February 28, 2008

The God People

About once a month I get a visit from a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses. The couple are a sweet old pair that I affectionately call the God people. They stop by to share scripture with me. When they leave, they pass me their latest publications and move on. I don't have a problem with them. I know they are just trying to spread the Word.

It seems, try as I might, I cannot shake them. Since I've started writing again, the couple stops by at the most inopportune times.

During Christmas, I was neck high covered in wrapping paper. When the knock on the door came, I just knew it was the God people. I dropped my wrapping papers and answered the door. The sweet little couple said their hello and began their spiel.

I hesitated, and then I cut them off. I explained that I had just started wrapping presents and I was limited on time--the little one would wake from her nap soon. They understood, handed me the pamphlets, and left.

In October, I had just begun tearing apart our surround system--we blew out the sub woofer--when I heard a car pull into the drive. I looked out the window and sure enough it was the God people.

I know they saw how I was working behind the entertainment center, all tangled in wires, and covered in speaker dust. They knocked on the door anyway.

I listened for a bit and then, politely as I could, asked them to leave. They passed me the magazines and left.

The month before that, I was having computer issues. I had to reformat and reinstall a ton of information. I was aggravated beyond belief when they knocked on the door. I answered and explained to them that I was in the middle of some major computer issues. Understanding as they were, they handed me the books and left.

Last month they arrived with a new person in their party. They knocked on the door and of course I answered. They introduced their new member and shared scripture with me. Now I listened for as long as I could before I relayed to them that I was just getting ready to go shopping. They gave me the papers and left.

This month they knocked on the door and my husband answered. They asked for me. Can you believe that he actually came and got me? I was in the office working on an article, just about had it submitted, and here he stood saying, "There's someone at the door for you." I glared in his direction, "is it the God people?" He nodded. The little one heard me and started chanting, "It's the God people" over and over. He grabbed her and took her out of ear shot.

I shuffled to the door, took a long deep breath, and opened it. They smiled at me and asked me if I was having issues with my stereo, my computer, wrapping presents, or going to the store.

I said, "Actually, I just started working on writing..."
"Oh, you're a writer?"
"Well, I'm trying to be..."
"Whom are you writing for?"
At this point I really wanted to say God, but I bit my tongue and told them about the online gig. They brushed me off, "We have some new books for you. We’d like to share some scripture...”

I had to cut them off. I hated doing it, but, I was really right in the middle of work. They started off on the wrong foot with me by mentioning all of my recent trials when I came to the door. They handed me the books and left.

Bear with me now because this is going to get weird. Last night I awoke from a startling dream. In my dream I was dozing on the couch. There was a knock at the door. I opened my eyes and knew who it was, the God people. I decided not to answer and went back to sleep.

Suddenly the door opened and in walked the newest member of the clan. I stood up and said, "Just what do you think you're doing?"

Astonished, she looked at me and said, "The door was open!" I walked over and pushed her out the door. "Just because the door was open doesn't give you the right to enter!"

The older couple just stood there staring at me. I asked them to leave. They didn't give me any magazines and left.

Don't get me wrong. For over a year I have been civil with this couple. The dream I had last night really woke me up.

My time is precious. I am religious but I am not a Jehovah's Witness. I believe in God and pray regularly. I have nothing against Jehovah's Witnesses. But between them, the magazine sales people, asphalt salesmen, neighbors stopping by, friends and family calling on a whim to chat, and life in general, I feel that time stealers are taking over my life.

I feel like putting a sign on the door that says:

What would you do? How do you handle situations like this?

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February 26, 2008

Backlinks: The Chains Part Two

This is going to be a quickie, I say that but you know how I am. After going over the linking thing in my last post, I did a little more digging. I just have to know. It's in my nature. I found a nifty tool called Who Links to Me? If you look on my sidebar you can see it just below my favorite blogs modular.

The tool gives you your page rank, the number of links to your site, your blogroll stats, Google, Yahoo, and MSN links. All in all, I'm doing much better than I thought. You can see my stats by clicking the link. If you want, you can also retrieve code from that page to put on your blog to get your stats. You can also just visit Who Links to Me?

Sometimes I can be too visual I guess, but seeing those numbers gave me a new perspective.

I actually found two tools. The Who Links to Me? was the first and fastest I tried. The other I have to register and research. Don't worry, I'll share it with you in a later post once I get to know it...
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February 22, 2008

Backlinks: The Chains that Bind

My last post covered a little bit of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Diving into the subject, I began to question certian aspects of it and how one would actually increase their number in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Why I got started on this is beyond me, but the chain that seems to tie it all together is the backlinks.

I woke up in the middle of the night, actually the wee hours of the morning, and began doing some reading on the subject. Backlinks are links back to your site, blog, page, or information on the net. Simple enough for me.

Backlinks make search engine algorithms hum. A site with a number of links back to it that is rich in keywords and phrases, offers quality content, and is frequently updated will rank higher.

In Filthy Linking Rich, by Mike Grehan, the Web is looked at as a small world that is intertwined from network to network by paths. It said you could randomly pick two sites and get from one to the other within 4 clicks. I haven't tried it, but it sounds plausible.

The next relation comes from page links. The magic number of links for pages is 19. This comes from a network theory. The entire article is really quite interesting, long but interesting. I suggest giving it a read when you have the time.

Grehan made a comparison using Kevin Bacon and the "erdos number." I remember discussing this topic in some course work myself, so I won't go on about it. Basically, it rings true to the small world theory and we are all connected either personally or are a friend of a friend.

So, the backlinks to our sites drive traffic to our content which increases page views. Increased page views combined with a number of backlinks will increase page rank. Once you rank higher in the search engines you will get more hits.

For some reason I have an image in my head of a water wheel. Like the one from Little House in the Prairie. I see the wheel turning round and round--the wheel is the net. I see the water spilling onto it--the water is our content. I see the sawmill powering up--the mill is our computer. I may be reaching with that, but I thought it, I was inspired, and so I wrote it.

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February 21, 2008

SEO-Choo: Bless You--Sneezing out those Topics, Keywords, and Whatnot

Remember my keyword density post? I wanted to update you. The ranking is so far down that even a shovel couldn't dig it out. I attribute this to SEO. As we all know, SEO means Search Engine Optimization.

There are a few problems with that post. One is basic, and something I should have known, the term keyword is flooded in the search engine. How flooded? 769,000,000. Keyword Density is at about 1,860,000.

One of the main things about SEO and keywords is that ever looming topic choice. My chances would have been better had I chosen a topic like Luna Moth (which is at 159,000). However, that topic is better suited for a lepodopterist--speaking of which is at 71. Maybe that's what I should be writing about: Butterfly specialists (I know, butterflies and moths are related but different insects).

Another problem with the post is my credibility. I'm not up there in the rankings with this blog yet: not enough posts, I stagnate too much, and my topics jump around. Those are all easy fixes, if I never had to sleep and I found my niche. I'm working on these problems.

With SEO we have this phenomenally called SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Those numbers I mentioned above are those pages. Some sites do well while others lurk down the ranks.

SEO Strategy tells me there is a formula to follow:

  1. Build a quality content based web site with original content.
  2. Gain relevant backlinks with varying keyword anchor text to get indexed.
  3. After indexing occurs create 1 new content page for the site every week.
  4. Continue to gain relevant backlinks with varying keyword anchor text.
There is an entire "plan" offered through SEO Strategy, but let's start with the basic formula.

  • Build a quality content based web site with original content.

We all know what quality content is: it is well written where spelling and grammar errors are non-existent. The spelling is easy, just run your spell check. Grammar, well that comes over time. You should know your basics, like every sentence should have a subject and a verb, then go from there.

How about original content? You can take a stale topic and make it fresh: add a new twist, merge related topics to make something new, or come up with something undiscovered (unflooded).

  • Gain relevant backlinks with varying keyword anchor text to get indexed.

I link back to myself all of the time. Remember the Linking Myself Together post? Perhaps that's not what SEO Strategy means by backlinks (I'll look into that).

There's that word again: keyword. So, we have to vary our keywords and anchor our text together in order for the SERPs to index us high. Basically we have to stay on topic and talk about the same thing over and over again. Just tell me how that is keeping subject matter fresh?

  • After indexing occurs create 1 new content page for the site every week.

I guess that's how you keep it fresh: after you've done the work and talked about your topic until you're blue in the face, you add a bit of new stuff. There's where the credibility/expert thing comes into play.

  • Continue to gain relevant backlinks with varying keyword anchor text.

This last thing may be my main problem (and something mentioned twice in the formula): backlinks and keywords. I bet the backlinks have to be from other sites to me. At this point I'm only linking to myself and to others. I need to get more links back to me.

I'll research the backlink thing further and post my results...

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February 15, 2008

Blog It Lens is Up! More Information on Squidoo

Well, I finished my Blog It lens! I also have been cruising around updating all of my pages for St. Patrick's day. It's been a busy morning for me indeed.

My friend Swubird commented: "What exactly is a Squidoo? Lens? I've never heard of the term outside of optical use. I followed the link, but I'm still unsure as to how you actually implement one of these little things. Do you put it on your blog, another blog, another site - ?"

I replied in a comment back but some how the comment disappeared into web land. So I decided to post it here along with the link to the latest lens: Blog It...

Squidoo is the name of the site. A derivative of Squid. I read somewhere that the lenses were like squid in the ocean--to be looked at, learned about, and multiplied. Lenses are, well, I'll just quote from SquidU:
  • What is a lens? It's many different things. It's a small look at the world. It's a list of your favorite things. It's a way to share your resume or promote your business.
    The best way to learn what a lens is is to create one. Play with it. Add stuff. Delete stuff. Move things around. You won't break anything, I promise!

Like I said, my first lens took me a month to put together. Not only because of my lack of content, because I did not really understand what to do with it. I knew I needed to put some together for promotion and indexing; I just didn't understand the make up of the parts and how to use them.

SquidU suggests: Do Squidoo: A much requested guide to creating a successful Squidoo lens. This lens offers a guide to building a lens. However, I'm more of a put it together without the instructions kind of gal. I opted to build it first and read later.

Now as far as implementing them goes, the lenses are promotional tools. SquidU says:

  • When used right, Squidoo is a promotion paradise. You can use it to drive traffic to your business or entertainment websites, boost your online resume presence, and position yourself as an expert on your topics of interest.
    Find the best tips for promoting your lenses, groups, charities, and yourself here!

I've heard that search engines love these lenses and they tend to rank higher than your standard blog post. Perhaps the bundling of so much information is what does it. What ever the reason, I want to utilize it to my advantage and build lenses to "advertise" my articles.

Looking at other lenses and reading forum posts about the site convinced me that joining Squidoo would benefit me. Not only is it useful for linking back to my work; it can generate a residual income and a portion of that can be donated to charity.

I say, just sign up because it's free anyway. If you don't like it you can always cancel your account. Once you sign up, you are not committed to building the particular lens you started your account with. As a matter of fact, I deleted the lens I began when I signed up.

I made a "Join Squidoo" button at the bottom of my posts if you want a quick link. You can also join from the Blog It... lens by clicking "make your own page."

If any of you do build a lens, comment to me about it. I want to see your work! Happy lens building to those of you that try it.

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February 12, 2008

My New Favorite Toy: Squidoo

You're not going to believe this, but, I made another lens yesterday. The lens is, Make My Day eBay. I got this one done much faster than the Bar Tending lens. Of course I will be editing and adding to both lenses as I learn more.

One thing is you need to know a bit of html. You must to be able to add links to direct your readers to your work. We all do that here with the < href= "URL"> stuff. You can also do italics, bolds, colors...One lens with great Squidoo tutorials on the process is: Basic HTML for Squidoo.

I think what took me so long to finish my first lens was I didn't know which direction I wanted to take with it. Now I get it. The process eases after you complete and publish the first one.

Last night I thought of a variety of topics for lenses. You can take them in any direction you want--heros to pet peeves. I guess its similar to blogging. Each lens would be a post.

From what I learned, narrow topics do better than broad. The more information you can input about your specific topic, the better. Okay, so my lenses are a bit broad at this point. But you can bet that I'll trim the next ones.

The best thing about Squidoo is I can utilize the lenses as an index for my articles on AC. As I branch out, I can add to or eliminate.

Today I'm going to work on the lens for this blog. I'll post about it when it's done. I'm going to link to other blogs there as I have done here. The same, but different.

Look for the blog lens link soon...

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February 10, 2008

Oh Squidoo! What a Promotional Tool

Well I did it; I built a Squidoo Lens. If you remember, I mentioned doing this in my updates post. Now its a done deal: Bartending or Bar Tending? That is the Question!

The process was quite easy, even though it took me a month to get it published. First, you sign up. Second, you find a topic you want to publish about. Third, you build your content. Last, you publish.

Cruising about the site, I found that the most popular lenses are chock full of information. Typical, because people enjoy learning. Popular lenses also have used the Youtube, Amazon, and Flickr modules to dress up their page. There are other modules to include like plexo (haven't quite figured that out), polls, and searches.

Right now I just utilized the text and image modules. As I learn more about the rest, I will add to my content.

A few things occurred to me as I built my lens. One was that I need more content. That just figured since I have been rather lax lately. So I cranked out a few more articles to boost up the page. I have a few other articles in mind, but I haven't written them yet.

Then I thought, using Squidoo to lump together my related articles will make for better traffic. Something I'd like to do for my blog also--Brainstorm! Remember when I referred to linking everything together? So, I'm going to start working on a lens for the blog.

I published my lens on Saturday (the 9th) and today (Sunday) I checked my stats and I've already gotten over 90 clicks. I better pump up the promotion because over night that's better than any other thing I'm doing. (For related promotion: here I'm under 200 since last August and Myspace is @ 170 since December)

If you have a Squidoo lens, let me know in the comments so I can check it out. If you want to build a lens, I put up a link button for you at the bottom of my posts and archive.

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February 6, 2008

Keyword Density, What the Heck?

I've been playing around with keywords. Why is that so difficult? Trying to be a Web friendly writer can be a daunting task. You write something then run it through a tool like textalyser and find yourself needing to add more to get yourself up to that 3-5% density.

It's funny how some say just write and the keywords will come naturally. Sure, if you're a keyword guru. I discussed the phenomena somewhat in my Keyword, Keyword... post. (I also visited some keyword tools in my Learning Seo post.)

How do you know when enough is enough? That 3-5% keyword density sounds easy to achieve; and it really is when you concentrate on using something specific. Take what I've written here so far. The word keyword is at 8.2%. Keywords is at 3.3%. Man, that tool is kind of cool.

Okay, the textalyser also tells me readability and the stats (like frequency, word length, syllables, and gives me a word count) among other things.

So is my density to high for the first two paragraphs? Why is keyword and keywords differentiated, other than the obvious plural? For that matter, why would the plural make a difference? I thought Google eliminated connective and frequently used words as a part of their search engines paring out. Wouldn't the plural of the same word work its way into that?

I guess that's not for me to figure out. Running the text at this point puts my density at 5.6 and 3.2%. They say that's good. Now, to see how well this post ranks I guess I have to post and wait to search something like Keyword Density (per my title).

I'll test the density theory in a future post. Stay tuned for part two...

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February 1, 2008

About Crying...

Recently, a fellow blogger, Peter, wrote a post about crying: To Cry or not to Cry. It touched me so much that I commented to him what could almost be considered a blog post in and of itself. I'm long-winded (commented?) sometimes. Many of his posts compel me that way.

January was a rough month for my brood. As it turns out my husband will not return to work until mid February. (Yikes, I don't know how much more I can take of him being underfoot. That said, I'm putting him to work on a few chores.)

He's in so much pain. I help him change his dressing and he flinches when I move in to work. I assure him that I won't touch it, but still he jerks away. I do not like it when a loved one pulls away, regardless of the circumstances.

Several years ago I was into motivational books and tapes. One thought that came to me, when my husband starts to flinch, was Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP). Just bear with me, I was young. NLP deals with anchoring and associations.

When my husband flinches from me he's associating me with the pain! This thought made me want to cry. not to mention everything else compounded on top of that. So I went off by myself and I cried. I felt better after the release.

Perhaps it's my imagination, the stress, frustration. Perhaps it was Peter's post. Then again it could just be PMS. Whatever it was, crying is good.

And bad, when you cry your nose gets all stopped up, your eyes get all puffy and red, and your eyelashes stick together. I don't know about you, but I sound like a snuffelumpakus (sp?) for hours after I cry.

Crying inspires me to do more, to make myself better, and to buy more Kleenex.

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