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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Reviewing the usefulness of old content links

Old content can still be good or it can be out dated, depending on the topic and the opinions given.

Since May 2012, I have ended each month with a blog post referring back to some of my old content (from my newsletter and blog). I’ll list all seven posts at the end of this one.

It has been interesting to read things I wrote in the past and think about how relevant they are today and how else they can be applied to good business communications.

To be honest, much of my content does still apply as writing doesn’t change rapidly – had I written about mobile phones or social media it probably would have been a different story!

Did it work?

Looking back, reviewing old content each month:

  1. was an easy way to find new content I guess – there was some time involved in deliberately going back to that month of past years and I did have to think of what to write about the old content
  2. created easy posts to write in advance and schedule
  3. helped build more links within my site, especially bringing some of those older pages back to life.
  4. didn’t have any significant effect on the number of readers to those posts (compared to posts made around the same time, there was little variation in reader numbers – with the exception of making procedure manuals accessible which was 3 to 6 times more popular than posts within a week of it going live). Given only one post stood out, I’d say it was more about the topic than the old content link.
  5. also didn’t seem to have attracted particularly more or less discussion either
  6. took advantage of work I did in the past – leveraging is a great concept!

The biggest question to me, however, is what you thought of it.

Was it interesting to revisit old content? Or maybe I was too subtle and you hardly noticed that I was doing it?

Would you like me to continue this into 2013? If so, are there any changes you would like me to make?

My old content driven posts were:

May – planning future communications
June – making procedure manuals accessible
July – knowing the right terms
August – consistency over stats
September – reading efficiently saves money
October – accepting feedback graciously
November – dividing up business tasks
December – honesty in blog comments

Don’t get caught with deadlinks…

When you’re reading something interesting and informative, it feels great. If the author has linked off to more information, you are likely to click the links to get the additional information you need – and appreciate the author for making it easy to find.

Until the link you click goes to an error page that is…

Deadlinks are not pretty – or useful

Pile of loose threads

Are your links like loose threads going nowhere?

Links that don’t work will frustrate people using your site, destroying some of the good will your carefully crafted content established.

Poor links are also noticed by search engines and don’t help your optimisation.

If you were trying to gain specific benefits through those links, using a faulty link means you miss out on those benefits (such as linking to other pages or an affiliate product).

So I think it’s a good idea to go through your site and get rid of the deadlinks.

If you do it once a year, it’s a big chore. If you do it frequently, you will be able to fix things quickly so the damage is less and the fixes won’t take long to do.

What do I need to fix? What is a deadlink?

A deadlink is really any link that doesn’t take someone to a webpage related to the linking text.

There are a few ways links won’t work so there is more than one thing to look out for when checking your site:

  1.  linking to a page that no longer exists, either because the website has gone altogether, the page has been renamed or the page removed from the site. This generally applies to links to others’ sites so you often won’t know they have changed things unless you check it
  2. making a mistake when you enter the hyperlink – sometimes it is a spelling error but also watch out for details such as forgetting an extension (.html, .pdf and so on), the wrong structural elements (such as http:/// or com,au) or missing part of a path (eg my articles have a pathway such as http://www.wordconstructions.com.au/articles/business/outsourcemistakes.html but wouldn’t work if ‘articles/’ was left out).
    A common way of getting a faulty link on your site is to use a site reference and get the number of levels wrong (eg if my above article link was entered as ../outsourcemistake.html instead of ../../outsourcemistake.html)
  3. although not technically a dead link, but linking to the wrong page is also frustrating for people and less valuable for your SEO efforts. Check URLs are correct and using a specific URL rather than a homepage is usually more useful.

How to check for poor links

If you have a two page site with three links on it, it should be pretty easy to keep your links functioning perfectly.

Start building up your site, adding more internal and external links and the idea of manually checking every link becomes a little scary. Or a lot scary!

I have found two useful tools that make this a much easier job:

  1. Broken link checker – a free online tool that lists all errors found on your site, telling you either the page to find it on or shows you where to find it in the code itself
  2. Google webmaster tools includes  a list of crawl errors. You need to click on the error listed to open a new window. Select ‘linked from’ to find out where the faulty link is so you can fix it. I found it frustrating because it also includes some faulty links from other sites which you probably have no control over. You need a Google account and to verify ownership of the sites to access these tools.

 

Getting your website found…

yelling look at meThere are many ways to promote your website, some will be more effective than others for your business and some are cheaper than others.

You will probably get the best results by using a number of promotional means, especially as some will take time to have much impact (promotional articles for example are effective over time).

It is also worth remembering that it is not just in the early stages of your website that you need to promote it – it will be an ongoing process although the level and style of promotion is likely to be different at various times.

So here are 9 tips for getting your website found…

  1. put a listing into some online directories – but remember free isn’t always a good investment and that some directories are really only used by people adding listings. However, more incoming links helps with search engines, too (excluding links from link farms and other black listed sites)
  2. list your URL in your signature in emails you send and comments you add in any online forums
  3. if you have an enewsletter, get it included in a newsletter aggregator for more links to your site and potentially building your subscriber list
  4. include your URL prominently in your social media profiles and in some of your updates
  5. submit promotional articles to various sites and newsletters – they build credibility as well as incoming links
  6. put ads in newsletters sent to your target audience
  7. Having a blog in itself can build your website traffic, and you can enhance that further by adding your link to blog directories, and commenting on other blogs
  8. place ads on other sites (including through search engines themselves and social media platforms) – this often will cost money but sometimes you can barter or find free opportunities
  9. making use of offline promotions (think about ads in papers, radio ads, flyers, business cards, stationery and the like)

SEO needs to be understood as it encompasses all of the above to some extent and can send you a lot of traffic if harnessed well. It is also an ongoing process and will require many adjustments on your site over time to keep things fresh and allow for changes in search engine rules.

It is certainly possible to manage your own SEO or you can hire someone to help you with it. However, there are many people offering SEO services who are not ethical or qualified to help so be very careful who you trust with any SEO activities – and my personal opinion is to never use a SEO company who sends you an unsolicited email asking for your money.
This post is part of Word Constructions’ Setting up a website series
1. having a website helps more than you
2. what’s involved in setting up a website?
3. Learn about web hosting
4. Preparing your initial website content
5. Managing website design 101
6. Choosing a web designer
7. Basic web pages
8. Navigating your site
9. Making your website attractive

 

Links in emails

Email marketing is a valuable tool for any modern business, but it can backfire if you don’t use it carefully.

I recently saw an email that was very short, started with my name and included unsubscribe details – all of which are good points in an email. But it also included three links to a web page they were promoting – not three pages, but three links to one page!

In a short email, I am quite capable of finding the link even if I have read further on – it will stand out!

Over do something like providing links, and I begin to wonder why you are pushing it so hard and  I get suspicious. Finish with “This isn’t hype” to convince me this is hype and not substance.

Add in a comment like “Seriously, this puppy is sick” and the email has no credibility – I deleted it without clicking on any of the three links!

So the lessons from this email are:

  • treat your readers with respect – they can find links in short emails
  • avoid unnecessary repetition – it is boring and raises questions as to why you need to repeat it
  • avoid statements that are cool or trendy – not everyone will agree with you and they age your message quickly. What is cool today is sick tomorrow and wicked the day after, and so on
  • if your content isn’t something (e.g. hype, spam,viral) then you don’t need to write that fact – it is more likely to raise suspicions than allay them

Use your words (and links!) wisely!

When commenting…

If you leave a comment in a blog, you presumably want to contribute and have your comment included on the blog site. So make sure this is going to happen by getting it right.

Recently, I have received a few comments and pings that aren’t spam but have faulty links so I have not approved the comments.

In one example, the same person gave two comments and had a URL starting with http://http://www so the link obviously didn’t work. The lesson here is to check whether you need to add http:// or not when completing a form – don’t assume every blog/website owner will take the time to fix this error.

Another example if a link that takes a very long time to open and then goes to a page that doesn’t display well or completely. The credibility of the site, and therefore the comment, is reduced. In my case, it meant I couldn’t see how they had linked to me so I wasn’t comfortable accepting the link in my comments.

The result? Your comment is not approved or is only approved once the link is deleted.

Promoting a blog

Most people who start a blog would like to have some people read it 🙂 And many would like more people to read their blog – whether it is to promote their business, share their passion or express their opinions and experiences, they want someone to read what they have written.

So how can you promote your blog, getting more readers?

I have found a few blog posts recently that cover parts of this topic so I thought I would share them before I gave any tips of my own…

How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog Through Word of Mouth Marketing

Powering Up Your Blog With These 26 Power Lists/Rankings (the list is handy, but the site isn’t impressive with many faulty images, etc)

101 Internet Traffic Generation Strategies – Part 1 Not all the tips will be relevant to your blog, but you may get some ideas.

Making links useful…

I have been to two websites today that reminded me of the post I wrote back in February about linking to relevant information.

The first one (and as tempted as I am to link to the page, I will only say it was a government information site!) had a whole page about a particular form – what it should be used for and when to use it. At the bottom of the page, it read:

For a copy of this form, visit our website at www.url or call us on 12345679.

Given I was already on their website, a link to their homepage really didn’t help me! It took me another five minutes to actually find the form on their site.

The second site had a similar message but the link itself at least went to their form. This obviously helped me find the form, but I nearly didn’t click on the link as I expected it to go the to homepage.

And that is a reminder to make the text of any links meaningful, too. How hard would it have been to write something like “For a copy of this form, click here”?

So from personal experience today, I request you always think of what will help your readers when you add links to anything you write.

Use your words wisely!

Good blogging

I recently read a post by Jeff Attwood in his Coding Horror blog. He wrote thirteen blog clichés that he doesn’t like seeing in blogs – it is like a list of what not to do for a good blog, and was quite an interesting read.

While his post stands as is, some of his points particularly stood out to me so I will discuss them in my blog 🙂

One that I very much agree with is his point 5 – the big blogroll. He writes about the waste of listing many blogs in your blog roll, and wrote “It feels artificial and insincere.” Personally, a selective blogroll is a value-add; a long blogroll is ignored.

So what is wrong with listing so many blogs? For starters, a long list doesn’t give any sense of referral or recommendation to the listed blogs, compared to a select listing is likely to be meaningful. It is also hard to find anything from a long list – so at least break the list in to sub-lists to make it more user-friendly.

A particularly long list can also distort the look of a page, especially for short posts.

Having said that, what are the advantages of including some blogs in your blogroll? For starters, it builds the blogging community to link and refer to each other. A crafted blogroll can also help your readers find more information on relevant topics, which they will appreciate.

Links to and from your blog can help with your traffic and search engine rankings, so that in itself makes a blogroll and reciprocal links worth considering. But remember that links within your posts are also effective for rankings and readers, so a minimalist blogroll doesn’t mean you can’t link to additional blogs.

What do you think? Are you impressed by a long blogroll when you visit a blog?

Happy writing!