My New Blogging Strategy

Three Posts for the Price of One: SEO be Damned!

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I find myself in a bit of a self-induced conundrum. My business comes from referrals, but I want people that visit my business page to see that I am a real person who regularly updates and maintains the website. I also have a genuine interest in sharing my techno-messes and (hopefully) consequent techno-victories. I especially love it when someone reads something I wrote and actually responds with a question. The problem is that my business website is not really a place for people to interact with me because it is essentially a glorified business card. On the other hand, using a service like Medium or Tumblr does little to promote my business page.

“Sure,” you say. “Post the same content at multiple sites.”

“But what about those dreaded SEO penalties for posting the same content at multiple places?” I ask. Not to mention the pain of actually posting to multiple sites. Do I even have the time?

Here is my strategy. It is not going to work for everyone entirely (it might not even work for me, in the end), but it is at least a framework from which one might be able adapt to their own needs. The big picture is this: I have a business website built in RapidWeaver, a Tumblr blog, and a Medium publication. I want to be able to write the blog post with the same images and formatting in all three locations. I then want to share the posts through my businesses social media accounts.

Is this even smart? Am I killing my SEO potential by reposting a blog multiple times? All indications as of 2016 is that duplicate content does not have a negative SEO impact, provided the content is original. In fact, if the content is targeted to different groups, as is the case with my three blogging outlets, more people will have the opportunity to review it. This common understanding amongst internet marketers is supported by my own personal experience. But again, I am also not too worried about SEO given that my business is referral based.

So I developed a workflow to get my content at three places (nearly) at once. It all starts with the draft, which I write in Markdown (I use IA Writer, but any default text editor or word processor would do). Markdown is a very efficient means to generate HTML, and it is fully supported by Tumblr. Once I have the text, I look for a new images to add to the project. I consistently name these images with the date and a number and then upload them to a folder on my web host. This way I can easily link back to the images in my document.

(Not to geek out too much, but because I name and store the files consistently, I can use a text expander program to spit out the relevant URL and generate the image name with a shortcut. I use Typinator, but there are plenty of other alternatives out there.)

With my files uploaded to my web server, I can then copy and past my text to Tumblr. Once I post it, I can view the finished product, select and copy it all (including the images) and paste to a new Medium post. I do a little rearranging (move the header image, reclassify the header tags, etc.), but there is very little additional work there.

Two out of three done. For my website, which is designed using RapidWeaver, I use a stack from Joe Workman that automatically imports Tumblr blogs into my website while maintaining my website’s formatting. It took a little work to get the appearance right, but I’m happy with the result.

Now, as far as getting the posts out through social media, I take advantage of Tumblr’s default RSS feed, which I can load to share my posts through my Buffer account. All in, after I’ve drafted my text and found or made any images, it takes me about 5 minutes to post to all three places and schedule the social media posts.

So there you have it - one post done three ways and shared through social media. I know I blew through these steps, but I would be happy to answer any questions or criticisms and expand on any points of interest in a future post.

SEO and Thumbtack

As I have discussed on this blog many times before, one of the ways for businesses to organically move up Google’s charts is to register with as many directories as possible. Recently, I have come across Thumbtack, a directory that takes cues from Angie’s List, Yelp, and social sites. Registering your business with Thumbtack is free, and you are able to upload a great deal of content to share with people who might be interested in your service. While it is difficult to determine the ultimate impact of one directory on your Google ranking, I can tell you that through registering with many different directories, I have managed to get clients without spending a cent in advertising.

One special benefit that sets Thumbtack out from other providers is that if you choose, you can receive service requests based on your location and industry. If the lead looks good, you can submit an estimate to Thumbtack for a couple of bucks. This lead generation platform has definitely worked for me.

For a look at a sample listing, check out my Computer Service and Consulting page on Thumbtack.

Twitter Marketing Basics

As always, Delcour Solutions receives no compensation for any products mentioned in this blog.

I am a Twitter skeptic as far as SEO and internet marketing go. Of course, the internet marketing firms do their best to sell clients on the importance of maintaining a vibrant Twitter account with followers up the ying-yang, but that alone is enough to give me pause. After all, these same firms are all to willing to sell clients Twitter packages guaranteed to get them thousands of followers.

So, what to do? Twitter’s power cannot be ignored. If you look at the internet as sort of an international colosseum where individuals, organizations, and businesses are all screaming to get your attention, Twitter is one tool to amplify a message. Relevant tweets certainly shouldn’t hurt search results for your business, but I think you have to take Twitter’s importance with a grain of salt. A company that promises you 25,000 followers should raise red flags. Remember, Google’s search engine is an evolving machine, designed to provide users with relevant search results. It is ridiculous to think that Google engineers are unable to weed out obvious Twitter spamming schemes.

My strategy is best described as common sense (at least to me). First, regardless of your business, create a Twitter account and post to it at least once a day and no more than five times a day. Second, use Twitter to search for similar businesses and follow them. Third, make sure that you “balance” with regard to your followers and who you follow. In other words, your number of followers should roughly equal the number of people you follow. I have found a great little app called “FindUnFollow,” available here. This app allows you to quickly see who is following you that you are not following, and lets you easily follow those people. Conversely, you can see a list of people who you follow that are not following you back so that you can unfollow them. Keeping a balanced follow/unfollow ratio is important because it shows search engines that you are not a spammer and keeps those tweets relevant.

Finally, make your tweets relevant - don’t just send out links to your website. Make a comment about an article that affects your industry or respond to an editorial. Be sure to use those precious hashtags (#), which create tags that focus the topic of your tweet. Don’t take the easy way out (like those marketers do), take this opportunity to actually say something worth repeating. It is the only honest way to use Twitter in your marketing model.

In Web Design, Simpler is Better

As always, Delcour Solutions LLC receives no compensation for mentioning products or services of others in these blog posts.

I recently completed a collaboration with Ashby Designs where Neal and Patrick designed a killer website for The Eichner Law Firm and I was brought in to manage the website and develop a complementary mobile site. I learned a great deal throughout the process, especially regarding the concept of negative space and web design.

I was brought up in the world of web design as a function of marketability such that the main goal was to maximize search engine hits (SEO). Neal, on the other hand, came from an artistic background, and truly designed websites with that background in mind. When I showed Neal my mockups for the site, he very politely showed me the power of negative space. Hopefully when you visit The Eichner Law’s website, you see a simplistic balance that actually accentuates the message of the site. I certainly attempted to carry that philosophy over to the mobile site as well.

I was so inspired by the design concept that I redesigned my website as well based on the same principles. The fact is, despite what the marketers will tell you, you really can’t fake your way SEO-wise as far as Google is concerned. Both Delcour Solutions and The Eichner Law Firm have seen a dramatic increase in website hits since our redesigns and have received plenty of positive feedback from clients. It is a new world out there, and simplicity is the new SEO program.

RapidWeaver, WordPress, GoDaddy, and Permalinks: Putting it all Together

There are a great number of posts dealing with issues that people have with WordPress “pretty permalinks” on self-hosted blogs. As a preliminary matter, “premalinks” in this context are permanent links to specific blog entries. Now, what makes a permalink “pretty” is that the link includes information that identifies the blog post. For example, a regular permalink to one of my blog posts might read: “http://delcoursolutions.com/wpblog/?p=46”. A pretty permalink version of a link to the same article might read: “http://delcoursolutions.com/wpblog/blogging-with-rapidweaver-and-the-winner-is…wordpress/”. In that example, the title of the blog post is included in the URL, as opposed to some random number. Aside from just looking nicer, including the title of the blog post in the URL can help with search engine optimization (SEO) because the URL itself is searchable. Unfortunately, setting this up can be a bit difficult, so I wanted to share how I made it all work.

First, let me go over my setup. Your setup will undoubtedly differ, but hopefully you can extrapolate something useful from my experience (as always, please leave a comment or email me with any specific questions). So, my website was designed with RapidWeaver and is hosted on GoDaddy. I set up a self-hosted WordPress account directly through GoDaddy (click here for a tutorial on hosting a WordPress blog with GoDaddy), where WordPress is installed in the /wordpress/ directory. I incorporated my blog into my website using Nilrog’s WP-Blog plugin. I upload my website to the host by using Transmit, an awesome FTP program for the Mac. Everything was working fine, except that I wanted the permalinks to my individual blog entries to include the blog post titles (by default, WordPress uses nondescript permalinks). Once I tried to enable the pretty permalinks through WordPress, all hell broke loose. No matter what I did, I either could not access my individual blog posts (through 404 errors or a nondescript “No input file specified” error). After a great deal of trial and error, I finally got everything up and running on my site. Here are the steps you can take if you are in my situation:

1. Log into your WordPress Dashboard. On the left side of the screen, select “Settings” and then choose “Permalinks” from the expanded menu. Under “Common Settings,” select “Custom Structure” and enter “/%postname%/” (without the quotes). Click on “Save Changes.” and log out of WordPress.

2. Log into your GoDaddy account. From the front page, go to “My Account;” scroll down to “My Products” and select “Web Hosting.” Click on the “Launch” button to the right of the account to bring up the Hosting Control Center. Next, hover the mouse over the “Settings” bog in the upper-left corner of the screen; click on “File Extensions Management.” Locate “.php” under the “Extension” heading and click on the edit button directly to the right (the button looks like a pad and pencil). A box should pop up; locate the drop down menu under the “Runs under” heading and select “PHP 5.2.x” (the default is “PHP 5.2.x fastCGI). Click "OK” and log out of your GoDaddy account.

3. Open Transmit and log into your website via FTP, making sure that you can view hidden files (Go to View > Show Invisible Files). In the root directory of your website, there should be a “.htaccess” file. Right-click the file and select “Edit in Transmit.” Ensure the following is in in the file:

addhandler x-httpd-php5-cgi .php
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /wpblog/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /wpblog/index.php [L]

Save the file twice (command-S) to make sure the file is uploaded. Now, open up the /wordpress/ directory and locate the second .htaccess file. Again, right-click the file and select “Edit in Transmit.” Ensure the following is in the file:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /wordpress/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /wordpress/index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

Save the file twice (command-S) to make sure the file is uploaded. Quit Transmit.

4. Open your website in RapidWeaver and select “Setup” from the tool bar in the upper-right corner. From the menu that drops down, select “Advanced.” In the drop down menu to the right of “File Links Are,” select “Relative to Website Address.” Save your website and upload your changes to your host.

I hope that was helpful. Again, this works for me given my circumstances, but mileage will vary for others. Regardless, I’m here to help. so please let me know if you have any questions for your specific setup.

 

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