SEO without an established brand is a waste of your time.

I know that I ramble a lot, so I am going to try to keep this brief.

First and foremost, if anyone doesn’t know, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. 

In layman’s terms – SEO is trying to make your webpage appear at, or near the top, of google, bing, duckduckgo, etc… when people search certain terms.


SEO without an established blog and brand is a waste of your time.

But why?

Well, the idea of SEO is ranking your blog/website high on search engines so that when people search certain terms, your blog/website is one of the first things that they see. It’s the idea of gaining raw, organic traffic to your site.

But, and this is a big but, if your brand and blog are not established, what’s the point of ranking at the top of search engines? Heaven knows, if you actually write something that goes viral, without an established brand for your blog, people are going to accidentally stumble on your page, read only the searched term and leave.

Now, if you’re thinking ‘hey, at least I got that traffic!’ I would strongly recommend you readjust your thinking. Successful blogging involves building a community. You want readers to find your blog, read your blog, fall in love with your blog and want to come back. You want them to hit that follow button, like your posts, or submit their email address for subscriptions. Why? Because this is blog growth.

If you write something that does happen to go viral, you want people to read it and to want to come back. If your blog isn’t established, what are people coming back for?

I see a lot of bloggers feel the desire to jump on the SEO bandwagon right away. As much as I hate the statement, you really ought to learn to walk before you can run.

Build that blog. Create that community and that space which you’re damn proud of. Make it a place for people to come, fall in love with you, what you share and who you are. Make it yours. Design a layout. Talk about your passions. Make a safe space for thoughts, hopes and dreams, and everything that you love to write about.

Picture it like you’re building a house. Jumping on the SEO bandwagon before your blog and brand are built is like moving into your master bedroom when the roof hasn’t been put on the house.

SEO is a great tool, when you’re established. And when you’re established, it’s something that you’ll find a great deal of fulfillment in learning and trying to master. But, until you’re established with your blog, any of your posts ranking highly on search engines will likely garner only temporary attention. A day or two of a lot of a traffic might be exciting in theory, but in reality, it’ll show a fatal flaw in your blogging structure in that, you’ll be failing to keep any of that traffic as a piece to your community.

I’m not saying don’t ever establish SEO for your blog, I’m just saying that there are more important steps to establish first.

Build the blog (people will find you from WordPress during the process) then invite the people from the interwebs.

Adventures in job hunting: Misleading job descriptions.

I had a phone interview for a job scheduled for today at 11:00.

The job that I applied for was for a Marketing Coordinator for one of the most major beverage companies in the world.

I read the job description and it talked about creating and implementing a marketing plan, determining new markets and sectors for which to expand the brand, using communication platforms to deliver messages and promotions of the products and deciding events to sponsor. These are all typical marketing related tasks.

The ENTIRE job description mentioned that it was for this particular beverage brand. NOWHERE in the job description did it mention that it was for any other brand, or anything but this particular beverage brand.

Get three minutes into the phone interview and he lets me know that the job isn’t actually for this brand at all, it’s for one of their subsidiaries.

Fine.

Whatever.

Then, he asks me what makes me want to work for this brand – the subsidiary, not what I thought I was applying for.

I told him the position seemed like a challenge that I would be great for and I was excited at the prospect.

Then he said ‘No, not why you want this position, why do you want to work for this brand (the subsidiary)?

I again mentioned the position seemed like something that would excite me.

And again, he said ‘I know why you think the position is great, but why did you want to work for this brand (the subsidiary)?

Well, sir, I didn’t actually know I was applying for a job with this subsidiary until about a minute ago when you told me. There was no listing of the subsidiary anywhere in the job posting. At all.

Scuffles on the other end of the phone.

‘You’re not very quick at thinking on your feet, are you?’ he asks.

‘Guess not!’ I said and tried to laugh it off, knowing this was going to be held against me.

Then he goes on to say ‘Well, I’ll explain to you a little more about the position. As a member of our sales team..’

Hold up.

Nothing in the job description mentioned ANYTHING about sales. ‘Oh, the job description didn’t mention anything about sales?’ I calmly, casually suggested.

He says ‘Well Marketing Activation is, by definition, sales’.

I disagree with that statement on its face. But whatever.

He goes on to explain that this position is a sales role and commission based.

So I applied to a job that I believed was going to be branding, marketing and establishing this company into new avenues in Western Canada.

The job was actually for a sales position for a subsidiary company in which the job-holder is to drive around the prairie provinces asking different gas stations and arenas and venues if they’re willing to carry this product and what kind of deal I could arrange to sell them these products.

False Marketing.

Screenshot of the DuckDuckGo browser.

As one might conclude from my previous posts on this blog, I’m a bit of a ‘self-dubbed’ analytics nerd. I like tracking movements that people make online (tracking habits), and, with respect to my blog, I like tracking what brings people to my blog and what keeps them on my blog.

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of people have been finding me from the search engine ‘DuckDuckGo’. I’ve never used DuckDuckGo before. I’ve pretty much solely used Google Chrome and Safari for about ten years now, so seeing such a high refer rate from DuckDuckGo had me interested.

I must be ranking highly on the search engine, right?

I went to DuckDuckGo to see how I am ranking and the first thing I read is “DuckDuckGo – The search engine that doesn’t track you.”

lol

DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you. It just tells me what state you live in, what time and date you found my blog and what you searched online that allowed you to find my blog.

That doesn’t sound like tacking at all…

This is what I would suggest is very false marketing.

While my posts seem to rank really highly on DuckDuckGo (and that’s pretty cool), I’d like to remind anyone reading this, if you’re someone that uses that browser, it’s being tracked… regardless of what the front page of the browser might advertise. I’m pretty sure we’re always being tracked online. Unless you’re a seriously articulate A+ level, 1 in a million underworld hacker, your movements online are being tracked.

Blogging 104: Turn you ‘Me’ and ‘I’ into ‘You’.

Photo credit: Medium.com

Who is going to search for this?

It’s a simple question, one that I think a lot of bloggers overlook. Bloggers want to write something that resonates with others, and quite often could, but they write it in a manner that makes the content only applicable to them, and perhaps a select few with the keen understanding of their personal experiences.

If you really want your words to resonate with others, if you really want to market your blog, ask yourself who is going to search for this content?

People search WordPress and Google to ask questions, to find information that they don’t yet have and to find people, places or organizations they feel most align with them, their life and their views.

So how do you write content you’re passionate about whilst writing it to a potential audience that you’ve not yet met? Turn your ‘me’ or ‘I’ into ‘You’. Pretend that you’re writing a letter to yourself. Actually, if you want to write a letter to yourself, that’s an easy step that you could take to increase your reach and allow more people to find your words.

To explain this, I’ll use my post from yesterday as an example.

My thoughts: I don’t fit in with my family. I don’t agree with them and I struggle to get along with them.

My post: You are not defined by anything that your family says, does or feels.

I wrote a letter to myself, and in the process, changed my content from being something that resonated with me, to something that had the potential to resonate with a much larger audience. The messaging is still the same, I am still explaining exactly how I am feeling at that moment in time, but I’m explaining it in a way that can resonate with more than just I.

I do this because I know that I am not the only person in the world to struggle with getting along with family. I do this because I believe that if someone were to search the subject matter, they’re more likely to search “What if you don’t get along with your family?’ than they are to search ‘I don’t get along with my family.’

I hope this is making sense.

*Important note – I am not saying to change the subject matter of your content. I am saying that you should change the perspective which you write from. Don’t write: I had amazing blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Write: The most amazing blueberry pancakes you could ever eat! You’re still writing about what you’re passionate about, but now you’re writing it in a manner that is more likely for people to search.

There are some people in this world who can write a journal and command attention with simple words. They can write me, me, me, me, me and people will hang off every word that they say. But, for the most part, unless your last name is Kardashian, I think you’ll find a lot more success changing the perspective of your words. Turn your ‘Me’ and your ‘I’ into ‘You’. Doing so allows more people to truly resonate with what you’re sharing and understand the message your’e trying to convey.

In the process of writing a letter to yourself people will read the letter and feel as though you’re writing it to them.. That’s how you learn who feels the same was a you. That’s how you truly connect with people.

Don’t change the subject of your content, just consider changing the way that you write it.


As with all advice given out on this blog, please take everything with a grain of salt. If you like the advice, consider using it. If you don’t, then just ignore it!

Blogging is not a one size fits all activity. What works for someone may not work for someone else.

I provide this information on my blog as a means to inform and to provide a new perspective on things. I speak from experience, but I also understand that what works for some doesn’t work for all. So please do not take these words as the ‘only way’.

This is not a popularity contest.

Marketing is something that we all do every day. It’s how we do business, it’s how we blog, it’s how we use social media. Heck, it’s how we make friends and how we get along with our families! You might not think of it this way, but we’re marketing ourselves with respect to our present situations. How you behave and how you act when you’re around people, it’s a form of marketing yourself. Whether that be when you’re out with friends, or at a family dinner. It’s a skill that we all have, albeit some have more skill than others. But I truly, wholeheartedly believe that if you have the right resources, you can tap your potential as good as anyone else.

Something I see people doing every day, with respect to digital marketing, social media, blogging, and so on and so forth, is that they treat it as a popularity contest.

Digital marketing is not high school and this is absolutely not a popularity contest. Being successful is not about being the most popular person in the crowd. Being successful is about being strategic, making smart moves and doing things to benefit you and your quest for bettering your content.

Successful companies use social media, digital marketing and blogging as means to spread information and build relationships with customers. Unsuccessful companies purchase followers in a hopes to look better but ultimately never get the Return On Investment (ROI) that they’re looking for.

Successful bloggers and social media personalities use their platforms as a means to share information, meet new people and make new friends. Even celebrities! They want to build relationships with people, make sure that if someone reads their blog, they want to come back.

  1. Do not focus on the follower count. Furthermore, do not focus on the following count. If you’re successfully marketing your brand – be it through a blog, Twitter, Instagram or any other platform, the number of followers does not matter. In fact, if you’re properly marketing yourself these number can often fluctuate. Some days they’ll go up, other days they’ll go down.
  2. Do focus on interaction. When someone likes/comments on your blog, tweet, post, etc… this is what’s important. This shows that your content matters. This shows that your words, your art or your contributions to the web have resonated with someone. If they take the time to like/comment on your blog, make sure you take the time to let them know you appreciate their time.

I think that people get so wrapped up in trying to gain followers that they fail to realize it’s better to have 100 people read something when you have 100 followers, then it is to have 100 people read something when you have 100,000 followers. Ultimately, the goal should be to communicate with other’s and to showcase your work, not to be more popular then ‘the next person’.

If you want to grow your presence, genuinely, focus on interaction. Focus on ensuring that, whether you have 20 followers or 200 followers, they see your posts, they read your words or they view your artwork. Because it’s the people who invest in you that you need to invest in.

I cannot stress this enough: STOP LOOKING AT FOLLOWER COUNT. What matters is that people hear you, they understand you and they appreciate you. What doesn’t matter is that you’re popular. Because I can assure you of this, even the most successful of bloggers in this world don’t do it for popularity. They do it because they love what they do and they want to share, to connect, to appreciate.

Also, you can still feel hella unpopular and hella lonely even with thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers if your followers don’t pay attention to your content.


Story time:

My former boss was under the impression that having 600,000 followers on twitter meant that 600,000 people were reading every tweet that was put out.

Every time that we tweeted and he didn’t allow us pay attention to the feedback we were getting, less and less people would bother reading our tweets the next time. Not only that but, every time we distributed tweeted, not listening to the feedback we were getting, we would lose followers in droves. People were becoming uninterested in what we were sharing and we were failing to build relationships with our audience.

His answer? Buy more leads. Buy more followers. (Yes, this a second boss telling me that buying more followers is the solution to digital marketing) According to him, all we needed to do was buy more followers for our twitter account.

As a result, over the period of six months in which he was in charge of Digital Services, our twitter analytics systematically declined in readership and systematically increased in unfollow rates.

It wasn’t until he went on holiday that I had free power to design the social media distribution the way I wanted, taking into account the feedback I’d been receiving for months. We went from an average of 25-35% interaction per tweet to having 70% and 74% interaction during the two weeks he was on holiday.

When I showed the analytics to ‘Upper Management’ they agreed with me (for the first time ever) and we began taking a new approach to our emails, blog and social media – one that was about sharing information and building relationships, listening to the feedback we were being given and using that for our growth. We focused on our digital platforms being a two-way flow of communication. It wasn’t until my boss stopped counting followers each day that the followers actually started growing. They were growing because, for the first time in the six months he’d been my boss, we were actually taking the right approach to digital marketing.

Since leaving the organization, I do believe they’ve reverted back to their old ways and they’re up to their old tricks. When I left, I left them with a twitter account that had 680,000 followers and was getting between 8,000 – 20,000 likes/retweets per tweet that I put out (depending on the time of day). In just ten and a half months since I’ve been there, their following on twitter has grown to 1,000,200. But, somehow, their average like/retweet rate per tweet they put out is 100-150.

Yeah, they have over 1,000,000 twitter followers and they get 100-150 likes/retweets per tweet. This is why it shouldn’t be a popularity contest. With over 1 million followers, they’re averaging a rate of 100-150 likes/retweets on their page.

So what’s better? Having 100 followers and knowing that 100 people are interacting with your tweets, or, having over 1,000,000 followers and having 100-150 people interact with your tweets?

Think Different.

There are talented people all across WordPress and every other bogging platform that exists. Talented people who have a lot to share with the world, who struggle to get anyone to read their words or see their content. Why? Because they struggle to position and market their blog among the other 75 million blogs that exist in this world.

If you’re writing for a hobby, writing to keep a diary online instead of in a journal, this likely won’t matter to you at all. But if you’re on WordPress because you want to make friends and meet like-minded people, share your talents and show your skills then you need to market your blog. You have to.

While the odd person may stumble upon your blog, resonate with what you have to share and stick around from then on, the ‘accidentally finding you’ tactic is certainly not going to garner the audience you desire.

Someone that always understood marketing far better than most people on this planet is Steve Jobs. If you’ve ever heard the man speak, you know. He gets it. He knows how to turn a brand into a necessity, to a lifestyle and a feeling of belonging.

Your blog is your brand and if you want to garner an audience using your brand, you need to turn it into a necessity, a lifestyle and a place for people to find their belonging.

One of my favourite speeches from Steve Jobs can be seen here:

In the video, Jobs explains that the core value of Apple is the belief that people can change the world and that those who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones that do.

Using their slogan ‘Think Different’, Jobs explains that Apple’s desire was not to create a phone for you to make phone calls, Apple’s desire was to create a phone that makes your life better, easier, more organized. Apple’s desire was to create a computer that allowed your brain to think differently about how to do things, about what your computer can do for you and about how you can change the world from the stroke of a keyboard.

Steve Jobs was a brilliant man, one of the most brilliant of our time. In ‘thinking different’ he categorically used his ‘think different’ platform to catapult a run of the mill company to be a world, industry and technological leader. He did this because he knew he wasn’t marketing a computer. He knew that when he was marketing the life the computer could give you. He knew that he was marketing how much easier his phone would make your day.

How does this relate to blogging? Well, I’ll ask you this… in marketing your blog, do you market it as a blog, or, a community? Is it a place for you to write or a place for thoughts to change minds and learn new oulooks/perspctives? Is your blog a blog or is your blog a home for the lost, the found and the just won’t give up? Are you giving something to your readers, or merely just taking their time? Remember, Nike doesn’t sell shoes, Nike sells the idea of who you can become when you wear their shoes. If you’re selling your blog as a blog, you need to take Steve Jobs’ advice and think different. Thing bigger. Don’t market your blog as a blog. Market your blog as a home. As a place for people to come to remember they’re not alone in this world. Market your words as a means to help those who you’ve not yet met.

What does your blog bring to the table that no one else has? That no one else does? With millions of people hitting ‘Publish’ on their posts each and every day, what about your posts is should keep people coming around? What is your commodity? I don’t mean this in a condescending way, I mean this to get you thinking.

#MillennialLifeCrisis markets in honesty and understanding. The good, the bad, the ugly, the afraid to share with the world thoughts that you only keep to yourself honesty. You will find that here. People know that if they come to this community, they will hear my truths and they can feel safe to share their’s.

Some of my favourite blogs to read are those that market in travel. Not tourism, but travel (because there’s a very distinct difference). I love reading about those people who walk off the beaten path and really go to a country to learn and share the very core living culture within a place. Rebecca Goes Rendezvous does this really well.

Other blogs that I find myself gravitating towards are those who have no fear in telling their opinions with respect to real and important subject matter that a lot of people are often too afraid to talk about… too afraid to share opinions on, because they don’t want to start an argument. I like the people who aren’t afraid to share those thoughts, even if it might start an argument, because they know that they can turn it into a thoughtful and informative discussion. Filosofa’s Word does this really well.

These are both my own personal likes, though. And everyone likes something different, so please don’t take these two suggestions as the only subjects that matter.

If you really want to take your blog to the next level, and really want to have people pay attention to what you have to share, think different. Ask yourself where your blog should be positioned and make it happen. Position your blog and then market it.


90% of bloggers marketing:

“Hi my name is Sarah, please check out my blog!”

10% of bloggers effectively marketing their blog:

“Remember a time when you were moved to tears by a piece you read on someone else’s blog? Or were inspired to take action in a certain area of your life?

Well, that was art. The art of blogging.” (Quote from The Art of Blogging)

Which blog are you more likely to check out?

Because effective marketing is everything!

10 Months of #MillennialLifeCrisis

It’s nearly 11 PM on the West Coast and I’ve been thinking about hitting ‘Publish’ on this post all day. Here goes…

10 whole months that I’ve been pouring my heart out to the internet. 10 whole months that I’ve questioned everything that I’ve written and posted it anyways. 10 whole months that I’ve spent meeting and talking to some of the most incredible souls I’ve ever crossed paths with. 10 months of learning – new facts, new perspectives, new understandings. It’s been one hell of a time, if I do say so.

I made this blog on a whim, with the encouragement of Knight. I wanted a place to rant about the things going on in my life and boy did this platform give me the opportunity to do that and then some.

As much as nothing has changed in the past ten months, everything has changed. I think of the sad shell of a human being that I was ten months ago, I look at myself in the mirror and see the resilient fighter I am today and I’m thankful for what I am becoming. I have a much better grasp on my anxiety (though I still struggle, I can control it a lot better) and I have much more of an understanding of who I am and who is important to me.

Why is ten months an important landmark to me? Because I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past ten months. I’m proud of what this blog has become. I’m profoundly appreciative of the people I’ve met and the stories you’ve shared with me. I talk a lot about my appreciation for the WordPress platform because I wholeheartedly believe this blog has given a great boost to my confidence in the past ten months.

To those of you who’ve been along for the ride since the very beginning, thank you. I love you. And to those of you who’ve only recently found this blog, thank you. I owe you.

Ten months. I’m humbled. I’m grateful. I’m thankful.

To celebrate ten months of WordPress, here are ten facts about me:

  • I am female. (I am including this because there seems to be some confusion lately… with some people thinking that I am a man)
  • I have blue eyes and blonde hair and was consistently referred to as Barbie for the first thirteen years of my life because people told me that I looked like a little doll.
  • I will turn 31 next month, and even with all that has gone on in the past year, I will still say that my 30s have been infinitely better than my 20s thus far.
  • When editing someone else’s work, I can pick out spelling and grammar mistakes within seconds of reading it. When editing my own work, I can read it five times over and still not notice where I’ve made my errors. And there are always errors.
  • Recently, Geneva posed a suggestion to me that I consider writing an EBook. I haven’t admitted it out loud, but I am genuinely considering doing it, using it as a means to give out my marketing advice for free by having a company sponsor it. It’s all just a thought at this point in time, but I can’t get it out of my head since Geneva planted the seed.
  • I have a scar shaped like a Lightning Bolt on my thumb that my friend’s have referred to as proof of my being related to Harry Potter.
  • One of my most memorable moments was standing with Team Canada as they were presented their gold medals
  • One of my proudest moments was the day one of my heroes complimented me on my intelligence and told met that I was going to change the world one day.
  • As a whole, I do not believe that you ever fall out of love with someone. I simply believe that two people can understand they’re not meant to be together and that’s why they divorce. I do believe that love you feel for someone will always stay with you.
  • I like to eat raw onions. (Yeah, I had to end with this one)