SEO SECRETS: What you likely know already but will read anyway

Yes, it's another damn article on SEO secrets. I've been pondering this one for a while, but thought I might be able to add 1 or 2 useful SEO tips to the thought-pool.

For starters, I don't consider myself as an SEO guru or pharaoh, as I believe anyone can teach themselves how to do good SEO. It's not overly complex and shouldn't be thought of as such. It merely takes practice and a willing attitude.

Note: This SEO guide is largely intended for bloggers who use WordPress

An alternative take on SEO Secrets by

SEO Secrets 2012

SEO Secrets with love from a WordPress snob

#1 What does help is a good understanding of how Google works (keywords, meta-data, indexing etc.) as well as a rough understanding of how human beings work. Put yourself in the mindset of someone actively searching for your content via Google. How would you search for content that you have to offer? Test it to see where your articles/posts rank and rework them – optimising each of them for search.

#2 This next point should be quite obvious to most people. Your blog posts/articles should have 3-5 main keywords as well as one focus keyword or keyphrase. These keywords should be used throughout your article. You should also try include them in your headline or post title (at least the focus keyword, e.g. "SEO Secrets"). It also helps if these keywords appear at the beginning and end of your post.

#3 Links. Google loves links. The more websites that point to your website or blog, the better – especially if they are high-ranking websites. But don't expect everyone to just link to you; have something interesting and unique to offer and make an effort to read other people's content and link to them. Think of it as "idea-sharing" rather than "content hoarding". On that note, make an effort to comment on and engage with other blogs if you expect others to do the same for you.

#4 There is a lot more you can do regarding link building. If you have a YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook and any other social media account, make sure that your blog url is on all your profiles. Take this further and get your blog listed on directories and blog aggregators. Some of these include myScoop, Amatomu, Technorati, Blogs Avenue and Blogrollcentre. You might find it interesting to note that Google favours social media sites that are Google-owned (e.g. YouTube, Google+)

#5 Another reason why I feel that SEO doesn't necessary need to be taught is that there are so many fantastic SEO plugins available - for WordPress especially. To find them, log into your dashboard, go to “Plugins” and click “Add New”. Type “SEO” into the search box and search! Installing WordPress plugins is quick and paintless.

#6 Final SEO secrets: Keep articles between 300-500 words. Write simply and eligibly. Choose your keywords / tags carefully and don't use too many. Make sure your focus keyword appears in your title, meta description and throughout your article. Include at least one outbound link and remember to add metadata to your images.

I hope you find some of these SEO secrets useful!

Much Love,

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SPAM: And the award for Blog Spam Fails goes to ...

If you have a blog, you will have encountered blog spam. Many empty their spam folders like dirty bedpans on a daily basis. It's usually quite irritating but can be quite amazing at times too.

Blog Spam Commenting FailsBut seriously, if you're going to spam attack blogs with comments at least have it checked for grammar. R-tards. Blog spammers make it way too easy to get identified as such by attempting to post the most retarded combinations of words 'disguised' as blog comments.

Blog spam is easy to spot. Apart from shocking grammar, spam comments will usually contain links. The most obvious giveaway will often be the author's name, e.g. "Kitchen Appliances". How stupid can you be? Seriously. Blog spam comments will usually generalise too - never being specific about what post is being spam-bombed. Let me illustrate.

Blog spam commenting fails

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And the R-tard award for Blog Spam Fails goes to ... Louis Vuitton.

Laughing LOL
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LET'S CHAT: Afrigator and Adgator issues - bloggers forum

I HAVE huge respect for the Gators who started Afrigator – Africa’s largest blog aggregator, and Adgator – a unique advertising service for bloggers. However, things appear to have gone a little pear-shaped in recent months to say the least.

Both services have been awarded and honoured in the press - and deservedly so. It would seem that the steady growth of Afrigator was something unprecedented. Unfortunately, it also appears that the Gators were unprepared for such (perhaps unexpected) growth. While Afrigator may be winning the popularity contest among the aggregators, it could be argued that it is fast losing popularity among its users.

Downtime, site crashes, delays with the fetching of new content, the slow death of Gatorpeeps, and the inability for bloggers to access their blog statistics, are all happening all too often. I found my own blog crashing and behaving painfully slow in recent months. This was until I removed the Afrigator badge and tracking code. I see that several bloggers have done the same.

Afrigator issues

I tried to reach the Afrigator blog for comment, but it failed to respond. I do have it on good authority though that the Afrigator blog hasn’t seen an update since June last year.

And then there’s Adgator – an advertising service that showed (and will hopefully re-show) much promise. Adgator has made a few bloggers some decent pocket money since its launch, yet lately there seem to be more disgruntled Adgator users than satisfied ones.

On the plus side, the Gators seem to be doing really well with finding new ad campaigns and offering these to bloggers on a regular basis. Every time I hear of a new campaign that’s applicable to my blog category and location, I think “this is it! This is the one that’s going to make it big!” Then I visit my Adgator dashboard a few weeks down the line, often to find an impressive click-through ratio yet a lump sum of about 50cents.

Adgator earnings

Ad Dynamo earnings

December dashboard

Ad impressions worth zilch

Ad impressions worth zilch

I fully understand that not all the ads offered by Adgator are “paying ads”, and that there is a difference between the Adgator earnings and the Ad: Dynamo earnings. However, I can’t shed the feeling that something still isn’t quite right.

I make a real effort to better understand any issues, and the Gator team are really courteous and speedy with their replies. But when bloggers are constantly told that there is a “discrepancy between figures and stats” this doesn’t really offer much by way of solution.

I’m sure the Gators are painstakingly working on such issues and that they mean well. I’m sure they’re also probably sick of being e-mailed complaints and held to accountability. Of course, it’s fair to give them some time and be patient about the whole thing. But, it’s also fair to talk about it and appeal for answers. Perhaps others don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them so to speak.

So let’s get some discussion going. Am I alone here? Do any of the Gators care to respond? Any good news for your users in 2011? I sincerely look forward to hearing from you soon.

** More Opinion & Analysis Articles **

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WEB 2.0: Prisoner-generated content & the U.S. prison system

The United States contains 5% of the world’s population and holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. In other words, a quarter of the global prison population resides in single country - the U.S. This is according to a 2008 research report published in California Prison Focus and really is a staggering thought to fathom.

U.S. prison system: Blogging Behind BarsAnd not only are more than 2 million people imprisoned in the U.S. but after a brief look at the manufacturing output of U.S. prisons, one can rightfully argue that America has reinvented the slave trade.

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services, 93% of paints and paintbrushes, 92% of stove assembly, 36% of home appliances, 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers and 21% of office furniture.

The list goes on with airplane parts and medical supplies. U.S. prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for the blind.

It’s clear that prison is big business. The multimillion-dollar prison industry has its investors on Wall Street - capitalists who don’t need to worry about their workforce striking or reporting family problems. According to a study by the Progressive Labor Party, corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners' work actually lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their incarcerated workforce. Disgusting.

An Unlikely Source of Web 2.0 Contributors

However, when prisoners are not tinkering away for 25 cents an hour, several are engaging with social media and contributing towards what largely makes up web 2.0. Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming more accessible to those incarcerated in the U.S. prison system, and there are even a few that are blogging from behind bars.

A famous example of “blogging behind bars” is the currently imprisoned rapper Lil Wayne who makes semi-regular updates to his website.  Since he does not have access to the Internet, the entertainer dictates his posts using the regular mail system which are then typed on his blog remotely by an assistant.

With the rapid growth of web 2.0 and the benefits that it can offer prisoners, several prisons world-wide are now putting systems into place that offer inmates more direct access to electronic communication.

One particular system that allows prisoners to send electronic messages is called the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System, also known as TRULINKS. This is managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and provides email communication without granting access to the Internet.

While the TRULINKS system provides email communication (if approved by the prison staff), some penitentiaries are going further by granting limited Internet access to inmates. Several prisons are installing Internet kiosks that offer online banking, email and video conferencing.

This was done in part to reduce the amount of paper created by the regular mail system and to lower the amount of time it takes to screen physical packages. Furthermore, like TRULINKS, it is not taxpayer dollars that are used to fund these services; the inmates pay for it themselves.

Reforming the U.S. prison system: Reward or punishment?

Many will argue that granting prisoners Internet access is a luxury that should not be given to those being punished. However, others insist that being linked in can help rehabilitate the incarcerated – better preparing them for a return to society.

The ability to skillfully use computers and the web are vitally important in the modern world. Allowing prisoners to use the Internet offers them the chance to hone these skills and may make it easier for them to find work once released.

Internet access could be structured as a reward for good behaviour that could easily be taken away if an inmate violates any prison rules. It seems like a fair system that is likely to encourage better behaviour behind bars; I’m sure any chance to engage with family and the outside world would. But bearing the truth of the U.S. prison system in mind, what we really need to see are inside scoops about reforming the U.S. prison system entirely.

** More Web Developments & Absurdities **

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2010 BLOG AWARDS: Categories, Casters and Criteria

blog blingWITH many bloggers now focusing on their blogs full-time, blogs have moved from a fun sideline project to a lucrative form of business. Keeping in line with this trend, the SA Blog Awards have also matured and bloggers will see statistics from their site forming part of the evaluation criteria for the judges in each of the categories in 2010.

Now in its 5th year, the awards will take place on 25 September and will feature more judges per category than in the past. Judges will also be experts in their respective fields with a keen interest in social networking.

Given the past success of the awards and the increased interest in the 2010 event, The SA Blog Awards warranted the addition of a new member. JP Naude, Cape Town businessman and radio personality, takes on the role of CEO for the Awards. One of Naude’s focus areas will be raising the profile of the awards ensuring a heightened sense of credibility in 2010.

Naude has already implemented a partnership with Afrigator, one of South Africa’s foremost blog statistic measuring companies, whereby it will act as an independent auditor providing accurate and up-to-date information on the nominated blogs to the judges.

Naude will be working alongside the original SA Blog Awards team with organiser Chris Rawlinson being the backbone of the awards, and Huddlemind CEO Dave Duarte, adding strategic value.

News24 has been confirmed as the headline sponsor this year.  Naude says, “Having News24 on board will help us take the awards to a new level. Last year alone, the event attracted more than 5 000 blog nominations and over 100 000 individual votes. With News24’s commitment to showcasing content from the nominated blogs to their audience of more than 2 million online South Africans, we expect these figures to increase impressively.”

Karen Dempers, Head of Marketing at News24 believes the sponsorship is a natural fit: “Many South Africans are referring to blogs for updates, opinion and insight into what is happening around them. We have seen a significant increase in the popularity of user generated content across the News24 network and have watched the number of blogs grow year on year as more South Africans embrace this platform to voice their opinions.”

The nomination process
Bloggers in the country will be given recognition for their contribution to the ever growing blogging community. During the nomination process for the awards, the public is requested to nominate their favourite blogs before being judged by a panel of industry experts in 24 different categories.

This year the award categories include the newly introduced SA Tweeter of the Year – acknowledging the best Twitter account, Best Company Blog, and Best Fashion Blog. The entry criteria state that only blogs written within South Africa and/or blogs written by South African citizens are considered eligible for the awards.

Nominations will take place between 2-27 August 2010. Thereafter, the top ten nominees in each category will go into the public vote phase from 1-17 September. The results of this vote will then be passed onto the judges who will cast their votes thereby deciding the category winner. The overall winner of the SA Blog Awards will be chosen by the judges from the selection of category winners.

The following Blog Award categories are available this year:

  • Havana Club Rum Best Blog Design: Best designed blog.
  • Jameson Best Fashion Blog: Best blog about fashion/style.
  • Best Personal Blog: Diary type blogs of a personal life story.
  • The Kulula Best Travel Blog: Blog featuring travel related content.
  • Best Blog about Politics: Blogs featuring mainly a political theme.
  • Best Food and Wine Blog: Blogs written primarily about food or drink.
  • Best New Blog: Blogs which were started during the year of 2009/2010.
  • The Ogilvy Twitter Micro Blogger of the Year: Best SA Twitter account.
  • Best Photographic Blog: Blogs featuring original photographic content.
  • The News24 South African Blog of the Year: The Best of the Best from SA.
  • Olmeca Tequila Best Music Blog: Blogs about news of the musical nature.
  • Best TV/Radio Blog: Best blog by a South African TV or Radio personality.
  • Best South African Podcast/Video Blog: Best online audio/video shows.
  • Best Parenting Blog: Blogs about the trials and tribulations of living with little people.
  • I heart your blogBest Group Blog: Blogs with more than one author. This includes mainstream media.
  • Most Controversial Blog: The blog which caused the most amount of discomfort in 2009.
  • The Ogilvy Best Media and Marketing Blog: A blog which comments on design, branding and marketing would also fit into this category.
  • The Old Mutual Best Green Blog: Blogs covering mainly environmental organic or environmental friendly related content.
  • The Evox Advanced Nutrition Best Sports Blog: Blogs written exclusively about any recognised sport.
  • The UCT Graduate School of Business Best Business Blog: Blogs about businesses or business education - individually written.
  • The Best Company Blog: Best blog by a corporate, small business or non-profit organisation.
  • Best Indigenous Language Blog: Blogs written in an indigenous language with a slight bias toward the culture of that language.
  • Best Science and Technology Blog: Blogs primarily focused on science, technology, computers or the internet.
  • Best Overseas South African Blog: Blogs written by a South African in any foreign country.
  • Best Entertainment Blog: Blogs about art, movies, celebrities, theatre and topical issues with entertainment value.

In addition to News24, category sponsors this year include advertising giants Ogilvy Cape Town,, Old Mutual, The UCT Graduate School of Business, Evox. Olmeca Tequila, Jameson, Havana Club Rum and Atmosphere Communications - a PR agency that has successfully used social media campaigns for its clients.

About the South African Blog Awards:
The South African Blog Awards were started in 2005 and are a showcase of the best blogs in South Africa voted for by the public and their peers. Since its inception more than six thousand blogs have been nominated with over one hundred thousand individual votes. The SA blog awards is the only event in Africa that reaches all the best South African blogs and online digital influencers in one go.

- Issued on behalf of Atmosphere Communications

** More News and Media Articles **

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