Tuesday 25 January 2011

Visibility rules for journalists and bloggers

Guest Blog: By David Amerland

In the writing game you used to be only as good as your last article or news report. It was a rule which kept journalists sharp against the attrition of laziness and time and offered an opportunity to newcomers who could say something trite with a strong, fresh voice, to shine. That, however, was last century and we are now in an age where clever writing and powerfully constructed articles hold less sway than a 200-word tirade which attracts 3,000 views and 200 comments moments after it’s put on the net.

The new game for writing is visibility and trained journalists who, by rights, should have a natural advantage here, often suffer precisely because of their training. Let’s backtrack just a little to make full sense of this. If you’re working online (and these days who isn’t) you know that the adage ‘Content is King’ has been the battlecry for every content provider on the web.

In the 21st century content continues to be king but the best content in the world amounts to little if search engines cannot find it, and ends up being seen by few and read by even fewer. The fact that content becomes important only when it can be found leads us, naturally enough, to consider that the means through which it is found are of equal significance to us. If we accept the fact that those who are online today have only a finite amount of time to spend there, during which, they get the chance to read then it becomes imperative that we place that content right under their noses.

Luckily enough there are three simple techniques which make what you write, easier to find:

1. Titles – while wordplay is good and clever titles make us, as writers, feel clever the real smart thing to do is apply the rule of calling a spade a bloody shovel. Search engines index words, not wit and being descriptive in your titles puts you in the running for some much-desired search engine love.

2. Network your content – no one likes listening to a hermit. They tend to be boring. The same is true for the content you write. People will come to your site to read it once they are familiar with you but in the first instance seeing content on Facebook, My Space and Beebo will go a long way towards overcoming any residual threshold barriers to reading your words. So make sure that in addition to your website you also have a presence in Facebook and MySpace which siphon content to the masses.

3. Use the real-time web – Much of the web, these days, is consumed on the move. Make sure your content is published automatically in Twitter and your Facebook profile news stream. Search engines use mentions and presence in the real-time web and social networks (like Facebook) to gauge a site’s worth and decide its ranking in the search engine results pages so just by using these three tips you are, in the process of placing content on your site, also search engine optimising it better.

Author bio

David Amerland is the author of the Amazon best-seller: ‘SEO Help: 20 steps to get your website to Google’s #1 page’ (ISBN: 978-1844819966), £18.99. His latest book, ‘Online Marketing Help: How to Promote Your Online Business Using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Other Social Networks.’ (ISBN: 978-1844819881), £14.99 details how to use the real-time web and social networking tools in order to increase your online visibility. Both are available from Amazon or any good bookshop.

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