Tag Archives: seo

If you’re building a startup tech blog you need to ask yourself this question

Editor & writer in friendly dialog

Join 28,000 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

I work at a lot of startups, and these days more and more are building tech blogs. With titles like labs or engineering at acme inc, these can be great ways to build your brand, and bring in strong talent.

So how do we make them succeed? It turns out many of the techniques that work for other blogs apply here, and regular attention can yield big gains.

1. Am I using snappy headlines?

Like it or not we live in a news world dominated by sites like Upworthy, Business Insider, Gawker & Huffpo. Ryan Holiday gained fame using a gonzo style as director of marketing at American Apparel. Ryan argues that old-style yellow journalism is back with a vengence.

Click bait asside, you *do* still need to write headlines that will click. What works often is for your title to be a little sound bite, encapsulating the gist of your post, but leaving enough hook that people need to click. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope a bit.

Also: Which tech do startups use most?

2. Line up those share buttons & feedburner

Of course you want to make the posts easy as hell to share. Cross posting on twitter, linkedin, facebook and whereever else your audience hangs out is a must. Use tools like hootsuite & buffer to line up a pipeline of content, and try different titles to see which are working.

You’ll also want to enable feedburner. Some folks will add your blog to feedly. Subscriber counts there can be a good indication of how it is growing in popularity too.

Related: Do today’s startups assemble software at their own risk?

3. Watch & listen to google analytics

You’re going to keep an eye on traffic by installing a beacon into your page header. There are lots of solutions, GA being the obvious one because it’s free. But how to use it?

Ask yourself questions. Who are my readers? Where are they coming from? How long do they spend on average? Do some pages spur readers to read more? Is there copy that works better for readers? Are my readers converting?

It’ll take time if you’re new to the tool, but start with questions like those.

Read: Is automation killing old-school operations?

4. Optimize your SEO a little bit

Although you don’t want to go overboard here, you do want to pay some attention. Using keyword rich titles, and < h2 > tags, along with wordpress SEO plugins that support other meta html tags means you’ll be speaking the language search engines understand. Add tags & categories that are relevant to your content.

Don’t overdo it though. Stick to a handful of tags per post. If you add zillions with lots of word order combinations & so forth, this kind of stuff may tip of the search engines in ways that work against you.

Check out: How to hire a developer that doesn’t suck

5. Search for untapped keywords

When I first started getting serious about blogging, I had an intern helping me with SEO. She did some searching with the moz keyword research tools and found some gems. These are searches that internet users are doing, but for which there still is not great content for.

For example if results showed “cool tech startups in gowanus brooklyn” had no strong results, then writing an article that covered this topic would be a winner right away.

These are big opportunities, because it means if you write directly for that search, you’ll rank highly for all those readers, and quickly grow traffic.

Read also: 5 things toxic to scalability

Get more. Grab our exclusive monthly Scalable Startups. We share tips and special content. Our latest Why I don’t work with recruiters

A Pagerank of 5 Is Possible – Here's How

Join 4500 others and follow Sean Hull on twitter @hullsean.

A highly trafficked website is a valuable asset indeed. For a services business it helps you build reputation and reach prospects.

Here’s how to get there.

1. Longevity

We’ve been around for a while, as you can see from a quick whois search below. I’ve owned the web property (aka domain name) iheavy.com and used it for the same purpose, since July 1999! Google notices this and ranks accordingly.

Until 2011 I wasn’t blogging much. I had a pagerank of 3 though. That’s attributable to two factors:

o 12 years owning the domain at that time

o Writing a book for O’Reilly which got a strong backlink

[code]
$ whois iheavy.com

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: IHEAVY.COM
Created on: 14-Jul-99
Expires on: 14-Jul-15
Last Updated on: 18-Feb-13

Registrant:
iHeavy, Inc.
Box 5352
New York, New York 10185
United States

Administrative Contact:
Hull, Sean hullsean@gmail.com
iHeavy, Inc.
Box 5352
New York, New York 10185
United States
+1.2125336828
[/code]

2. Authored a Technical Book (pagerank 3)

I authored a book for O’Reilly in 2001 called Oracle and Open Source. This bumped up our ranking from a flat 1 because we got backlinks from O’Reilly’s author blog, a strong authoritative signal to Google.

Why is database administration talent in short supply? They are the Mythical MySQL DBA

Here’s Why I Wrote the Book on Oracle & Open Source.

[quote]
Consistent ownership and use of a domain name, along with backlinks from other authorities in your area of expertise weigh strongly in your favor.
[/quote]

3. Started blogging weekly

In Spring of 2011 I started blogging regularly. This was an effort to build out my services business, solidify my voice, and bring prospects and customers to my site.

[mytweetlinks]

4. Installed Google Analytics & Feedburner

It might seem crazy but to that point I didn’t track much. Without metrics you don’t know which pages users are visiting, how long they’re staying, or where they’re converting.

Also take a look at: Why Generalists are Better at Scaling the Web

A conversion – for those out of the analytics loop – is when a user does something you want them to do. For an e-commerce site, they buy or start the process of buying. For a services website it could be visiting your about page, downloading a pdf or e-book, or signing up for a newsletter.

5. WordPress SEO plugin

WordPress is a great publishing platform. Among the many plugins to choose from, Yoast SEO is a very important one to include. It exposes all the hidden SEO fields and functions in a powerful way. Edit your short description, keywords & categories, and a lot more.

Check out: A CTO Must Never Do This

It also helps you frame and think about how your content is seen both by search engines, and searchers alike.

6. Keyword research

A little keyword research goes a long way. You might be a subject matter expert in a given field, but if you don’t know how your customers search, you can’t help them find you. Remember they don’t know what you do, so likely don’t know jargony terms or the vernacular your expertise uses within.

SEO Moz has some great tools to help you, along with Wordtracker and Google has a keyword research tool for adwords.

[quote]
Strong titles should make you click to open the post. A dash of keyword research and regularly watching your analytics should be revealing. Give your readers what they want!
[/quote]

See also: My Blog Traffic is Growing Using these 5 Killer Tactics

7. Watch your analytics (pagerank 4)

After about six months of regular blogging, and a few viral hits, our pagerank went up to 4. What was I doing? All of the above, plus watching analytics closely. I asked myself questions about visitors:

o Which pages do they like and why?
o What causes them to stick around?
o What causes bounce rate to go down?
o What causes them to convert?

I found that adding links to relevant content right in the text helped reduce bounce rate right away. This was a real discovery that I could apply everyday.

Hiring a Cloud Engineer? Get our 8 Questions to Ask an AWS Expert for Recruiters, Managers & candidates alike

I also noticed that good content helped, but directly imploring readers to signup to the newsletter got regular conversions daily. Huh, that was a surprise since all along I had the signup form along the right column. Go figure.

8. Guest posting

Guest posting is great. It allows you to work with real publications who have paid editors. These folks with provide you with a more professional view, and that is great for your own writing and understanding your audience. The hardest thing to learn is how to write to a broad audience.

You’ll also of course get a backlink which is a major authority signal to the search engines. You might get paid a bit too, but your mileage may very.

I managed to do some regular writing for INFOWORLD and Database Journal. I wrote one piece for ChangeThis.com called Get Out of the Technology Hex.

From there I signed a syndication deal with Developer Zone. Since I have embedded links to content, that brings me regular traffic, even besides my profile, and the authoritative backlink.

Lately I’m working on some stuff for Gigaom and ACM’s Queue. Steady as she goes!

9. Get on the aggregators

Most likely your industry has some sort of aggregator site which will carry your RSS syndication feed. Get on those. That will drive regular traffic and RSS feedburner subscribers. We’re on Planet MySQL and it’s been great!

10. Patience, rinse and repeat

Easier said than done, I know. If you want this to happen overnight, you had better get onto the real world celebrity track. Otherwise work on your content, work on your voice, write clicky titles and keep your audience interested with solid content. And watch your traffic grow!

Get more. Grab our exclusive monthly Scalable Startups. We share tips and special content. Here’s a sample

My blog traffic is growing – using 5 killer tactics

With a million websites & blogs offering endless advice on growing your blog, it took me awhile to get it right. But after months of experimentation I’m getting steady growth in traffic. Where once 10,000 visitors in a month seemed like a dream, now it’s regular.

Here’s what I do.

Also find Sean Hull’s ramblings on twitter @hullsean.

1. Think up a killer title or something controversial 

Trending topics are good. Even better is to tie in big events like the sandy storm that affected everyone. Follow these very clickable sites like businessinsider.com and use their model for writing titles. They are hard to resist, aren’t they? Beware actual link baiting though, this won’t win any friends at Google.

Also take a look at Why generalists are better at scaling the web.

2. Write content around that title

It may be counterintuitive to write the title first. But it really informs the content, and frame of your writing. Also pull out highlights and QUOTE them so they stand out. Also use nice solid bullet sections for easy scan reading. The internet is all about scanning through material, so make this easy for your audience.

A popular piece MySQL DBA Interview Guide.

Also, this is big, provide lots of INBOUND links to your popular content. This will give you a pile on affect, driving more pageviews and lowering bounce rate! That’s killing two birds with one stone.

[quote]Start with a great title, something that is irresistible, write content that is easy to scan & highlights your points, then let the world know about it by sharing creatively.[/quote]

3. Share the shit out of the content

Excuse my french, but if you don’t share it, people won’t like find it. And there’s a trick to this too.

Another popular one we wrote: Why the Android Ecosystem is Broken.

First I search twitter for related posts, then reply comment with your link. Say something relavent don’t just spam your links. Of course you’ll want to stumble, linkedin, news.ycombinator.com/submit post as well.

You might also look into blog carnivals, services like ping.fm, as well as tools that automate bookmarking across many sites.

4. Search news.google.com for blogs talking about the topic

Since you already chose a trending or in-the-news topic, you’ll be able to search and find other bloggers talking about it. Pick blogs with higher page ranks, 5, 6 or 7’s are nice. Read, then comment & share your link. Again don’t just spam your links here, but provide some reasoned commentary. This shows off your personality, and provides incentive for people to want to read more of your content. I find this very easy for disqus blogs, and really focus my efforts on those.

Why is it so hard to locate & hire The Mythical MySQL DBA?

5. Watch your analytics to see where you got traction.

This is the fun part, at least for me. Click on the content, then select secondary sort “traffic sources” to figure out where people are coming from. Tune your efforts to the sources and techniques that work for you. This will depend on your particular audience.

I also like to view Content-All pages in Google Analytics. Then find the horizontal graph bars button (rollover for Performance). Click that and you can see % pageviews by content title. Very handy.

6. Rinse & repeat

This is my favorite part. Once you see what you are doing right, you can do more of it!

Read this far? Grab our Scalable Startups for more tips and special content. Here’s a sample

Tyranny of a Google vote

Image by Hajo de Reijger, politicallyillustrated.com

For the past year I’ve been seeing headline blogs analyzing the effect of Google’s last algorithm update, dubbed the Panda. There was much talk of unfair relegation from the first page of Google search results, and general indignance by the SEO community.

As with any subject in which I only have cursory knowledge I didn’t think much of it. I thought that as long as I didn’t engage in link-buying and whatever is known as “black hat” tactics, the search engines would be fair. What I didn’t realise with Google was how subjective it has become in ranking websites. I was particularly tripped up in the area of duplicate content.

Some of my articles are syndicated to DZone.com, a hub for tech bloggers. They’d approached me about a year ago asking if I’d like them to carry our content. It seemed like a good way to gain visibility so I agreed.

Recently, I ran a Google search on the actual content that was syndicated and found the following results:

Title Dzone rank iheavy rank
Zero Downtime – What is it? #21 (not in first 5 pages)
Deploying MySQL on EC2 #1 (not in first 5 pages)
Cloud Computing Use Cases #5 (not in first 5 pages)

Now DZone.com’s pagerank is a 6 while iheavy.com is a 3. Google’s algorithm is probably weighing the pagerank of Dzone higher, and serving up those results at the expense of the original. It could be that the algorithms can’t determine which is original but Google’s bots know full well when content is published, so it knows the iheavy.com content was created before.

More likely it cannot supersede the ranking algorithm. It is one based on popularity.

What’s Original Content?

All of this raises the question of the value of original content. In this case we’ve given this site permission to carry our content, not knowing whether that would be good or bad for us. Nevertheless, it does seem to go against common sense, and perhaps what Internet users intuition might tell them, that they were not clicking through to the original creator of some content.

Can Google’s Algorithm Discern Original Work? Is there an incentive to do so?

The update brings up interesting questions about Google’s ranking algorithm. In a world where the popularity indicator is given the highest weight, will we find what we are looking for? In my case, I write articles related to my area of expertise, which is on web architecture, scalability and general tech consulting matters. Of course I want people to find my site when they’re looking for solutions to problems relevant to them. Yet in Google’s calculations, popularity trumps provenance.

Many bigger sites are experiencing the same thing and at an even larger scale. According to SEO Moz, Panda is forcing a change onto the role of SEOs, turning them into that of web strategists. While traditional SEO methods of optimizing for keywords, and putting out quality content still count, design and user experience, shareability, likeability; what’s known as “signals” that could predict the site’s popularity, are influencing the overall results of your site.

As an independent business owner with limited resources my time off hours is invested in writing better articles that appeal to people searching for MySQL or scalability consulting and less about putting in the bells and whistles to raise site popularity. But if that’s what Google favors then I’ll probably have to rethink my approach.

As much as I can squeeze out of a busy schedule, there’s not a high chance that this website can surpass a giant such as Dzone in popularity.

The Internet is meant to be a place where the pint-sized can have a fair chance at making an impression. With the way search algorithms have evolved, things are looking more like a reality TV talent contest where skill alone without good looks and a nice smile are just not enough to win the popular vote.

About

Heavyweight Internet Group is a boutique technology consulting firm operating in New York City. In business for over ten years, we have weathered the dot-com storm, continuing to provide our clients with the very best expertise. Concentrating on client needs & their business bottom line, we let needs and value drive technology solutions, not the other way around.

Our many years in the business have brought us perspectives and experience which we bring to the table with every new client. The value is obvious. What’s more we provide individual attention and focus to each client, another tremendous benefit.

Selected Clients

Active Reasoning

Advance Publications

American DBA Online

American Law Media

Ariane Anthony Dance Co.

Community Connect, Inc.

Conducive Corporation

Cyber Logics, Inc.

Database Journal

Dotomi, Inc.

DownloadCard, Inc.

DBA Online

DBA Zine/BMC Software

Efferent Corp.

EFY Group – New Delhi, India

Far Countries, Inc.

firmView, LLC.

GL Trade, Inc.

IN2, Inc.

Infovest21, LLC.

Inside Cinema

Integrated Media, Inc.

Independent Oracle User Group

Kaplan, Inc.

Marketing Technology Solutions

Method Five, Inc.

MIDORINOSHIMA

Missing Pixel

Money-Media, Inc.

NBC/iVillage – NeverSayDiet.com

NBC/BravoTV.com

Nechsi, LLC

Net Creations, Inc.

New York Oracle User Group

Oracle Technology Network

Physical Arts Center

Proteometrics, Inc.

Real Estate Online

Riptide Communications, LLC

Robichaux & Associates, Inc.

Solbright, Inc.

Starmedia, Inc.

Streamedia, Inc.

Susquehanna International Group

Timeout NY

TSI, Inc.

Wireless Generation

Workspeed, Inc.

Xceed Corp.

Top Five Easy Ways to Search Engine Optimization

  1. Convert to WordPress
  2. Categorize and tag your content.
  3. Use Google Analytics
  4. Create new content regularly
  5. Create a sitemap.xml

WordPress

This popular blogging software has evolved into a full featured content management system.  Most types of businesses could host on wordpress, although they’d typically require a designer to layout a theme which matches your businesses requirements.

The advantage is huge.  WordPress has evolved lockstep with the internet, and has integrated SEO right into the engine.  So your content will be very search engine friendly out of the box.

Categorize and Tag

This allows helps the search engines understand your material.  Remember these are software algorithms that read or “crawl” your site.  So they aren’t intelligent, and can make mistakes about what your content is about.  By providing specific tags, you help put your material in the right places, and have it indexed better by the search engines.

Use Google Analytics

This free service is a phenomenal way to see what’s happening on your site everyday, and what content is popular.  You can view hits, and where they’re coming from, and what search terms they used to find your site.

For an even more powerful tool and real-time analytics check out Chart Beat.

Create New Content

Adding new content regularly keeps your site fresh, and the search engines will notice this.  As more content is added, it will also allow the search engines to better categorize what types of content is there.  The more relevant content there is, the more the search engines will decide you are a good place to send their searchers.

Create a Sitemap

This is a map you give to the search engines so they can easily find all the pages in your site.  Without it they may only find pages linked from the homepage.  WordPress has an easy plugin which builds this for you.  No mess, no trouble.