013

How to Write a Blog – 5 Tips

How to Write a Blog - Blogging has become part of all good website managers and brand owners online strategy.  Why?  Because not only does blogging create constantly updated content which Google loves (and more about that) but more shareable content to drive traffic to your site.

The Blog at GlamourSleuth

On the subject of Google let’s be clear – there’s no point in writing content of any sort, blogs or otherwise, that is not going to be of interest to your market.  Content needs to be well written, relevant to your potential and existing customer base and, most importantly, optimised for your market in a way that matches how you are being searched for.

Blog at Web Hints 

Blogging without optimisation is like shooting arrows with no target.  You may think you know how people are looking for you, but without the proper research, and then using that research to optimise your blog post for search you will be wasting your time.  You won’t be found on Google, and you’ll be losing the opportunity to capture the attention of your own market.

Here are 5 Tips on How to Write a Blog.

Make sure you know who you’re writing for – who is your customer, what are they looking for and what makes them buy from you?  Always keep your customer in mind when you write, and write for them.

Create a list of posts you’d like to write, or ideas you want to write about, and keep adding to it.  Sometimes something will flash into your brain and you’ll immediately put pen to paper (as it were).  Sometimes you’ll not be in the mood and it’s harder to get started.  With a list of ideas to be developed you’ll always have something waiting to fill the gap.

Do your keyword research – you cannot write an optimised blog post without doing your research.  Use the Google Keyword Tool and research your ideas to find out what words and phrases are being used.  Then use your main keyword or phrase (at the front) of your title, and heading, and several times throughout your post.  This post on Ways to Optimise your Blog Posts for SEO is well worth a read.

Keep your paragraphs short and interesting.  No one is going to read acres of content, so no matter now much you want to write make sure you’re interesting, useful to your target market, friendly and to the point. 

Keep up the Content – Set a target of the number of posts you want to write – be it daily, every other day or once a week and stick to it.  Using your blogging tools you can write posts in advance and set them up for publication.

Blogging can be hard work, but it shouldn’t be too arduous if you think ahead and keep your target market in your sights.  And the more you write the more you’ll be noticed.  Which is where you started out, after all.  Knowing how to write a blog the right way for both your market and search is just the start.
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