Katie Hellmuth Martin's blog


Increasing Pageviews: A Perfect SEO Storm

Books can be very powerful traffic generators, when they are published in full online. If you are looking for reasons to create content on your website, and if you have a book already published, then you may be sitting on a golden goose of traffic generators. 

I just completed a website traffic analysis for a company I've been working with for several years. On an ongoing basis, we employ different SEO strategies, track those strategies to see if they worked or didn't work, and continue to analyze traffic patterns to better fine tune the website, both to increase traffic and to expose different sections of the website to existing readers. Several years ago, we decided to publish online a short book that had about 7 pages and was picture based. Each page had a description of the picture. We dedicated a section of the website to this book, built it in an SEO friendly way, and it continues to bring in the most traffic for this website in droves.

The decision was made again to put another popular book online. This book had fewer pictures (although shared some pictures with the search engine popular first book), and was all content. It had several chapters, so the navigation was deep. Initially, it didn't make a big splash. It was not integrated well with the website, in that, there were not very many internal links pointing to it from the website's own content. SEO-wise, it needed links from outside websites to help specific pages and sub-sections rank.

After the yearly review, in which several strategies were employed to help the website in general, here is how this section ended up getting a major boost. And I mean major. Keep in mind, this increase was the compilation of  several factors, almost a perfect storm of SEO strategies.

  • Word choice for the menu navigation: Originally, the menu was a repeat of the book title. However, past keyword research indicated that having the word "book", and specifically what kind of book, yielded searches for that term. The conclusion was drawn that if people were using that term in searches, they would most likely respond to it if they saw it on the website. Result: Changing the menu name caught the attention of people already on the website, thus increasing pageviews to that section.
  • Capitalizing on other high ranking pages: One main section of the website ranked highly for a few specific yet popular searches, which was odd because the content wasn't fully developed. For a long time, a "Coming soon...sign up for our newsletter" type message was the main content of several main landing pages in this section until tweaks were made to make it look a little less sparse. The goal became to better capitalize on the traffic that repeatedly came into this section from search engines, yet had nowhere to go because the content wasn't ready. We created very SEO friendly landing pages for the main pages of this section. We made sure to include linked pictures and linked text to specific areas of the website, to help this new traffic dig down deeper into site to find related content. Result: It worked. Featured sections of several areas of the website saw increased pageviews, including several pages of this new book
  • Building from success of an image in Google Image search: Thanks to the first book that got put online, and the pictures in that book, we knew that the pictures were very SEO friendly and were ranking well in Google Images. We used that same image to appear in the section for the new book. Result: That image continues to rank highly in Google Images, but this time, it is linking to a page in the new book section, breathing new life into this new section.

These changes took place over the course of a few months, and were tracked in a spreadsheet we keep to track all changes, so that we can refer back as time goes on and increases in traffic are generated. One can't keep all of this in their head, so it is most effective to record all changes made by date, and with notes of what you hope will happen, and why you made this change. If you changed copy, record what the old copy was, and what the new copy is, so that if you have change for good, you know why. If you had change for bad, you can revert back to the copy that you didn't think was working but apparently was.

Take a look at the content you already have in your files. There are most likely a lot of ways you can transition it online and build your audience. If you need help thinking, consider our SEO Blitz sessions that we have periodically. Views from an outside perspective almost always sheds new light and refreshes what you are doing. You could be sitting on a gold mine right now!

The #followfriday Hashtag: How & Who Started It

Several people ask: "What is the hashtag aka # symbol in Twitter?" And I answer: "It is a way to organize a conversation on Twitter. Anyone can start one." And sometimes that doesn't get understood by the person seeking the answer to this question. So I did a little Googling to find out who started the #followfriday hash tag, which is one of the most well known uses of the # (hashtag). #followfriday is now a tradition on Twitter on Fridays, where people name a few Twitterers who they enjoy following. It is a way to recommend people to help them gain new followers. So perhaps this will help clarify the hashtag question and how it is used:

One day, this guy named Micah Baldwin was reflecting on his wonderful friends, who he followed on Twitter, and thought to himself: "I want others to follow them too."
(Quick note from Katie: There is actually an Arabic word for this...it is when you like something so much that you want someone else to enjoy it...like you are eating a piece of blueberry pie with ice cream on top, and you are down to your last bite, and your friend comes in, and you insist that your friend takes the last bite so that she too can experience it.)

So Micah logged into his Twitter account and said to no one in particular (aka all of his followers): "I am starting Follow Fridays. Every Friday, suggest a person to follow, and everyone follow him/her. Today it is @fancyjeffrey@w1redone (who is now @dannynewman)."

Micah says that almost immediately afterward, one of his followers, @myklroventine piped up and said: "@micah Great idea! You need a hashtag for that! - #followfridays"

Micah then sent a few Twitter messages (aka "tweets") to some key people, who may or may not have helped spread it (they thought it was spam), and went to a meeting. When he came back, he logged into Twitter again and used some tools that measure certain activities on twitter, and discovered that #followfridays had taken off! It was in use by people on Twitter from every corner. Pretty soon, people were just using it, and did not even associate it with Micah anymore, they were just spreading Twitter love for people who they liked to follow.

Because of the interest, Micah has now created a website called Follow Fridays.

This is one example of one hashtag, made useful by the people, for the people. So, you could make up a hash tag right now if you wanted. If it's catchy and fun to use, it just may become an "official" Twitter term!

Read This: In Marketing, Say How to Find You

This is a post that was inspired not once, but twice from people yelling outside of my window. The message, however, is deeply important and supremely simple. Yet, many of us overlook it. So let it serve as a reminder. If it doesn't bring you sales, it may just save your life.

First, let's set the stage: I live in a building in New York City, several floors up. I have windows on all sides of my apartment, and it is generally quiet, save for chirping birds, emergency sirens, and the occasional store-front protective metal door being closing at night. I am a Home Office Worker who has been working from home for two years.

Every summer afternoon at 3:00pm, a group of young adults get onto a microphone, and start yelling about a Yogi Bear Club where they are going to provide entertainment of some sort to kids. The yelling begins at the strike of 3pm every day, which is very distracting, and all I can do is wonder where they are. I have been outside during these afternoon hours to run errands, but have never seen this club meeting. I picture it to be a giant puppet show out the side of a truck, but have no idea. Only recently did they start mentioning Christian things, so I have learned that they are associated a faith-based related program of some sort.

In the winter, they have stopped their shows. For Easter, they did a special edition, and fired up the microphones at 1pm. They were shouting: "Come on! It's time for the Yogi Bear Club! We're going to start, it will be fun, etc. etc." After several of these encouraging announcements, they finally stated what they were doing: an Easter egg hunt. And not long after that, they finally stated: "Get up! Get out of bed! Come down to W. 103rd and Amsterdam! We are having an Easter egg hunt! Get out of bed! Come see us at W. 103rd and Amsterdam!"

By jove! An address! After all of these years! It occurred to me in that moment that for two years, they have never stated this. Or stated it once and did not repeat it. Not only that, but their language shifted to one that was speaking to people in buildings, who they presumed were sleeping. If this had been a Home Office Rally of some sort, had they said "Get off of your computer and get some fresh air!", that might have done the trick for me.

What I learned: They had neglected to state the most obvious piece of information that could get me there: their address. And, they thought about their audience and what their audience may be doing, and used a message that appealed directly to that audience. Business owners may forget this when they are Twittering, and forget to mention a website of where to find something. Or a postcard design may have a website address in an hard to notice spot. I know I've done it.

As I was developing a website proposal for a client, I heard a one-word shout outside. I heard it a few times. Sounded something like: "Bob!" I wondered if it it was a person in distress, but decided that it was not. The sound got closer, and I imagined that it was a woman looking for her son or lost dog. She started to speak a sentence, that sounded like: "Bob! Come home!" Eh, I ignored it and put full concentration back into my proposal.

The shout continued, and suddenly the word "...elevator..." floated into my open window. Now "elevator", spoken by a shouting person, can only mean one thing: they are stuck. I ran to my window, and shouted: "Where are you?". She muffled something back about the evelator being stuck. But, I needed to find her. Finally, I shouted: "What address? What building are you in?" And sure enough, she was in my building (our elevator does get a little sketchy from time to time), and I put two and two together, and recognized her voice right away as my downstairs neighbor. The elevator got stuck, but she was not inside of it, rather in the basement doing laundry, and came out the basement doors to a back patio area to call for help. I called our Super, who was 4 blocks away, had him come down to get her, informed her of what I did, and called it a night.

What I learned: Again with the address, and a non-traditional word. The main point of her message was that she was trapped in a building and needed to be found. Calling "Help! Help!" yeilded nothing from anyone for several minutes. And there are a lot of people around her in buildings. Using unexpected words, like "elevator" is what called my attention.

Overall Takeaway: Think extra carefully about your audience. What are they doing at the moment you are sending them a marketing message? Are you emailing on a holiday? Are you emailing during a dead-zone of time? Are you Twittering a very important message about your new earrings that are for sale during a flurry of live Tweeting about the Presidential Debates? Are you bragging about your product, but forgetting to include your URL? Are you selling something niche online and want to improve your SEO, but not using that niche word anywhere in your copy because it is so obvious to you, but if you don't say it, Google will have no idea that you specialize in this?

So. Think about your audience and what appeals to them at that moment. And don't forget to make it very clear on how to reach you. :)

SEO Tip: Obvious Terms are Often the Least Searched

Here's an SEO tip for you: If you are looking for reasons to post content on your blog, look in Twitter. People are always asking questions, and I'll bet you can answer one of them. For example: a Twitter person asked no one in particular: "What is a hashtag?" If you are in Twitter, you will know that you have seen the symble that looks like this: #, commonly known as the "pound sign." As a person who works with social media, and answer question like this often, I know two things:

1. This is a small question that many people want to know the answer to.
2. Twitter has a vocabulary unto itself. Before Twitter came into my life, I know the # sign to be referred to as the "pound sign". "Hashtag" was a fancy new Twitter term.

As and SEO person, I know that if many people are asking a question, then there are lots of searches to be had from the search engines for this very answer. However, I have identified my first response when thinking of that term - which is so commonly "hashtag" in Twitter - to be "pound sign" in my own brain. Guess what? There are many others like me, or the early me, before the term "hashtag" became normal in my vocabulary.

That means that I have two ways of gaining searches for this question. I can deduce that the people asking this question are Twitter newbies. Therefore, they may not know the official term of the tag. People will ask:
"What is the Twitter hashtag?"
"What is the pound sign in Twitter?"

Yes, they may even type those very questions into Google, and I want to position my blog to catch them. Therefore, I have to use both the "hashtag" term and the "pound sign" term in my blog post title, overall body copy, and in any text or image links. I experimented with this by writing a post that defines the hashtag or pound sign, and uses both the "hashtag" and "pound sign" in the title.

What has been the first search result to come in? A result for the "pound sign". Does this mean that more people are searching for "pound sign"? Not necessarily. But it does indicate that not very many other websites thought to target that term, so my blog will rise above the competition and get those searches, ripe for picking.


The World is Atwitter - Customer Service and Anti-Communist Movements

Business as usual at Twitter. Yesterday, an anti-Communist revolution of sorts was launched via "pass it on" messages sent via Twitter by people organizing the rally in the former Soviet republic of Moldova. According to an article at Google, mobile service was cut off intermittently during the day when protests apparently got violent. Also according to the article, there was no central organizer, but a mass of youthful bloggers, Facebookers and Twitterers who showed, seemingly within "minutes", to join the protest. (note to self re branding: when organizing a movement or spontaneous book club meeting via Twitter, it is important to have a central point of organization). Needless to say, this is how Twitter is becoming a way of life.

As for customer service, today, an AT+T line was cut in Silicon Valley, affecting numerous residential and business consumers. Those effects can spread accross the nation or the world. When businesses based one the west coast, such as Vertical Response, lose power, so do people who were planning on sending newsletters through that service on the east coast. Both Vertical Response and AT+T kept their customers abreast of the situation via Twitter (Vertical Response used @VR4SmallBiz). Twitter was apparently not affected by the power outage.

For you New Yorkers who are hatching into Spring, we hear that Social Diva may do a spontaneous social gathering of cocktails in the city...that green light would come from @socialdiva...

Moderating a Columbia College Women's Panel of Women Entrepreneurs and was Fascinated

Very early on a Thursday, I stopped my workday at 5pm to begin to get ready to moderate a panel put on by Columbia College Women (Office of Alumni Affairs and Development) and the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium, thanks to an invitation from Tin Shingle member Stacie Bach.

Art Fair Launching Again During Recession - with 50% Growth

The Armory Art ShowLeave it to our good old daily paper, AMNY, to feature business that is growing in the most peculiar areas: The Armory Show, New York's international art fair housed on the West Side Highway on Piers 92 and 94. The art exhibit was born in the recession of the '90s, and has expanded by 50% this year. As was revealed to AMNY in an interview with a founder of the show, Paul Morris, he is very "bullish" about recessions and sees opportunities.

It's all about thinking smart these days. The article goes on to say that the exhibit may not be as decedent this year, and may be more "handmade", and remenisent of styles of the early '90s when artists like "Jack Pierson and Jim Hodges and Kiki Smith and Charles LeDray [were] making art out of practically trash" says Morris. The DIY approach even made it to the opening sequence of the Oscars this year, when the giant Oscars looked like they were made of cardboard or papermache.

So, if your purse strings are tight these days, and you want to take an inexpensive day trip to an art exhibit that supports hundreds of others, put on your scarf and get going. There may be something in your price range to buy, since this is a recession and all, and prices are lower. Raandesk Art Gallery has invented a new reason to buy moderately priced art for gifts, called the Art2Gift program. Browse through a variety of pieces of art that you very well may click to buy without much damage to your checking account.

And then you can come home, make dinner, and get out some supplies in order to polish what you do have in order to make yourself feel like a million bucks, like I did with this giant copper bowl that was literally trash, until I polished it. Vigorously. And now it's beautiful.

How Dining Out - in Your Mind - Saves You Money

My hubby and I live in New York City. While we don't live in the swankiest part of town, we do have a handful of menus we can order from any night of the week. When I first moved to Manhattan from Ohio, I lived with a couple who ordered out every single night while I cooked myself dinner - like a normal person.


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