World's Second Best PR Blog

Five Tips For Getting Started With Blog SEO — They Can't Read What They Can't Find

The first step in getting someone to read your corporate blog is helping them find it

The first step in getting someone to read your corporate blog is helping them find it

If a tree falls down in the forest and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? Some say yes, some say no and people with better things to do couldn’t care less. But what if we replace the tree with your company’s blog and the forest with the Internet? Now you’ve got a brain teaser worth considering. Your business can have the best, most compelling  blog in the world, but if nobody ever reads it you aren’t making any noise. And if this is the case, what’s the point? Before someone can read your blog they have to find it. And the best way to make sure people find any kind of online content is to make sure it is search engine optimized. This month I had the privilege of attending Searchfest09 to hear what some of the industry’s leading SEO experts had to say about their industry (which is a LOT more interesting than you might think). SEO is part art, part science and part magic. It is something few will ever completely understand. Fortunately, you don’t have to become an expert to add some significant SEO punch to your corporate blog. There are a lot of great tools and techniques available that are easy to understand and implement.

Getting Started with SEO for Blogs

Use WordPressWordPress is the Microsoft (and Apple) of blog platforms. It is easy to use and there are a lot of SEO functions built right in. In addition, because WordPress is built on an open platform, there are literally thousands of people developing cool plug-ins that you can add to make your blog do all sorts of wonderful things. And there are LOTS of great SEO plug-ins available. If it is a corporate blog, consider making it a part of your company Website (like and This way, every time you add a new post, it helps your Website’s search ranking as well. Even if your blog is already established somewhere else, moving to the WordPress platform is probably a smart investment. Be forewarned, however, it is a very good idea to identify a few WordPress experts and resources before you embark on your journey. Understand the basics — Do a little reading about things like title tags, description tags and keyword tags. Learn how to develop an overall keyphrase selection strategy. If your company Website is search engine optimized, learn the keyphrases used there as well and integrate them appropriately. The better you understand these these basic principles, the better your blog SEO will be. Install good SEO plug-ins — The All In One SEO Pack is a plug-in that will allow you to customize the title, description and meta tags for each post. There are several other tools that will do the same thing as well, but this one seems to be one of the most popular. Also, investigate tools that will allow you to customize the URL of each post to include your chosen key words. Keep SEO in mind when writing copy — When writing for the Web,  you are writing for two audiences — readers and the search engines. Your readers must always be your primary focus. They must find your content compelling and valuable. That said, there are a lot of simple things that can be done including:
  • Use Keyphrases repeatedly (at least three times) in your post
  • Use titles and subheads to reinforce keyphrases and make your copy more readable
  • Make title tags interesting and compelling
  • Make sure the copy in your title tag and description tag appears in your body copy
  • Invite readers to comment
The topic of SEO copywriting can’t be effectively tackled in a single blog post. It is a subject worthy of ongoing study. The best book I’ve found on the subject is “Successful Search Engine Copywriting” by Heather Lloyd-Martin. She also provides a lot of good information on her blog. Use Web analytics — WordPress has a great blog stats plug-in that provides you with a wealth of information about your blog and your readers. It includes a report on the actual search terms that were used to get to a particular post. This is a great way to see if your keyword strategy is working and to consistently fine-tune your process. In addition to the WordPress plug-in, it is fairly easy to add Google analytics to your blog as well. Google offers this same capability and it is always nice to compare and contrast multiple analytics tools, as none of these tools seem to be perfect.

SEO is a Journey

In reality, SEO for blogs is much like SEO for Websites. In fact, from a search engine perspective, it is exactly the same. The only difference is that you don’t have to be a programmer to implement the fundamental components into your posts. And a blog post written using sound SEO practices can sometimes jump straight to a #1 Google ranking for a particular keyphrase in a matter of hours. SEO for blogs does require a significant amount of extra time and effort but the payoff is huge. While it may seem daunting at first, it really isn’t that hard once you get the swing of things. Keep in mind that complete mastery of SEO is not attainable — even by the most experienced professionals. It is a continuously moving target. SEO is a journey, not a destination. And, of course, you can always outsource the creation, management or even writing of your corporate blog. If you choose to go in that direction, make sure that the person or agency you hire has a full understanding of the SEO aspect of blogging. If you’d like more information on this important topic, feel free to drop us a line.

KoiFish Blog's Move to WordPress — The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Movin' on up

Movin' on up

KoiFish, the world’s second best PR blog, just made the move to WordPress.  Now that I’ve had a few days to settle in, I’m very happy with my new home. My initial decision to go with GoDaddy’s blog platform was mostly fear-based. The thinking was that, if I ran in to a technical issue, there would be someone I could call. Unfortunately, I’ve since found out that GoDaddy’s customer service is next to useless (unless you complain about it on Twitter). My decision to make the move was based on the fact that GoDaddy does not provide the ability to tag individual posts, which means search engine optimization is limited.  SEO is part of  the reason I blog, so I had to move on. The first step was easy. WordPress has a function that lets you import most of the stuff from your old blog into your new one. IF your old blog posts aren’t full of legacy formatting codes you’ll be set. Unfortunately, most of my posts were originally authored in Word and then pasted into my blog. When you do that, you end up adding a bunch of HTML gunk — including unwanted formatting code — at the same time. That code caused me trouble then and caused me more trouble when I moved. The good news is that WordPress has a function that lets you paste word copy into a special place where all that gunk is stripped out. I ended up cutting out all the copy from my old blog, pasting it into Word, then pasting it in to WordPress using this feature. It worked like a charm. Now I can make format changes in the template and they are applied to every post. Images also moved right over. However, my images were actually housed on my old blog. When I imported my old posts, the images themselves weren’t actually moved. Instead, links to the place where the images are stored were created. No big deal except for the fact that they are stored on the old blog and that blog is going bye-bye very soon. I ended up moving each image, one at a time, to my new blog. This took a while, but at least WordPress gives you the option of changing image names, creating captions and making alt tags for each image. This is all good for SEO. Comments didn’t transfer. I ended up cutting and pasting. This was tedious, particularly since I went in and tweaked the dates to reflect when they were originally posted on my old blog (rather than when I posted them to the new blog). After having a few days to play around with WordPress, here’s what I’ve concluded: Benefits:
  • There is a lot of SEO functionality built in
  • The dashboard is very easy to use
  • There are thousands of templates to choose from, so you don’t have to design your own page if you don’t want to
  • You can cut and paste copy authored in Word without having to deal with formatting problems. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it actually kinda is
  • Images are easy to manipulate and tag
  • There are thousands of “plugins” to choose from. These let you easily add some very slick funcitons to your blog. If you can think of it, chances are someone has already designed it. Stuff like additional SEO functions, Twitter streamig, Google, etc., etc., etc. is all there for the uploading. And uploading most of these plugins is simple
  • Most hardcore blogers use WordPress. If you have a question or run into a problem, there is a large community of people you can ask for advice
  • Because templates and plugins are created by the community, some work well and some don’t. Trial and error is required
  • Templates are coded in PHP instead of HTML. If you want to create your own (or tweak an existing one) you need to know PHP — or know someone who does
  • The template can be somewhat restrictive in how you lay out each individual post. For example, the template I use mashes the body copy of a post directly under the list of tags under the headline.  I like a little more breathing room for the copy, so I need to insert a space at the beginning of each post. Inserting this space in older posts can be tricky — I can only do it when I make edits using Explorer. I have no idea why that is
  • Speaking of Explorer, you need to check the appearance of your blog in Explorer and Firefox. It will not look the same in both. This is really an Explorer/Firefox issue as far as I understand it, but it is still a hassle. It was less of a concern using GoDaddy software
I’m still looking for a great way to make sure links to old blog posts will be properly forwarded to their new home. Until I get that sorted out, my blog will currently reside in two places. I’m pretty sure this is a negative thing for SEO. Many thanks to my pal, David Naylor from Truth Entertainment for all his help in customizing the template to make sure it has the same great look and feel to the KoiFish Communications Website. Update:  I guess the joke’s on me. I just put a quick note up on the GoDaddy version of the blog to tell people to come to this version instead. Damned if they didn’t just add the ability to tag each post. This was my main complaint and it has been fixed. I still like WordPress better, but find this to be more than a little humorous.

Customer Service Via Twitter

Birthrates rise when Twitter is down

Yes, Twitter really is worth all the fuss

A recent article in BusinessWeek covered the growing number of companies that are looking to Twitter and other forms of social media as a way to bolster customer service. Twitter gives companies the ability to listen to what is being said about their brands as the discussion is happening and even join in when appropriate. Considering the number of journalists and other highly influential folk that hang out on Twitter, this is a very good idea. Letting your customers know that your company IS listening to customer feedback – particularly from those who care enough to broadcast that feedback online – is an awesome way to build strong customer relationships and create lasting brand loyalty. It is not uncommon to convert people from vocal detractors to serious evangelists if handled properly. However, based on a recent number of exchanges I had with the GoDaddy customer service team, it occurred to me that if social media is the ONLY place a customer feels his voice can be heard, the long-term branding ramifications could be disastrous. In my case, there are three things I wish GoDaddy’s blog software would do that it currently does not. These are:
  • Provide the ability to add tags to individual blog posts
  • Provide a tool that enables users to easily flow copy around images (more accurately, restore the tool that was recently removed)
  • Remove the phrase “What are you doing?” from the new “Twitter Link” widget that allows you to add your Twitter feed to your blog
The first item on this list is extremely important to me because it is a critical component of search engine optimization. Frankly, I don’t see how or why GoDaddy would have omitted this functionality in version 1.0 of the software. Surely a company such as GoDaddy must realize the significance of SEO. It is one of the very biggest reasons for businesses to blog. The second item on this list actually did exist up until a few weeks ago. Its strange disappearance in the middle of the night is what prompted me to pick up the phone and call customer support. GoDaddy’s customer support process would be funny if it wasn’t so maddening. The people who answer the phone serve as both the sales team and the support team. These are not pure technologists. If you ask them a technical question that they cannot answer (which is usually the case), they put you on hold, call someone who actually does know the answer, ask them the question, then take you off hold to relay to you what they found out. If they get either your question or the tech. person’s answer wrong – and they do – you find yourself in a lengthy and infuriating version of the telephone game. What’s worse, company policy dictates that the customer cannot speak directly with technical staff. When I called customer support that fateful evening, the kid that answered the phone not only didn’t know what he was talking about, he was also an insufferable smart ass. Some people bitch incessantly when customer support calls go to India. I never do. I’d much rather speak to a polite person with a slight accent who actually knows the answer to my question than deal with someone who has no accent and no solution to my problem. I went berserk. While I did get an apology from the kid’s supervisor, the best he could do in terms of solving my problem was to tell me that GoDaddy intentionally designed its blogging software to be void of some important blogging functions so that it will be easy to use. He did suggest I send an e-mail to, which is exactly what I did. Not surprisingly, the receipt of that communication wasn’t even acknowledged. I should probably mention that the only reason I chose to go with GoDaddy’s blog software over WordPress was that I was under the impression that, should I run in to problems, GoDaddy customer support would be there to help out. To me this was worth the $10/month price of admission. So much for that theory. A few days later, I was on Twitter when I saw a message from  Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester Research (who is considered one of the foremost thought leaders in social computing). He was giving advice to a Twitter newcomer telling him to use tweets to do more than answer “What are you doing?”. Instead, he suggests they be used to share thoughts, ideas, links to interesting articles, etc. Using Twitter in this way is what makes it a useful communications tool. I weighed in (on Twitter) how cool it was that GoDaddy now lets people using its blog software to include a Twitter feed in their blogs through its “Twitter Link” tool,  but how uncool it is that “What are you doing?” is predominantly at the top of this tool AND URLs aren’t active – which pretty much makes the tool useless. godaddy_logoSoon after that tweet, I noticed I was being followed by @godaddyguy. The next day, GoDaddyGuy called and e-mailed. Suddenly, I got the feeling that SOMEONE at GoDaddy actually did give a damn! GoDaddyGuy and I have since exchanged e-mails and I genuinely believe that my suggestions about Twitter Link have been elevated to the development team and that an improvement is on the way. I also have acknowledgment that my two more serious issues with GoDaddy have been registered (thought I’m not holding my breath). This is pretty cool. By all accounts, GoDaddyGuy saved the day. Hooray for GoDaddyGuy! My hero! But there’s a downside too. Every time GoDaddyGuy (or DellGuy or ComcastGuy or JetBlueGal) solves a problem, they are also providing customers with positive reinforcement for posting something negative online. Short-term, companies are likely to get a lot of goodwill and recognition for even being able to respond to problems this way and this should more than balance out the negative. However, I’m not sure this will be the case in the long run. Surely, those companies that are lacking in traditional forms of customer service will be the first to find out. Update 12/30/08 – I got an e-mail from GoDaddyGuy yesterday. He pointed out a few important things:
  1. The undocumented image editing functionality I had been asking him about has been restored (now – provided you are in FireFox – you can right click on images and manipulate them without using HTML)
  2. The ability to add meta tags per post is added to the list of future features
  3. They are going to tweak the Twitter widget
He also reiterated that every suggestion relayed through does get reviewed, though not all are acknowledged. While I still think the overall point of this post is still valid, it is mighty impressive that GoDaddy is – at least in one form – actually paying attention to customer feedback AND acting on those suggestions. Thanks GoDaddyGuy. Update 2/21/09 – GoDaddy’s Blog software just isn’t adequate for what I’m doing. I’m going to go back to where I started. So long GoDaddy. Thanks for the memories. Update 2/27/09 – the same week I bailed on GoDaddy they actually began to offer users the ability to add meta tags to individual posts.  Humorous to say the least. I’m still glad I switched though.