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Posts Tagged ‘writing’


Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Blog Page

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Blogging has become an essential part of good online marketing. Most people have either connected a blog to their site or link to one hosted elsewhere. A blog page has many different aspects, which makes it easy to ruin. Here are my top ten:

1. Hiding the RSS feed

No visible RSS feed might be the most frustrating thing ever. If I find a blog that inspires me, I want to subscribe right then. If I search for 5 minutes and can’t find the feed, I’ll probably leave and never come back. If you want to retain readers, keep your RSS feed at the top and bottom of your page. (Also, consider offering email subscription, too.)

2. Captcha doesn’t work to comment

I admit, I am guilty of this one. For two months no one could leave comments on posts because my captcha created impossible to decipher words. Finally someone told me and I fixed the problem. Check your captcha!

3. Requiring a log-in to comment

Most Wordpress blogs don’t require a log-in unless you add a plugin for that, but some other blogs do. Sure, this deters spam, but it also deters serious responses. I know I will usually fore-go commenting if I have to take an extra step. Note: this is not because I am lazy, but because I am busy. Forcing people to log-in disrespects their time.

4. No structure in posts

Some blog pages show just part of a post, while others show the entire thing. I don’t really have a preference, but if you show an entire post, make sure to give it structure. (Actually, give it structure anyhow.) By structure I mean paragraph breaks, headings… They call it, letting your writing “breathe.” People except one idea to stop before you begin the next one. Structure helps signify those changes.

5. Design doesn’t mesh with website

Sometimes blogs are embedded into a site, or just linked to the main page from another host. The design of the blog may not match the rest of the site. The clash of designs can range from disjointed branding to omg-my-eyes-are-burning.  Strongly consider integrating your blog; or at least matching your blog with the rest of your site.

6. Blog content doesn’t match goal of website

Your blog should play a part in your marketing. If your blog content is too personal or isn’t useful to clients its not functioning in your favor. Make every post work for you in some way. Sit down and think about the goal of your website and your blog. They should be complimentary.

7. Fifth grade writing skills – sometimes you should pay for content

Not everyone can boast beautiful writing technique. I don’t mean you need an English degree or the best grammar. Just make sure your writing is readable. If you just don’t have good writing skills, consider hiring someone or buying content. Don’t give up on a blog just because you can’t spell, but if you’re not willing to invest the time, pay someone else to.

8. Not using your own work (or at least claiming its yours when it isn’t)

DO. NOT. STEAL. Copying may be the highest form of flattery but its not worth it. If you get caught, imagine how that would destroy your credibility. Plus its just wrong. You can point to other blogs and even quote them, just link back and give credit.

9. Not taking advantage of Titles

Even if you don’t display entire posts on your blog page, readers will at least be able to see titles. Use your titles to keep people clicking! This is a great way to convert a causal browser into a possible client. Your posts may already have good information, but your titles aren’t urging people to click RIGHT NOW!

10. Clutter

It happens far too often. You spend hours adding links to your blogroll. You play with all the fun plugins and options. Its easy to suddenly have a blog just covered in random crap. Live by this rule, only add things you would click on someone else’s blog.

So ends our series on How to Ruin Your Website! Was there any particular page you would have liked to cover? Which page do you struggle with?

Image by Antigone78

Text that won’t Make the Cut

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Ever have that moment where your eyes goes fuzzy while you’re skimming a web page. So much small text! We’re all suffering from Information Overload (neatly described by Monika Mundell) anyway, so its not surprise that lengthy web content can make your eyes roll back into your head.

We all want our websites to be user-friendly so here are some tips on how to tell what content on your site or blog important. We’ll identify two types of information.

Must-Haves

  • Answer the “What?” question. Either in your landing or about page, give people the quick and dirty of what your site is about.
  • Reader’s requests. Ask your readers, via email, twitter or even a blog posts what they want to read.
  • Relevance. You know the goal of your site, put information relevant to it up. this includes news, trends, f.d.q.s (Frequently Debated Questions) and your own thoughts.

Superfluous

  • Anything written for your ego.
  • Long-winded content when something short but juicy will do.
  • Out-dated content

With all writing on your website, both blog and site  content take time to identify what things are “must haves” and what things would you “like to have”. The important things have to take priority. There are lots of things you’d like to write, or see on your site, but if its not something your readers say they “must” have, it will have to take a backseat or even be cut.

Keep it short. This goes for web content especially. What you can’t fix on your site, take it to your blog. Short, frequent posts are much more effective than one long-winded post a month. This goes back to the point at the top, “must” vs. “like to”. Trim the fat off your site, just post what your readers really need to know.

We’ve talked about using your audience to gauge the effectiveness of your content, what other ways do you use to decide what to keep or cut?

Image by Transp

Content Critical

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

p>I recently finished the book Content Critical by Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton. Lots has changed since this book was published in 2001, but the core principles remain the same. Content forms the foundation of every website. Most businesses write some content on their website. Sometimes they write the actual copy. Others hire a copy-writer but still blog regularly. Either way, they write for an online audience.

I want to spend a few posts on this book and what I learned. First, let’s start with a new way to think about who reads your website:

Readers vs. Users
Ever noticed that people who access the internet are called users? We refer to them as computer users. Its actually a unique term. Most people become a variation of the verb they perform. People who ride bikes are called bikes, those who play golf are golfers and people who practice law are lawyers. But when it comes to technology, people are computer users. (Content Critical also went on to point out the other people we call “users” usually have some destructive habit.)

The writers of Content Critical encourage us to think about our audience not as users, but as readers. It makes sense. Reading is the activity that occurs most often online. We open and read our email, we read blogs for tips and fun, we read websites for information about a product or service and we read social media sites to keep track of our friends.

Take a moment to consider this. Do you think of your audience as “readers”? If not, does thinking of them as “readers” change your attitude towards them or your writing? This is the first step to connecting with your audience better, whether you are blogging for fun, for business or just writing the content of your home page.

My next post will deal with Identifying your readers. How do you identify your readers right now?