Monthly Archives: April 2014

Blog Maintenance for Beginners

blog maintenance and broken links

A good blog maintenance regime can save a lot of trouble

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Like most things, your blog needs a little tender, loving care once in a while. Most of us are so focused on adding valuable content that we often don’t pay much attention to what is already there.

Here’s the news: You need some blog maintenance. We all do. Blogs aren’t static things, you see. Stuff changes. Example: I recently checked my site for bad links. There were 23. So for all of you who think blog maintenance is not for them, think again. Here are a few tips to get you going:

Is your site mobile friendly?

This is one of my bugbears at the moment. You see an interesting link on Twitter, click it and it goes onto a site that has not been set up for smartphone. I use my Samsung mobile to access the web quite a lot, so I know – a large number of you haven’t set this up yet.

It makes sites difficult to navigate on mobile, especially if you add in one of those floating social media panels (which if you have one – stop it, please, they are annoying). There are plenty of plug-ins available that can convert your site to something more user friendly when people view it on smartphone. All you have to do is install it, the rest is done for you.

Want another reason? Smartphone usage has exploded in the last few years. According to the Business Insider, 1 in 5 of us own one and it’s fast becoming the tool of use for online shoppers and browsers. It can be viewed on the move, see, and people love it. You’re losing out on valuable readers if your content is not mobile friendly and too difficult to read.

Blog maintenance – broken links

blog maintenance typos

Typos can often be embarrassing

Checking your old pages for broken links is a must do piece of blog maintenance. Not only is it annoying for the reader when a link goes straight to a 404 page, but it’s also bad for your search ranking.

There are a couple of programs that can seek out bad links such as brokenlinkcheck.com which is free, or you could do it for yourself manually, though for large sites this could take a while.

But do it, you must.

Similarly, check that none of your images have disappeared. This, more often than not, happens when you have transferred a site to another url, as I found to my dismay recently. Replace when you find it, don’t leave that blank image-not-found space.

Update outdated content

Things change. Yes they do. Read through your content and check that it’s still accurate. Is that book you were promoting still for sale? Are those top tips posted two years ago still valid? Or do they need updating? It’s also a great way to spot any typos you may have missed first time around.

Delete posts that have no purpose

When I transferred from Blogger to WordPress a couple of months ago, I kept 100 of the 147 posts I had written. The rest just weren’t relevant or useful anymore.
If you have stuff that serves no purpose, be brave and delete it. At the very least, update it.

Don’t forget the sidebars

Many bloggers have a blog roll, a list of sites they have as favourite links. Sometimes people choose to give up and delete their beloved site or haven’t updated it in a long while. When you do your blog maintenance, remember to check your sidebar links.

Schedule time for blog maintenance

Ideally, spend a couple of hours a month checking out your blog. Have a list and work through it diligently. If you find broken links, change or update. The same goes for everything else.

It might seem laborious, but blog maintenance is a necessary process. Remember, it’s your window to the world and it needs to be as good as it can be. Your first run through may take a while but if you keep a regular date for blog maintenance after that it should be an easy, pain free process.

Have I missed anything out? Let me know in the comments section below.

If you found this article on blog maintenance useful, please take some time to share it with your friends. Thank you for spreading the fun.

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10 Ways to Liberate Your Blog Writing

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Blog writing has a lot in common with a Chicagoinsane asylum

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Now that I’ve kicked off as a freelance writer and have actually landed some jobs, I’ve been thinking of how to optimize my blog so I can get more relevant traffic.

Eeeeekkk!! The world screeches to a halt. Heads bow. Random nobodies burst into fits of rage. Screams of ‘burn him, burn him!’

That’s a terrible word: ‘optimize’. See, I even spelled it the American way. It’s OPTIMISE, dummy. And don’t you forget it.

By the way, there are no ‘10’ ways to liberate your blog writing here either. That’s another one of those apocryphal marketing notions. Someone, somewhere, probably on a night of weird sex and cocaine, wrote that people like lists. And then someone else saw it and plagiarised it. And then others came along, saw that the world was a list and did the same.

And so on, until it became gospel.

Lists will not make your blog more popular.

So, how do you liberate your blog writing?

Simple. You write the stuff you want to write. Scribble it from the heart, dear friends, and damn the literary consquences. There are too many people out there following the rules of blogging. The truth is: THERE ARE NO RULES!

Write something interesting.

Write fast and furious.

Don’t stop until all your blood is left on that digital page.

And, above all, stop pretending there’s a blog writing formula.

You want to write a post about peanut allergies one day and the malaise that is British politics the next? Go right ahead. You’re a writer, aren’t you? You’re supposed to wax lyrical on a whole range of different subjects.

Forget about being popular

You weren’t put on this Earth to be liked. You are here to create, to challenge, to muse. You are an individual. You don’t have to follow the rules. Not anymore. That’s what They want you to do.

They?

The people who make up the rules.

Writing is about freedom, not constraint. If you want to rail against the growing tide of inhumanity, go rail. Scream. Shout. Blaspheme.

Tell Them you can’t be bound by their rules. They’ll moan and wail, say that it will hurt your traffic; just kick them in the literary nuts and move on.

They are not worth your time.

Did Hemmingway worry about traffic? Does Stephen King care about keyword selection? Why should you? It’s all a load of horse cack and that’s all you need to take with you as gospel. Most blog writing advice ain’t worth spit, anyway. You want a list?

I’ll give you a blog writing list!

  1. 98% of visitors won’t read your blog entry. They’ll scan it, pick their nose and trundle off. Why? Because it’s dull.
  2. If you want to grab someone’s attention, you’ve got to surprise them and that means saying something new.
  3. 70% of blog writing is just a rehash of something that has been written before.
  4. Cheese selection says a lot about a person.
  5. And rats have a 60% chance of dying in the first couple of days of life.

Okay, I made that last one up. I bet it’s original though. No? Oh, okay.

The point I’m making is this: We’re only here for a short while so make those words count. Write what you want to write, fill your web pages with truth and wonder and forget all that marketing rubbish. It’s insincere bullshit.

That’s how you liberate your blog writing, with courage and conviction…

…and maybe a little wine.

If you liked this post, then please take a moment to share it with your friends by clicking one of the buttons below. Or all of them…hell, knock yourself out!

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The Rise of the Marketing Guru

marketing guru chickenI am a marketing guru.

There, I’ve said it.

I am a marketing guru.

Except, that I’m not. I’ve never been a guru in much, let alone marketing. And, anyway, just a thought, wasn’t a guru just a guru in days of yore. (Time to run to Wikipedia if you’re not sure).

Since when did we start adding other words to it? Marketing guru? Really? You’re calling yourself a marketing guru? Well, I suppose it’s marginally better than media tsar or culinary impresario. But couldn’t you think of something more…I don’t know…exciting? Enigmatic? To go with guru, I mean.

I thought that was why ‘guru’ sat on its own. To appear mysterious. When you start adding it to other words it starts to lose all its flair.

It’s not only marketing’s fault, we’re all at it. There’s a whole bunch of us running around telling the world we’re experts in this and that. Hell, there’s even a tonne of people pretending to be writers when most of them blatantly aren’t. And don’t get me started on photographers who think a few snaps on Flickr suddenly makes them a professional.

Truth is, we’re all at it to some degree.

Maybe it’s the internet’s fault. It emboldened us, see. We discovered other people doing it, those less worthy than ourselves, and we thought: Jeeze, why not? Maybe you won’t tell the guy sitting next to you that you’re secretly a 4th level Jedi but you’ll sure as hell tell a couple of thousand Facebook followers dotted around the world.
Some people call it setting the record straight – you’ve been this guru/psychic/impresario all along.

Others call it pretending. We dress up in the digital clothes of our preferred lives. That’s why we like anonymity. If you say it long enough and loud enough, it’s got to be true. Right?

How to become a marketing guru

First of all, you can’t do it on your own. There’s only so far calling yourself a marketing guru will take things. You need guru buddies, disciples, if you like. These are the minions who will truly spread word of your worthiness and cement your guru-ness.

Your guru-ness? Your Highness? Like it, like it. Good morning your Guru-ness. Good morning lesser mortal.

There’s a problem with making marketing gurus out of people whose only claim to fame was that they once ran a successful pay-per-click campaign. It’s a bit like associating the word ‘genius’ with the word ‘footballing’. For chrissake’s, he’s just kicking a damn ball round!

I think you’ll find that Einstein was a ‘genius’. Wayne Rooney isn’t. He may be a nice bloke but he’s no genius.

Right?

I’ve digressed. The guru-ness thing got me. You see, that’s what us gurus do, we meander.

Now…

Guru status is conferred on each individual by other people. It just takes one to start it off. This is where marketing people are quite useful. They’re good at spreading the guru word, like literary lemmings (and if that analogy holds up, I’ll eat my toe nails). Before you know it, you have an avalanche of guru reinforcement, and there we have it, a new guru is born.

The problem is that gurus are supposed to be few and far between, sitting up in Himalayan retreats eating nuts and meditating as far, as I remember anyway. They are masters of knowledge and transcendentalism and stuff. Now, I’m sure there are people out there who know all there is to know about marketing and how to get the best out of it. According to Marketing Minds there are 20 to follow and learn from. If you do a quick search, you’ll find lists of 200 or more. Really? 200 gurus?

What happened to simply calling them experts? Can’t we go back to that?

Well no. Because of us. The minions. Us minions have started calling ourselves experts. Guru was hi-jacked so that the real experts had somewhere to go and set them apart. They don’t want to be competing on the same level as lesser mortals who profess to be experts but actually aren’t. You see, if we all jump up a step, the people on that step have to go up. They sure as hell aren’t going to jump down.

The internet has made it easy for us to big ourselves up. And we love to do it, don’t we? No more Mr Mundane for us. We are guru. We are expert. We are prophet. We are talented.

We are pretend.

We are wannabees.

We are the same today as we were yesterday. We just make believe that we’re not. That, my friends, is the magic of the internet. It has given us new power.

I am a guru.

Of what, I’m not yet sure. But I’ll think of something. One day…

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SEO Expert: How to Fail Big Time

The essence of an seo expert

I’ve lost track of the times an SEO expert has asked me if I am an expert in SEO copy writing.

See what I did there? I did some basic SEO content stuff. Which is basically…repeating stuff.

Oh, they didn’t tell you that?

If you want to be an SEO expert, you need to do this kind of thing. All the while, you smile like a drug soused whore and tell people you are an SEO expert and they believe you…well, hell, who would lie about such a thing? People lie about being secret agents or having a love child or liking Marmite, they don’t lie about being a marketing SEO expert.

See what I’ve done there? See?

I’ve done the SEO expert thing again in the hope that it will get me to the top of the search tree and make my post popular, even though what I’m writing is about as useful as a broken leg at a line dancing contest SEO expert twinned with other SEO expert people party (head explodes and out pops an evil hamster).

See how tempting it is? To just put the search term “SEO expert” into the mix and forget about anything like a coherent narrative?

I bet this gets me lots of hits. Hang on, I better say SEO expert a few more times. Well, not say it, write it. Because writing is fun and creative isn’t it and us SEO expert types (see how I winged it when most people would have put an ‘s’ on the end) are so fecking creative?

The difference between me and an SEO expert

I have a life.

Hey! I’m shouting it from the hilltops. I HAVE A LIFE!!!!!

First of all there is a lie perpetuated here. There are no SEO expert people (see, I did it again!). There are just people who can randomly repeat the same words or expressions over and over and over and over and over and over and over over over over and over and over and over and over and over again.

That’s not a skill. It’s a recipe for a nervous break down.

You want your business to succeed on the internet?

Avoid these denizens of mediocrity. They will tell you anything to get your money. They are the biggest marketing scam going. Sure, SEO expert fecking dumb feck used to be useful. See, I threw SEO expert into there without you noticing. Know why? Because you’ve stopped reading by now and SEO expert feck who cares…

Let’s be honest. They are the dregs of the Earth. And that’s with a capital E. That’s not just earth you pull out of the ground, it’s Earth where we live, man! Wake up and smell the SEO expert coffee!

Here’s the point.

There’s a point?

You got this far, okay? You want a point.

People like to read interesting content. They like to be informed. They like to be entertained. What they don’t want is some SEO expert repeating the same feck awful content over and over again.

I’m going to bet you a tonne of poop in a handcart that this gets to the top of the “SEO expert” list. I’ll bet you, because probably you won’t be reading it otherwise. But what has it said? I’m up to over 500 words now. I have waffled (mainly because I’m drunk) and just repeated the same stuff. What I’ve said is:

Don’t trust people who profess to be an SEO expert.

Repeating the same stuff over and over again is idiotic.

That’s 20 words people. 20 words!

Think about it.

Don’t you want to say more about your product than that?

I have just finished drinking and decided to put a bullet through my head and my last thought is this: SEO expert please just get a life. It isn’t as important as you think.

And neither is it as interesting.

So stop.

Stop now!

Take up tapestry or interior design or squirrel juggling but, for god’s sake, do something useful with your life.

For those looking for an SEO expert: Look in the mirror. What’s the difference between you and them? You care about your customers and hopefully you care about what they read too. An SEO expert doesn’t.

All he cares about is…well, you know the answer to that, don’t you?

Okay, rant over. I’ve said my piece.

While you should stop writing spamming content, there are other SEO techniques you also send to the recycle bin in the sky. Try Neil Patel’s informative 5 SEO Techniques You Should Stop Using Immediately for an update.

 

 

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Marketing: Is It Destroying the Internet?

marketing the garden of earthly delights

Once upon a time, the God of the Internet, let’s call him Frank, plugged in an Ethernet cable and said: Let there be…something…let there be stuff…and lots of it…so people can come and find stuff and this stuff will abound and travel up and down very thin wires and across airwaves to houses where it will…just be…there!

And Lo, it came to pass…the internet and stuff was born.

And it was cool. Very cool.

For about 10 seconds.

Until someone, let’s call him Paulie (a bit of wise guy, if truth be told, with slicked back hair,a kipper tie and bad looking teeth) wondered how he could exploit this new world for financial gain.

Thence he decided, along with his friends, who were also wise guys, that they would make up an acronym or two, the most venal and hideous being SEO, which originally stood for Spongy Emus Ovulate but soon became the much dreaded Search Engine Optimisation.

Because that’s what marketing people do…they twist fine concepts and make them into corrupt versions of their dried up and cynical, hopelessly dead-eyed and brain-damaged, dark and damned selves.

They meddle, my ignorant friends, these kipper tie loving dark fiends of the digital hinterland. Oh, they just kept on making up acronyms, one a day at first, then two or more…till the world was filled to busting with them…SEM followed, PPC, CTR, ROI…and more was to come…RTP, ATI, DMP, and WOMM. They began bastardising the English language by mating previously happily single words with others to make hybrid words that turned the entire universe into a putrid, sorry mess: super-automated, hyper-baltic, pimple-rendered, robotic-bunkums.

Oh, people, let’s do some bluuueee sky thinking…let’s think outta dat box…let’s send the spaniel up the flag pole and see if it squeals Momma!

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There is a dark and insidious conspiracy going on, my friends. For marketing is not here to sell you things, it wasn’t born out of an altruistic desire to tell the world of the latest product that could enhance your sleazy and pointless lives. It isn’t here because we need or want it. It was created out of a blood soaked mire of twisted Bedlam inmates and malnourished penguin impersonators.

Marketing, my friends, was born simply to destroy the internet.

It is the devil’s work. Don’t believe me? Then read on, my friend. Read on and I shall tell you of the monstrosities committed in the name of digital marketing and why it has been allowed to flourish and bring mankind to the brink of destruction.

SEO

Spam

Repetition

More repetition

Automation

Repeat, delete, let’s develop a cloud strategy and piss on all the good people until we burn out their eyes with our rancid, ammonia ridden urine soaked…stuff!

Okay, so perhaps I’m going a tad overboard on this. Stevie needs to pull it back a little, take a breath, and maybe have a snifter or two of scotch to get his thinking straight.

Let’s get serious. I want to be serious, for a few moments at least.

Bad Pop-ups…the Devil’s automatic fecktards

It used to be, back in the days of yore, that pop-ups occurred when you’d not updated your virus checker (or didn’t have one at all) and just happened to go somewhere you shouldn’t or clicked a bad link. Then your desktop was plagued by everything from Big Tit Monthly to How To Get Rich By Having a Sex-Change.

Remember the good old days?

Then the God’s of the Internet developed programs that fought off these denizens of advertising evil and we all thought that was the last of it. We were safe. Weren’t we?

But pop-ups are returning. And no one seems to be bothered. I can’t go on a site nowadays without something popping up (forgive the innuendo) asking me to fill in a form or, worse still, subscribe with my e-mail address. Have marketing people forgotten how annoying these damn things are? Of course they haven’t; they JUST DON’T CARE.

Apparently, they’re not even called pop-ups anymore. It’s called ad bombing. According to Graham Charles on E-consultancy: “Poorly placed ads are spoiling the internet for millions of UK consumers, with 87% saying these messages regularly get in the way of what they are trying to view online.”

And it’s not just bad sites that are doing it. E-commerce sites for well-known brands have taken to it; even the Independent Newspaper has started doing it. It’s everywhere. And you know why? Because snug-fuggling-little-brain-dead marketing people are advising that it’s a good idea and that it will lead to more and better business. Because the little fecks have been checking the stats and…you know…it looks good.

On paper.

And we all know, stuff that’s on paper…well it’s not worth the…ummmmmm….

How marketing takes a good idea and turn it into dross

I’ve written previously on how marketing people got hold of guest blogging and turned it into a massive spam fest. If you want to read that less querulous rant you can find it here.

They’ve done the same with other things. You can buy a random selection of useless Twitter followers because marketing people think that it’s a good idea to have quantity and someone found a way to automate it and thus provide it cheap. Spam Bots too are the brainchild of some marketing retard somewhere out in the twat-o-sphere who decided it’s all a numbers game.

It is all a numbers game.

That’s the problem.

We have all ceased to be individuals and we have become statistics. We’ve become categorized and woefully pigeon-holed. It’s not merely the morally redundant who are up to it; it’s the big companies as well. How many algorithms does Amazon use to decide what we really want to buy? How does Microsoft know so much about us? Why does BT suddenly think we’d be interested in a new phone?

Why marketers are especially prone to bad habits

It’s a big, bad complex world out there and sometimes the poor marketing demons have trouble keeping up. Businesses do to. Then someone comes along with a spread sheet and then A N Other makes a “marketing tool” and suddenly everyone’s laughing and crying and joking.

The problem is that for marketers of all persuasions, the thing is just too damn big. What’s The Thing? Well it’s The THING. You know. Marketing. It’s just too damn big to keep up with. Things are always shifting. Ideas are changing. Markets are growing and then busting apart. And, on top of all that, there’s the Chinese.

Yes, the Chinese. You got to blame someone, right? Why not them?

I have this rather screwball narrow view of marketing people, thinking that they are all failed writers or failed artists or just, well, failures. A marketer will look enthusiastic, there will be a shine in his or her eyes when they begin to tell you how your SEO and STD can be all sorted with a few judicious tweaks here and there, or that they have put together this wonderful campaign that will see your DVL go viral…

But behind the eyes of any well dressed, immaculately presented, wise cracking and loveable marketing executive there is exactly this: NOTHING. They haven’t been there for a while, see. Not since they got that MBA in Social Media back in the day. Not since they put on that smart suit and had their teeth whitened.

Not since their damnable soul was sucked down into the bowels of hell and devoured by the Demon King of Marketing. Paulie. It’s all Paulie’s fault.

And there’s nothing we can do.

There really isn’t. Marketing will continue to destroy the internet and in the end all that will be left is a universe sized pile of steaming pooh that everyone will stare at and wonder how it all went wrong. Is there anything you can do?

Seriously, no, there isn’t. Marketing is the biggest most empowered force on the planet. It drives our daily lives and makes us happy with misery and it will not stop until we are all wearing plastic smiles and promotional t-shirts, stood in line for the coming apocalypse, a can of coke in one hand and an “I Love Wilkinson’s Nails” pennant in the other as we meekly shuffle off this mortal coil into the cold, endless dark.

On a brighter note, I leave you with a picture of a fluffy kitten…

Cute_fluffy_kitten
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