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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