Back to Klout - a Comparison

OK, I spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to figure out what's going on with Klout, the website that measures and charts your social media performance across a range of different metrics.

In particular, while looking at my own statistics can only give me an idea of how I'm doing today compared with yesterday, or last week or last month, comparing my profile with others helps to put that into wider context.

Sometimes I see how I'm performing against friends, sometimes people who I actually like on Twitter, and sometimes people I've worked with and respect on a professional level. The figures below relate to the latter, although I'll avoid naming her.

Teach a Man to Fish

Give a man a PPC ad, and you promote his site today. Give a man a keyworded marketing blog, and you promote his site forever.

OK, it's a bit of a vague analogy, but it holds true. Pay per click just isn't an investment - it's the online definition of "You can't have your cake and eat it." Pay for a PPC ad to appear and it will... until it's clicked on. Then you're out of pocket by whatever your chosen cost per click might be.

I'm not saying you can't earn a positive return on investment from PPC advertising. But I'll bet that's not why they created PPC ads in the first place. They're a continual income stream for search marketing companies, as opposed to one-off contracts for overhauling a website then leaving it alone.

Jane Thornber, Grace Cole

Jane Thornber is Brand Champion for Grace Cole, promoting their brands - including Miss Cole and the Forever Friends Baby Naturals range - online via websites and social media.

For more about the work I have done for Jane, visit my Hot Pink Magazine portfolio page.

Jane says...
"Bob is, without a shadow of a doubt, the finest copywriter I've worked with during my career at Grace Cole.

"Always professional, full of fantastic ideas for relevant stories at the drop of a hat, and always willing to help when it comes to last-minute deadlines.

"His ability to connect with influential people in a variety of industries has led to some engaging and relevant marketing campaigns - not to mention some amazing coverage for us with leading UK beauty bibles.

"On a practical level, I have to contend with over a dozen contributors to the magazine, tight deadlines and a growing workload - Bob is always the first to submit his content and I've never once had to extend a deadline for him.

"An absolute pleasure to work with, I can't recommend him highly enough."

Gaining Inbound Links Using Twitter Widgets

My obsession with Twitter widgets continues - this time I was reading an Econsultancy article I'd just linked to on Twitter, when I spotted my own name in its 'Twitter Buzz' box.

That's fine - but I'd also linked to an article I'd written on here a few days ago about the trade-off between what I termed 'the five horsemen of webmastery'.

What did this mean? Well, I'd effectively linked to myself, from Econsultancy's website, naming myself as a related article.

Embedding a Twitter Hashtag in a Blog Part 2

Twitter no longer supports the method described below - under their new API (May 2013) all widgets must be created via the Twitter website itself in order to work.

Visit http://twitter.com/settings/widgets and follow the instructions to create a new Search widget that returns results for the relevant hashtag.

If you saw yesterday's post about embedding a Twitter hashtag in a blog, you might be thinking "That's all very well, but I don't like widgets."

I don't blame you - I'm not a fan of them either. Customisable though they may be, they'll never quite match the rest of your post, or page, or template, or site. The only real way to manage that is to use a format that can be styled using CSS.

But wait - you can do that with a Twitter search too.

Embedding a Twitter Hashtag in a Blog

Twitter no longer supports the method described below - under their new API (May 2013) all widgets must be created via the Twitter website itself in order to work.

Visit http://twitter.com/settings/widgets and follow the instructions to create a new Search widget that returns results for the relevant hashtag.

I think almost every blogger who's also active on Twitter now has their latest tweets embedded into their blog template one way or another - if they want them to be visible there, that is.

But I got to thinking whether there might be a way of embedding a Twitter hashtag in a blog template, so you could filter what appears and let other people's tweets about your blog show up, too.

The answer to the question is, of course, yes. Twitter actually offers a whole range of widgets to achieve that and other similar tasks in a customisable, graphical form. Use the form below for a hashtag widget, or check the full range at http://twitter.com/goodies/widgets.

The Five Horsemen of Webmastery

Many business websites are created from scratch, either in-house (if you're a small firm with a good grasp of HTML etc) or by an external agency. The problem with either of those options is that you're probably quite likely to focus on one part of the process, at the cost of all the others.

For instance, as a small business leader, it's easy to prioritise having an eyecatching website, because you want to stand out from the crowd. But of course, if most of your site traffic is arriving via search, 'standing out' is a matter of having the most search-visible website, not the most graphics-based.

There are many combinations of what I call the Five Horsemen of Webmastery that seem mutually exclusive, but if you strike the right balance you can get the following five elements just right:
  • copy
  • SEO
  • site design
  • usability
  • accessibility

Hot Pink Magazine

Hot Pink Magazine is the online lifestyle publication from toiletries brand Miss Cole, part of the Grace Cole group. Its audience is female, aged from mid-teens to early 20s, and since autumn 2010 I have written a number of features for the magazine.

My main written contribution each month is a What's On guide to the latest television, music, cinema and DVD releases - drawing on the information I have access to through my other project, POPSICULTURE. But I've provided other content too, including a behind-the-scenes report from London Fashion Week about a Miss Cole-sponsored catwalk show.

Thanks, Google

Isn't it always the way? A week into starting my SEO blog, and Google launches one of its own. Inside Search started yesterday and gives the world's largest search engine an outlet to discuss its algorithm changes and anything else it feels like talking about.


This is good news for webmasters - it means the next time there's a Panda-like update, we won't all be scrabbling for information across Google's various webmaster, analytics and advertising blogs.

It's not actually such bad news for me, either. Despite the fact that the industry's biggest company has just launched a direct competitor to my own blog, it's actually an opportunity.

My Klout score

If you don't know what Klout is, it's an easy way to keep track of a variety of different social media metrics. It's very consumer-friendly, but it actually helps analyse quite a few different aspects of your social media profile that would otherwise be difficult to study.

You can use it to combine your Twitter and Facebook activities into one overall rating from 1 to 100, but I just use it for Twitter, where I'm most active for personal and work reasons alike.

Base rate hints at the blind leading the blind

I'm no expert where politics and economics are concerned, but I do like to play devil's advocate.

Today the Bank of England published the minutes of the May meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee - you can read them here. In the section headed Money, credit demand and output, the MPC talks about the fact that shoppers have recently been making more trips to the shops, but buying less each time. This is held up as a sign that household finances are under pressure.

Now, I'm not arguing that household finances are not under pressure - of course they are, we're all feeling it. But people buying less stuff, more often doesn't seem like cast-iron proof of that. If anything, it's a bit of a leap of logic to suggest the two are directly connected.

Why not to use italics online

First an admission - I do sometimes use italics. Sometimes they're just the right formatting to use, because you need to add emphasis in the literary sense. If all you want to do is highlight something, though, make bold your go-to formatting.

There are a couple of reasons for this - bold tends to clearly mark something out as being important, whereas italics can look a bit wishy-washy, especially with serif or handwriting fonts.

Most importantly though, is the risk of a rogue scrollbar appearing at the bottom of the screen. This might be less of a problem with newer browsers, but with earlier versions of Internet Explorer in particular I know it happened.

Imogen Thomas and Google AutoComplete

I have no desire to breach any superinjunctions, let's be clear on that from the start. I'm also not just mentioning Imogen Thomas for SEO reasons - although I'd bet she's one of the most searched-for people at this very moment.

Google Trends shows her 30-day search volume peaking on April 27th at nearly three times its long-term average, but with her appearance on This Morning today, I reckon there's another peak to come.

So why am I mentioning Imogen at all? There's one very good reason - she's vanished. Not in real life, but online.

Try it - type her name into Google. You'll get AutoComplete options as long as you're still on 'Imogen', but type the T of her surname and they vanish.

Imogen Heap, Imogen Stubbs and Imogen Poots all pop up - and even some terms including Imogen Thomas and variations on 'football' or 'Premiership footballer' - but get far enough into her name and they disappear.

video

In principle this is nothing new - Google filters out some of the more salacious AutoComplete phrases (such as anything relating to porn) whether you have SafeSearch switched on or not.

But it's interesting to see that even Google - hailed as a bastion of free speech at times - can be silenced by a superinjunction.

So what's the impact of this? If you're a news outlet, or a lads' mag, it could have quite a hit. Sure, today everyone's typing in Imogen Thomas and hitting enter, but tomorrow? Next week? What if she never returns as an AutoComplete option? Finding her latest Zoo photoshoot could be that much more difficult from now on.

For Imogen herself, it's one more nail in the coffin. I don't imagine it's a priority to her right now, but a Big Brother contestant who's filtered out by Google probably isn't quite such a hot property as one who's still prompted in AutoComplete suggestions - such as Kate Lawler, for instance.

I'll be keeping an eye on this one, but it's interesting to see that superinjunctions are having knock-on effects even as far as the world of SEO and search visibility. Watch this space - just don't talk about it.

POPSICULTURE

POPSICULTURE is the reviews blog I co-run with Dan Penman. It may look familiar - that's because its design has been so successful, I used a modified version here on Phronesis. It's custom-built (by me) from a three-column, dynamic header and footer layout with fixed-width sidebars.

The 'how-to' guide for the layout was HTML - I embedded the necessary Blogger elements into it to power the blog, styled everything with custom CSS and added the dynamic elements, such as a randomly rotating masthead image and all of the auto-updating sidebar contents.

In places it's a bit gimmicky, but mostly it's a fairly clean but content-filled design - to the left, mostly blog-related widgets to access the archive or our main topic labels. To the right, iTunes charts that update with each page refresh, and our latest tweets.

The centre column is obviously the main area for content to appear in, and gives me and Dan an outlet for our views on music, film, games and TV. I can't give any details about the affiliate schemes we're enrolled in, but in terms of site traffic we receive over 5,000 unique hits per month from all over the world and our live blogs tend to do pretty well - the Eurovision entry pictured above got views from the US, Germany and Australia as well as a number of UK locations on the night and we tend to pick up Twitter followers while live-blogging as well.

Social Media Marketing Services

In addition to the one-off and continuing copywriting work that I carry out, I'm also asked whether I offer social media marketing services. Well yes, I do. In essence, social media marketing taps much more deeply into aspects of consumer psychology than website text alone, as it's much more time-sensitive and interactional.

A number of clients retain my social media marketing services on a monthly basis, with the fee for this based on their needs. If you know my views on freelance copywriter prices, you'll know I'm a fan of clear and simple pricing policies - but nothing's clear and simple in the social networking space.

Rather, it's about setting a level of engagement - producing and promoting content via Facebook and Twitter, responding to customer concerns, developing a chatty persona. Not all of the available options will suit every company, and often the scale of activity will be guided by how well a particular page or profile is embraced by other social network users.

These are real people - it's impossible to predict how well they will respond to any one effort. Compare how well Cadbury's Gorilla advert was received with how poorly its Spots vs. Stripes campaign performed. Could you have known in advance which would build the buzz, and which would see the bubble burst?

Freelance Copywriter Prices

And now, a few words on freelance copywriter prices, seemingly the gold dust of the internet. Why is it so difficult to find a clear pricing structure on so many copywriters' websites? Mine is here, and pretty straightforward for core content production, I think.

I'm speaking here as someone who's scouted out the competition, rather than as someone who's ever needed to use a freelance copywriter, but I imagine the frustration is the same - you need to know what kind of budget you're looking at for your project before you can move it forwards, but you're faced with copywriters who want to know what the project is and then provide a quote for it. It's a chicken-and-egg situation.

1000 Words

When it comes to search visibility, the old adage that a picture paints a thousand words simply does not apply. A well-placed image can help to grab the attention of your visitors, but it should not be at the expense of search visibility - and for that, plain text is still your best bet.

The fact is that your site needs to have relevant content for the search engines to pick up, and that communicates a clear message to your visitors too. Briefly, your page structure should include:

  • a masthead that doesn't take up two-thirds of the screen

  • clear navigation - whether it's horizontal, sidebar or otherwise

  • a few hundred words of search-optimised text that still reads well

Those are the absolute basics. The masthead is the start of your branding effort. The navigation is self-explanatory. And the text must be evocative for your readers, but visible to the search engines too.

Panda - Bearing with Google's algorithm changes

Google this week published a blog post discussing its Panda algorithm change in more detail.

In particular, the search engine says its roll-out of the update was intended to penalise sites with low-quality content by moving them down the search rankings. Naturally, somebody has to take their place, so good-quality sites move up.

The interesting thing is in the wording though:

"Our site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find 'high-quality' sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content."

That, in effect, means a first-place ranking is the default position for any page on Google. Of course it is - if yours is the only page containing a given term, you're bound to rank in first (and only) place on Google SERPs for that query.

So 'optimisation' in the sense of tweaking page content to try and make it rank higher is something of a backwards approach. It's not about getting to the top of Google - it's about staying at the top of Google.

I truly believe the easiest way to rank first for the term of your choice is to add a new page of content optimised for that term from the outset. Plugging keywords into existing text makes things so much harder.

Pricing

My standard rate for all general writing work is:

£100 per 1,000 words

For that you get all reasonable research, writing, formatting, SEO considerations, reasonable edits/amends and direct upload to your website, if you want.

I usually agree a word count upfront and charge accordingly - so if you want a minimum 500 words, it's £50, and I won't charge extra if I go over the count slightly.

I'm open to offers, especially for very clear or simple briefs where you just want something writing to fill the space, and won't expect multiple revisions to get it word-perfect.

That being said, of course I work hard to get content spot-on at the first attempt, and my headline rate includes any time spent reading your website to get to grips with your tone of voice, and so on.

If you have a specific budget in mind and want to get as much as you can for your money, get in touch, I'm always happy to put together a package to try and meet your needs, whatever the budget.

All enquiries welcome - even if I can't meet you in the middle, I'll always try to suggest an alternative.

Contact Me

I'm just a guy. One man. Not an agency, not a salesperson.

Contact me for any reason - enquiries, comments, just to say hi. Message me on Twitter, or by email, and you'll definitely get a reply.

Because I'm just one guy, you can rest assured that:

  • I won't pester you with sales calls
  • I won't give your contact details to anyone

So, hopefully there's no reason not to get in touch.

You can contact me:


or using the contact form below.

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About Phronesis

Aristotle was a big fan of phronesis, apparently. Along with sophia, it's one of the two 'intellectual virtues'. But whereas sophia is about understanding the way the world is, phronesis is about enhancing the world.

To me, it means doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. There's no point having a purely Flash-based website if Google only crawls plain text. There's no point targeting the keywords 'spring' and 'summer' in winter, unless you're in an industry that sells ahead of time - like clothing, or holidays.

In terms of copywriting, it's more than just understanding your industry and the web. Your site can top every SERP you choose, but that doesn't mean any of your visitors will convert into sales.

Your copy needs to be:
  • search-visible

  • grammatically correct

  • engaging

  • enticing

How do we achieve those last two? Well, I'm a fan of consumer psychology. The kind of thought processes advertisers put in before launching a new campaign.

Put very simply, your copy needs to be positive - whatever industry you're in (cancer and debt can be particularly challenging) - and lead the reader into the state of mind where buying from you will support that positive feeling.

Charities do this by making you feel good about helping others. Most brands used to do it by making their product seem luxurious or indulgent. These days it's often just a case of whose ad is 'funniest' or most original.

Online your options are limited, so it's even more important to get it right. You've got very few words to get the reader hooked and even fewer to convert them into a sale. Trust it to someone with the experience and prudence to make every word count.

About Me

I am Bob 'Bobble' Bardsley, I was born in 1983 and I've been typing since about 1985. By 1986 I could hand write, too, as computers weren't everywhere back then.

Since then I've learned the English language from every angle - I've studied its building blocks at the phoneme, morpheme and syllable level, how they go together as words, sentences and paragraphs, and how we turn those into meaning when we read.

I know what makes people tick - how language can influence the decisions they make, and the sentence structures that make them particularly susceptible to suggestion. I read the Journal of Consumer Psychology for fun.

My first website launched in 1998 and I've worked as a professional copywriter - both freelance and in an agency setting - since 2006. Clients ask for me by name and my satisfaction rating is near-perfect.

On a personal level, I'm committed to the task in hand and more than ready to adapt to meet the specific needs of my client. I'll make suggestions, too, if I think there's a better way of doing something - and I take criticism well.