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Overheard on #Blogchat: Conscious Keyword Strategy (@grtaylor2)


Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open mic night!

Whenever there’s an open mic night at #blogchat, you never know where the conversations will go. I didn’t get to participate myself tonight, but one of the tweets that stood out in the transcript was this one:

@grtaylor2: I go into every post w/ a conscious keyword strategy. Then, I write the content for the audience.

My first instinct is to want to argue. No! Do not write for search engines! You have to write for your readers! What are you doing?!? WRONG!

But in reflecting a bit, I think grtaylor2’s tweet is spot on the money because he used one word: conscious.

Keyword use in blog posts can be downright horrible. I’ve seen posts where not only were keywords stuffed into the text unnaturally, but the overall information in the post just didn’t make sense. If you’re writing for search engines, you’re never going to build a viable blog, unless you can also offer something of value. And because so many people make the mistake of using keywords in a crappy way, I think many bloggers have the natural reaction of wanting to argue anyone who says they write with keyword strategy in mind.

But this approach can make sense. In actuality, if you don’t consider keywords at all, you probably are doing a disservice to readers.


Because frankly, if certain keywords are popular, that means that people are interested in those topics. That doesn’t mean that you need to stuff your blog posts with keywords to pull in traffic, but if you’re ignoring your readers’ concerns, you’re missing out the opportunity to really help your community.

Check out your stats. What keywords are bringing people to your blog? These are topics where you can expand with more posts. Check out search engine reports. What keywords are popular in your topic area? These are topics you should cover if you haven’t already.

Yes, you should focus on awesome content, but the conscious addition of keywords can also help you reach out to people who don’t yet know about your blog. Good keyword strategy can help you build your community, not just drive up your traffic numbers. Don’t ignore this way of connecting with your readers.

More about the Ant Mentality: Every Reader is a Scout


Yesterday, I talked a little about the ant mentality and how you can use it to grow your readership. The basis of the ant mentality is that people will follow the crowd, so you can tap into that to bring more traffic to your blog. Not only do you need to write great content, but you need to ensure that you aren’t deterring readers in any way, which would prevent them from recommending your blog. Return traffic is great, but recommendations is what will make your blog grow.

I talked a lot about how you need to entice the “scouts” to take the “food” back to the anthill. In other words, you have to entice someone who reads your post to take the link and promote it on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Best-case scenario: they take your post and write about it on their own blog. Something important that you need to keep in mind, though? Every reader is a scout, whether he’s a popular blogger or not.

Here at the BlogWorld Blog I blog about blogging. (Try saying that five times fast!) I would love for some of the big names in blogging to read what I write here and recommend it to their readers/followers/fans. I’m sure the head honchos here would like that too! The fact of the matter, though, is that every single reader is important, not just the VIPs. I’ve seen some bloggers fall into a habit of only rolling out the red carpet for bloggers that can send tons of traffic their way, but basically ignoring their other readers.

Hey. I’m one of those “other” readers. And I’m important too!

Maybe Blogger X is popular and will send you 10,000 readers if he/she recommends your blog. That’s great, but what about the 1,000 readers you already have that will each send 20 new readers your way? That’s actually even better – you’re at a net gain of 20,000 instead of 10,000.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other, of course. You can work to get your blog on the radar of the big names while still catering to your core readers. Every reader out there has the potential to bring more traffic your way, and sometimes building a slow but steady readership can lead to a blog that’s much more popular than an influx of traffic suddenly because you were recognized by Blogger X.

So how can you ensure that you’re not being a celebrity snob?

  • Engage readers in conversation. You might not be able to reply to every comment on your blog, but don’t just reply to comments from the big names in your industry. Reply to comments that you honestly thing are helpful and give you something to say, regardless of the name behind the comment.
  • Make an effort to find out where your readers are writing. If you have some members of your community that are outspoken (in a good way!), helpful, and engaging, visit their blogs and leave comments on posts that inspire you.
  • Blog about interesting posts, even if the blogger isn’t well known. Someone who does this extremely well is Judy Helfand – she even has an entire blog devoted to replying to other people’s blogs, comments, tweets, etc., and it isn’t just about replying to comments from people who could send traffic her way. She replies when she has a story to tell, something to add to the conversation. When you link to others’ blogs, do so to add to the overall conversation, not because you think they’ll see the trackback and suddenly want to be your bff.
  • Don’t be afraid to learn from your readers. As a blogger, you’re an “authority” on whatever subject you blog about, but that doesn’t mean your readers are on a level below you. Everyone has something to teach you if you have the time and patience to listen. Sometimes, commenters can be rude or even outright mean, but try to learn from every comment.

Every reader is super important to me, and even if I have millions following me someday, I still want every single one to be important. While there are certainly some people who can make a huge impact on your traffic, keep in mind that every recommendation is helpful to your blog.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. The “at the BlogWorld Blog she blogs about blogging” line makes her think of this one time in college when her roommate wrote a paper while drunk that included the sentence, “The dancers danced the dance.” She got an A. True story.

Growing Your Audience with the Ant Mentality


One of the most basic human instincts we have is to follow the crowd. Yes, everyone also has this need to be recognized as an individual, but on a genetic level, we see the crowd as the safe option. If a lot of other people are doing it, it must be a good idea, right? Yet, following the crowd has a negative connotation for many people, and I certainly don’t think we should be promoting the kind of mentality where people just mindlessly follow others to your blog like a flock of sheep. Mindless traffic is not a good way to grow your audience.

What I’d like to propose instead of the sheep mentality is the ant mentality.

I grew up in the country, so ants weren’t just an isolated problem; they were a common occurrence. If your kitchen floor wasn’t spotless, you were going to get ants, without a doubt. So, I learned from a young age how ants work and what to do to stop them. And ants are complex little buggers. Comparing your readers to ants is not an insult.

Every ant family has scouts that go out to look for food. Ant scouts leave this chemical trail that other ants can follow and that they can follow to find their anthill again. The trail changes based on what the ant is finding – food, danger, etc.

When an scouting ant finds a food source, it is only a matter of time before other worker ants follow the trail to find the food and carry it back to the anthill. That’s why you can’t just squash an ant and call your problem fixed – it is only a matter of time before more ants follow the “hey this way to food” trail and come calling. The ant traps that you can purchase aren’t designed to kill an ant immediately – they are designed to slowly poison, but not before the any carries the poisoned food back to the anthill, where it can kill all of them. If you don’t destroy the entire ant family, more ants are just going to continuously show up in your kitchen.

And ants multiply in a hurry. When one ant finds food, he leads an entire army of ants to your doorstep to collect it. Another way way used to discourage ants at how was with red chili pepper. If you find where the ants are coming into your home (i.e. the line of the “food this way” chemical scent trail) and you sprinkle pepper there…well I’m not sure if it confuses the ants or just deters them, but it certainly does work.

So enough about ants, how does this relate to content creation and your audience?

Well, think of popular bloggers or podcasters who have a large following as scouting ants. They’re always on the lookout for good content, and when they find some, they’ll lead others there with a trail of recommendations – retweets, “likes” on Facebook, even mentions on their blog. You go from one ant to a whole colony of ants in a hurry. If you have good food (i.e., good content), you’re going to attract scouting ants.

Or at least that’s the way it should work, though I know a lot of you are feeling frustrated right now. You have great content. You’re doing everything to ensure that you have unique, interesting ideas to entice the scouting ants. So why isn’t your content popular?

The problem? Without knowing it, you’re doing things to deter the ants. That might be a good thing in your kitchen, but it is definitely not a good thing on your blog or podcast.

  • Do you have enough crumbs?

First, in a home, you aren’t going to get ants in your kitchen if you have a clean floor. No matter how delicious your cooking might be, ants won’t find it if it is sealed away, with no crumbs on the floor. Online, this translates to social media and search engine optimization. What are you doing to promote and get your “crumbs” – aka, content – out there for the scouts to see? Are you ranking well on Google? Are you advertising your posts/episodes on social networking sites? Are you connecting with the people on your industry who have influence? Are you engaging readers? Are you networking with people in real life? I could go on and on, but the basic ideas is this: It is not enough to merely produce great content.

  • Are you poisoning the scouts?

Secondly, let’s look at one of the common ways to get ants out of your kitchen – the ant poison you can purchase that causes scouts to carry poison back to the hill, killing every ant there. For content creators, this poison is inconsistency and low quality. While I do believe that regular updates are important, what is more important in my opinion is that your everything you do is amazing. Some posts/episodes will naturally be better than others, but if you’re not passionate about the topic, if you’re not bringing new or useful ideas to the table, it doesn’t matter if you add more content once a day like clockwork. You’re poisoning your scouts, and they are killing off the readership connection that they could have brought your way.

This point boils down to the following statement: The worst reaction you can have to your content is “meh.” If you write something that people love, they’ll promote it. If you write something people hate, they’ll talk about that too. But if you’re just writing to meet your own self-imposed posting rules…you’re going to get a “meh” reaction, and no one is going to recommend it to others. They probably won’t come back either.

  • Are you confusing the ants?

Then we have the pepper deterrent. With ants, a line of chili pepper across the trail is confusing and off-putting. On a blog, make sure you aren’t confusing and off-putting to brand new readers. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my site navigation clear?
  • Do I have an “about” page that can easily be accessed from single posts and my home page alike?
  • Is my overall message consistent?
  • Do I make it easy to promote my work?
  • Am I personable, making my audience want to come back for more from me?
  • Can people easily subscribe to my RSS feed and mailing list?
  • Are there any technical problems that could be deterring people?

A lot of bloggers and podcasters, I’ve found, are their own worst enemies. If you have great food, ants should be knocking down your walls to get in, and the reason they’re not is because you’re taking measures to prevent them.

I’d love to hear your opinions on the idea of ant mentality – do you feel like bloggers and podcasters are deterring readers? What are some of the things that you see that would make you leave or not come back, even if the content was great?

Guest Posts? Sometimes, the Answer is "No"


I love guest posts. Although I haven’t had much time for guest posting lately, I think it’s fun to reach new readers, especially when you blog in a related niche that isn’t exactly the same as the niche you’re in. New eyeballs are always a plus, and even if you don’t drive a ton of traffic back to your own site, you can make some cool contacts that could come in handy later. It nothing else, you’ve connected with another blogger, which is rarely a bad thing. Guest posting is a form of social networking in some respects.

I’m saying all this because I don’t want to sound like I’m completely poo-pooing guest posts. Sometimes, guest posts can be great!

Other times, not so much. All the blogging experts out there tell you to post, post, post on others’ blogs to promote your own blog, but sometimes, frankly, that’s a really stupid idea.

The Time Factor

I already mentioned that I haven’t done much guest posting myself lately due to lack of time. I’m currently in the pre-launch period for a large product I’ll be selling later this month, I’m running After Graduation completely solo, and I’m blogging here, for JobMonkey, and for Binge Gamer. I also have a few writing clients who order work regularly, and I occasionally like to have a life. So right now, guest posts aren’t in the stars. Heck, right now, having a life isn’t even really in the stars!

Don’t get bogged down thinking that you have no time – but if your own blog has to take a backseat because you’re doing so many guest posts, you aren’t prioritizing your hours correctly. After all, the point of guest posting is to drive traffic back to your own blog, right? If your own blog is empty, readers aren’t going to stick. Your personal blog and your personal products need to come first. Only use left-over time for guest posting.

The Topic Problem

Ok, let’s say that you do have enough time for guest posting. That’s great! Time to email all the awesome bloggers you know, right? No! *Whap* That was me whapping you on the back of the head. Whap is a technical term. Trust me; I’m a professional.

Anyway, right now is not a good time to guest post because you haven’t really thought through your subject matter. Guest posts should add tons of value to the blog posting your content, but at the same time, they should benefit you as a blogger. What are you promoting on your blog? That message needs to carry over with your guest posts. Continue Reading

Facebook Booms, MySpace Falls


Facebook > Myspace Facebook, Hulu, Twitter, Bebo are all booming.  Every day, week and month the traffic numbers continue to steadily rise and their popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  One of the original founders of social networking, however, has done nothing but show a steady decline in traffic and popularity over the past few months…that’s right, MySpace is falling.

How far will it fall remains to be seen, but no longer is MySpace at the head of the social networking class.  According to a report done this month by research firm ComScore:

“…MySpace had 124 million unique monthly visitors in February. That means MySpace’s traffic for the month is down 2 percent overall…and remains in sharp contrast to Facebook, which increased its traffic by 16.6 percent to 276 million unique visitors in February. “

I suppose it doesn’t help that already this month two MySpace executives and their COO Amit Kapur announced that they would be leaving the company for an unnamed startup company.  While last year, Facebook and MySpace were head to head for traffic, Facebook officially overtook them in 2008 and literally hasn’t looked back since.

Is the fight over?  Is this the end of MySpace?  Maybe, but that remains to be seen.  Time will tell and until then, we’re not counting anyone out.  Neither should you.

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