22 November 2012

Twitter Shows Language Evolves in Cities

New Scientist (11/17/12) Jim Giles

Georgia Institute of Technology professor Jacob Eisenstein and colleagues are using social networks to examine the evolution of language.  The researchers collected 30 million Tweets sent from U.S. locations between December 2009 and May 2011, and built a mathematical model to capture the flow of new words between cities.  The model found that new words tend to take life in cities with large African American populations before spreading more widely.  Moreover, cities that are economically and ethnically similar are more likely to share new words.  "Their results indicate that birds of a feather tweet together," says University of Groningen linguist John Nerbonne.  The researchers are working on a more detailed analysis that could potentially reveal which cities are most influential.  Eisenstein also wants to know whether neologisms spread more quickly because of Twitter and other social networks.  An analysis of many types of data, including blog posts and Facebook entries, would enable the team to study whether social media is accelerating the evolution of language more generally.

17 November 2012

Do you need a blog - 13 reason

Blogs aren’t exactly the new kid on the digital ecosystem, but , they sure do get the job done. Here’s why I think you should seriously consider adding a blog to your personal or company’s website.

1. A blog shows visitors you know your stuff

Whatever your industry, potential customers probably want to know you understand it before they hand over their credit card number, or even call. If they can easily find some articles written by you and/or your staff that show your company’s expertise, they’re going to feel a lot more confident about spending their time or money (or both) with you.
2. A blog helps you get more traffic

Sounds good – maybe even a little too good to be true, right? Nevertheless, if you’re blogging regularly and well – or even kind of well – you’re bound to get some social media attention that will bring more visitors to your website. You may earn links from other sites, too. And then there are the SEO benefits inherent in any decent blog…

3. Blog = SEO, baby

The more content on your website, the better your odds of ranking highly in Google search results for the keyword phrases Google finds in your posts.

Search engines really look for each page of a website to be about one specific thing. Every blog post is a page, so if you want to rank for 50 different keyword phrases, you really need to have close to 50 different pages (such as blog posts) with each page dedicated primarily to a single keyword phrase.

You can’t hope to rank well in search engines for many keywords that matter for your business if your site has just a few pages such as Contact, About Us, Meet Our Team, and a home page that talks about all the various things you offer.

4. Blog posts are link bait

We’re sure you know that links from other sites to yours – also known as backlinks or inbound links – are an important factor for helping your site appear higher in SERPs (search engine results pages). And as you probably also know, it isn’t easy to get someone to link from their site to yours. (Unless you pay them, and we don’t recommend that.)

It’s unlikely that someone will want to link to your home page, or to a page about your product or services. But how about an interesting and insightful blog post about your industry? That might do the trick.

If you regularly put out interesting or helpful content on your blog, you will have a much easier time getting backlinks. Be a good example: When you see interesting or helpful content on someone else’s blog that’s relevant to one of your posts, do include a link to that blog. (They may return the favor!)

5. A blog is food for social media 

Just like it’s hard to rank well without blog posts, it’s hard to get anyone to share a link to your website on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ if you don’t regularly blog about interesting topics.

If you can blog well enough that people start sharing links to your blog posts from their social media accounts, there’s nothing better. People like to share valuable articles with their networks, and these social media links will help your SEO. Social media mentions and links are a signal to Google and Bing that people consider a site valuable – and the search engines use that signal to help them rank websites in search results. Plus, you’ll get more direct visitors from the people who actually click those social media links.

For tips on creating blog posts more people will want to share in social media, read our post You Deserve More Blog Comments & Shares.

One more great thing about blog posts – they give you something to mention in your own social media accounts. Some days even the cleverest person runs out of new things to say.

6. Behold the CTR power of Google Authorship

Have you seen a search result like this? That’s called a rich snippet – a Google search result that isn’t just the plain ‘ol link with a little text below. When the author of a blog post is hooked up with Google Authorship, their blog posts will look like this in Google SERPs.

So what? Well, search results like this have a much higher CTR (click-through rate). MarketingTechBlog.cofares.net found that their posts with a Google+ portrait in search results were almost 5 times as likely to be clicked on in search results than links without it.

Read more about the importance of Google Authorship and how to set it up for your blog.

7. Unlike social media posts, you really do own your blog content – and you’re the one benefiting from it

For many business owners, the idea of giving up control is scary. But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you post content on a social network.

Facebook could decide that you’re violating their terms of service and delete your page. LinkedIn gets to decide which ads to place around your content. Twitter sometimes goes down and makes your tweets temporarily inaccessible. Pinterest could get bought by some company that doesn’t care about keeping the site working. The list of risks goes on.

When you put out great content on social networks, you get some benefits for sure – and so do the social networks. They get more pages in Google’s index, they can sell more advertising, and their valuation or stock prices could go up – all thanks to you and a few million others.

Now don’t get us wrong. Here at AboutUs, we definitely think social media is something businesses should be using. But we hate to see blogging overlooked when it has some serious advantages for almost any business.

8. Getting and keeping people on your site probably helps your business goals.

Do you want people to buy your product, call you about your services, fill out a lead generation form, or do something similar? If someone is reading a blog post on your website, the odds are much better that they will.

9. Blog posts have a longer shelf life

Email newsletters, tweets and Facebook posts are fleeting, and will likely be forgotten and hard to find a few days after they’re sent or posted. Your blog is a great place for more evergreen topics that will stay relevant and helpful weeks or months after they’re first published.

It’s certainly fine to blog about timely and current things, and we encourage you to do so. But make sure the important things you want people to see now and later are published on your blog.

10. Help with customer support

Do you keep getting the same questions from your customers? Why not turn each question and answer into a blog post? It will lessen the load on your customer support people, and make it easier for them to give more detailed answers quicker. It can also show prospective clients that you are serious about helping your customers.

11. Cred for author

Do you want your CEO to be seen as a thought leader in your space? Do you want to give your employees some publicity? Writing for the company blog and getting a byline can give employees (including the CEO) some street cred, and probably a warm, fuzzy feeling. Bonus points for having each author create or enhance their Google+ profile, and for assuring they have Google Authorship status. (Do NOT post everyone’s blog posts as Admin…we’re begging you.)

12. Blog comments – and commentors – are gold

One of the great features of blog posts is that they allow readers to leave a comment. This conversation is invaluable. It can give you ideas for your new product, next blog post, a better customer service process, or something else important to your business.

Because it takes time and effort to comment on a blog post, anyone who does is probably worth taking a look at. Are they a prospective client or business partner someone should follow up with? Is the commenter someone you should follow on Twitter? Is he or she a customer you should reach out to, maybe to offer support or ask for a testimonial?

Comments also make your blog post more meaty content-wise, both for your readers and for search engines. For tips on getting more blog comments, read our blog post about that.

13. Blogging shows you’re still in business, and rocking it

When I look at a company website, I often come away with a sense of how “alive” the company is. First and foremost, I can’t help but notice if the site looks like it was built in the ’90s, or if it’s modern. I also notice the presence or absence of social media links and a blog, and I pay attention to when the last blog post was published. For this reason, I only recommend adding a blog to your site if you plan to blog more than once a year.

An active blog (posts are published once a month, or more often) is a signal to Google that your site is “alive,” and that it’s worth revisiting regularly to re-index and discover new pages. If the content on your website hasn’t changed in years, Google will visit it less often. That sends a signal that the site isn’t so valuable, and can cause Google to rank the site lower than it would if you published more regularly.

Convinced? Here’s how to add a blog to your website

Adding a blog to your website can be very easy or pretty tricky, depending on how your website was set up. Talk with your technical or website person and see if they can add a blog to your website at www.YourWebsite.com/blog or blog.YourWebsite.com.

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