Speakers on SEO, organization = a spinning head from Bloggy Bootcamp

Bloggy Bootcamp
Bloggy Bootcamp

Aside from spending a lot of time at the hospital last week, over the weekend I spent my Saturday at Bloggy Bootcamp hosted by SITS Girls. By lunchtime I felt like I had gotten my money’s worth ($125). And by the end of the day, my head was whirling with information, new relationships, and then, there was a cocktail party to go to! Aside from all the education, it was also nice to be in a room full of women and NOT be talking about breastfeeding and potty training.

When I was telling Toyin about it, I told him I felt like I’d just had a semester’s worth of classes crammed into one day. It was an incredible experience for many reasons, one of them being the knowledge that blogging is still highly uncharted territory in the world of communication and media influence.

There’s no telling where the blogosphere will go in the future and I’m excited to be a part of it.

The information shared by six speakers, along with host/organizer Tiffany Romero was so much I worried that I would get home and forget some very important things.

There’s no way I can go over all of the speakers for the day, but the two sessions I found the most informative, because they spoke to my personal needs, were Tip Junkie’s Laurie Turk, who spoke on organization and Angela England from The Untrained Housewife, who spoke on SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Organize your time

The first tip from the Tip Junkie was, get your schedule organized. Set a time to write every day. And secondly, when sitting down to work, do the most important task first. It seems, given my background in journalism that this would be common sense. But it’s been a few years since I was ruled by the world of time clocks instead of child clocks. Child clocks are way less forgiving, and they give you way less time to screw around.

In any case it was nice to hear that I’m not the only person who logs on to Facebook before writing a blog post only to find an hour later, I’ve wasted all my work time looking through baby photos and commenting on my friends’ kids’ bowel functions for the day. Don’t get me wrong. That stuff IS important. But Laurie says, get the big stuff out of the way first, so you can play and not feel guilty about it later.

The Tip Junkie had lots of other great advice for would-be professional bloggers.

Schedule your blog posts for the same time every day. This keeps you on a schedule and it helps your readers know when you’ll have new posts. (Clearly, I don’t do this. I need some serious help in this department!)

Set an alarm for when online time is done. When you’re working against a clock, you’re more likely to get your important tasks done.

And the Tip Junkie didn’t stop there. She had lots of other great tips for making your online presence more organized. Laurie suggests doing these things to your front page:

  • Declutter your sidebar.
  • Use a profile picture, of yourself, not a cupcake.
  • Make sure you have an RSS feed available for your readers. (Yippee! I have that.)
  • Put up links for your social bookmarks. Have at least three. The most obvious are Twitter and Facebook. Pick one more and you’re good to go.
  • Have a search bar. (Score two for me!)
  • If you have sponsors, put them underneath your own stuff. It’s your blog. Make sure you are the top dawg y’all.

These weren’t the only tips the Tip Junkie had for us, that was just the tip of the organizational iceberg.

Humanizing SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The other topic I found unbelievably informative was on SEO. This talk was given by Angela England from The Untrained Housewife. For months now, SEO has been somewhat of a mystery to me. I’d Google it and come up with vague articles about metrics and keyword searches. I’d ask Toyin to explain it to me and he’d start droning about metrics and keyword searches and my eyes would glaze over. I just didn’t get it.

I understood the concept. Google uses certain keywords to rank web pages in order and the higher your page ranks, the more likely you are to get found.

Then Angela explained it in human terms, while offering practical tips for increasing your rankings.

Google is like a very, very literal child. It doesn’t get witty titles. It doesn’t understand sarcasm or metaphors. It understands words and you must use enough of them, in the right places, and with their actual meanings to make Google understand what the heck you are talking about.

SEO tips

Here are some solid and practical tips from The Untrained Housewife for making our blogs more SEO friendly.

  • Make your titles more active, more literal. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s really boring. But if you want to rank higher in Google, you’ve gotta make the title say what the article is really about.
  • Use bold subheads. See, how I did that up there? Looks like I’ve already learned a couple of things.
  • Cut out fluff. Focus on the topic, don’t meander. That kind of sucks because one of the things I like about blogging is that I was able to meander more than when I used to write news articles. Ah well. Maybe one day we’ll create a more user friendly Google robot.

Here’s an article written by Angela on one of her other sites, about SEO. It’s a briefer version of what we learned at Bloggy Bootcamp.

I’m going to just go ahead and say here that I’m a little embarrassed about not understanding this stuff sooner, because, quite frankly, these are pretty standard journalism rules too. Make it simple and make it obvious. And use lots of words that describe what you are talking about. It all seems so clear now.

More SEO tips

  • Fix your permalink structure to ensure that your URLs reflect the post name. This is an easy to fix setting in WordPress under settings and then permalink.
  • Crossposting is highly valuable, which is why guest posting is a valuable tool for bloggers, not only for new readership, but for higher search rankings.
  • Use keywords in your photo descriptions.
  • And finally, my new favorite blogging tool, the Google Keyword Tool. This is a free tool that lets you put in a word and it will tell you how much it gets searched, other similar search words and the competition rate for those search terms. I’m in love with it already. I feel like a dork for not knowing about this because I’m pretty certain that Toyin has told me about it before. But what the heck, now that I’m a little more tech savvy, maybe I won’t glaze over when he starts talking about metrics and blah, blah, blah.

I’ll have to just start tuning myself out I guess.

Moving into a new realm as a blogger, RUDE comments!

It was bound to happen. I got my first hateful, vitriolic, spewing comment on my last post Dr-logging. Before you read it though, let me set you up with some context.

Before digital cameras, when we were in our teens, my older brother once took a dump so glorious and huge that he snagged my mom’s camera and took a photo. I’m not sure if he did it for bragging rights with his buddies or to shock our mother. Whatever his reasoning, it definitely had the latter effect as she was flipping through family photos fresh from the developer. Once she got over her shock though, my mom shared that photo with the rest of the family and we all had a good laugh over it.

One thing I do like about my family is that we all have a pretty infantile sense of humor.

When I got this comment, I felt how my mother probably felt. After I got over my shock and queasiness, I realized that it isn’t so bad. I mean, it’s just one person’s interpretation of a small group of words from a person she doesn’t know. The comment isn’t funny and it is definitely less tasteful than my brother’s contribution to the commode, but I don’t take it personally. In fact, I think this comment says more about the person who wrote it, than me, the person she wrote it about.

So, in all it’s gloriousness, I give you, Momsoap readers, a huge steaming pile of shit. Enjoy!

Note: I removed the first line of the comment because it insinuated something horrible that I don’t want to think about and I think it’s bad karma to repeat it.

From Amy, apparently a huge fan:

“Don’t blame your parents for your lack of class.. (sic) You are lucky they still talk to you at all. Looking at this from the outside . (sic) You have alot (sic) more work to do.. (sic) Very infantile. You strike me as very “Me ” oriented and incredible spoiled. Did your Mother poison you? .. (sic) Beat you.? (sic) make you leave home to fend for yourself @ 13? No? then (sic) straighten the f up.. (sic) Show some class and respect. Since you no longer want or need them . Don’t go calling for your slice of their pie…when they die. People like you should live on an island.. (sic) If you don’t teach your child consequences they learn they can do whatever, to whomever, when ever.. (sic) The prisons are full of “Time Out Children” Everyone hates something about their parents or we would live at home forever…. Do your child a favor … Show her how powerful a working mother can be…. (sic) Get a job .. (sic) Then maybe you would’nt (sic) have so much time to bitch about how awful your life is and maybe you would actually have a life . (sic) which means you would’nt (sic) have time to write all this CRAP… (sic)

Your parents are your Parents.. (sic) You will miss them when they are gone and will have regrets because you wasted so much time being a self absorbed child,…REALLY!”

That’s the end. Me again.

For the record, Dr-logging is something I do at home, with a couple of glasses of wine or beer, when Annika is gone with her father. And when I said I am still a drunk, I meant the common agreement in our society that once you are a drunk, you are always a drunk. I do not drink heavily anymore.

I chose not to publish this comment with the post because it’s insulting, rude, wrong (as in, incorrect) on many levels, and distasteful. Amy may say the same about my posts, but hey, it’s my blog. Nobody’s holding a gun to her head and forcing her to read it.

However, the ex-newspaper reporter in me couldn’t in all consciousness just delete it. However, insulting and gross it is, it’s the opinion of a reader. (And it’s my first nasty comment! I am a big fan of firsts.) I would never want anyone to think I just post comments by people who love me even though there is no code of ethics for bloggers saying that I have to publish this big steamy pile of poop.

The end.

Oh, p.s. Amy, if you had read very many of my posts, you would have known that you didn’t need to write “f” instead of fuck. Obscenities are completely welcome here. Maybe you should let one out every once in a while. It might relax that huge stick in your ass.