What Is Writing?

Historically, writing is the mixture of letters found in the alphabet and punctuation symbols to form legible thoughts. There are several types of writing styles available depending on the equipment you have. You could use a pen and paper, a chalkboard and chalk, markers and dry erase boards or even type on a computer (if you want to get technical with it).

Writing clearly is a basic essential function of human communication, and requires a knowledge of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure. A plethora of vocabulary is also very useful when crafting a visual piece of conversation.

Whether you’re writing for business purposes, essays for school, articles, blogs, or adding your next novel, you are writing using the same process. There are different approaches for the different types, but writing is always the same.

Check back with me later and we can talk about a few of them!

Spring Cleaning For Your Website

Spring is approaching, slowly for some of us, but it’s on its way none the less. Time to bust out the carpet steamers, power washers, and wash the windows. But hey, quick question. How does your website look? Just think about that while you’re ridding the spider webs from the corners in your ceilings. That’s just from one or two seasons right? How many seasons has your website been through?

First thing you should do, is look at your website storage to see how much you might NEED to sweep under the rug. If you have a lot of space left, you might not need to delete too much. But if you have an olde….more experienced site, you may have less space to post new ideas. This is when you decide if it’s time to upgrade that storage or delete a bunch of things.

Personally, when I ran a quick content audit on my website after nearly a year of being MIA, I removed 6 posts. Now how does one decide what needs to be “cleaned”? I put together a few ideas of my own for just my site.

Your website looks great now! How’s social media? Anything that links back to what you deleted? Or references something out of date? Did you change your logo? Your color theme? It’s easy to lose track of what is where and what may need to be updated. This process could take a while. It’s like a content audit really. But at least this one isn’t looking at the mechanics. Just looking at to keep or not to keep.

Got questions? Leave them in the comments below!

What is Skyscraper Content?

In Google’s webmaster guidelines, it is stated that links should be earned as the result of a grounded link building strategy. In order to “earn” your popular links, you need to make sure there is value in the work the link leads to. You need better content than your competitors, something in demand because your readers love it.

Skyscraper content comes from a strategy technique rather than just a topic. It helps you get those high ranking link placements by using insight from other high ranking content.

Step 1: Find existing content that you can make better. If there’s room for improvement, there’s room for you.

Finding popular content to make a skyscraper opportunity from can be done through keyword research, or browsing the competition. In my research, I found that a lot of people use tools like Site Explorer to do the research for them. From the results you get, you can decide which of the sites has the best content. Site Explorer has a tab to help you with this called “Best by links”. This will pull the sites with the most link authority, aiming for anything with more than 50 other sites linking back to it.

Content Explorer will help you zero in on the most mentioned keywords and phrases in your niche. It will help you search the internet for sites with lots of back links, and even gives you the filters to help you find the BEST references. (Set your “referring domains” filter to 50).

Step 2: Now that you found the content you can make better, make it better.

If you found something that has a lot of authority and knowledge to share, ask yourself if you can actually make it better. Or is this your goal? There are four key ideas to look at when you’re trying to decide if you can elevate a piece.

  • Length – Did you find a top 10 list? Cool, make it 20!
  • Up to date – How old is the article you found? Are there newer studies? Newer statistics? Is the picture showing an author with an afro and a jumpsuit? Update everything! Make sure everything you have is within 2 years of your current date. This way you stay relevant for a while longer.
  • Visual – How is the design? People say you eat with your eyes. Guess what else you do with your eyes, you read. Can you read the page well? Do the colors not match? Make sure your updated epic version is easy on the eyes.
  • Authority – If I can name 5 ways to fill out your character profile with a paragraph to detail every way, and you say I can do it in 10 ways!; I better get more than a sentence for each. Make sure you’re showing your authority and knowhow, not just getting in a size battle.

Step 3: You have knowledge, share it.

This will take a little sweet talking, but if you can swing it, it’ll be worth it. Instead of sending your piece to family and friends to share on social media, reverse the search and talk to the sites that referenced the article. If I used a guide to self publishing article from four years ago, and you found a better way to do it with more recent tools, don’t you think I should link to YOUR article?

The idea here is that you would use that Site Explorer from earlier, and search the link to the article you found. You’ll get a list of people that linked that article on their page, that maybe should link to yours instead. Reach out to them, let them know you have updated information for their post and see if they’ll send some traffic your way. Remember to point out that all it takes for them, will be updating a hyperlink in their post.

Long article short, if you find something you can make better, make sure you’re really making it better. Don’t outdo the numbers just for kicks and giggles, really aim for your value here. This is your brand. This is your business. 20% cooler is an improvement. Don’t aim for 50% better if you can’t deliver the support to back it up.

What is Cornerstone Content?

A cornerstone in masonry is the first stone set during construction. It is the initial foundation of the rest of the building, and what the rest of the stones rely on.

Cornerstone content is the foundation for the rest of your content. This is the core of your website, and consists of the best and most important articles on your site. This is often the pages or posts that rank highest in the search engines. The purpose isn’t to content dump in your field and overload your readers, but to define your brand and become an authority. The length of an article shouldn’t be dragged out for no reason, and it is especially true for cornerstone pieces. The function should be the focus so you can build your voice off of it.

Follow the steps below to help your cornerstone content stand strong.

  1. Optimize for your readers.
    • Make sure your keywords are optimized. This will get your readers to you.
    • Answer the questions your readers will have. If your page is about your book, give them the information on your target audience, book length, genre, and the blurb.
  2. Don’t content dump your market.
    • You want to be an authority, not a know it all. Don’t overdo it, aim for 3-5 solid pieces that you can spin off of.
    • It’s easy to run away with your topics, so make sure you’re only adding the important pieces.
  3. Organize your site navigation.
    • Internal links to your supporting content cut down on tangents, and you should use them. But again, don’t overdo it. If your articles are 50% internal links, you need to edit some things.
    • Make sure your site navigation is functional and simple for your audience. If you have to click here to click there and find the subheading, that’s too much. You’ll lose your audience.
  4. Do your research.
    • Know your market, and what is popular. Find out what people are searching in your niche, what are the most frequently searched terms? Use them!
    • Break your market down into the main topics and the subcategories that naturally come up. This is how you plan your content.
  5. Map your support.
    • Your main topics should be your cornerstone content. This should cover the general idea briefly.
    • The depth of your knowledge should come in the form of your support. If your page has “Publishing”, your posts on the page should be “Traditional”, “Self Publishing”, and anything that you need to do at this stage of your novel.

There are many different perspectives on cornerstone or “evergreen” content, but once you understand what it is used for, and what it is made of, you’re on a good path. Your priority? Your audience. How do they find you? Can they trust your content? Is it easy to find and navigate? Your cornerstone content is the pillar of your website, and should stand on the supporting information you create.

Any questions? Leave a comment below!

How To Complete A Content Audit

When you have a blog, or a writing website of any kind, and you come back from sabbatical, one of the first things you need to do is complete a content audit. In order to complete a content audit, you’ll need to understand it. What this idea boils down to is going through the process of evaluating content elements.

Now I know what you’re thinking, audits are horrible, but I promise that this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Besides, it’s all your own creation right? If you can’t enjoy reading your own posts, you shouldn’t post it for someone else to read. But reading every post you have to find the less than decent ones would be extremely time consuming, not to mention hard to organize.

So here’s my method of tackling this huge, yet crucial, task.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you know what your website is about. If you have a business, you already know. If like me you just have a website for a blog, think about your theme. I started my blog originally for creative writing, but after a year off for a new job, I realized I could be putting my site to better use with the knowledge I have that could be helping others. For me, I added a page and a category that will separate my more professional writing from my creative outlet.

Secondly, you need to do a thorough check of your content stats. There are a few steps to the second checklist. The key factors you should look for are the following:

  1. Run traffic stats for each post. But what is website traffic? Website traffic just tells you how many visitors your pages are getting. Thankfully WordPress has tools to show you this kind of information. It even tells you where in the world your visitors are coming from! I have yet to find a use for that information, but it’s really cool to see where my page is popping up. These stats will let you know which topics are doing well and which aren’t so hot.
  2. Reevaluate target keywords where needed. Your keywords are the very words that bring people to your website from places like Google, and Bing. This factor falls under the SEM umbrella. The definition of Search Engine Marketing has evolved over the years, so it really depends on how you want to view things, or how your hired marketing agency views things. Most of the things I’ve found seem to lump in paid search and organic search into the same SEM group. So figure out which keywords are drawing people in more, and maybe edit the ones that aren’t.
  3. How much engagement does each post have? You can check the number of visitors on each post, but you can also look at your stats and see how many people have liked, commented, or shared your post. During this process you want to make sure you have social share buttons on each of your posts. If you’re not getting a lot of interaction and you have all your sharing features turned on, you need to take a closer look at the content on that page.

Ok, now what? I know which posts and pages are ranking better than others, what do I do with that? Simple, you move to the third stage of the audit and put it them in categories. It’s just like cleaning out your closet. There’s things you keep, things that can’t be saved, and things that someone else could use. Your content is the same. Can you keep it, improve it, or does it just need to go? This is also where you have to keep your website theme in mind, is there something that’s so left field it doesn’t fit? Probably time to trash it. Or start a new blog?

The forth stage of the audit is to inspect your media. Do you have any old images or videos that need to be switched out? Have you used the same image multiple times? Do all of your images seem to be of the same style? How many pictures of laptops do you have? People on their cell phones? Yeah, I’m guilty of it too. This could be the time to update your photos too. How old is that picture of you? Do you need to update it? Yeah, me too.

And the last thing to do for the content audit is by far the most tedious. The URL dump. WordPress has a business level for their site subscriptions that seem to have a feature to do this for you, but if you’re like me, you have to opt for manual. Take every link to ever page, post, or reference to your website, and stick it in a Google doc.

  1. How many links do you have that point away from your site? Do you need this link? If it’s a reference to avoid plagiarism or stealing of any kind, definitely keep it. But maybe add it as a footnote for those who are interested? Can any be replaced to route to another of your own articles? This is how you keep people on your site, by leading them to your site.
  2. How many links do you have that keep your users internal? Any time you can point back to your own website, do it. You don’t want your whole page to be covered in hyperlinks, but if you have another article that would support what you’re saying, you could link it!
  3. Are all of your links functional? If you have broken links, they need to be replaced or deleted. That drives me crazy when I go to a website and I click on a link and get that 404 error, website not found message. On the same wave length, do your links lead where they are supposed to? If I click a link that says I’m going to get redirected to a page with character profile worksheets and really get directed to a page that has a long post about this tv show I’ve never heard of, I’ll be mad. I will be far less likely to come back to that site in the future.

So there you have it. A content audit in a nutshell. Questions? Concerns? Wanna chat more about this? Need a hand? Subscribe, or like, or fill out the contact form here. And good luck!

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