Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

Virtual writing

My favorite online forum, where I’ve been a member for over a year, yesterday offered me the chance to revise my username.  The original pick I made was not helpful in SEO terms, so I happily decided to take up their offer.  But what to change it to?  My actual business name, Virtual Writing & Communications, seemed too long and difficult for a username.

It was a useful exercise, one that reminded me how useful it is to bravely strip down to essentials.  Rather than padding, setting up fluffy barricades to protect your identity and meaning, the trick is to chisel down to the core and then surface with a simple, naked, unadorned truth.

(If you Twitter often and well, you can appreciate the power of brevity.  If you’re a poet, you know real poetry is stark, not ‘flowery’ at all.)

So my username has become plainly,  ‘virtual writing.’  And of course, I can’t just accept that, but have to consider the precise meaning of those words.  We have fiction and non-fiction writing, we have journalistic, poetic, and prose styles.  And now we have this new form of writing that’s called ‘virtual writing.’

What distinguishes this new form?  We can infer that the ‘virtual’ qualifier at least points to the internet, and probably involves product delivered digitally.  Further, I’d like to suggest that virtual writing is writing tailored to the speed and engagement level of the internet; to the ‘scanning’ behavior of most people when they browse;  to the necessity of SEO; and to a global audience of anyone (as opposed to a much smaller audience of those who choose to purchase your writing.)

So that takes care of the virtual part, but what about the writing part?  The internet is about writing in a very big way, resulting in huge numbers of bloggers and online writers who are trying to get their message out, but are seriously compromised by their sub-standard writing skills.  We plunge into the opportunities of the internet without solid practice in this skill, and many a post includes misspellings, poor grammar and rhetoric, obvious total lack of proofreading, and other written communication failures.

Does it matter?  If most can decipher your meaning even if the writing is terrible, who cares?  I think it really doesn’t matter much at first.  The reader is there for your message, after all, and if it can be gleaned from the morass, fine.  But in the long run, the quality of your writing is a major influence on your reputation.  A reader may get a kick out of your post, but will not remain devoted for long if your writing’s not accurate and rich.

I’m passionate about writing, it’s true.  Words are objects of great beauty to me.  The internet, also, has captured an enormous part of my attention.  So I’m happy with this new moniker: ‘virtual writing’ is me!

P.S.  This blog is moving to http://www.asthemoonclimbs.com/blog.php, and will no longer appear here after this week.  Please visit my website!

Noise vs. Content

The internet and today’s technologies are a fascinating study, especially for one not bred on cyberspace.  I’ve spent the past six months almost continuously online, attempting to get a grip on commerce represented there, studying social networks and forums and internet marketing techniques.  One thing that strikes me in this investigation is how carefully you have to preserve your identity and purpose amidst all the noise.  It’s very easy for the internet to become the dictator.   You originally approached it as a tool for your business and if you don’t keep it in that place, it can quickly become a mere distraction and little real help.

Content is King, you read everywhere.  But there’s little to no instruction about creating great Content; the directives all pertain to SEO, marketing techniques and strategies, or the latest widgets.  A large percent of the material online makes fabulous use of these systems without first ensuring valuable Content.  In this way, the internet is far more sophisticated than its users and often produces the cyber equivalent of kids playing with guns.

The two social media sites, Squidoo and Twitter, exemplify this distinction.   At Squidoo, you share specific information designed to edify your readers.  At Twitter, you fatuously inform the world that you’re on the way to the airport, eating a hot dog, or coping with the sniffles.  Never having been much of a gossip, small talk, or chatter type, I have a horror of people ‘following me’ and have no interest in sharing the twists and turns of my everyday with anyone except my lover.  My point is that Twitter caters to the glitz and sensationalism with hardly a nod to Content; while Squidoo’s Content is an amazing tribute to the learning and creativity of 21st century human beings. 

It takes a while to understand the differences between the popular sites, and it takes inner strength to avoid being sucked in by sites that seem promising but actually offer only shallow solutions for you.  Depending on your purposes, Twitter may be just the thing you need (to keep track of a team’s progress, for instance).  By keeping your focus firmly on your real-world demands, you can separate the noise of internet hype from authentic and useful Content.

Synthesis and our new economy

Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail has written an exciting and enlightening article about the new *FREE* economy.  Check it out here.  This is mind bending stuff, and vital info for anyone in business today.

The bottom line is that the bottom line has become far more sophisticated.  The new perspectives and possibilities offered by the internet age have resulted in a new interpretation of value.  We still value money, of course, but the intangibles of reputation and attention suddenly have huge worth.  More and more every day, we are becoming aware that money is not to be obtained without these other values also firmly in place.  The three values are becoming so closely aligned that it’s now understood that by building reputation and attention, one simultaneously builds monetary wealth.

The synthesis of unlikely elements is a characteristic of creativity.  Interesting how the macrocosm of the overall economy mirrors the microcosm of personal growth.  As our economy migrates towards a more complex system of values, we’re also increasingly concerned with the well-balanced personal life and the creative approach to work and productivity.

If we follow the above threads, we can take a hint from this organic evolution of our society, to help develop our personal creativity.  Lay one reality on top of another and presto! you have a new expression.  

To practice, pick up any two objects on your desk and examine them as if they were one thing instead of two.  What are all the different ways they could go together?  If you’re well-tuned to your sensations, the simple act of bringing these two objects together causes an instant stream of images and stories in your head.  Though the actual content of these thoughts may be rather silly, without obvious application to your uses, it’s the process and your awareness of it that’s important here. 

After you become comfortable with this way of perceiving, try synthesizing bigger things:  your important meeting today combined with your craving for tacos; your broken washing machine combined with getting a haircut; your business leads list combined with your photography hobby. The fresh combination of any two things is the beginning of anything creative.

Being Remarkable

I attended a webcast the other day with marketing guru Seth Godin (Meatball Sundae) and other experts.  The message there, as well as in so much that I read these days, is that all the tricks of SEO are fast becoming obsolete.  Though some have managed to manipulate the internet to their purposes through technicalities, and achieved high rankings, those days are coming to an end.  Search engines aim to satisfy search results as directly as possible; sites that only peripherally pertain to keywords entered can no longer gain the upper hand.  As ever, Content is King.

The term Godin used quite a bit was “remarkable.”  If you want to succeed, you must be remarkable.  Your website, blogs, articles and other methods you use to attract attention will be of little use unless the content of your offerings is “remarkable,” unless you can manage to stand out from the crowd through your expertise.

Plus ca change …. It has ever been thus, hasn’t it?  The web, after all, does little to make us rich quick.  The onus we bear is as it ever was … we must identify and maximize our true strengths to be successful.  Rather than relieving us of the responsibility to work hard and achieve, the web actually reinforces this basic ethic.

How can we do this?  How can we be “remarkable?”  It’s a lot to ask of any individual. 

So we come round again to creativity.  In practicing creativity, we do not seek to be remarkable – rather the opposite – but the great gift of creativity is that through faithful practice, it reveals the ways in which we are remarkable.  It’s the instrument we’re given for moving beyond mere survival, beyond the mundane, beyond unquestioning servitude to the greatness we each are born to realize.